Although we arrived early for the interview session with Mayor de Guzman, the office staff at the Office of the Mayor were apologetic. They were warm and gracious and if the demeanor of the Boss is to be gauged by the yardstick of his people, then it can be said that de Guzman is indeed pleasant.
We were not mistaken.
As the unassuming and amiable City Mayor walked past us, he asked if we have eaten lunch already. He instructed his staff to serve coffee. Two minutes after he entered his office, we were ushered in.
From a municipality of rural beginnings to its eventual urbanization, Del de Guzman saw Marikina’s transformation unfold.
The development and facelift of Marikina as a sports hub is one of the many programs that Mayor de Guzman revitalized in order to further the development of the city. When asked about the running boom [in Marikina], Mayor Del excitedly revealed that their sport committee is planning to stage a fun run tagged Marikina Half-Marathon. He excitedly talked about the event and his participation. “May Marikina Marathon na at tatakbo ako ng 3K o 5K siguro”he says. He disclosed that one of his goals for Marikina is for the City to be the country’s sports capital. This will serve to further the development of the City and is designed to be the catalyst for new investments in sports-related business and services to come into Marikina.
The pathway along the Marikina Riverbanks is popular with sports and fitness enthusiasts. love to hit the road and traverse the pathways along Riverbanks. The bike lane, which former Mayor Bayani Fernando started, did serve the cyclist so well. You can practically bike around town, if you want! Mayor Del rehabilitated some bike lanes to dramatically improve the “biking experience”. Nowadays, it is cleaner, greener and safer. Lamp posts, close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, and public address speakers have been installed.
A better, bigger and brighter city is possible if its law, peace and order are in place. Del de Guzman revives the programs of past administration and couples this with benevolent measures that are truly noble. The Mayor realizes that progress can only be achieved once peace and order is preserved. The Mayor admits that that like other urban cities, the incidences of crime is inevitable. He attributes this to poverty. Contrary to the implementation of stringent policies in the past administration, de Guzman aims to instill safety and security that is enforceable without being ruthless. He hopes to achieve this by cautioning the people of Marikina to be more vigilant and, more importantly, to work hand-in-hand with their administration.
The memories of the recent tragedy brought by Typhoon Ondoy is still strong in the mind of his constituents. “I could say we haven’t fully recovered yet from that tragedy, kung makikita mo yung mga nasalanta, may mga hindi pa rin nakabalik at may mga nagsisimula pa rin na Marikeño” the Mayor says. Ondoy left Marikina defenseless and the Mayor says they have learned their lesson and have placed appropriate contingency plans for the City to be able to manage, if not prevent, any similar catastrophe in the future. “Tayo ay laging handang tumulong at hindi naman natin sila pinabayaan. May mga action plans tayo to prevent such disaster from happening again” he says “Dapat lahat should do their part din” de Guzman adds. For preliminaries, residents living in high-risk areas like the watershed, have been relocated. The local government of Marikina also works hand in hand with PAGASA in order to bring up to date information about any upcoming typhoon.
The signage that greets City Hall goers reads: “Marikina City, City of Good Conduct”.
As we end the interview session with this Mayor Del de Guzman’s nostalgic recollection of his fruit-picking, vegetable-harvesting and mud-playing childhood, we cannot help but be impressed with de Guzman’s leadership by example.