Random Thoughts

Mayor Belen’s investment in the city’s youth

By Leonardo Micua


IN the annals of Dagupan City, who’s the mayor who devoted more energy, money and time in sports than any other mayors who governed the city?

I ask this question after that interaction with Mayor Belen on sports development last November 9 where she said she’s confident that the Balon Dagupan team will remain Region 1 Athletic Association champion next year.

As things stand today, Belen Fernandez is the only mayor in the history of Dagupan who has succeeded in transforming the once under-performing athletes of Dagupan into athletes of championship caliber.

Yes, under-performing because I can’t recall a time when the city ranked better than 7th place in the R1AA, not even when it was still known as Ilocos Region Athletic Association meet. Dagupan had had nothing to brag about in sports events.

But things changed almost overnight when Mayor Belen came to power in 2013. After two years of preparation and unprecedented support for the city’s athletes, the city finally ranked second overall for two consecutive years: 2015-2016, second to Pangasinan 2.

In February this year, they finally snatched the crown from the perennial title-holder by delivering a dazzling performance during the meet held in Alaminos City.

The rest is now history.

Records showed Dagupan was never a contender for R1AA crown ever.

The late Mayor Al Fernandez, one time official of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA), tried to energize the Dagupan athletes but the city’s efforts were not enough. Dagupan never ranked past seventh place in the old IRAA meet.

During the term of Mayor Benjamin Lim, the state of sports in Dagupan became pathetic. The best it could do was to bring home the trophy as the “best in uniform.”
Mayor Lim did not give the athletes the support they deserved.

When Mayor Belen finally took over, the fist thing she did was to assemble the best minds in sports in the city and put them under the roof of the Dagupan City Sports Commission (DCSC), a body she tasked to plot the first ever city road map on sports.

She not only directed the hiring of coaches for almost every sports discipline who can give the athletes the best support and guidance but built several multi-purpose centers to serve as venues for basketball, volleyball and other indoor sports.

Without a doubt, Belen spent more money in sports than any of her predecessors. She did this without any hesitation because she was investing in the future of the youth who may someday take over the reins of the city.

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We received last week a copy of the letter of a former official of Sual town addressed to Provincial Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Celia Fernandez of Pangasinan 1 bringing to her attention an incident when school children of the Sual National High School were allegedly utilized as “entertainer/performer” by a political group when its members filed their certificates of candidacy before the local election office on Oct. 16, 2018.

The letter, accompanied by photos of students obviously making their performance in front of the municipal hall, showed the event occurred during school hours.

Former Sual Vice Mayor Alexander Rigonan, who wrote the letter to Dr. Fernandez, believes that the use of students by candidates was a clear violation of law, which was tantamount to child exploitation and abuse of minors.

Rigonan appealed to the division superintendent to intervene, investigate and enforce compliance with the law.

He maintained that the use of the students was not cleared with the Department of Education.

Mr. Rigonan said in his letter, which was copy furnished the office of DepEd regional director, was received by DepEd School Division on Oct. 24, 2018 and has not been honored with a response.

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