SHIPPING magnate Chester Cokaliong is turning 59 years old on Feb. 20, 2020, but he threw his advance birthday party last Saturday night, Feb. 15, in a hotel at the North Reclamation Area attended by his family, business associates, suppliers, relatives and friends from government and private sectors and selected members of the media. Personalities from the political circle headed by Mayor Edgardo Labella, Vice Mayor Michael Rama and North District Rep. Raul del Mar were also present in the affair.
Labella and The Freeman editor-in-chief Archie Modequillio delivered speeches and wishes for Chester, praising him for his contribution to the economic progress in the city and the whole of the region, especially in his shipping business, Cokaliong Shipping Lines services, with its regional routes in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Chester has been chosen as one of the most influential personalities by The Freeman Publication in its centennial celebration this year.
It is usual that birthday celebrant’s wish is for himself and for his family to have good health and more blessings. But Chester delivered a unique birthday wish, which was not for himself but for his two politician friends.
In front of his guests, Chester told Labella and Rama to unite for the benefit of Cebu and the Cebuanos.
Cokaliong, who openly supported the Labella and Rama tandem last May and in the previous elections, urged the two politicians to set aside their political differences and to unite, so their tandem will continue in the service of the Cebuanos and for the betterment of Cebu.
As a businessman, Chester said he felt the economy in Cebu has progressed under the Labella and Rama leadership.
Although he did not cite anything specific, maybe Chester was referring to the huge investments of the two leading and giant real estate developers, Ayala Land Inc. and SM Prime Holdings consortium at the South Road Properties, which has been stalled during the past administration because of personal and political reasons.
Chester reminded Labella and Rama, whom he claimed to be his long-time friends, of the proverbial motto “United we stand, divided we fall.” One has to do a sacrifice to avoid conflict, he urged them.
Rama, who was given the chance to speak and make a toast, praised Chester’s support. But Rama jokingly said he has two years to think about Chester’s suggestion. Ergo, Mike really has that intention and desire to seek the city’s top position next elections against all odds even if it will result to a Labella-Rama fight. Did I get it right, Mr. Mike?
The finale of Chester’s birthday party was a broadway style concert of Cebuana singer and stage actress Pinky Marquez and a performance by a Manila-based band.
During the regular meeting of the Cebu City Council last week, Rama delivered a privilege speech declaring again his opposition to build more flyovers in the city, saying these are already obsolete and are not the ultimate solution to the horrendous traffic in the city.
This, after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) asked for a tree-cutting permit to pave the way for flyover constructions. Yes, I partly agree with you, Mr. Mike, that flyovers are not the ultimate solution to the traffic problem, but they help ease traffic congestion in some intersections.
Imagine the situation in those intersections without flyovers? If there is a word more for more horrendous, thsen that would be our description.
During his incumbency as mayor, Rama created the the nongovernment organization called Movement for a Livable Cebu, which blocked the additional flyover projects of North District Rep. Raul del Mar.
I was seated in the same table with Rep. Del Mar during Chester Cokaliong’s birthday last Saturday night.
Del Mar explained to me about his forthcoming projects for his district, including flyovers. He said there are four flyovers he is working on to convert into skyways.
These are from Gorordo Ave. to SM City, traversing through Juan Luna/Pope John Paul Ave. Then on F. Sotto (back of the University of San Carlos north campus) to Talamban and the third is on Cardinal Rosales St. at the Cebu Business Park to Hernan Cortes St. in Mandaue City.
In addition, there are flyovers in different intersections outside the three roads sections for detailed engineering and design under the DPWH budget for next year.
Del Mar said he will really push for these projects for the welfare of Cebu City’s constituents, especially saving them from the terrible traffic problem they experience every day. He warned, thus, “Let those who keep on blocking his efforts face the wrath of our people.” Bitaw, nganong babagan man kung kaayohan sa kadaghanan?