Qs7: Dondon Hontiveros: From shooting basketball to presiding Sanggunian sessions. Voters 'to judge my performance.' Filed COC as independent but supports, is carried by, Barug.

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FROM professional basketball (played from 1998 to 2018, got a PBA draft in 2000, and shooting coach starting 2021) to politics (ran for councilor in 2019), the transition of Councilor Donaldo “Dondon” Cabanes Hontiveros in skill and mindset has been a major one:

[] He showed prowess as shooting guard (1.85 meters or 6 feet 0.835” inch) for “17 quality years” and, later, mentored other players, then adeptness in directing flow of discussion on the Sanggunian floor each time he takes over as acting vice mayor; and

[] He was a celebrity adulated by fans (“Cebuano Hotshot”), is now a politician pampering barangay captains and wooing voters.

[1] How does Dondon see the 2022 election campaign, compared to the campaign for 2019, when he first entered politics?

“We are in the middle of a pandemic, which limits movement. And I will be judged for the first time by my performance as a public servant. I was voted No. 1 in my first try: I did not expect that. So I had to work harder to earn that honor. I did my homework and learned from my colleagues in the City Council ‘para mag-anad pag-preside sa’ meetings and sessions and carry out my duties as councilor.”

[Hontiveros under PDP-Laban-Barug topped the 2019 winners in the south district, bagging 161,347 votes, which was almost 37,000 bigger than the vote of the topnotcher in the north district, Nestor Archival of LDP-BOPK, who got 124,466.]

[2] Dondon is being carried by Barug as official 2022 candidate for councilor, along with Phillip Zafra with whom he seceded last September 4, declaring “independence” from the ruling party. Last October 11, the two Barug members withdrew their withdrawal. Yet to the Comelec, the two are party-less. How does Dondon view his being independent, as far as the Comelec is concerned?

“(Zafra and I) are candidates of Barug. There is no party mentioned in our COCs but we remain supportive to Barug. And Barug has recognized us as their candidates.”

(Any right of the candidate or, later, the winner that depends, under the law, on his being affiliated with a political party necessarily will be denied Hontiveros and Zafra by Comelec, regulator and enforcer. Barug cannot replace them with its nominees in case they are unseated or move up to higher position.)

[3] Basketball and politics require sharply different skills. Aside from dissimilar craft, there’s the contrast in people one deals with: On the hardcourt, only the player and his team, moving against players of the opposing team. In the legislature, one deals with fellow legislators but uses language and mental acumen to survive the session. And there’s the matter of handling barangay leaders and voters. How has Dondon managed?

“Having generous mentors around me really helped the transition. Dako kaayog tabang sila sir Mike and my fellow councilors, Phillip Zafra and Edu Rama. I also benefited from a lecture by (former city councilor) Atty. Aven Piramide (on parliamentary rules and Sanggunian doings), I really had to learn on the job.}”

(Learning on the job included the presiding officer’s damage control. A recent example: reducing, if not avoiding, the impact of charges of corruption during an October 13, 2021 Citizens’ Hour where the resource person, quarry operator Benito Aratea, named five city officials in connection with cash pay-offs on a road project.)

[4] How much time does Dondon spend in Manila and in Cebu during “regular time,” before the election season?

“This is the first time in 19 years that I get to see my parents before I go to work, in itself already a huge blessing. They are staying with me in the house, so I would say I am having the best time. I get to serve the City and have dinner with them, but lately, I am so busy with the duties, so ‘ika-buntag na mi mag-istorya.’ I still had some things to finish in Manila early part of the campaign. This time, I am based in Cebu full-time.”

(The “things to finish in Manila” must include his work as “shooting coach” for Phoenix Fuel Masters. He was added to the team prior to the enhanced quarantine, ahead of the 2021 season. He retired in 2017 with Alaska. He worked, a January 7 news report said, with Phoenix for two weeks before flying home to Cebu just before the ECQ lockdown was imposed. He had three titles in his playing career, a 33.6-percent shooter.)

[5] Who among Dondon’s co-workers in government does he consider more important than others and apparently the ones whose support he nurtures for their job and getting reelected?

“The barangay captains are the real front-liners in public service. I have seen how they serve the people. Grateful kaayo ko ko nga naamigo nako ang mga kapitan. I remember Sir Mike (Rama) prodding me to visit Kap Harry Eran of Cogon, Pardo, the first to 'adopt' me. Information from barangay captains is so important to us at City Hall. They are the leaders on the ground who listen to people’s concerns.”

[6] What does Dondon like most in his work as an elected public official? What in it does he not like?

“I listen to concerns of a barangay relayed to me by the barangay captain and my staff and I get in touch with those who can help. Friends in the private sector also join us to lend a hand. Gratifying when somehow what we do ‘nakatabang nila.’

“The downside? I hear ‘nga nidako kono akong ulo o dako na ko og kausaban.’ I really don’t mind. I know what’s inside my heart. The people I work with can attest to that. ‘Kasabot man ko,’ you are judged by your words and actions.”

(The “nidako’g ulo” comment came amid the talk that Hontiveros resented being bypassed on the slot for vice mayor. His sudden trip to Manila after the April 16-17, 2021 Pampanga decision on the local Barug lineup for 2022 and, later, his and Zafra’s “declaration of independence” were seen as sulking over an adverse turn of events.)

[7] Last October 5, Dondon said one thing he learned from basketball and he found useful in politics is “being prepared.” Preparing for a game and cramming for the next City Council session that he presides in requires the same diligence and zeal. What else, besides the Boy Scout ‘Be prepared’ mantra?

“We always make sure na we stay true to our vision, stay idealistic, and make a difference in our community.”

[Hontiveros can shoot for a three-pointer, which can mean (a) winning the election, (b) topping the race again, and (c) being next in line to the vice mayor in the tier of succession. Or he can get less. Being ready for whatever happens is part of preparedness.]

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