Wenceslao: A talk with an old guard

Bong O. Wenceslao

I MET former congressman Antonio Cuenco only two times in the past two years. The first time was during the wake for a media colleague and the second was only a few days ago. Cuenco is a Cebu City councilor now aligned with the camp of Mayor Edgardo Labella. He was one of my politician idols when I was younger but both of us are older now--I have recently retired from full-time media work while Cuenco is no longer with Congress. Our perspectives, though not our viewpoints, have changed.

We naturally didn’t talk about the affairs of the state, but rather were focused on the affairs in the City Council and Cebu City in general. We talked about the drug menace, true, because Cuenco is one of the main authors in the House of Representatives of the current narcotics law, which he lamented has not been implemented fully and partly because it lacks a penalty clause, but we talked of other things besides that.

Like, he noted that the project recently announced by the highways department, the construction of a road directly linking Barangay Guadalupe with Barangay Lahug and decongesting traffic in front of the Capitol, was something that he lobbied for when he was in the House. Work on the project is finally in the pipeline after the recent change in the city’s administration from former mayor Tomas Osmeña to Labella.

Talking with Cuenco reminded me of the old days when our lawmakers in the city, with Cuenco in the south district and Rep. Raul del Mar in the north, had the ability and determination to make a difference as lawmakers at the national level. Now, the House is the domain mainly of Mindanao politicians with our politicians there mainly becoming an afterthought. Old guards like del Mar and Eduardo Gullas are still there, but age is catching up on them. Our younger lawmakers are clearly not of the old guards’ mold.

Besides, Cuenco and del Mar are liberal democrats, which have been on the defensive since President Rodrigo Duterte took over. The political pendulum has shifted to the ultra-right side and liberal democrats are being derisively labeled as “yellows.” Yet these liberal democrats are still the ones making a difference in nation building with their vision, ideals and work ethic.

But back to Cuenco. People around him apparently whispered to him that I have retired from full media work. I once joked about this in my Facebook account, capping the post with a message that I am open to whoever wants to hire a “former community organizer who also knows how to write.” Suffice it to say Cuenco had something in store for me that had me thinking deeply until now. But I am not one to jump into decisions without a long thought. I promise to share whatever that decision would be to my readers because that would surely affect whatever I would write here in this space, if ever.

I may have retired, but unlike many other retirees, I do not intend to merely fade away.