“Life is so much simpler when you stop explaining yourself to people and just do what works for you.” – Joker
Perception is reality in politics, so they say. And obviously, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Trenas has been an avid fan of this old dictum.
When Trenas first ran for mayor in 1998 against reelectionist Mayor Mansueto Malabor, he was on the receiving end of a disastrous political labelling. He was tagged “elitist” because of his family background, he coming from landed, wealthy families – paternal and maternal. Plus his mestizo looks. Having been educated in schools of the elite like Ateneo, it was all the more difficult for Trenas to project himself as a man of the masses. Thus, he was easily defeated by the populist Malabor.
Trenas’ political career was dead in the water until then Congressman Raul Gonzalez Sr., business leader Larry Jamora and Malabor himself conspired to resuscitate him. They picked up Trenas from the wayside and shoehorned him as Malabor’s successor in 2001.
Trenas won that election not because of a change in image but due to the political organization of Gonzalez, the business savvy of Jamora and the popularity of Malabor.
And, as they say, the rest is history. Trenas would, in subsequent elections, tangle against Gonzalez and Malabor roundly defeating them or their anointed candidates. Jamora fell from the graces of Trenas. To complete the ‘return of the comeback’, the triumvirate all died without Trenas mending fences with them. As in life, in politics nothing is permanent. Your friends today can be your enemies tomorrow.
In office since 2001, Trenas juggled from mayor to congressman and back to mayor. If he succeeds to complete his second three three-year terms in 2028, he would be in power for a combined total of 27 years in the congressional and mayoralty offices of the city.
With no potential rival on the horizon, Trenas is not resting on his laurels. He appears sigurista. There’s no letup in his political image-building.
I have seen up close and personal his determined efforts to repackage his public image since he entered politics. In 2001 he started visiting public markets ostensibly to buy food, vegetables and spices while in walking shorts and slippers. I remember the media deriding him for such tectonic shift in his image. Some even called it hypocrisy. Trenas, in all his mestizo splendor and fine complexion, waded in the dirt and grime and braved the stench of the wet sections of the LaPaz, Jaro, Central and Terminal public markets. All to ingratiate himself with the masses that comprise the majority of the city’s electorate.
Fast forward to the internet age. Trenas ups the ante by showing his adoring fans that he is one of them; that despite his rich upbringing he is just like them who eats tabagak. Trenas cooking danggit, chorizo and egg in the morning for his beautiful wife and children in their weekend getaway of a multi-million rest house in Anilao, Iloilo is indeed a sight to behold. Try visiting his Facebook page and you will see what I mean.
Come chew that Atty. Joe Espinosa III.
Over coffee at Richmonde Hotel yesterday, a former mayor bragged that he goes to church every day. He also mentioned a common friend who serves as lay minister at the Jaro Cathedral. Such religious diligence is admirable. Faith being the panacea to all problems that man can’t explain.
But I jokingly opined, Don’t overdo it. Otherwise, you might be called earlier than your time because the heavens might think that you are already overqualified.
“Eh what about those criminals, political charlatans, the corrupt etc? I see them also going to church, even praying with their eyes closed,” he shot back.
Well, they should not also overdo what they have been doing because the heavens might call them ahead of their time too, my wry reply.