By Alex P. Vidal
“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”—Mark Twain
TEN years ago on February 4, 2012, I interviewed then Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista in Vancouver.
It was his first visit to Canada, the then 42-year-old former child actor admitted.
The article I wrote about Mayor Bistek was the headline story in the February 8, 2012 issue of the Surrey-based Philippine Asian News Today, where I had the privilege to serve as editor for several months.
The interview with Mayor Bistek was made possible after then Philippine Consul General Jose Ampeso introduced me to the popular former showbiz personality during a private dinner in the house of Sister City founder Annie Miles on Edward Street, City of Vancouver.
Ampeso, best remembered as the one who handed to the late former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. his passport bearing the opposition leaders’ false name of “Marcial Bonifacio” for his ill-fated trip to Manila where he was assassinated on the tarmac on August 21, 1983, introduced me to Mayor Bistek as “our journalist friend from California.”
Mayor Bistek said he would quit politics if his term expired in 2019.
He had been mayor since 2010 after a landslide victory in the 2010 local elections in Quezon City.
But three years after his term as mayor expired, he didn’t actually quit as he is now running for senator under presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Only fools don’t change their minds?
A former Kabataan Barangay National Federation president from 1986 to 1989, Mayor Bistek was one of the panelists when some 40 international business and urban leaders discussed various issues, particularly the business of city building during the two-day Cities Summit 2012 Feb. 1-2 at the Vancouver Convention Center West Building.
“It’s my first time in Canada and I have just signed a reaffirmation of our (Quezon City) sisterhood with New Westminster (British Columbia’s oldest and former capital city) Mayor Wayne Wright,” Bautista told this writer.
Bautista said he and Wright discussed the possibility of expanding their ties not only in the area of education and culture, but also in technology, economic and human resources.
“Our cities have one thing in common,” Bautista pointed out. “Quezon City is the former capital of the Philippines, while New Westminster is the former capital of British Columbia.”
Quezon City and New Westminster City signed a sisterhood pact in 1991, Bautista disclosed.
He clarified that Quezon City and Vancouver City didn’t have any sisterhood agreement, but he was tapped as panelist along with then Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi; Milo Medin, Google vice-president of Access Services; Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners; Courtney Pratt, chairman of Toronto Region Research Alliance; David Helliwell, CEO of Pulse Energy, among other mayors and business leaders.
The Cities Summit 2012 was hosted by then Vancouver City Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vancouver Economic Commission.
Vancouver hosted the global Summit on the pressures city regions must address as the world urbanizes at an increasingly rapid pace.
International speakers thought leaders from both the public and corporate sectors, and participants engaged in discussions on the solutions urban centers and their citizens can apply to address the strain on cities and their environments, while supporting responsible growth and innovation.
It was noted then that the world was urbanizing faster than ever. For the first time, half the planet’s population – over 3.5 billion people – lived in cities.
Another two billion will join them by 2030, it was anticipated. This great migration was set to define urban life for generations to come, said the summit description.
The Cities Summit assembled international business and urban leaders to design the creative, practical solutions for a sustainable urban future.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)