Iloilo City is also feeling the stress of corona virus.But it is coping beautifully with…
You can’t believe how Richard Gomez’s life looks like now.
His Ormoc green house is surrounded by assorted plants and vegetables from tomatoes to chili and pechay.
On any day, the chorus of ducks (and other farm animals) is the natural sound of music in his farm where he retreats after his office work is done.
He and congresswoman wife Lucy (Torres) celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary by planting assorted trees. He turned a year older also in April and it was spent getting latest updates from his covid-19 task force.
The athlete and actor is now on his second term as mayor of Ormoc City in Leyte and coping beautifully with the onset of corona virus.
The former active athlete that he was, Richard points at fencing as the perfect sport in the era of covid-19. “This sport needs masks and gloves and if anybody gets closer than 6 feet to you, you stab them,” he explained.
But for now, his vision is focused on Ormoc City’s 240,000 inhabitants living in 110 barangays. The city has an annual budget of P1.4 billion and with a yearly income of P300 million.
He admits acting will always remain part of his life and he may yet do another film. But for the moment, taking care of the people of his city is his priority. “If there’s a good project that will not be in conflict with my duties, why not?”
To be sure, Mayor Gomez has had a colorful showbiz career and his own share of trophies to prove it.
One of his last memorable roles is the love interest of Cherie Gil in the Peque Gallaga-Lore Reyes film Sonata.
Earlier he won several awards among them the FAMAS Best Actor trophies for Dahas, Gawad Urian best actor trophy for the Ishmael Bernal film Wating, another one for the Carlitos Siguion Reyna film, Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit, among others.
For the moment, his day-to-day life is preoccupied with latest updates on the corona virus and checking on the ever growing needs of his constituents.Two of his constituents have tested positive in rapid tests. “ but these are still for confirmation,” he said.
The mayor said the city planned for quarantine as early as March 7 when he called the City Disaster Risk Reduction Council to a meeting. They figured out possible scenarios and created focus clusters to address different areas of concern. “On March 13, I ordered the closure of our borders from all sides to prevent the expected influx of people from Covid- 19 positive areas. It was a hard decision and largely unpopular with the neighboring towns. But I was dead set on preventing the entry of Covid-19 in our city.”
The mayor is taking care of 67,000 households and the city government gave them one sack of rice each. “We prepared for a long haul. We avoided the instalment way of delivering basic needs. Because the way life turned out for everyone, at least they have something that can avert hunger. I’ve learned that the one-sack rice distribution has caught on with other LGUs seeing its wisdom and practicality.”
For now, it not really hard to implement the long and dragging quarantine hours. “Ormocanons are law-abiding citizens and thus far, they have been very cooperative. Of course, there will always be the pasaways but they are a small minority.”
He has a relaxed schedule lately but he can feel the heavy load of responsibility. “Keeping Ormoc safe from Covid-19 and preventing its early onset until we are ready was really tough. But I thrive well in difficult situations. I wake up early morning, check my phone if there were earth-shaking developments when I was asleep. If there is none, I visit my backyard garden and farm and cook for breakfast. By that time, my wife Lucy and daughter Juliana are still asleep. Then I ask a household help or the gardener to have breakfast with me. I like eating with company.”
At 8:30 a.m, he is in the office and dealing with day-to-day concerns and making hard decisions and praying they are the right ones. He usually has lunch with his staff or some councilors if they are around. Then he goes to his mountain barangay home to get some sun and fresh air.
His leadership style?
“I believe in transparency and consultative leadership and leading by example. I come to the office early, wear my ID and like what I expect from my fellow public servants, I am courteous to everybody. I always consult with my team with matters involving important decisions.My staff at ODT(Ormoc Development Team) are opinionated and largely self-made people. The discussions are often long and bloody but at the end of the day, the decisions we reach is always for the good of the majority. I am also in touch with the private sector which can be relied on in times of calamity. Ormocanons are generally kind and gentle and ready to help. Thus far, they have more than lived up to the challenge.”