A night of remembrance: Estrada closes chapter as Manila mayor
MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada hosted a “night of remembrance” on Wednesday, a few days before turning over his top post at city hall.
Estrada was elected Manila mayor in 2013 and got reelected in 2016 but was defeated in his second reelection bid in the 2019 midterm elections by former Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
Bowing out, but still devoted
As he steps down as city mayor in a few days, Estrada said his “devotion to the city of Manila will remain.”
“The elections are over, Hindi man tayo pinalad, my devotion to the city of Manila will remain. Ang aking pagmamahal, hindi lang nakasukat sa salita kundi maging sa gawa. Pagmamahal na maraamdaman ninyo sa mga iiwan kong proyekto at programa. Alay sa higit na makabubuti para sa higit na nakakarami,” Estrada said during thanksgiving dinner Wednesday night with relatives friends and allies in attendance.
Estrada described his six years of service as Manila mayor as “colorful.”
“Puno ng hamon at puno rin ng saya at tagumpay. Tagumpay na maaaring masukat sa dami at lawak ng proyektong nagawa natin upang guminhawa, sumaya at gumanda ang buhay ng Manilenyo,” he said.
“As an outgoing mayor of Manila, you have been the source of my strength and dedication. Kayo ang nagbigay sa akin ng lahat. I now bid you farewell for now and I take a step back in public service. The people have spoken and I respect them,” Estrada said.
Estrada is set to step down from his position on June 30.
Estrada recalled that during the campaign period for this year’s midterm polls, Manila folk accorded him a very warm welcome.
“Hindi ko po inaakalang hanggang second term lang ako dahil in all the motorcades we had during the campaign, napakainit ng pagsalubong ng Manilenyo sa akin. Daming yumayakap, ang dami-daming humahalik,” he said.
Knowing the poor
Estrada said his showbiz career exposed him to the problems of the poor.
“I saw them personally noong ako kasama nila, kaya nung ako’y naging mayor, I know the problem of the poor. I know, lahat. Kaya siguro ako nabigyan ng Panginoon, nag-artista ako, doon ako napunta at nalaman ko lahat ang mga problema ng mga mahihirap,” Estrada said.
On top of these issues, Estrada said he also “inherited a bankrupt city” and had to raise money to start their projects.
“Nagkatulong-tulong ang Cabinet members ko, tinanong ko sila kung paano ko gagawin, ang mga konsehal ko, tinanong ko paano makakabayad ng utang? Lahat po nagkaisa, nagkatulungan. Nagkaisa na wala kaming pagkukunan,” Estrada said.
But once they were able to start raising funds for the city, Estrada said they paid off the city’s debts in less than two years which helped them start projects for the poor.
Supporters, family, thank you
Estrada thanked his supporters who have been there since he started his political career five decades ago.
Estrada entered the political arena in 1967 when he was elected mayor of San Juan, Metro Manila.
He was later elected senator and vice president before winning the presidency in 1998.
“For almost 50 years, kayo ang naging lakas ko sa buong kabanata ng aking buhay,” Estrada said.
“Never an ex-hubby”
He also acknowledged the presence of his wife, Dr. Luisa Ejercito, who he described as his “one and only.”
“I am the king of ex-es. Ex-movie actor, ex – mayor, ex – senator, ex-vice president, ex -president, and ex-convict. But darling, I’ll never be your ex- husband,” he told his wife.
Among those who graced the thanksgiving bash were his son, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, Janella Estrada, senator-elect Bong Revilla, Manila’s fourth district councilor Edward Maceda, Faith Cuneta, Sarah Geronimo and Asia’s Queen of Songs Pilita Corrales. /gsg
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