Annabelle Rama objects to flyover near Asilo shrine
She said she accepted the offer of Mayor Michael Rama in “less than two seconds.”
One of the reasons Annabelle Rama said she was interested to run for Congress in Cebu City’s north district was to protect the Asilo dela Milagrosa church and orphanage from being affected by plans for a new flyover on Gorordo Avenue.
“Feeling ko naay nag hunghong nako kay ang Asilo gusto ipa-demolish ni del Mar.. Diha gyud ko nagdaku.. I was 3 to 4 years old when I was at Asilo and grew up with the nuns,” she said on Friday during a quick visit to Cebu City to transfer her voters registration.
If Annabelle, a Manila-based entertainment talent manager, runs for congress in 2013, her opponent would be either Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar or the incumbent’s father Raul.
Both del Mars are sponsors of the series of flyovers being put up by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and have been aggressive in pushing for their implementation, which was scheduled last year yet.
Plans to build two additional flyovers in Gorordo Avenue and M.J. Cuenco Avenue met strong opposition from traffic managers, and environment and heritage advocates, including nuns of the Asilo dela Milagrosa, who led weekly dawn prayers and processions or “aurora” to protest the rise of the massive structures.
A road setback would require demolishing part of a grotto, driveway, and guardhouse, as well as push the Asilo’s fence up to the front door of the church on Gorordo Avenue.
The two flyovers, worth P600 million, were put on hold by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson. A meeting in Malacañang between President Aquino and Rep. Del Mar and the mayor, left the matter hanging.
A go-signal was given to allow road widening in the sites pending a traffic study by the DPWH to determine whether the flyovers were really needed.
A protest banner “No to flyovers” still hangs outside the walls of the Asilo dela Milagrosa.
The controversy snowballed into wider calls by various sectors for long-term traffic and urban planning that would direct Cebu City’s growth as a “sustainable city” instead of adding costly two-lane flyovers in narrow thoroughfares as “band-aid” solutions to traffic congestion.
During her grade school years, Annabelle stayed with her aunt in the Asilo Milagrosa in Gorordo Avenue.
Elder brother George, barangay captain of Basak Nicolas, said Annabelle was “close” to the Asilo nuns and still visits them and extends help.
In a separate interview at the City Hall office of Mayor Rama, Annabel said she spoke on the phone with her cousin on Wednesday.
When the mayor invited her to run for north district congresswoman, Annabelle said she said quickly said yes. The showbiz manager said she wanted to make sure that the Asilo dela Milagrosa church and its orphanage would not be damaged by a flyover.
Anabelle said she her family had mixed sentiments on her election bid.
Daughter Ruffa objected, saying “Anong gagawin mo sa congresss? Dapat mag aral ka muna ng law.” (What will you do in Congress. You should first study law.) The mother replied that if you have a good brain (“magaling ang utak mo”), you can study for the role of congressman.
“So far, half of my family is against it. The other half is excited,” said Annabelle, who said she wants to consult other family members and still has time to decide until October, the deadline for certificates of candidacy.
Elder brother George, who’s discouraging her from a political career because of the cost in time and money, which he estimates at P10 million to P15 million for a campaign, said he doesn’t think Annabelle will proceed with her political plans.
“Pustaanay ta, di na siya modagan (I’m ready to bet, she won’t run for congress),” said George.
Annabelle is the fifth child among seven siblings, according to her brother George who is the third child.
Their parents are Feliciana Rosal and Laurente Rama.
Annabelle lived in Basak, San Nicolas in Cebu City before she went to Manila. She graduated from Basak San Nicolas Elementary School and finished high school in the University of San-Carlos Girls High Campus.
Annabelle took a nursing course in Southwestern University for one year but cut short her college education when she was accepted as a flight stewardess in Philippine Airlines.
Annabelle married Jorge Eduardo Picket Gutierrez, a matinee idol in the 1960s. As a teenager she had a big crush on Eddie who was very good looking, George recalled.
Annabelle also had a brief stint as an actress in the 1970s.
The couple have six children, most of them with careers in the entertainment industry.
The beauty queen-actress host, Sharmaine Ruffa Gutierrez is the eldest. Ruffa’s five brothers are Rocky, Elvis and his twin brothers Richard and Raymond. Ritchie Paul is the youngest.
Annabelle’s feisty image in TV roles is the opposite of her real personality, according to George.
“Sa tinuod lang buotan kaayo og matinabangon na siya (She’s really goodnatured and compassionate,” he said.
“Motabang gyud na siya sa mga nanginahanglan (She gives help whenever it’s needed).”
He said Annabelle was also a close friend of businesswoman- philanthropist Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung.
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