Thursday, September 4, 2014

Delfin Gonzalez, Last Mayor of Jaro

From the manuscript of Ken Ishikawa:

“During the Commonwealth period, Delfin Gonzalez, the father of RMG, became a leader of the local branch of the Nacionalista Party.  It was the largest, political party in the country.  Its membership included Sergio Osmeña, Manuel A. Roxas and Manuel L. Quezon, an illustrious group which had managed to negotiate with the U.S. Senate the terms of Philippine Independence…

“The year 1940 was a divisive one for the Iloilo Nacionalista branch, as the brothers Eugenio and Fernando Lopez engaged in a bitter feud with Governor Tomas Confesor.  Three years prior, in the election of 1937, the Lopezes supported Confesor's governorship bid.  During his term proper, however, Confesor refused to provide the brothers concessions like the lifting of the bridge toll, which was hurting the Lopez-owned Panay Autobus.

“It was in this political atmosphere that Delfin's bid for the vice-mayoralty of Jaro found itself.  Using their political clout, the Lopezes sought help from Manuel L. Quezon against Confesor.  Quezon schemed to remove Confesor's political support from local party mates.  To this end, he sent Manuel A. Roxas to meet with local Nacionalistas.  Roxas came to Jaro and stayed over at Don Maximiano Jalandoni's mansion.  From there, he sent for Pablo Bion and Delfin Gonzalez, who were running mates.  Roxas relayed instructions from Quezon, who was their party's national chairman, to drop Confesor and instead opt for Dr. Timoteo Consing for the governorship of Iloilo.

“Delfin was faced with a difficult choice.  If he did not do as Quezon ordered, he was given the warning that they would not be able to sit as mayor and vice-mayor.  Should they support Dr. Timoteo Consing, they would only be ensuring that Iloilo's economy would fall to the clutches of the Lopezes.  Despite the conditions they were threatened with, Gonzalez and Bion, chose to side with Confesor, and made good their earlier promise to support him.

“Riding on a populist platform, the two charged into the campaign for Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Jaro. They raised their hands and charged with the battlecry “Gugma kontra Kwalta” (Love vs. Money).  The common people of Jaro believed in the changes Bion and Gonzalez promised and gave them the mandate.

“A few months into their administration, Pablo Bion left his political seat, making Delfin Gonzalez mayor of Jaro.  Quezon made true his threat and expanded the territory of Iloilo City to cover Molo and Jaro in 1941.  Jaro lost its status as a town with Delfin Gonzalez as its last sitting mayor.  Delfin would tell RMG to shun the fate of the reed swayed by the wind, and thus
a signature virtue of RMG is loyalty, which perhaps he sometimes bears to a fault.

“Delfin was promised by the incumbents a position as a councilor in the expanded Iloilo city but that never materialized.  Although it was a major blow to Delfin's career as a politician, he did not allow it to bring his family down.  The Gonzalezes would need to stick together as they were going to face a bigger storm; one which brought a rain of bullets, the thundering of artillery bombardment, and the lightning flash of bayonets.”

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