Sports, optics and politics

This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s May 6 edition

One of my favorite stories involving Edgar Labella was when he was on his first few weeks as the newly elected Cebu City mayor. He didn’t change his routine and so he was at the Cebu City Sports Center for his regular exercise.

He passed by one worker who was hard at work in the field.

He passed him once, twice and noticing that he was alone, curiosity got the better of him.

“Ikaw ra usa ga-trabaho diri?” the mayor reportedly asked the guy, who told a guy who told me of their exchange.

“Na-ukay sila tanan, oi. ”

CCSC workers were more visible because of that and having both covered and organized football events there, I felt the change. Which, according to my friend, happened because Mayor EdLabs was up and running.

That’s just one incident. So I guess it’s not surprising that photos of Mayor Edgar Labella in the CCSC jogging again have led to some black ops on social media demanding the mayor’s real state of health. I’ll support that move if it’s addressed to the Mayor of the Land, not the mayor of Cebu City.

Sports and optics, eh?

I’ve always thought that Mayor Labella being a jogger would be a big boost to his candidacy. At its peak, thousands went to Abellana, not just to jog, but to do all sorts of things. They may not be all voters, but imagine the stories they tell to those who do vote, “I saw EdLabs today.”

THE FIRST. Mayor Edgar Labella is the first Cebu City mayor to jog regularly at the Cebu City Sports Center.

Mike Rama is also a sports guy, but yeah, it’s different when you’re a jogger who knows what running is all about and sees a politico who runs than when you’re a basketball player who knows how hard it is to get an open three and reads “96 points scored.” I mean, you don’t have to state the obvious.

There was also this one unforgettable incident that I’m sure a lot of people noticed. It was a jam-packed Cesafi finals and Mayor Mike was there and he was noticed, because he made sure he was noticed. He walked across the court, beckoned to someone with his finger the way one would call a shoeshine boy in the movies. And I could see the “shoeshine boy” hesitate for a few seconds as if thinking, “Would I allow this indignity?”

Eventually he relented. This was, after all, after the then mayor fought for him and made his famous “Give me my police chief” speech. Aah, I wonder what the stories were told by those who saw that that day.

As for Mayor Tom. Well, we all know he’s not the type to be seen at the oval. He’s more of a “you-know-what-I-am-and-what-I-can-deliver” type of guy.

Sports, optics and politics. Will it be a factor? I guess we will know 12 months from now.

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