Bacolod lost one of its few decent and competent leaders today – a man worthy of all my respect. Something which I have practically lost for almost all political leaders today. But I grieve most especially for losing a mentor and a friend. Both words are actually synonymous in meaning.
The word mentor (n.) mean “wise adviser, a close friend who also is a sage counselor,” especially of one who is young or inexperienced (1750) from Greek Mentor, who was a friend of Odysseus and adviser of Telemachus (but often actually Athene in disguise) in the Odyssey.
I first heard of Atty. Lyndon Caña from my upperclassmen in AB Political Science at the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos (UNOR) in 1989. When I became a freshmen PolSci student, leadership tasks became my natural route, having been always in the frontlines since my years in elementary and secondary education.
But it was in college when I needed to seriously embrace leadership as a mission. In 1991 as a sophomore student, I was caught in a situation where I needed to run for student government president very early on in my college life. Lacking the confidence, I went to meet with Nong Lyndon (Nong is short for Manong, a Filipino world for an elder brother or an older male). He graciously accepted us in his house and generously answered all my questions.
He became a mentor to me thirty years ago, someone who generously provided sound advice for a teenager whose out to lead a student body of more than 6,000 students, until the time I ran for mayor of a city with more than half a million citizens in 2019.
In 1993, we met again, and this time I had to call him Sir Lyndon as my professor in my freshman year at the College of Law at the University of Saint La Salle. This time, he got to see upclose how I take many things for granted. Right after college, I went on my usual outgoing attitude and spent more time in extra-curricular activities, aside from my workload as a reporter, not only to earn my keep but because I truly enjoy my work in the media.
He almost failed me out of disappointment, seeing how I submitted a poorly written research paper. He was so frustrated that he told a common friend about my work which I only knew later. But I already know that what I submitted was totally a piece of crap. I never had the chance to tell him the reason why – in my attempt to really make a good material, instead of using my grandfather’s old typewriter, I borrowed my neighbor’s electric typewriter. Unfortunately, I accidentally dropped it while I was on my way home. And the deadline was the next day. I never explained to him because I know, it was still not a good excuse to justify a poorly written assignment.
In the first College of Law yearbook of the University of Saint La Salle, I am lucky to be part of the pioneer batch and blessed once more to have Sir Lyndon as mentor.
Today, I teach a subject similar to his for more than 22 years now. And I will teach it with all my heart to make amends for my poor research submitted to one of my most esteemed professors.
In 2001, we both run for councilor of Bacolod. But Councilor Lyndon ran as an independent candidate, while I run under a party. He won as the 7th councilor, while I only garnered votes enough to bring me in the 18th spot, and lose.
In 2004, he ran again, still as independent, and this time, I decided to also ran as an independent candidate, partly inspired by his example. He landed as number 3 while I came after him at number 4.
And so, I once again ended up as his junior in the city council of Bacolod. He was my seatmate in the Sanggunian, which was composed of 2 parties and 2 independents (me and him). This meant there were four blocks in the Sanggunian. Yes. Bacolod should know. He is the real independent. And I struggled to follow his footsteps for six years. We make policy decisions not based on party pressures but based on our judgments. Sir Lyndon and I had our share of differences on issues and policies but all these did not affect our friendship, and my respect for him.
He would commend me for my discourses, resolutions and ordinances but it is a known secret among all my staff that I use to collect all his ordinances and resolutions during my first year in office so I can follow them. He must have been annoyed about how I would ask him how to formulate my oral motion on the floor almost everytime. In my first term, I wanted him to be proud of me as a his former student and did all my best not to underperform to redeem my law school fiasco.
In 2014, while I was still a councilor and he was in private practice, he recommended me to be part of Kalipay Negrense Foundation as a member of the board, where he also sits. In Kalipay, I once again had the opportunity to listen to Sir Lyndon’s wisdom as we assist in helping children who are subject to neglect and abuse.
In 2016, I decided to retire from politics, seeing how leaders like myself and Sir Lyndon have no place in this city. I will reserve this discourse for another day.
But in 2018, a few days before the last day of filing of candidacy for the 2019 elections, I received a message from Sir Lyndon – “Jo they wanted you to be mayor”. By they, he was referring to the oppostion. We had several exchanges eventually and as history unfolded – I ran for mayor in 2019. And he prayed for me and supported me by linking me with his networks. More than the support, the fact that a mentor I respect deeply – believes in me – made a whole lot of difference. I lost the mayoralty race, but I think I never lost his trust for me, and the trust of those who believed and voted for me. Most of all, I am still able to recognize myself in the mirror.
Because that is all I want, when I suddenly retired in 2016 – I was so afraid to lose myself and all my principles just because of politics. Yes “just because” – you see politics is not an accomplishment so it is “just because” for people like us. I was so afraid to forget all the things that I wanted to do when I was a kid – to keep on leading, sharing, guiding and making a difference – things I cannot do wholeheartedly and meaningfully inside politics without so much pain and difficulty.
In 2019, he was nominated as a party-list representative. Sadly, he fought a hard battle for a third seat of CIBAC, and was unjustly outseated. CIBAC, I don’t know what this party name stands for or this party actually advocates – but I don’t think they deserve a good man like Sir Lyndon to be their representative. He is just way too excellent for a pigsty that is called political arena.
He run for higher offices just like I did after our stint as councilor of Bacolod but we were never given the chance. This only proves we are not afraid of leadership tasks but the Lord has a different mission for us.
In 2020, when the pandemic started, Sir Lyndon and I would continue to discuss about the situation of our returning overseas workers. And the plight of our beloved city and country.
And so today, I share this piece as a tribute for a great leader and mentor. To all the young Bacolodnons reading this – please know how lucky our city is to have a man who is a good leader, a good citizen and a good person like Sir Lyndon.
He is the only councilor of Bacolod as far as I know who was feted the award as one of the Top Ten Councilors of the Philippines (TOCP) by the Junior Chamber International Philippines (PCIJ) and the Philippines Councilors League (PCL), in cooperation with the office of the late Senator Edgardo Angara. I was only a semi-finalist when it was my time.
Bacolod should once again know the ordinances authored by him for his short stint as a councilor, namely, Environment Code (C.O.313), Quarry Code (C.O. 318), Solid Waste Management Ordinances (C.O. 310), Ordinances creating a Bacolod Mini-Forest in Barangay. Alangilan (C.O. 346), Anti – Noise Pollution Ordinance (C.O. 356), Ordinance giving Special Protection to Barangay Workers (C.O. 334), ECC ordinance (C.O. 308), Ordinance regulating the location and distance of cell sites and towers in Bacolod city (C.O. 364), City Casuals Ordinance (C.O. 304), Ordinance creating the council of Coastal Barangays in Bacolod (C.O. 351), State of the Environment Report Ordinance (C.O. 307), Anti – Flooding Ordinance (C.O. 335), Economic Rent (C.O. 343), Codification Ordinance (C.O. 339), Anti – Deadly Weapon Ordinance (C.O. 358), Ordinance creating the Economic and Business Council of Bacolod (C.O. 417), Ordinance creating the Arts & Culture Council of the Bacolod (C.O. 413), Ordinance mandating an annual sports program in Bacolod City to be known as Palararong Panlungsod of Bacolod City (C.O. 414), Ordinance Mandating an Artificial Reef Program in the coastal waters of Bacolod City. (C.O. 412), Relief and Incentive to markets Vendor Ordinance (C.O. 407) and the Bacolod City ICT Council (C.O. 440) which I co-authored with him.
In our lives, we all need a mentor. We shouldn’t run out of mentors. They are our benchmarks. They make us want to always challenge ourselves.
Sir Lyndon, I hope I have made amends for the poorly written assignment I submitted in 1993. I hope that you will continue to be my mentor in Heaven and pray for me and to be proud of me. Thank you very much for everything. Rest in Eternal Peace.