NAGA CITY — Despite the short notice of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s arrival, Nagueños in the thousands flocked to the city center on Tuesday (Feb. 22) morning to catch a glimpse of the country’s Chief Executive during his first official visit to this city.
Arriving by private plane shortly before 9 a.m. at the Naga Airport, President Aquino was accompanied by DILG Sec. Jesse M. Robredo, DA Sec. Proceso Alcala, and DENR Sec. Ramon Paje.
Minus blaring sirens and a speeding convoy, President Aquino’s short drive to Naga took 20 minutes. Speaking before a yellow-clad crowd composed of community leaders, students, city government employees, and ordinary Nagueños, the President expressed delight over Mayor John Bongat and city officials’ plan to erect a Freedom Obelisk as a lasting symbol of Naga’s continuous quest for peace, freedom, and justice.
Mayor Bongat, who is currently in Australia as an official delegate of the Philippine Center for Young Leaders in Government, was in constant communication with city officials who organized the groundbreaking ceremonies.
While on his official trip to Australia, Bongat also wrote a formal letter addressed to President Aquino, thanking him for his presence in Naga and assuring the president of the presence of People Power in the Nagueños’ lives as well as in governance.
The Freedom Obelisk is set to be erected on the former site of a billboard structure beside the Plaza Quezon. Preparations for the groundbreaking ceremony went well into the night, with crews from the City Engineers’ Office and organizers from the City Mayor’s Office coordinating closely with the Presidential Management Staff.
In the concept paper prepared by Vice Mayor Gabriel Bordado Jr. and City Planning and Development Officer Wilfredo Prilles, Jr., the obelisk “will be a multipurpose structure that addresses educational needs of society, both past and present” through the depiction of Nagueño and Bicolano heroism.
The concrete base will feature bas reliefs that portray at least three important historical events in Naga’s rich history: 1) the struggle of the Arejola brothers during the Philippine-American War, 2) the successful yet short-lived liberation of Naga by TancongVaca guerrilla forces during World War II, and 3) the strong political opposition of Naga to Martial Law and the strong participation of its people during the EDSA Revolution.
“People Power is not merely about the commemoration of those fateful February days 25 years ago when unarmed citizens overthrew a dictator. People Power resides in the hearts, minds, and actions of all Filipinos and Nagueños and it is the driving force behind the great actions that we do in governance and in our daily lives,” Bongat said.