Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, flanked by Mayor Joshur Judd Lanete II (l.) and Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, addresses the Fil-Am Masbateños at the Lovin’ Life Learning Center in Manhattan. (Filipino Reporter photo by Rene Ner)
Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter
Fed up with Masbate’s consistent ranking in the list of poorest and most politically violent provinces in the Philippines, the triad of Gov. Rizalina “Dayan” Seachon-Lanete and her sons — Congressman Scott Davies Lanete (3rd District) and Mayor Joshur Judd Lanete II of Placer town — are tapping the best minds and resources overseas to help them change the political and social landscape of the distressed Bicolandia province.
“Enough is enough...we badly want to bring Masbate back in the map,” declared Gov. Lanete in an exclusive interview at the Filipino Reporter office on Nov. 29.
The governor and her sons are in the United States to meet with U.S.-based Masbateños and seek their support and assistance to get the province out of misery — and out of the poorest list.
On Nov. 27, they met with dozens of Masbateños in the New York-tri state area in a forum at the Lovin’ Life Learning Center on West 43rd Street, where the three discussed the 12-point agenda of the newly-elected governor.
The event was organized by Nimfa Tinana, president of the Masbate Association of America, Inc., who accompanied the Lanetes at the Reporter office.
“Masbateños in America are deeply concerned about what’s going on there that’s why we decided to bring the highest government authorities of Masbate to answer the questions,” Tinana said.
“Most of the questions were about security and the economy of the province.”
After hearing Gov. Lanete present her administration’s programs to stop violence, save environment and natural resources, and promote people’s health, commerce and good governance, among other things, the U.S. Masbateños opened their wallets hoping the Lanete leadership can make a difference.
The issue of peace and order is the prime concern of the Masbate leadership in order to attract investors and local and foreign tourists, among others, to come in.
Masbate is surrounded by long stretches of “crystal blue waters,” that Gov. Lanete said could rival famous Philippines beaches.
But with both Gov. Lanete and Mayor Lanete having been recent targets of political assassins, they know they have a long way to go to win everyone’s confidence and interest in the province of nearly 800,000 people.
The governor’s brother, Rep. Fausto “Portus” Seachon Jr. (3rd Dist.), was killed in 2008 by unidentified assailants who remain at large.
“We appeal for whatever people can do to aid Masbate,” said Mayor Lanete, an Ateneo law graduate who is on his second term as mayor. “It could be financial or in kind, anything to support the 12-points agenda of the Masbate administration, especially education for children and health of all residents.”
“More than that, we would like Masbate to become a major player in the trading industry of the Philippines,” the mayor said.
“It is geographically located right at the center of the country. It’s best for it to be a stopover for trade traffic heading north, south, east or west.”
“We would also like to tap the full potential of the mining industry of Masbate since we have a lot of gold there, manganese, and other precious minerals,” he added.
Two weeks ago, the mother and sons met with Filipinos in Stockton, California, who donated over $1 million-worth of medical equipment — from X-ray machine and beds, to an ambulance — for Masbate’s provincial hospital.
“I simply contacted my friends in California (led by Dr. Albinia Benabaye) to ask for help and they immediately responded by soliciting help, even from non-Masbateños, as simple as that,” Gov. Lanete told the Reporter.
Provincial consultant Pedro Sepulveda, who is part of Gov. Lanete’s seven-man entourage, said the medical donations are expected to arrive in Masbate first week of January.
The shipping of the 40-container will also be shouldered by the donors themselves, Sepulveda added.
Regular medical missions
The Lanetes have also committed to regularly host medical and dental missions, the most recent of which was the Oct. 1-3 mission that benefitted a total of 5,000 families from different municipalities, with almost 300 of them surgical patients of cataract, pterygium, cleft/lip palate, myoma, ovarian tumor, hernia, goiter and others.
Rep. Lanete, a medical doctor by profession, said 150 doctors and medical personnel from the Philippine Children’s Medical Center and UERMMMC, among others, volunteered to take part in the provincial level three-day mission.
He said he and his mother will do their best to organize more missions in answer to poor health care system in Masbate.
“The mission also went to schools and gave books and school supplies, clothes and other donations for the general public,” the first-time congressman said.
“We know it’s not just medicine and health care that these people need.”
Rep. Lanete pointed out that the mission expenses came from their “personal funds” and not from Masbate treasury.
He also reminded the Reporter that their plane fare and other expenses for their U.S. trip came from their mother’s personal account and not from the taxpayers of Masbate.
“Siya ang nanay namin kaya she has to pay for us,” he joked.
“We want to give people hope and bring back faith in Masbateños that there’s somebody who’s willing to fight for them and are fighting for them,” Rep. Lanete said.
“We pushed ourselves more so we can deliver more. And it’s important to deliver at their doorsteps.”
“This, we hope, will also motivate and inspire the people to rise and also fight for Masbate’s future,” he added.
The Lanete entourage at the Filipino Reporter office at the Empire State Building in New York City on Nov. 29. From left, Dante Rosas, Masbate’s general services officer; Nestor Laurio, treasurer of Placer, Masbate; Rep. Scott Davies Lanete (3rd District), Florentina Sepulveda, congressional consultant; FR associate publisher Linda Pelayo; Nimfa Tinana, president of Masbate Association of America, Inc.; Masbate Gov. Rizalina “Dayan” Seachon-Lanete; FR publisher Bert Pelayo; Mayor Joshur Judd Lanete II of Placer; Katherine Dela Guerra; and Pedro Sepulveda, provincial consultant.