Greg Gelvosa Gasataya knew he cannot cower in fear for himself when the COVID19 pandemic reached its feverish peak two years ago.
The former multi-awarded broadcaster knew people were in dire need during a lockdown especially when they cannot work and their movement was limited.
So he set his office to work. Food was what people need first, he thought years back when the city went under the Enhanced Community Quarantine level that almost paralyzed the economy as work grounded to almost a complete halt.
Amid complaints of political favoritism, his office implemented a different distribution system, one grounded on the simple principle that during a crisis, a leader must not use colored lenses.
Help must be given to all. Regardless of political color or loyalty.
His only requirement: a plastic chair.
One congressional candidate even used it as an example in his campaign.
“Kay Gasataya, ang imo lang kinahanglan siya (To Gasataya, all you need is a chair),” he said, referring to the putting out of chairs for households to receive help.
And help did come: whole dressed chicken, good quality, well-milled rice and foodstuff fit for human consumption.
Humans, not pigs for as a former journalist he knew that treating people like animals by giving them food not fit to eat can create resentment.
And is against his very principle of public service.
With his unveiling of the New Bacolod concept built on the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Economic Highway (BaNOcEH), Cong. Greg says it was actually the pandemic that made him think of interconnecting roads to the highway freeing major streets from vehicular traffic.
“I drove around alone and one thing I saw was that for the longest time our only way to the eastern side of Bacolod is Burgos Avenue,” Cong. Greg told former fellow broadcaster Julius Mariveles of DNX News in a one on one interview.
Which made him thought: why not build interior feeder roads with the BaNOcEH as the backbone?
” I talked to experts. I am not an engineer so I asked around. I asked engineers, I asked the (Department of Public Works and Highways) if it is possible to build a road connecting this to that. I listened to them, ” he recalled.
That listening led to a vision: to free Burgos Avenue and to make travel faster.
Now, Cong Greg is awaiting the implementation of interior links for Bacolod barangays – Granada in the east to Mandalagan in the north, Alangilan in the east to Vista Alegre in the south.
Feeder roads will also be built – Alangilan village to Alegria in Murcia town, and another linking Brgy. Cabug and Abuanan in Bago City.
These roads all form part of the Eastern Belt Growth Area that Cong. Greg sees as the base of his vision for a New Bacolod as the highway would run through nine big barangays – Sum-ag, Cabug, Felisa, Mansilingan, Vista Alegre, Estefania, Granada, Mandalagan, and Bata – which all cover a third or at least 232,000 of the city’s estimated 600,000 residents over 62 square kilometers or also a third of the city’s 162 square kilometers.
“I have always believed that legislation should be rooted in the ground,” Cong. Greg says.
Or sometimes feeling the wind in his hair.