When supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo came out in droves wearing pink when she filed her Certificate of Candidacy last week, we were reminded of a similarly controversial figure that had an affinity to that color.
Remember Bayani Fernando, former traffic czar and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman, who painted the National Capital Region pink to the chagrin of those averse to that color?
For a while we missed the man, a person everybody loved to hate when he was still in charge. Fact is, he had earned the ire of street vendors, pedestrians and motorists for simply enforcing the law. He was so controversial, that he was even called names such as Mr. Metro Guwapo and the Pink Panther for simply painting his MMDA infrastructure projects with his signature color.
Fernando was called to serve as the MMDA chair in 2002 in the hope that he would duplicate his transformation work in Marikina City and apply it to Metro Manila. From a one industry town known as the shoe capital to the boom city that it has become after his three consecutive terms as mayor, Fernando had given back pride to Marikeños.
He was hoping to apply what he did to Marikina in his MMDA stint through his demonstrated political will. A mechanical engineer by profession, Fernando used scientific and practical approaches to solving Metro Manila’s urban problems.
You may be one of those antagonized by Fernando’s weird policies but in hindsight, we realize that he did a fairly good job as the Metro’s chief traffic czar. We may not miss the pink footbridges and fences he put up but admit it, we now long for some of the things he did like lessening U-turn slots, eliminating traffic lights, clearing sidewalks and providing rapid bus lanes.
All these practical ideas contributed to the drastic improvement on the flow of vehicles, particularly in EDSA, proving to one and all that you don’t have to widen the road to ease traffic.
There were times when the public accused Fernando of being eccentric, like when he proposed to replace the handshake as a gesture of greeting to avoid the spread of diseases. As congressman in 2019, Fernando filed a resolution in Congress encouraging Filipinos to lay the palm of their right hand over their chest and a slight head nod as a gesture of goodwill and praise. He called it Pagbating Pilipino, which he said is meant to prevent the spread of germs in the traditional handshake. Only now, at the grip of the pandemic, has the nation realized the foresight the man had.
We could go on and on talking about Fernando, but the man exited the public consciousness, probably disappointed that many of his programs at the MMDA met stiff opposition, some of which got him into trouble with certain Metro Manila mayors, who even questioned his policies all the way to the Supreme Court.
Last we heard, Fernando is eyeing a return as Marikina mayor, filing his Certificate of Candidacy to challenge incumbent Marcelino Teodoro.
By transforming Marikina as the cleanest and greenest city in the country, Fernando was once dubbed as the Filipino version of Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, due to the public’s admiration of his achievements in the city.
When asked why he is so associated with a feminine color, Fernando said the use of pink means the city is in the pink of health. Besides, according to him, it is an attractive color that easily catches attention.
Robredo’s switch to pink as a political color, however, is entirely different. We can’t see any rhyme or reason to it. If anything, it supposedly represents the plight of the country’s victimized women akin to a battered wife syndrome. But heck, why deviate from your original color if your only purpose is to disassociate yourself from a discredited, bankrupt yellow opposition?
It definitely smacks of hypocrisy considering that, while running as an independent, she remains the titular head of the Liberal Party, while his running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, will be representing LP.
If only for this, people should indeed long for those days when pink is pink and a symbol of one’s determination to succeed as Bayani Fernando had espoused. No ifs and buts about it.
Or is pink now the new yellow?