In death, there is life

5B1B9DF2-A03F-40EA-A77F-0B1A1662DC87My childhood friend Sharon lost a husband last month. We were not talking for decades, then suddenly we found ourselves putting meaning into grief, in the most unexpected way, in a group chat on Viber. So spontaneous and beautiful that we didn’t have to go back to the past… except to welcome back each other and be thankful for friendship.

The much-publicized deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have taught us that everyone has very limited time on earth.

Then the very recent death of my batchmate, Michael Fariñas, a friend, who happened to be my city mayor, then vice mayor.

He left behind his young family, and Laoag, the city he served from the time he followed the path of public service. A painful loss to the many whose lives he has touched, or even changed.

I just visited my dad in rehab, and kissed and made up with my mom, with zero drama, after two years of not seeing them. Such a relief to move on without the excess baggage.

Losing someone can be the most painful experience in life, but also an illuminating state that can humble those who are left behind.

My thanks, thoughts, and prayers for the eternal rest of the dear departed.

Chevylle V. Fariñas: Tailor-made for public service

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Chevylle sounds like Chevy Chevelle, the car of choice of Baby Boomers, somewhat hinting at the age of the first woman mayor of the city of Laoag. The only daughter among the two children of Baby and the late Rudy Villanueva (not originally from Ilocos), Chevylle spent her formative years in Laoag. An honor student at the Holy Spirit Academy of Laoag, she had that kind of beauty that made the boys swoon. Her college years were at the Maryknoll (now Miriam College). As cupid would have it, Michael Fariñas, the first grandchild of the late Fariñas Trans patriarch, Don Federico, and nephew of then Laoag mayor Rudy, never let her go, and they tied the knot and had children. Michael worked in the family business while Chevylle was full-time mom, yet helped manage their own retail store, and later on they dabbled in politics (Chevylle always supported Michael, who was tasked to organize and manage his uncles’ election campaigns). When it was Michael’s turn to win the mayoralty in Laoag, Chevylle assumed the other essential posts like the barangay heads association chair.

Fellow-barangay heads helped her “walk” for the mayoralty post, with last-termer mayor Michael defying family wishes, which caused a split-up in the Fariñas family and supporters (the first time it happened to the close-knit family), and indeed she eventually won by more than 21K votes over reelectionist uncle, Roger. But that’s all water under the bridge. The passing away of cousin JR ( Rudy’s son) made Laoag’s most prominent political family whole again.

More low-key than the average Ilocano politician, her strength lies in her diligence and organizational skills. And I see that feisty streak in her, exactly what a woman leader should be born with.

Under her leadership, Laoag continues to reap awards, awards such as most livable and most business-friendly city, notwithstanding the controversial disappearance of former City Treasurer Elena V. Asuncion and 85 million from the coffers of the city, which political opponents of the Fariñases are trying to link to both the mayor and vice-mayor (husband Michael).

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Fun Facts about Laoag City Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas

•  She sings very well. Very well means like a professional singer.

•  She’s a hands on mom, albeit her other duties. Now that her two older children, Jami and Mikee, are able to help serve her constituents, we can see how she has influenced them in their career paths — Jami is the City Administrator, after Perry Martinez vacated the post, and Mikee has followed her parents’ footsteps into politics.

•  Creativity is her middle name. She likes arts and crafts, she’s her own stylist, she loves makeup (like you and me, darling), and dressing up as seen in her fashion choices (well, her mom owns a clothing store). Her personal strong liking for happy colors extends to her office like Barbie pink and apple green are the official colors of her administration.

•  She drives like a man. She will drive to Manila alone if she has to. What are the Sampaloc and Divisoria streets to her?

• A city hall employee will attest to her exemplary work ethic. One more employee says she pushes them to think out of the box, and likes to hear innovations.

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•  It is hard to imagine her in a different hairstyle. It might be a politician thing like Imelda has had that bouffant since time immemorial.

• Basically, between Michael and Chevylle, she is the more approachable one.

• As city mayor, despite her busy schedule, she has time for everyone, (this I experienced three times, to be precise, no cordon sanitaire).

All photos lifted from the Agserbi 24/7 Facebook page.