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The power of connecting: Conclusion

By: Fernando Fajardo - CDN Digital | December 18,2019 - 07:23 AM

I ended the story of my life in my last piece with abrupt retirement from NEDA at age 46. How did I survive after that and why I am writing this? It is a long story but I will make it short.

I did not become jobless when I left NEDA Region VII in 1994 because at that time I was also managing the Central Visayas Water and Sanitation Project (CVWSP) in concurrent capacity. The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region VII, to which the NEDA regional office serves as its technical arm, organized the CVWSP with assistance from AusAid and counterpart funding from the national government. The RDC put me in-charge of the project in 1991.

The project objective was to develop water supply systems in 32 municipalities most in need of water in the region and willing to allow the completed local waterworks system to be placed in the hands of users that we organized into water supply and sanitation cooperatives and provided with training to manage, operate, and maintain their own water systems.

We targeted four municipalities in Siquijor. In the end, we covered all six municipalities on the island with the extra funding that we got from Manila. From ten in Bohol we completed eleven, again with the extra funding that we got from Manila. Negros Oriental had six and Cebu twelve but in Cebu we manage to extend assistance to some barangays in three municipalities using the savings we had from our allocation for Cebu. The project ended in 1998.

When my early retirement was approved and while I was still managing CVWSP, I put up a consulting firm in 1994 with focus in the preparation of municipal development plans. With the team that I organized, I won the contract for the preparation of two town plans in Cebu and one in Bohol. I was on top of the ranking later on in the bidding for the master plan preparation in one of the component cities in Cebu but lost eventually in favor of another for reasons I did not know. I was also top choice in one of the municipalities in Negros Oriental but the project was aborted when the municipality received the advice from DILG Regional Office to do the planning themselves using their own local planning staff.

My frustration in the last two projects discouraged me from seeking more projects elsewhere. I let my firm into hibernation. However, I continued my consulting work by accepting offers from other consulting firms to join their team for their projects, which I am doing until now.

Other things were also keeping me busy. In 1990 or 2 years after I became assistant regional director of NEDA VII in Cebu, the USC Graduate School Department asked me to teach economics on part time basis for its MBA and MA Economics program. Later, the graduate school department was closed to allow the different departments of the university to handle their own graduate school programs. That led my transfer to the Department of Economics. In late 2000s the Department of Political Science offered a master’s degree in public management and development. The department asked me to handle some of its subjects. Until now, I am still serving the department on part time basis together with the economics department.

In 1998, Cebu Daily News (CDN) was put up. Eileen Mangubat and Thea Riñen, CDN’s two pillars, invited me to be one of their columnist, which I accepted. Eileen and Thea knew me when I was still with NEDA. I was one of their news sources. I still write for CDN now.

In 2008, Roger Lim, who became one of the private sector representatives to the RDC while I was with NEDA, asked me to join him in a meeting with a group of businessmen in Cebu. They were discussing Cebu’s development and its future. That occasion led me to meeting Cebu Business Club (CBC) President Dondi Joseph. Dondi asked me to join their organization and be its executive director. I also accepted the offer. My work at CBC ended in 2017 when I suffered from grief at the loss of my spouse, daughter, and sister in a span of three years.

Am I satisfied with where I am now? Again, why I am writing this?

My answer to the first question is yes because although I did not become rich I did not become poor either. Simple as I am, I cannot wish for more in life.

The only trouble, and this why I am writing this, is that what I think was enough or best for me is not necessarily the best for the country or our people. I think now that I could have done more if only I knew what connectivity means and using it to the full to advance myself higher in life in the service of my family and our country and people.

Had I been patient at NEDA and game in becoming close to people with influence that I knew, including politicians, maybe I could have reached more height nationally in the government bureaucracy. Had I been more outgoing and aggressive in the private sector while I was with Cebu Business Club, maybe I could have landed a good job in business too. In both, I had no guts to use my connections or expand and develop them more fully for my own good. Being good at work is not enough. One must be good in connecting too.

Well, that is life. We either just go with the flow or fight the current to find more and better opportunities. I chose the easier way but then I did not regret. I may not be up there in wealth or in position but I am still happy and contented just the same. With what I do now, I believe that I am still helping our country and people in some way no matter how small even at my advance age.

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