File photo of myself shaking hands with Gen. Alfredo Lim when he filed his candidacy for the last time several years ago at the Commission on Elections Manila.
Some people don’t believe in heroes, but they haven’t met my dad (and Mayor Fred Lim).
— Netflix breakout star Lauren Speed-Hamilton
COVID-19 is real and it took away a mayor, a senator, a father and a good friend in the person of former Police General Alfredo Siojo Lim—who should be celebrating his 91st birthday today, December 21, if not for the novel coronavirus or nCoV.
I first met the general when he was still a senator at the Kapihan sa Manila at Café Roma in the historic Manila Hotel. He was prim and proper as his personality exudes and I never knew he would one day be one of the best friends I ever have and an appreciative and supportive father to me.
Years later, he was elected mayor of our beloved city of Manila. Still, he had that distance from me because I didn’t know him from Adam. In fact, another best friend—sportswriter Roberto ‘Bobby’ Rondez—and I had often argued about Gen. Lim because we had some differences of opinion. For Bobby, Mayor Fred was the epitome of an honest politician who should be emulated by most. For me, I had my doubts (but that’s another story which I may perhaps narrate another day).
That time, another friend, Roy Mabasa, had also been elected as president of the National Press Club and since his schedule then became busy and hectic, I pitched in to help him cover Manila City Hall. Armed with a recommendation from Roy, I informed Mayor Fred about the arrangement.
And the general took me in under his wing.
This was when I got to know the general, the senator and the mayor.
I got really close to the man. My doubts faded and he became my mentor and idol.
I learned that behind the stoic façade was actually he person who could emhatize with everyone. He turned out to be someone you could honestly depend on and he acted quickly to complaints, requests and any other concern you laid before him. I imagined him to be like King Solomon who was always fair and hated all the bad in the world.
One time, I had trouble paying my rent and May or Fred was there. It only took me a few seconds to explain to him my predicament, and do you know how he reacted?
He said, “Okay, just come to me every end of the month and I’ll take care of your rent . . .”
That was about ten years ago.
And now my friend and mentor has been snatched away by a disease some people have doubts to be real.
I miss Mayor Fred because I loved him like my father. Both wear decent cops and both had principles that guided their way in life.
In closing, I want people to know that like Mayor Fred and my dad, I will walk on the path both of them had tread on.