Lim Kuan Yew

Published August 10, 2020, 10:55 PM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Farewell, Mayor Fred Lim, policeman, police chief, NBI director, senator of the Republic, always a friend to police reporters, their photographers and editors.

He lived a checkered career that mythically began in a soap opera-worthy setting, Hospicio de San Jose home for orphaned babies, but he will be best remembered for his cryptic quips and his ramrod-straight posture that reflected on his straight (as opposed to crooked) and honest dealings with subordinates and the people. To me, he will always be Mayor Lim Kuan Yew.

Mayor authored one law that not even his biographer knew about. But I heard him say it, as I was the only one who was paying attention. Something told me he had known it forever but had not had the chance to utter those words in a public setting: “Don’t fight with a woman.”

The lady who inspired that statement was Bambi Lammoglia of Intramuros Administration, who had just shaved off the magnificent top branches of the massive trees standing in front of the Manila Cathedral. Environmentalists, writers, artists, churchgoers were scandalized and waited for Mayor Fred to convey their outraged feelings to Ms. Lammoglia. To the reporters who tried to corner him for a reaction, Mayor simply gave his signature Mona Lisa smile and walked away. But I heard him mutter under his breath, “Don’t fight with a woman.”

With but one exception. At one time Mayor was being linked to a beauty queen. On TV and radio, she said “No comment” to the rumors. The next day, Mayor was hopping mad, “Why didn’t she just say it’s not true? ‘No comment’ means it’s true!”

Another rumor was to the effect that the lady in the widower Mayor’s love life was Gemma, i.e., Gemma Cruz, the city’s tourism/culture director. As it turned out, Mayor did marry Gemma, not our first Miss International, but the other Gemma, his secretary in the mayor’s office.

The last time a little group of us met Mayor, it was for a Valentine’s lunch at Harbor View, and we were happy that he was looking good, fit and healthy. ‘Twas nice recalling that the new mayor of Manila had never said a bad word against him throughout the 2019 mayoral campaign.