Reciprocity: Doing Your Privilege as a Personality in the Government for the People
VOL. XVIII, NO. 6(Nov. 15-21)
A thinker of innovative ideas that are out of the box.
The proponent of the “Snow in Session Road was criticized because people thought of an actual snow that would have come out of the machine that ejected a snow-like snow. Instead, it was just intended as a replication of the real thing so as people strolling along the famous Session Road would have a glimpse of how a supposed snow falls off from the sky. “That was my intention. Besides God can only make real snow,” he said. I was criticized but now those who criticize me are applying my proponent those in the private sector and most hotels, even in Manila. You have to be criticized first and then be emulated in the end, he added. Just last year, he initiated the Christmas Village in Baguio.
He is councilor and Atty. Elmer Datuin. Born from parents whose father is from Dagupan, Pangasinan and whose mother is from La Union. He is a Pangasinensi and an Ilocano, consanguinally. He was born and raised in Baguio. He attended his elementary education at the Baguio Central School and his high school and college at the Saint Louis University, Baguio City where he took up his Bachelor of Science in Biology and his Bachelor of Laws; and his Masters degree.
“I wanted to be a doctor of medicine but that did not happen,” he said. I thought at the College of Commerce of Saint Louis university for eight years having taught Biology, Botany, and Physics. It was more on Sciences. I was attached with the University because it was the school that I attended for some time. After my master’s at the University, I took up Law because everybody was taking Law at that time. Besides, being a lawyer was part of a benefit of being a faculty at Saint Louis University that time. With God’s blessing I was able to finish the major in four years time in 1986. In 1987, I took up the BAR exams and passed the exams the same year. After that, I resigned myself as a faculty at the Saint Louis University and ventured myself to practice Law after being a full pledged practitioner of the field. Now, I am going back to school for my Master’s in Public Administration at the PCL Legislative Academy since I want to be better equipped more than I am today and be ready for anything even if I will not be with the government already, he narrated. He was inculcated with the value of education.
Atty. Datuin’s entrance in the application of Law was realized when he partnered with the then late Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas, who was an advocate of community social help by assisting the poor through free legal law services. It was a transformation for him. “I went with the advocate of our late Vice Mayor. We lawyered for free. Majority of our clients were from the poorer sector. Although, some clients generously provided us some fees. Even when I have my own law office, we have been friends before,” he said. This lasted for five years.
Prior to him joining the political arena, Atty Datuin was a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter, where he held most of the positions. Through time, he became the President. At those times, he increased his network of friends and was active on legal aide as a volunteer who gave his services for free. As the President of IBP, he institutionalized programs more for the poorer sector on Law services. He was proudest, when he became the most outstanding President of the chapter in the entire country and when he and his Baguio-Benguet chapter swept awards on legal aide from the vendors, jail, and from the ordinary sector, nationally from 1996 to 1998. He attributes this victory to the cooperation of most lawyers in Baguio City Chapter that they have been bestowing until now and from the lawyers who are coming from the three Universities in Baguio who are attending their training on the said chapter.
When Atty. Datuin saw the rise of Atty Farinas from being a councilor to a Vice Mayor, he followed the latter’s footstep in politics. He had this desire to be a public servant. After his presidency at IBP, he ran for councilor in 1998 where he landed as number eleven on the record. This was his first time in politics. He was excited on his new position and on his work as a public servant. “I wanted to immediately give the opportunity as a public servant to poorer clients who help me enter politics. This way I would reciprocate their help to me. Those times around, my tasks were much bigger in terms of scope. It was my first to have been chair manned in the committee of sanitation and environment. I have been exposed to and dealt with the health sector, nurses, doctors, environmentalists, among others which was completely different from being a legal aide since it was more on health care programs. Here, we held comprehensive health care programs and addressed clients of all ages from the youngest to the oldest. It was my advocacy at that time that all students must have had their proper health care program where I made the ordinance for the use of iodine salt on foods consumed by students that would have benefitted their health and their body likewise for their brain’s function. I have also been active with district hospitals having made sure that medicines have been delivered and health care workers were readily available,” he narrated.
When Atty. Datuin entered politics, it was not that hard for him to have adjusted since a lawyer and a public servant’s aims are the same. What a lawyer should be doing should be done more as a political servant. You have to give back to those people who voted for you the privilege they have given you. You have to put on your mind that being in politics is not forever. You have to do your best in those three years. “This is what I have been doing until now that our late Vice Mayor Farinas has told me when I was his student,” he said.
However, politics is not always on the side of a politician. When Atty. Datuin ran for his second term as a councilor, he was number one, primarily because of his performance. In spite, as political in nature, it was his party who has received the ends of criticisms. He was branded as the closest of friends of the mayor whom he was so supportive of before but it was just politics so he was not affected that much. This was when his colleagues did not agree with the advocacy of the mayor at that time of his support. Even though, he has been following the same principle that he continued to have provided people with a performance that they appreciated of him.
As a councilor, Atty. Datuin has been a national chairman as he was elected by the eighteen thousand councilors of the Philippine Councilors league in the entire country from his first to fifth term. He has been a national officer from 2004-2007 on his third term as elected by the same league. He had the opportunity to have visited all provinces and all cities in the country. He made sure that councilors would have the proper roles as councilors in relation to the programs that the country is implementing. He fought for the councilors benefits and for us to be partners in legislative outlets. We have capability building programs. He was able to deal with President Gloria Arroyo. He was a regular speaker for cha-cha on those times having spoke with governors and councilors of the country. He believes in the advocacy to change portions of the economic aspects of the constitution but because of the restrictions imposed by the constitution, it has not been amended in the fear that officials term will be extended. But it’s not that aspect to be changed. Term will remain the same only the economic portions as for our economy to accelerate since we are being left behind compared to our other Asian counterparts,” he clarified.
In 2010, Atty. Datuin was elected as a national officer where he represented all cities in the country until 2013. In 2013, he was elected as chairman for councilor’s league in Luzon until 2016. “I am an active councilor not only in Baguio City but throughout the country. I promoted Baguio City as a premier for tourism. Comparing our City or other cities in the country, it is far more beautiful. We have more advantage and benefits compared to other cities in terms of human resources and infrastructure,” he said.
Half-Pangasinan and Half-Ilocano, Atty, Datuin is a blessing for the people of Pangasinan for their rights. Although, their family friends are all from Baguio City. Personally, he is a market person. He knows all the sellers in the City market. He cooks in their house Filipino dishes and it is cooking that he wanted to master. “This is what I learned from my mother who owned a restaurant. If I have time, I will enroll in a cooking school,” he said. He goes out of the City with his friends to look for better restaurants with exotic food and local food. He loves to look for food in restaurants. He imbibes to his children the character of humility for them to be closer to people since he believes that people who are humble are successful coupled with the passion for excellence. He is an ordinary person who is in the correct place at the right time. “I don’t have that much money but I give importance to my family and to what I do to other people. It’s my simple happiness to laugh at the things I do. I’m not the kind of person with many requirements,” he clarified.
As a good citizen, Atty . Datuin follows the basic character traits of a person which include responsibility, humility, and honesty. He is afraid that if he does badly, he will be punished by God since this is his upbringing as a Catholic. He sees to it that he does well to his fellowmen by doing the righteousness to them. He prays because there is this Somebody up there Who can give you what is not doable by merely a human being. On his idle times, Atty, Datuin plays golf with friends as a social undertaking and a de-stressing formula. He also used to be an athlete in track in field. He enjoys running and long distance marathon. He spends quality time with his family since he realized when he has told to befriend his children and family while they are yet younger rather than them getting older because could be a gap already.
Atty. Datuin is an active member of Lion’s Club International Baguio, a civic organization with the background of passion in giving services to people in need such as feeding program of the underprivileged and community service. He rose from the ranks as an ordinary member to a governor in 2009-2010 and then as an ordinary member again. The organization has thirteen clubs in Baguio City.
Public service for councilor Datuin is helping people through the services you can give as somebody in the government sector. You have to use your position for the benefit of the people by sharing to them the resources of the government that are for them. You have to listen to the people. Consult with them since there are times that your ideas are not for the majority. You have to be sensitive to issues. But there are times when you have to be firmed for the majority of the people. You have to be honest to the people for you to survive politics. Above all, you have to have with you the fear of God because by this you will be guided in you moves.
Since he cannot be in politics forever, Atty. Datuin said that he will do his best. There will be a time for him to resign and take another path but still, he will be working hard till the next elections to be a legislator and as a councilor because he still can do many things for the City as he can do more. He wishes that people will always trust him as their councilor and be their councilor.
At present, he is the chairperson for the committee on tourism, special events, parks, and playgrounds. He likes the position because of his experiences through the years; he can do that are good for the city. He has legislations that are proven and that can be done to Baguio City’s new developments. “We have increased the tourist influx by tenfold through statistics data collecting both locally and nationally. We have improved infrastructures for tourists’ parks and playgrounds. We have hosted special events in the City such as the Christmas in the City where t is the only City in the country that has a natural attraction of as the coldest city. This is to add to the other three special events we have such as the Baguio Day, SUMVAC, and Panagbenga. With these, I will be remembered through these special activities.
Coucilor and Atty. Datuin is married to Atty. Edith Datuin who is also an active member of the IBP. They have three children. They reside in Ambiong, Aurora Hill’s middle class community. He was born on November 19, 1957 to a simple, hardworking, and persevered middle class family./By: Ezequiel D. Banas-e