THE first time I met her in 2007, I was drawn to the huge black mole between the upper part of her eyebrows, just below the forehead. Lucky woman I thought. It seemed that her life was prophetically shaped and fitted for affluence and power since the beginning.
A decade hence, she is still viewed as the woman whose luck shows no sign of waning. Three terms as the city mayor, the third one being a landmark victory when she won by landslide in 2013, garnering about 65,845 votes against the 11,393 votes earned by her opponent. She went on to become the representative of the first district of Laguna.
More than her physical attributes, she has brought her share of innovation — and controversy — to local governance. A radio anchorman used to chide her for being an amateur politico whose only expertise is putting on a spotless lipstick. Political opponents accused her of corruption in the construction of the Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex. They pointed fingers at her on issues such as transparency and accountability. People think she pays little attention to issues and Lagunenses in the grassroots and is more interested in social events that have nothing to do with public service. Even her personal life was exhumed for the public to feast on.
Her accomplishments outweigh these brickbat, however. Her stint boasts of the evolution of Santa Rosa as the premier city of the south. It earned the city the tag “lion city’ as it continues to roar in growth and development.
With her gutsiness, the pretty, wide-eyed Arlene has evolved over the years to become an expert in her sphere of influence, envied by politicians all over the country. Her effortless grip on power has completely baffled those who had the opportunity to meet her in person.
I know by some accounts who she was, thanks to my friends who work for her up to this day. More than that, I also had the chance to work closely with her when I joined her media team way back year 2007 and as consultant for special concerns in 2010.
She was the grieving daughter of then mayor Leon Arcillas. She was shoved like a midget kid fighter to the political arena and surprisingly won via sympathy vote. Her grief was also a blessing; her bereavement a way to fulfill a purpose.
The typical Rosenian who graduated from UP Los Banos has the common intellectual flair that most UP students exhibit. She hears one opinion, weighs it, but decides according to what she believes in. She hears you but she can never be dictated on what to do.
I heard she is poised to return as the city mayor. With such huge number of followers, I imagine her standing tall, calm in the thought that in this battlefield called politics, she knows exactly how it will turn out. (Laguna Now)