Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo proves that gentleness can be a city’s greatest strength.
BY LAKAMBINI BAUTISTA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL SORIANO
Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe “Ipe” Remollo’s home is abuzz on a Monday morning, as 200 or so people from different barangays congregate at the garden area. The mayor says meetings and gatherings are a commonplace in their family home. “Hindi na ako pumupunta sa barangay, sila na ang pumupunta dito.
[I don’t even have to go to the barangays, the people come here],” he quips cheerfully.
The Remollo abode is warm and cozy, with a spacious veranda, a busy kitchen, and several rooms to accommodate visiting guests. The mayor says their family’s two-hectare property is the go-to venue for Dumagueteños’ civic and even private affairs—from meetings, sports trainings, day care center activities, weddings, birthday parties, and more. “Our PWD group has a dragon boat team, and they would
practice in the swimming pool. Dialysis patients would go here to get some fresh air,” the mayor adds. On the night when we were accommodated at the mayor’s home, a debutante’s party was held at the poolside. The mayor says his constituents are welcome at his home, and this tells a lot about how he treats them—they’re basically like family.
"Eventually, we will implement facial recognition. We will install the more advanced CCTVs in airport and transport terminals, so that if there are terrorists who set foot in Dumaguete, it will alarm the authorities.”
THE CITY THAT RAISED HIM
Born, raised, and educated in Dumaguete, Mayor Remollo’s love and affinity for his hometown cannot be questioned. He was molded by the sisters of St. Paul University Dumaguete (erstwhile Saint Paul College), where he studied from kindergarten up to first year high school. He then transferred to Silliman University for his second year high school where he then graduated, and afterwards took up Political Science and History also in the same university and graduated Magna Cum Laude. During his junior and senior years, he had a taste of local governance when he was elected kagawad (1978-1981) of San Jose, a town close to Dumaguete, where his father, Atty. Orlando Remollo, was mayor.
Determined to succeed in life, the ambitious probinsyano decided to move to Manila to take up Law at the Ateneo de Manila University.
He started as a litigation lawyer of the Gonzales, Batiller and Bilog Law Office from 1987-1992.
In 1992 he got married to a fellow Atenean Lawyer Cristine Cuisia Remollo. The couple bore two sons, Pelos and Dio, who are now in their senior year at Ateneo Law School.
Also in 1992, he founded the Fabregas, Calida and Remollo law office together with now Solicitor General Jose C. Calida.
Then in 1995, he became managing partner of the Remollo and Melocoton Law Office with the former Makati Prosecutor Federico Melocoton Jr.
Oddly enough, he admits that it was partly because of career burnout and the dreadful Metro Manila traffic that made him hanker for provincial life. Leaving his lucrative career in Manila, he decided to go back to public service and ran for mayor of Dumaguete City in 1998. “When I went back, nobody knew me anymore because I was away for 20 years. But we captured the imagination of the young, and with that I earned my unexpected victory,” Mayor Remollo remarks.
When his term ended in 2001, he went back to the big city, which allowed him to continue an enriching career in the academe, in the law practice, and in business, and develop powerful networks. Among the key positions he held over the last decade were president and chief executive officer of the Clark Development Corporation; vice chairman and director at Clark International Airport; director at PGA Cars, Inc.; and senior vice president and legal counsel at Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc.
Mayor Remollo only got to continue what he started in governance when he ran and won the mayoral race again in the 2016, and was re-elected by a landslide in the 2019 elections. He admits it’s much easier the second time around. “This time, I knew better. I returned complete with masterplan, which was something we had 18 years ago but was not implemented fully. This is now our battlecry,” explains the city’s chief executive.