Bencyrus Ellorin .
HE played in the Divisoria of old and witnessed how the city has grown, he now wants to spend his life serving his fellow Cagayanons.
Successful businessman and politician Yan Lam “Alam” Lim knows Cagayan de Oro City by heart, he now wants to repay it with full-time public service.
Alam Lim is the first president of the Liga ng mga Barangay (formerly Association of Barangay Councils) to be reelected and sit as ex officio member of the City Council for a second term.
A businessman who was into banking and construction supplies, Alam first entered politics when he ran and won for barangay chairman in Barangay 40. He tried his luck in the City Council in the 2010 elections but lost.
In 2013, he again run and won as Barangay 40 chairman. Supported by the Padayon political machinery of former mayor Dongkoy Emano, Alam won the Liga ng Barangay presidency and became a member of the City Council. He ran in 2010 for councilor in the first district, but lost.
Last May, he was re-elected barangay chairman of Barangay 40. It was not clear then which political group Alam belonged. In July 2018, he was re-elected as president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, Cagayan de Oro Chapter, retaining his seat in the City Council.
This time though, he has supported the administration of Mayor Oscar S. Moreno. “Actually, wala pay 2018, nag suporta naman ko sa mga programa ni Mayor Moreno,” Lim said.
He added, “Wa man ko nibalhin og political party. Non partisan man dapat ang barangays, and di man pod na sila political party,” further saying he does not have personal issues with the group Padayon.
“Ang ako lang gyud makatabang, maka serbisyo sa mga tawo sa syudad, and maayo man kaayo ang dagan sa administrasyon ni Mayor Moreno,” he said.
Asked why is unfazed contending the congressional seat of the second district, “nakita ko man ang supporta sa katawhan. Sila man ang nagpadagan sa ako, sila pod magpadaug sa ako,” said Lim, a second generation Filipino-Chinese whose family is one of the pioneers of the city’s hardware and construction supply business.
Aside from the solid support he is getting from the barangay chairpersons and leaders of the city’s 80 barangays, Lim is getting solid support from the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation. The SK Federation welcomes Lim’s decision to run so “finally the youth of district 2 will have an ally in Congress who can support their advocacies and projects.”
“Sad to note, we are getting none now from our congressman, unlike in district 1,” said SK Federation president and ex officio City Councilor John Michael Seno.
Born in 1958, Alam barely knew his father, Lim Kim Kuan who died in a high profile heist of their store at Divisoria in 1960.
Since then, it was his mother, the late Maura So who presided over their business to become one of the biggest hardwares and construction supplies store, the iconic Oro Maura Hardware in JR Borja Street.
Alam remembers spending his childhood at the old Divisoria. He remembers the great Cagayan de Oro City fire. He studied elementary and high school at the Kong Hua School when its campus was still at the Tiano-Hayes Street, presently the site of Dynasty Hotel.
“Nakita naku pag-expand sa syudad,” he said recalling that when the city expanded from Divisoria to the Cogon area, Oro Maura Construction and Oro Hardware moved to JR Borja St..
Despite their fortune, Alam was a working student. “I just saw the opportunity to study and earn.”
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Business Administration, major in management and minor in accounting, from Xavier University in 1981. But he skipped the university for one year and enrolled at the University of the East in Manila in 1978. There, he worked as area supervisor of Electro Sounds which was distributor of the music label Dyna Records, selling vinyl records (plaka) and cassette tapes.
After graduating in 1981, he worked as business consultant on marketing for the Associated Citizens Bank (presently Sterling Bank), then headed by Leonardo Ty. After over a year, he focused on their family business, and later on established his own businesses.
Used to be listed under his name are Sky JY Ventures which was into marketing and Summit World Philippines, Inc. which is in travel and tours.
Since joining politics, he has divested interests in these businesses. His children, he said are now running their businesses.
“Retired na ko. Mao gusto full time na gyud sa pag serbisyo sa katawhan, kay daghan kaayo kabus nga angay tabangan,” Lim said.
For him, it is family and public service. He said he has a very supportive wife who may not be in politics but very active in socio-civic activities. He is married to Eleonor Uy who originally came from Davao City.
Their three children, Leonard Jan, 31; Drake Jon, 29; and Aram Jed, 27 have all finished higher education. His eldest and second child are now running their businesses, while his eldest is a physical therapist.
Former Lapasan barangay chairman Omar Labuntog said he has no problem supporting Lim’s plan to run for congressman in the second district despite his closeness to former congressman Rufus Rodriguez. He served as one of the spokespersons of the former congressman when he ran and lost the mayoral race in 2016.
“Alam is a real person. He has no political ambition. He is a made man. I believe when he says he would just love to serve the Cagayanon,” said Labuntog.
He took a swipe at candidates who run their political affairs as a family business. “Si Alam, okay ang pamilya, katawhan nalang serbisyohan.”
Despite discussions of him running for 2nd districtcongressman the moment he won the Liga ng Barangay presidency in July, Alam said that even if he was coy to the idea, he really did not seek it. “I was happy to support Mayor Moreno’s projects,” Lim said.
When he was officially announced as the official candidate of the PDP-Laban in a press conference this Oct. 5, he thought that while his candidacy would be a personal decision, there has to be a recognition of stakeholders co-ownership over his running for elected position.
“OK na akong life. Happy na ko sa akong family. But then, I realized and felt the strong desire to serve. I want to spend the rest of my life serving the people of Cagayan de Oro, especially the poor.”
(The author is a former journalist with experience in managing and editing online news portals here and abroad. He is now a public relations consultant and political campaigner. One of the social media groups he co-administered was a finalist in Globe’s Tatt award in 2012.)