Romeo Jalosjos Sr., up close and personal

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DAPITAN CITY — In 1997, he hugged the headlines in almost  every newspaper and broadcast media in the country  when the court handed down his conviction for statutory rape. In the morning of March 18, 2009, he found his way home — a freeman, and the rest is history.

The man I am talking about is the same person who returned home to his family and strengthened the love of his life, and made wonders behind the world-renowned Dagkong Kakahoyan or Dakak Park and Beach Resort in barangay Taguilon, Dapitan City – a place tantamount to his name, Romeo Jalosjos.

I was in Dakak for a break after conducting a rigid training. Seconds after I posted a photo that I was there, friends started to ask, is he there? I asked “the who”? Then they said -Nonong- yet again I asked, Nonong who? Then one replied, Nonong Jalosjos — she meant the former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos Sr.  Then my brain started to work, and I quipped – aha! you mean the former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos? Then I continued – No! I didn’t ask and I am here for a short vacay, why? Then they replied — “he is there always, he personally manage his resort”.

I took my conversation with friends in stride as I was enjoying the scenery in a posh resort that everyone would dream of coming. The road leading to the registration counter was filled with tall green trees, clean surroundings, sprawling place where leisure and relaxation is beyond question with the vast greeneries, a hilly golf course, an infinity swimming pool overlooking a blue sea waters. The view was breathtaking, telling myself to reclaim a long-deserved break from work.

The morning after, I was excited for a breakfast served in a gazebo decorated with fresh flowers overlooking one beautiful sight of Dapitan waters, but my attention was caught by a man sitting alone in a table well attended which tempted me to ask a restaurant staff, “is he Sir Nonong”? The staff readily nodded, affirming in awe.

The journalist in me began to work, and I approached him for an interview which he gladly agreed.

I told myself, now is my time to talk to Mr. Jalosjos up close and personal.

Here is our conversation:

Newsline: How’s life now, Sir?

Romeo Jalosjos (RJ): Never been better . . .

Economy?  Never been better now.  Before, I never had these things before I went to jail, I never had any of these things but when I came out of jail I was able to put up Dakak beach resort to where it is now. I was able to put more businesses in Dapitan and many more, that is why, majority of the big businesses is my achievement.

Newsline: Was it hard to adjust being there for years? Was there a slow down?

RJ:  Yes Dakak was locked down.  We put an OIC business manager but it never ruined and never died but, we have to fire people . . . we have to close down because of that incident but when I came back everything was returned to me like a story of Moses . . . he was resurrected—he was given new life.

Newsline: When you came back, You seem to have spread your wings after the challenge? And never ceased to develop?

RJ: Yes . . . When it happened everybody was hurt, I was hurt, I felt the pain especially–it is not true . . . what was the feeling.

Newsline: When you went out of jail, what was it like, I mean when you returned to ‘your world’?

RJ: I feel more satisfied and complete. I am enjoying the success of my labor, my children and my family, we worked hard  . . . me and my children. We are in what we are now, the stage now of building a complete destination, a golf course and the facilities we have.

Businessman Jalosjos points the golf course and infinity pool of his resort.-newslien.ph photo

Newsline: You find more happiness now?

RJ: Yes! the meaning of life after being jailed, kasi,  I am proud to be jailed, history is built with stories about great men  who became great because he was jailed first. 

Majority of the great men in history was imprisoned one way or the other, even here in the Philippines, Rizal was imprisoned (former President Ferdinand) Marcos was imprisoned, Ninoy was imprisoned, Mandela (African President Nelson).

But it does not mean that you like to be imprisoned, when these things were forced unto you and there’s life after being imprisoned. . .

Newsline: Is there lesson after spending years in jail?

RJ: Lesson?  I did not stop working.  I was elected twice as congressman while inside, a lot of people had a hard time getting elected while out.

But I was easily reelected twice inside, they love me as a person and they trust me as a leader.

Newsline: People say, Dapitan is Jalosjos and Jalosjos is Dapitan? Do you believe that?

RJ: That is exaggeration, we are involved in many projects here, people of Dapitan are hesitant, scared of risking and in going into big business.

They grow up depending on the coconut which they harvest every three months and they are happy. The Dapitanon’s, the old ones are coconut planters. They grow up that way eh, they never have the vision to look for  bigger things, they are happy they get what they need for their families.

That is what it is now, that is the reason why we are almost in every place here because I am the only one.

Newsline: Let me ask your opinion on the 2021 elections, Sir . . .  how do you view Sara Duterte, I saw huge tarpaulin across the capitol.

RJ: We, as Mindanaoan, we  need to stick together again, even tighter than before and ensure that another Duterte wins . . .  and Sara is the most tested because she learned a lot about executive jobs, duties and responsibilities. Sara is the most qualified among the Duterte’s.

Newsline: The most qualified in Midnanao?

RJ: Mindanao? There might be other, but they are not as exposed as Sara. So, because you are looking for winnability . . . somebody who can win, capable of running this country. Sara . . . her father is behind her, she is the best personality to be our candidate for president

Newsline: What is your  view on West Philippines Sea?

RJ: You cannot  fight China frontally, you have to do it slowly and indirectly because it is a true invasion of our rights and territory  but . . . if we go to war, in one minute we will disappear.

Newsline: What is China before your eyes?

RJ: Since I was young, Chinese [people] are all over the country and in many big cities, they are a dominant economic force.

Newsline: Your view on the Presidency now and 2022?

RF: Another Duterte should be the President, he (referring to President Rodrigo Dutere) has the hard fist. I am from Mindanao, I have to support the Duterte’s, or else, I’ll be a traitor to this country.

For as long as the Duterte’s are in power, has a benevolent heart but with a tendency for dictatorship – it is a proper thing if you want top-lead because Mindanao is a frontier land.

Newsline: Back here in Dakak, what is your present state of being in the midst of the pandemic?

RJ: Like all resorts, the entertainment area has been ordered to lockdown, we went through it. What we did was  we keep it open, if we close it total it will rot, people have to maintain the upkeeping or it will deteriorate. We have to swallow loses and try to find out to have more visitors in for sightseeing, charge themselves for it.

We are lucky with that formula, we are able to keep ourselves alive and our nose above the water through a unique way, but since three months ago, we were slowly opening. When we opened up three months ago, that was amazing the upsurge is so sudden and unexpected.

With free ventilation, and, it’s a sea shore. And now we are allowed to slowly open. It is helping us more and we are happy to see that development. Our sales luckily increased, and, I hope this continues and be able to continue so we can recover what was lost.

Newsline: By the way Sir, what is up here is Dakak?

RJ: People’s trust and people trust- they believe that I am capable of doing something them, they must and see it for themselves . . . when you are here, see it, you will believe it because Dakak by itself is nice place . . . we  have nice rooms and a golf course facility.

Newsline: We noticed, Sir, your facility is so tight about health protocol from the van which transported us from the entrance up to our room, it is properly handled.

RJ: You can see, the rooms are not lined up against each other and we are so delicate when it comes to safety. 

When I was about to wrap my interview, I was almost hesitant to ask but I found the gut to ask.

Newsline: By the way sir, If you won’t mind, how young is Businessman Jalosjos?

RJ: You want to know my age? I will be 81 this November, I feel unhealthy, I am getting big. I don’t blame you for not believing because my contemporaries are no longer living.

For a man of his economic and social stature, it could have been awkward to asked about his future economic endeavor, but Jalosjos shared candidly,  “I am here, personally managing Dakak and my family and my children, we are supporting each other”.

Jalosjos first arrived in Dapitan during the early 1980s. He was on a helicopter when at a distance he saw what he described as a pristine C-shaped white sand beach, which Dapitanons called “Dakak” or “dakong kakahoyan (big forest)”.

Four decades hence, and today, Dakak is a multi-billion 5-star resort complete with first-rate amenities and facilities, a golf course and diving spot with complete equipment.

Be informed
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