HomeGovernmentThe Chief ExecutiveFormer MayorsHon. Jose Vicente F. Atilano II

Hon. Jose Vicente Fermin Atilano II (1978-1980)

The handsome and boyish-looking Vinnie Atilano was mayor from 1978 to 1980. He was born on November 28, 1938, and belonged to one of the city’s oldest families, one that traced it lineage to Subanon royalty. His parents were Jose Tarroza Atilano and Josefina Machado Fermin. Vinnie was the elder of two children. The second was a girl named Maria Dolores Teresita, or Maridol.

Vinnie had his elementary education at the Tetuan Elementary School. He later enrolled at the Ateneo de Zamboanga where he finished high school. He went to the Ateneo de Manila for college education and graduated with a degree in economics. After graduation, he returned home to take over the family business.

In one of the parties that drew the young bachelor, a young lady from Boalan caught his eye. Maria Nelida Santiago Fernandez, the youngest daughter of another well-known family became Mrs. Atilano after a three-year courtship. Bishop Juan Velasco of the China Mission united the pair in holy matrimony on March 17, 1963, at the St. Joseph Church. The young couple was to be blessed with three sons. They are Jose Vicente III, Jose Gerardo and Jose Luis.

Vinnie would be the first person to admit that he had no ambition of entering politics. He was after all educated to be a businessman. This changed in 1963 when Mayor Climaco practically pushed him into running for councilor. “Politics was never my cup of tea, but then how could one say no to Cesar,” Vinnie said in an interview.

At the age of 24, Vinnie became the youngest councilor at that time. As a councilor, his grasp of economic needs of the city and his innovative fiscal reforms in government were to win him admiration. He was easily re-elected, topping the council slate in the election. During his last term as councilor, he was offered the chance to run for vice mayor against Francisco “Paquito” Evangelista of the Liberal Party. Vinnie won easily, becoming the youngest elected vice mayor of the city. He was to hold the position until 1978 when Mayor Joaquin F. Enriquez, Jr. decided to run for the position of member of the Batasang Pambansa. Vinnie served Enrqiuez’s unfinished term.

It was during Vinnie’s term that the city administration began the requirement for government employees to wear a uniform. Vinnie felt that this was one way to make city government employees look more dignified. He also felt that it was one way to identify government employees who liked to play hookey. He implemented cost-cutting schemes in the different government offices, stressing the proper use of office supplies and materials.

Mayor Atilano pushed a sport program for Zamboanga. During his term, Zamboanga City was a champion in several athletic events. This was understandable considering that Vinnie was a very athletic person himself. He enjoyed playing tennis. Nelida said that Vinnie’s athletic nature was probably what saved him when he had a heart attack, which required him to undergo bypass operation. Another favorite pastime of the mayor was puttering around in his sprawling garden where he tended to a collection of exotic plants.

After the retirement from public life, Vinnie spent most of his time with his children and grand-children. Vinnie and Nelida are the proud grandparents of six as of this writing.

Vinnie continued to be active among the civic clubs of Zamboanga, particularly the Jaycees, in which he was honored as a Jaycee senator for life for being an outstanding member. He was also president of the Rotary-east.