HomeGovernmentThe Chief ExecutiveFormer MayorsHon. Manuel Agustin Dalipe

Hon. Manuel Agustin Dalipe (1984-1986)

The murder of Mayor Cesar C. Climaco on November 14, 1984, came as a shock to the people of Zamboanga. For a brief moment in Zamboanga’s history, the people felt they were without a leader. The responsibilities of the mayoralty fell on the young shoulders of Climaco’s Vice-Mayor, a former air force major named Manuel Agustin Dalipe.

Dalipe’s assumption as mayor of Zamboanga was met with mixed feelings by the people of Zamboanga, especially the old supporters of the late Mayor Climaco. Dalipe had come into the political scene as a neophyte candidate under the wings of Climaco’s Concerned Citizen’s Aggrupation. However, Dalipe had his political differences with Cesar Climaco which later led him to resign from CCA when Climaco ran for the Batasang Pambansa. He threw his support for Climaco’s political opponent, Maria Clara L. Lobregat. Dalipe’s assumption as mayor was to bring innovations to the city government, for the new mayor was more of a technocrat than a politician.

Manuel Agustin Dalipe was born on March 31, 1946, to Porfirio Dalipe and Perfecta Agustin. His mother was a native of Zamboanga, while his father hailed from Iloilo. Manny, as he was known to his friends, had two brothers and two sisters. Growing up in Zamboanga, he took his elementary education at the Tetuan Elementary School where he graduated with honors in 1958. He enrolled at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Zamboanga, where he was a consistent honor student and graduated as the class valedictorian in 1962.

Burning with enthusiasm and youthful ambition, he left for Manila in 1965 and took the entrance examination for the Philippine Military Academy. After four years as a cadet, the young Zamboangueño once again proved his intellectual prowess when he graduated number 7 in the PMA Class of 1967. His classmates included many figure generals like Roberto Lastimoso, Edgardo Espinosa, Orville Gabuna and the late Romeo Abendan, who would have been a general if he had not perished in the infamous Cawa-Cawa mutiny.

Dalipe joined the Air Force in 1969 and enrolled in the flying school to become a combat helicopter pilot. It was during his stint at the flying school that he met a pretty young lady who was to become his wife. She is Maria Rosario Mendoza of Gumaca, Quezon, and niece of the late Senator Lorenzo Tañada. After four years of courtship, they got married on November 11, 1972. By this time, Manny was already the operation and training officer in the Presidential Unit. Their wedding took place at the Malacañang Chapel. Senator Tañada and the late General Fabian Ver stood as sponsors. The union was blessed with eight children, seven of whom are boys. They are Jose Manuel, who was elected councilor for Zamboanga city in 1998 and Vice-Mayor last May 2007; Michael Vincent; Mark Anthony; Jose Marie; Jess; John, was elected SK Federated President; Maria Victoria; and the youngest, Champ, elected SK Chairman of Tetuan last October 2007 SK Elections.

Dalipe’s life as a military man was one of the constant shuffling from one place to another. Finally, after being assigned to almost all parts of the Philippines, he felt the need to return to the place of his birth. He asked to be assigned in Zamboanga and brought his family over. He later resigned from his military commission to devote himself to civilian pursuits. This sudden change came about when Cesar Climaco invited him to be his running mate in the local elections of 1980. Manny said this was the turning point of his life. He was trained as a soldier but not as a politician.

Manny would be caught by surprise by the bigger role that he would have to play as mayor of Zamboanga City when Climaco was gunned down by an assassin in 1984. Manny, a holder of an MBA degree from the Asian Institute of Management approached his new role like a business manager and tried to cut the red tape at City Hall to make sure that services would reach the people in a more systematic manner. He initiated the Barangay water projects, which brought water to the farthest barangay in the city. He also fast-tracked infrastructure projects by giving them over to private contractors. This move was to charge up the construction industry in Zamboanga City.

It was mainly due to his efforts that water systems were established in far flung barangays like Quniput and Curuan, and in the district of Mercedes. He was to initiate a livelihood program in the barangays, wishing his city to be the economic center of the south.

Dalipe’s radical moves towards development were to gain the ire of his political opponents, mainly politicians from his former party, the CCA, this time headed by then Councilor Vitaliano D. Agan under the new party called the Unido.

In 1986, the EDSA Revolution toppled the Marcos administration.  The transition government of Corazon Aquino removed all those identified with Marcos government; hence, Dalipe was replaced by Rustico Varela, former city administrator, who was named OIC-Mayor.

Dalipe ran again for mayor, but this time his politician opponent, Councilor Vitaliano Agan, had the backing of the administration.  All Agan had to do was to link Dalipe to the Marcos regime and to denounce his projects as too extravagant to defeat him.

Away from the spotlight of politics, Dalipe was involved in other endeavors. He put his own business and founded the Dalipe Trading Corporation where he is the president. He is also the chairman of the Dalipe Livelihood Foundation, founded in 1996.  He owns and manages the Dalipe Game and Fish Farms.

Prior to his resignation from the military service he had served in various positions such as being appointed as the administrator of the Zamboanga Barter Trade Association under the guidance of the Southern Command from 1976 to 1978; Regional Director of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development for Region 9 from 1978 to 1983. He was appointed chairman and administrator of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport in 1996 upon the recommendation of then Congresswoman Maria Clara L. Lobregat.