Ed Hagedorn has transformed himself from a powerful gangster to a leading environmental warrior, the kind that gains awards and admirers, as well as dangerous enemies. What makes a successful businessman depart from his old lawless ways into fighting miners, illegal fishermen, loggers and gamblers when he himself was one of them in his recent past? When he became the Mayor of Puerto Princesa in 1992, a city of 250,000 inhabitants, surrounded by islands and jungles, the largest territory a city mayor has control of in the Philippines, he vowed to change his life as well as the city, in gratitude to his voters.
Now in his fourth consecutive term as mayor, he has followed up on his word.
What was once a filthy, neglected town surrounded by corruption and a chain of thriving mines eating away at Puerto Princesa’s natural resources, is now one of the cleanest and greenest cities in Asia. The locals are fined for throwing cigarettes butts on the ground and mining is banned. But with the reality of a soaring population, poverty and unemployment, Mayor Ed’s cause is a never-ending struggle. He is facing threats from former and current enemies, forcing him to travel in a bullet proof SUV, guarded by armed bodyguards 24 hours a day. There is no way of knowing the fate of Puerto Princesa once the mayor is gone. Will his vision be continued or will the town go back to being a forgotten, third world city with corruption and an uncertain future? Adorably called by his grandson ‘Papa Boss’, this is how he is perceived: to his family – a loved father figure, to the rest – he is the boss.