Leading in the game of life
Pinky S. Icamen (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When one is in the presence of a leader, one not just feels a commanding aura but also sees an open mind with vision, passion and hope.

At a very young age, San Juan City Vice Mayor Francis Zamora was already exposed to public service. Being the son of former Executive Secretary to President Estrada and eight-time San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo B. Zamora, Francis practically grew up seeing firsthand how his father tackled the world of politics. “I believe this is what helped me become what I am now. I was exposed to people from different walks of life with different personalities. At an early age, I was able to adapt to that kind of environment, which is something I have developed and have carried with me all throughout these years,” says Francis, who has been in public service since 2004.

“What really keeps me going is being able to touch people’s lives and being able to give them service that they deserve. That’s the best part of my job. For me, when it comes to public service, the best way is to always be with the people. You have to be there to know their problems, their issues and to understand what they are going through. You experience it, you feel it, you smell it because that’s how you truly understand their situation. What’s important for me is my connection to the people as I believe they appreciate the fact that I am there for them, especially in times of need,” shares Francis, who believes that to be a good leader, one should be able to inspire people.

“The people around you should be inspired and awakened to be proactive in uplifting their lives. More than giving them their resources, I believe it is also important that the people should also be aware that they have responsibilities for themselves, for their families and their community. You have to empower them.”

A De La Salle University graduate with a degree in Psychology, Francis, who towers at 6’ 5”, credits his being a student athlete for the physical and mental discipline that he gained, which he is still able to use now in the different facets of his life. He was part of the Green Archers team that won the UAAP championships in 1998 and 1999, the year he led the team to a back-to-back win as team captain. He was also drafted in the Philippine Basketball League under Blu Detergent, the team owned by Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc. and Blackwater big boss Dioceldo Sy.

“I was drafted to the PBA but I wasn’t blessed with a career in it. But being an athlete almost all my life, physical fitness is something I have carried on after shifting to business and public service. Going to the gym allows me to remove the stress and fatigue I get from work. Working out helps me to think clearly and it allows me to start my day with a positive disposition,” shares Francis, who recently invited the Blackwater Elite team to play in three barangays in San Juan City (Brgy. Pedro Cruz, Brgy. Corazon and Brgy. West Crame) to promote physical fitness, health and a drug-free environment.

“I spend time with my wife and my kids, and also with my friends to relax. It’s nice to go to each day with a positive disposition both physically and mentally. Spending the day with my loved ones helps me recharge also,” points out Francis, who has been married to his wife Keri since 2001. They are proud parents to Amanda, 14; Rocco, 10; Nicolas, five; and Noah, two. With the demands of his role as a public servant, Francis makes sure that he strikes a good balance between work and family.

“I’m always proud to say that my family has a close bond. My wife and I make it a point that our family stays together all the time. When we take trips, we’re always together although it’s hard especially now that we have four kids,” Francis shares. He also says that it is important for him to go out on dates with his wife and enjoy the time together.

As a father, Francis admits that he is a disciplinarian. “They are only children for a certain age. When they grow up, they will be exposed to the real world and they have to go back to the principles that my wife and I have instilled in them. That’s my responsibility as a father to make sure that eventually, they would be equipped with the right values to be responsible, obedient, educated and respectful individuals.”

Having a heart of a father and a mind of a progressive thinker, inspiring and moving the young leaders at an early age is close to Francis’ heart. He says having taken further studies here and abroad broadened his view on most things, especially politics. He attended New York University for a Business Management and Entrepreneurship program in 2003; University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance for his master’s in Public Administration in 2006; and recently, he attended an Executive Education Program of the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

“For 2016, I’m taking a very big leap by running for the mayorship of the city of San Juan. I want to change how people look up to leaders. What I’m giving the people of San Juan is the opportunity to make a choice,” declares Francis.

With a big challenge ahead, what is Francis Zamora praying for at the end of the day? “I always pray for my family. My city. I pray for guidance and strength for me to be able to serve our people well. I would always pray that wherever God feels that I best fit in His mission, I pray that He will lead me there. I entrust my life to God where He will take me and my family, my city and my people. Whatever He wants, I will not oppose. I will be ready for it.”

Photography by Claudine Cervantes Callanta

• Styling by Edrelyn Santos

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