Cynthia and Joy/Bayambang’s Quiambao
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2019 - 12:00am

I’ve written mountains of articles about Sen. Cynthia Villar and her passion for agricultural progress, for helping farmers and the fisherfolk to improve their lives. Followers of her advocacy have made her No. 1 in the surveys for senatorial candidates. I’m glad “Mrs. Hanapbuhay” is leading the list of legislators who are for service above self. I support the other women aspirants for a seat in the Senate – except one who has been proven to be blatantly dishonest, and proud of it. 

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It’s five days before May 13, the day voters march to the polls. Living far and away from Manila, I am rooting for Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte who is running for the Quezon City mayor’s seat. Joy has served as vice-mayor for two terms, making her aware of the challenges of running a premiere city.

More than when she was running for vice-mayor, this time her opponents are slamming her with false accusations of incompetence, and not responding to her supposed duty of not announcing the closure of classes because of an impending storm.

Joy has answered those questions satisfactorily. That’s what elections mean, whether here and in other countries – of creating false news and trumping up charges.

At the outset of the election campaign period, Joy was  praying for a campaign “devoid of fake news, black propaganda, mud-slinging and lies. I know this is wishful thinking but miracles do happen, especially when God’s love prevails.”

Joy is running with a full slate under the Serbisyo sa Bayan Party (SBP). At the proclamation rally with her running mate Councilor Gian Sotto last night, she  highlighted her platform, including an intensified anti-drug campaign, installation of more closed-circuit television cameras on the streets, upgrading of the city’s document processing through technology and innovation and improved delivery of basic services.

“My goal is to be an exemplary leader whom the people can trust. I vowed to deliver positive change for the good of the constituents,” she said.

“I will not promise something that I would not be able to fulfill. I assure everyone that I will always prioritize what is good for our people,” she added.

Belmonte’s SBP previously signed an alliance with the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

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The town of Bayambang may yet establish itself as the best municipality in Pangasinan. With the trailblazing initiatives of incumbent Mayor Dr. Cezar Quiambao, Bayambang has been a bustle of activity, even placing it on the world map once again.

One of the most recent and notable achievements of Bayambang during the term of Mayor Quiambao was garnering the second Guinness World Records title for the tallest bamboo sculpture, following the official unveiling of the 50.23-meter high statue of the town’s patron, Saint Vincent Ferrer, made of engineered bamboo with steel frame. The construction was spearheaded by the Saint Vincent Ferrer Parish and the Kasama Kita sa Barangay Foundation, and Mayor Quiambao and his wife, Niña Jose-Quiambao, are two of the main proponents of the project.

Under the governance of the Quiambao administration, Bayambang has undergone massive social, economic, environmental, and infrastructural changes which are manifested in the ongoing and completed projects of the local government. 

These aspects of development are the major thrusts included in the Bayambang Poverty Reduction Plan (BPRP), a 10-year plan which Mayor Quiambao often refers to as the “bible” of the local government unit of Bayambang as it includes the projects which are all geared towards a single goal: the eradication of poverty in the municipality. 

This is the only goal left for Mayor Quiambao and Vice Mayor Raul  Sabangan because the duo has already fulfilled the majority of their promises from their previous electoral bid: lower crime rates significantly, put an end to political dynasty, and prevent corruption in the LGU. 

In a span of three years, the Quiambao-Sabangan administration has brought more positive changes to the municipality of Bayambang than the past three administrations combined. Through the honest leadership of Mayor Quiambao, Bayambangueños are now saying their taxes are worth every single centavo, with notable projects such as the construction of two additional rural health units, construction of core local access roads in almost all of the 77 barangays, renovation of the public market and tricycle terminal, farm mechanization, and regular medical and dental missions in outlying barangays through the Komprehensibong Serbisyo sa Bayan.

The gains also include the purchase of more vehicles for faster disaster response, and the conduct of different information and education campaigns that give the Bayambangueños more knowledge regarding what’s happening around them and what they can do to lead better lives. The current administration has also initiated various partnerships with national and international agencies, one of which is the Korea International Cooperation Agency which can provide irrigation to 200 hectares of farmland around Bayambang, a timely project that would help the members of the most marginalized sector of the community, the farmers. 

This is one compelling reason the town’s constituents have urged the mayor to continue his leadership role. In response, he now seeks re-election in the upcoming May elections with his running-mate and incumbent vice mayor Sabangan. 

Festivals and programs have also never been the same since Mayor Quiambao and his team assumed office in 2016. The first-ever Tourism Month Celebration was staged and was awarded by the Department of Tourism as the Best Tourism Week/Month Celebration (municipality) in the entire country; the Christmas animated display gathers tourists from all over Northern Luzon from December to January of every year in observance of the Christmas season, and the annual Pista’y Baley (Town Fiesta) features world-class entertainment and well-organized festivities for the enjoyment of every Bayambangueño and visitor alike. 

Being awarded with the Seal of Good Local Governance for three consecutive years is one of the many proofs of Mayor Quiambao’s honest leadership and sincere desire to help Bayambangueños break free from the shackles of poverty. His efforts were widely recognized  and commended by the Philippine National Police Regional Office 1, the Seal of Child Friendly Governance, Seal of Retiree-Friendly Municipality, Rural Health Unit’s Scroll of Honor, and Blood Services Platinum Award from the Red Cross.

There’s more. Bayambang received the award as Best LGU Implementing Outstanding Sustainable Livelihood Program Panata Ko Sa Bayan Gapas Award, besting several cities, municipalities and provinces around the Philippines to claim the top spot. All of these awards were received through the collective effort and unity of the LGU through the leadership of Mayor Quiambao. 

The Quiambao-Sabangan leads equally driven and motivated reelectionist and prospective councilors Benjamin Francisco De Vera, Philip Dumalanta, Gerry Flores, Amory Junio, Mylvin Junio, Joseph Vincent Ramos, Martin Terrado II, and Levinson Uy. 

There is no doubt, Mayor Quiambao and Vice Mayor Sabangan will break more ground to ensure that Bayambang continues to take the path toward positive change and real progress. As the poet once said, now of Bayambang, “the best is yet to be.”

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