|By Jing Villamil, Municipal PIO and Consultant
The first impressions of slightness and of lightness are just that. Mere first impressions. Though she is slight of built and she is light of weight, she means serious business and her word is as weighty as its equivalent in gold. And if these were not impressive qualifications for an administrative or management job, what is? She is, always, a girl-woman; but more, she is a lady. And this lady is now captain at the helm.
She is the mayor of Pozorrubio, Emma Zosima T. Chan. Wife to 3-term Mayor Artemio Q. Chan, mother to Kelvin, Jansen and Kathleen, grandmother to Kelvin Rheigner, Keefe Reji, Kayselle Renae, Josh Ethan and Joaquin Eisen. Accounting graduate of the University of Santo Tomas. Co-founder and equal partner to a family corporation. Church and literacy worker. Sponsor of women’s and children’s rights and welfare.
And unifier to not less than a hundred-thousand-strong Pozorrubians – men, women and children. The mamamayan of this eastern Pangasinan town – young, not so young, not so old and truly old. Those whose lives are planted firmly on the native soil, or those whose winged feet reach far and wide in pursuit of dreams or riches.
She did not aspire for politics as her realm of choice. She believed and lived the saying that the home is where worthy values are born and honed. And as a woman, a wife, a mother, and her husband’s most trusted business partner – the home is her natural environs.
When, in the late 90’s, her husband won the first of his three-termed tenure as Mayor of Pozorrubio, it was a major leap of faith for her. From the safety and the comfort of a sheltered private existence, to the spotlight and concurrent exposure to a very public life, where almost nothing is secret and none too sacred to keep.
Maybe it was then and there, that she became aware of the significance of the key phrase “hawak-kamay”. Art and Emma, the mayor and his wife, went through the nine years of his administration and management of the town “magkahawak-kamay”. Through thick and thin, she was the Mayor’s staunchest ally and supporter, confidante and personal au pair, critical but constructively practical sounding board, best public relations officer, prettiest proxy for all occasions, people-project pusher, behind-the-scenes organizer and mover. She was a gracious and very visible hands-on hostess at the pagsasalo-salo they often held in their house for one purpose or another – a trait inherently hers which everybody seemed to appreciate and remember for always.
Naturally or by instinct, she picks up where he leaves off. Like a trunk to its roots, like leaves to the branch. At a time when perfect couples were characters for reel rather than for real, theirs is a “feel good” love story waiting to be told.
And if history is to be the judge, those years were the beginnings of Pozorrubio’s best of years, regardless of the claims to the contrary of their critics. For, it was their unique style of management that brought Pozorrubio from the backdoor of a fourth-classification to the front of a second (but almost first) class township.
The town was given a near-thorough facelift. Like the new Phase 1 and 2 market structures; the SB, Executive and Multi-Purpose Halls; the Friendship Garden and the refurbished Plaza Pergola. Health and social services were injected with more funding, supplies and personnel support. For education, there were more schoolbuildings and facilities, personnel expansion and training, student scholarships, financial support for curricular and extra-curricular activities. Additional support was extended the agricultural and livestock sectors through introduction of new and better hybrid seeds and grains, on-site instructions/services on modern scientific techniques of boosting the quality and quantity of harvests and also of livestock. And, of course, for rural infrastructures, the cementing and widening of farm-to-market roads, and the construction of bridges, potable water sources, and barangay halls.
It is rightly true that people tend to believe first and foremost what is obviously visible to the eye. For what they fail to see and appreciate at first glance, they can refer to the Fiesta Souvenir Programs and the annual State of the Municipality Address of the past nine years.
And now, she who held his hand, she who watched and quietly learned by his side – is captain of the same ship.
It is to be remembered, that when asked by a TV/radio network interviewer what made her decide to accept the challenge of running for the same position as her husband’s, she quipped: “I just want to continue what had been started by the ex-mayor, which is the progressive development of this town.” Pure and simple.
Almost seven months from that fitful first day of July, she has picked up where her husband had left off. The trunk has grown taller, the leaves thicker and greener.
The town’s leaders and its citizens are slowly but insistently being made aware of their share of the responsibility and accountability: that the maintenance and the continuity of the town’s progress must be a joint and collective effort of one and all. Cleanliness and orderliness are the orders of the day.
And there is always something new to deal with something old: steps were carefully thought of, planned for, and eventually tested and tried for the widespread implementation of Republic Act No. 9003 regarding the proper segregation, management and disposal of household waste and community residuals. Municipal funds provided for the controlled landfill located in Brgy. Rosario with its corresponding material recovery facility building. The clean-and-green unarmed army is on guard; they are otherwise called the ecology enforcers. Eco-enforcers for short, and may they persevere for long, longer time.
Health and social services are to be given continued priorities with some additional perks. The construction of the Municipal Health Center Unit is the next of the facelift, an infrastructure project awaited eagerly by health and nutrition workers, client families, their well or challenged children, and the elderly folks. Attention is also due the children’s playground and this will be sourced from the proceeds of this year’s Search for Fiesta Queen.
To take better care of life beyond the living, land has been purchased by virtue of Resolution No. 67-B to serve the purpose of an expanded municipal cemetery
Agriculture will be given a needed shot in the arm with the benefits to be extracted from the soil enrichment project – the Trace Elements Remediation – of Congressman Mark Cojuangco.
And almost 3,000 linear meters of farm-to market roads were constructed last year to augment those already laid out by the past administration.
A woman is at the helm, and for Pozorubio and the Pozorrubians for the next two-and-a-half years, the buck ends here, in her very good hands.
When it comes to making a stand for peace, unity and prosperity, whether he or she wears a skirt or a pair of pants does not bend an iota of effect to the crux of the matter.