The golden future of San Pascual, Batangas, is at hand. On the eve of its 50th founding anniversary as a full-fledged municipality in August 2019, San Pascual – the youngest among the province’s 31 towns – is gearing up to the status of an economic rising star with potential benefits to its 65,000 plus constituents. Thanks to the indefatigable leadership of the incumbent first-term mayor, Roanna Dinglasan Conti, the fundamental template of such holistic future has been cast through a big bundle of infrastructure projects – and attendant numerous public welfare programs – that are already benefiting more San Pascualeños than ever before.
Women’s Journal recently talked to Mayor Roanna about developments in her hometown San Pascual that have caught the attention and awareness of not only San Pascualeños and Batangueños, but also the entire Filipino body politic. Here, the mindset that presently animates Mayor Roanna, in her own words, switching at times, to Filipino with an endearing Batangueña accent:
A typical day at home and at work
“My day usually starts around 3:30 in the morning with the sound of my alarm. I would check my emails and schedules (through mobile) to know what I would be dealing for the day. I would usually make notes on what I should need to do and accomplish for the day.
“The moment I wake up, my mind is automatically figuring out what is best for my constituency. But before I start my day, I would need to play perfectly my role as a wife and a mother of 3. I would usually make a rundown on my children’s notebooks to check if they missed a homework, assignment or project. I then wake them up so we can eat breakfast together and help them prepare for school.
“On my way to work, I usually send messages to my staff for updates and daily tasks. My typical day at work usually begins with a meeting with my department heads to deal with issues in their respective areas of concern and line out issues that need my attention. Most days are full of meetings, invitations, wedding ceremonies and schools and barangay visits.
“We have an open door policy in the office, and I manage to meet people, even in between meetings so I can attend to their needs. The people’s concern is my priority.
“My day is not a typical nine-to-five shift. Most of the time, I have to attend meetings and invitations that last until the evening. By the time I reach home and with luck, I would catch my family still awake. But most of the time, they would already be asleep. Sometimes, my weekends are not spared from meetings. I cannot complain because I chose this path even if it means sacrificing the sacred time away from my family.
“It would be a privilege if I can catch a four-hour sleep bearing in mind the enormity of the tasks for the next day that the people of San Pascual entrusted me to do: Lead their way.”
On growing up and having a career
“When I was young, I tended to set goals and ambitions that seemed to be unrealistic and fanciful. Eventually, I realized that goals and ambitions are part and parcel of life. I have achieved most of my goals and I continue making new ones. I believe that the secret to achieving life’s goals is to keep our eyes open for new opportunities and be able to embrace changes. My journey to achieving my goals is not a smooth ride and it’s no secret, there are bumps and oftentimes I stumble but I manage to keep in track and pop back with a smile.
“As I matured, I began to think less of my personal goals and focused on more essential and meaningful ways of serving others. I dream of a better future and opportunities for my constituents. I know it will be a long journey but what is important is that we have already started and I know that these goals will soon be realized.”
Work-in-progress for San Pascual; Employment for the Jobless; Empowerment of Women
“Ang kadalasan na pinga-aawayan ng pamilya ay kawalan ng pera. That is why It is top of my agenda na magkaroon ng hanapbuhay ang mga tatay pati na ang mga anak. Sinisikap ko din na magkaroon ng pagkakakitaan ang mga nanay. Ang mga Nanay ay hindi lamang ilaw ng tahanan at ngayon ay haligi na din kaya magkatuwang silang mag-asawa sa pagpanday at paghubog ng magandang bukas.
“Bukod sa pangingibang bayan, ano bang trabaho ang pwedeng pagkakitaan”. Since San Pascual is predominantly agricultural, we organized our farmers into a group, para mayroon silang cooperative na binibigyan natin ng pondo galing sa munisipyo at sa Department of Agriculture para sila’y magkaroon ng agricultural equipment and implements including seedlings and fertilizers. Also, we were able to give some 20 to 30 farmers a chance to work abroad thru our seasonal work program with Korean Government where for three months at P70,000 / month salary to do the harvesting work in Korean farms. As I am president of League of Municipalities of Batangas, some 45 farmers from all over the province have participated in this program.
“Bilang Mayor, nagkakaloob tayo ng livelihood programs sa mga kababaihan. Itinatag ko ang grupo ng LIKAS o Liga ng Kababaihan ng San Pascual, a SEC registered NGO to champion and advance the cause of women and empower them to chart their own destiny. I have introduced several skills training such as Ecobag-making, mushroom-growing, massage and spa training, meat processing, dishwashing liquid-making, Sinamak vinegar-making, peanut butter-making, hairstyling, perfume-making, ornamental fish growing, candle-making, accessories-making, turmeric tea-making, mushroom production, apron-making, ube chips-making and even welding. This group now get P 10,000 per barangay from the municipality, aside from the money from different foundations supporting them. LIKAS is a force to reckon with when it comes to women empowerment.”
“I believe that the future is in the hand of the young people. That is why investing in them is always a priority. Nagkakaloob ako ng scholarship and educational assistance para sa mga mahihirap pero matatalino at pursigidong mga bata para sila ay makatawid ng pag-aaral.
“Kaakibat nito ay ang ating tulong at ayudang pinansyal sa mga paaralan, sa mga magulang at guro at mga PTA na lalong pagibayuhin ang paggabay sa ating mga mag-aaral.
“Ang dating kawalan ng training ay agad aking tinugunan and I thank TESDA for their continuous support in providing quality trainings to all our out-of-school youth so that they can equip themselves with the requisite trainings that can land them a good job. These programs include training in call-center, welding, pipe-fitting, heavy equipment operations, haircutting and coloring.”
Respect for Seniors and taking care of the Elderly and PWDs
“We owe whatever we have now from our parents, grandparents and the elderly. It is our moral obligation to take care of them. Kaya binibigyan natin ng medical and financial assistance ang mga qualified senior. They have social pension also. May kabuuang bilang na 1,620 na nakakatanggap ng 500 pesos kada buwan na ibinibigay every quarter at P1,500. We have requested additional 800 pesos this year. Dahil sa Train Law, we are able to give 2,400 seniors who are included in DSWD’s unconditional cash transfer.”
“On the part of PWDs, aside from financial assistance given to them, my administration instituted a policy on equal employment opportunities for PWDs in recognition of their status and potential contribution to the community. In fact, I have at least 4 PWDs employed in my office.
“I also organized the tricycle owners and drivers, into a federated group composed of all the TODA in the municipality. Owning and/or driving a tricycle is a sure income provider for a greater number of our mga Tatays who do not mind the scorching heat of the sun or the harsh weather during rainy season just so they can earn a living for their families. I have to take care of them. Sila ang tagahatid at tagasundo ng mga San Pascualeno sa kanilang pupuntahan at uuwian.
“We are turning the TODA Federation into a cooperative where we can channel funds to support them and give them start up capital to put up a cooperative store for spare parts, lubricants and other supplies where they can buy at a discounted price.”
“I believe a public market mirrors the kind of governance you have. Kung madumi ang palengke mo, marumi ang bayan mo. That is why immediately upon my assumption, I rehabilitated two flea market located in Barangay Sambat and Poblacio to address issues of traffic, unsanitary practices and uncollected municipal revenues. The same was true of the dilapidated and poorly maintained old San Pascual Public Market built through a bank loan. Through sound financial management, I was able to rehabilitate the old market and build a new multi-storey building for P 30 million without resorting to borrowings. This affords vendors and market goers an experience na malinins, kaaya-aya at disenteng pamilihan. Biruin mo pati CR sa palengke air-conditioned!”
“Garbage collection has always been a formidable challenge. As a matter of fact, the previous administration has a pending case with the Ombudsman for its failure to implement the Solid Waste Management Act. I cannot for the life of me turn a blind eye on this daily problem without offering a holistic solution. Thus, when I assumed office, I prioritized the closure of the municipality’s open dumpsite and the building of a sanitary landfill for P 30 million, including land acquisition. Right now, it only needs supplemental budget for the operation and maintenance of the landfill to commence operation.”
“The development and growth of the Municipality of San Pascual has been impeded for the longest time by lip service and empty promises of past administrations. One of my commitments to San Pascualeños was the creation of a development project known as the San Pascual Industrial Zone (SPIZ) that would jumpstart our economy and turn the area into the single biggest chunk of industrial zone along Batangas Bay with a seafront of more than two (2) kilometers. The proposed area for the project is the free portion of the property occupied by CHEVRON Philippines, around sixty (60) hectares and develop it, together with around forty (40) hectares of private vacant lots at the back of the Cocochem Agro-Industrial Park (CAIP), both offering a combined area of around one hundred (100) hectares. The proposed industrial zone will be complemented by a municipal commercial port along San Pascual’s coast line facing Batangas Bay, to service the needs of potential locators, under a Joint Venture Agreement with a qualified private sector proponent.
“The beauty of having investors in our town in addition to local revenue generation, they provide steady employment and income opportunities for San Pascualeños. Examples are new factory locators within CAIP like AAK (a Swedish refinery for vegetable oil which is used as raw material for chocolates like Nutella), MARCA LEON and CHEMREZ.”
“I am deeply committed to bring the munisipyo closer to the people. That is why I have a program called Barangayan (Bayan, Barangay at Mamamayan) kung sasan inilalapit namin ang munisipyo sa mga barangay sa loob ng isang araw dala lahat ng mga frontline offices para magbigay ibat-ibang serbisyo sa mga tao tulad ng medical/dental services, veterinary services, business permits processing, issuance of community tax certificates, consultation on real property concerns, among others. Sa ganitong paraan, nakakatipid ang tao ng oras at pamasahe dahil hindi na nila kailangan pumunta sa munisipyo.”
Why did I run
“Politics runs in my blood. I came from a family of influential public figures. The late Jose Castillo Laurel V (18th Governor of Batangas) was my uncle. The late Carmen Dinglasan-Consing (Congresswoman, 1953-1957) was my grandmother. Senator Ralph Recto is my cousin on the Gonzales side.
The year 2010 was my first venture into politics. My stint under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in various capacities was an eye-opener and prepared me to embrace the life of a public servant. My first attempt, though a failure, did not deter my passion to help and to serve. My second attempt was a bit encouraging but still fell short of winning. My third attempt provided the deliverance from defeat to triumph and from failure to success, similar to the experience of Pia Wurtzbach when she was crowned the 2016 Miss Universe after her third attempt.
“So, what does this tell me: Kung saan ka nadapa, duon ka dapat tumayo. Ang aking hiling mula pa noong 2010 ay maniwala kayo sa aking sinasabi at pangangatawanan ko ito. Kaunti lamang ang naniwala. Kung baga, to see is to believe. Patuloy akong kumatok sa kanilang puso para sa pagtitiwala, at ngayong napagibyan nila ako, ay pinatunayan ko ang aking salita. Now, they believe and see my promises through the various projects and programs for their welfare and benefit.”
Fervor lit... and rekindled
“Much needs to be done and more missions must be accomplished. On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the town, I wish to bring glory and honor to the people of San Pascual through various projects that they truly deserve.
“San Pascual was relatively unknown before. It is the youngest among 31 municipalities and 3 cities of the entire Batangas province. San Pascual used to be part of Bauan 50 years ago until we were made into a town on August 4, 1969 under Proclamation 6114.
We are now looking at the town’s next 50 years. My vision is simple – I want a robust road network and efficient public transport, an IT-enabled municipality providing frontline services, responsive and adequate public infrastructures, advanced medical facilities, an investment haven and a growth center for job generation, a tourist destination, a higher standard of living, competitive local economy based on agriculture and industry, and more importantly, a stronger sense of family and community. In short, a Recognized, Developed, and Competitive San Pascual, RDC for short. Pwede din ang RDC for Roanna Dinglasan Conti.”
A vision seven years from now
“I see myself 7 years from now still in the line of public service. I think I will grow old serving people. I enjoyed working with the national government but I find it more fulfilling working for my fellow San Pascualeños. I pray that I be given more years to be of service to others and I hope that people would see in their hearts that a Roanna once passed this road carrying nothing but the best of intentions to help and nurture the people she loves to serve . . . a truly caring mother indeed.”