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Lacuna excels as Manila’s vice mayor

Isko Moreno and Honey Lacuna
Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna

BEING the second most powerful person in the country’s capital city of Manila and being constantly next to someone as high-profile as Mayor Isko Moreno is no mean feat. Specially if you are a woman.

Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna is handling her job as Manila’s ‘No. 2 Man’ with flying colors and even excelling beyond expectation.

Isko Moreno and Honey Lacuna
Mayor Isko Moreno never fails to acknowledge and thank Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna for her all-out support to his programs and visions. Photos by JERRY TAN

Mayor Isko never fails to acknowledge and thank Vice Mayor Honey for her all-out support to his programs and visions — from the planning stage all the way to post-implementation— which he says is highly instrumental in the countless successes that his administraion continues to reap.

The first woman to have been elected vice mayor in Manila’s 450 year-history in 2016, Vice Honey — born May 6, 1965 and whose full name is Maria Sheilah Honrado Lacuna-Pangan— was born to Danilo Lacuna, a very bright and prominent lawyer during his heyday and who also served as Manila’s vice mayor from 1988 to 1992 and then again from 1998 to 2004 and Melanie Honrado, a former executive at the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

What sets Vice Mayor Honey apart from other vice mayors is the fact that she is also a topnotch dermatologist. This became very handy for Mayor Isko who opted to give her the total supervision of the city government’s health cluster, particularly the six city-run hospitals. Her macho husband, Dr. Arnold ‘Poks’ Pangan, heads the Manila Health Department.

Every chance he gets, the good Mayor Isko thanks Divine Providence and of course, the people of Manila, for having given him, through their votes, a lady doctor for his vice mayor.

Fate would later have it that Vice Mayor Honey’s expertise as a medical practitioner helped greatly in Mayor Isko’s policy-making decisions relative to the pandemic.

Silent as she may be while heavily working on the sidelines nowadays, Vice Honey manages to keep up to the pace set by her workaholic partner in the person of Mayor Isko, who fulfills his functions 24/7, including weekends.

Vice Mayor Honey’s profile and service record as a public servant cannot be taken lightly. After earning a Biology degree at the University of Santo Tomas, she completed her Residency Training in Dermatology at the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center and earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle University Emilio Aguinaldo College in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Immediately after passing the Philippine Physician Licensure Examination, she worked as a resident physician of the dermatology department of Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center from 1992 to 1995 and then entered the Manila Health Department where she became a Health Center physician assigned at the Bacood Health Center in Sta. Mesa and later at the Tondo Health Center from 1995 to 2004. Soon after taking her residency training for dermatology at the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, she eventually became a Fellow of the Philippine Dermatological Society.

Her experience and exposure as a public health physician endeared her to the underprivileged sector, moreso when her highly intelligent father, then Vice Mayor, Atty. Danny Lacuna, tasked Dra. Honey to head the medical team of the regular medical and dental mission conducted by his office every week in various depressed communities in the city.

Destiny apparently played itself when a candidate for councilor in the fourth district under his father’s ticket backed out. It took a lot of prodding for Vice Mayor Danny to allow his daughter to become the substitute and thus enter the political world.

As a neophyte in Manila politics, Dra. Honey made a really good showing by clinching the fourth spot among the six slots for councilors representing the said district in the Manila City Council. She even handled with much ease the position of Minority Whip during her first term (2004-2007).

In 2007, Dra. Honey landed on the second spot as reelected councilor for her second term until 2010. By then, the Manila City Councilor members made her their Majority Floorleader via votation, making her the first woman to have held the said sensitive position which she maintained until her third term from 2010 to 2013.

As a member of the Manila City Council, then Councilor Honey authored, among others, the following: Ordinance 8095 designating Bicycle and Motorcycle Lanes in main thoroughfares in Manila; Ordinance 8179 creating the Manila AIDS Council for the prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections; Ordinance 8117 mandating all business establishments, private and public offices in the City of Manila, including schools to require all their applicants and employees to submit to drug testing and to conduct unannounced drug tests on all their employees at least once a year and Ordinance 8102 requiring the city’s hymn (Awit ng Maynila) in all flag ceremonies of schools, offices and other institutional/official programs and in the opening of any and all official gatherings in the City of Manila.

As a councilor, she finished three consecutive terms for nine straight years (2004 to 2013). She was then appointed as head of the Manila Social Welfare Department from 2013 to 2015 where she continued the work she started in alleviating the plight of the city’s underprivileged sector, the homeless, low-income families, out- of- school youth, children in conflict with the law, youth offenders, abandoned children and elders and even the differently-abled and people with disability. She was also there consistently during emergencies like fire and flood, ready to lend a helping and doting hand.

Without any fanfare and from her days as her dad’s medical team leader and then as a councilor and now as Vice Mayor, Honey continues her door-to-door visit to patients who need her attention and assistance, something that she began doing even before entering politics. This would have continued if the pandemic did not set in.

The slogan she had used in her campaign, “Pagmamahal ng isang Ina, Kalinga ng isang Doktora (Love of a Mother, Care of a Lady Doctor)” is apparently rooted from her strength as a woman. Undoubtedly, her being a wife, a daughter, a sister and a mother played a gargantuan role in her passion and compassion toward the needy.

Unlike other politicians, Vice Mayor Honey is not wont to handing out financial aid for those needing medical assistance. Instead, she would ride her motorcycle and provide free check-ups and medical help for the needy.

She handily won as vice mayor in 2016, becoming the first female vice mayor of Manila and then got reelected in 2019 as the runningmate of Mayor Isko. They ran under their local political party ‘Asenso Manileño’ which was co-founded by her own father and has already become a household name among Manilans.

Vice Mayor Honey believes that being a lady doctor and a woman became her edge when she first served in the post in 2016.

However, serving the position of Vice Mayor under the administration of deposed President Erap Estrada denied her the opportunity to perform to the fullest, since none of her suggestions and plans were entertained.

Now, Vice Mayor Honey’s partnership with the very proactive, transformational, and visionary leader in the person of Mayor Francisco Isko, which she described as something beyond politics, enabled her to showcase her efficiency and unique ability to lead and be of great help to the executive department.

Aside from being the regular presiding officer of the 38-member Manila City Council aiding the mayor in terms of enacting enabling ordinances for administration-backed measures, Mayor Isko fully trusts her with a lot of erstwhile executive functions specially concerning healthcare services and other medical-related matters that will redound to the benefit of city residents.

While Mayor Isko thanks God for having given him Vice Mayor Honey as his partner in governance, Vice Mayor Honey also thanks the Lord for having put Mayor Isko at the helm of the city after a chaotic six-year hiatus and before the pandemic happened.

Indeed, the partnership must have been delivered to the people of Manila by Divine Providence.

The likes of Vice Mayor Honey has raised the bar of expectation for lady politicians and thanks to her, the age-old description of women as “the weaker sex” has become a total misnomer.#

Publication Source :    People's Journal