SILAY CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Guard, protect, and secure. It’s no secret that a sentry’s job revolves around those three principles. Thus, it is a post that requires quick thinking, swift response, and distinct sense. But most of all, you must put other people’s safety first before your own. It’s no surprise that the former AIDSISA Sugar Central security guard turned City Mayor Joedith Gallego champions these very same points in his administration in the Little Paris of Negros.
Joedith C. Gallego, though not coming from the big, haciendero families of Silay City, rose above the sugar canes of the sugar central he used to guard and defeated the incumbent mayor from the Golez-clan by over 3000 votes in the 2022 elections. He shall be leading the olden city of Silay with his Aksyon Agad initiative that seeks to equally and promptly address all concerns of Silaynons—whoever they may be and wherever they may have come from—being at the receiving end of the stick himself before.
Mayor Joedith, a local of the city he serves, was a decade-old security man for Silay’s AIDSISA Sugar Central in the outskirts of the city at Eustaquio Lopez (E-Lopez) Village when he was elected kagawad by the neighbors and peers he grew up with in the very same village. Gallego then became his village’s chief alongside becoming the head of all villages in the city for more than a decade. The E-Lopez local then served as his future mayorial competitor Mark Andrew Golez’s Vice Mayor after clinching the 2016 elections against the then administration’s endorsed Montelibano-Velez tandem—a race they won together.
I remember then-Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego’s very first year in office because it was the exact same year my best friend and I were chosen to sit as the city’s Girl Vice Mayor and Mayor for Boys and Girls week, respectively. Though I wasn’t his student counterpart, I saw how much of a teamplayer Gallego was—inviting us to sit at the city council meeting and even allowing us to present an ordinance of our own (which they later passed). He was always with the people, he took my best friend (his student counterpart) to all the areas where he talked and listened to common townsfolk to raise their concerns to the Sanggunian Panlungsod and address it as best he could. It’s still a vivid memory in my head seeing my best friend working side-by-side with the now-Mayor Joedith—going over council meeting agendas and presiding over the session. He welcomed our opinions and views despite knowing we were mere high school students.
Not much has changed today, seeing that Mayor Joedith has claimed he is more than willing to work with a council whose majority is from the opposing political party. Gallego has even contacted people from all over the country to help him and his government pursue his projects for his ‘beloved’ townspeople.
His initiatives are centered on swift service for all Silaynons—smoothening rough roads, building houses for City Hall employees, providing financial assistance and transportation service to students in farflung areas of the city, accessible healthcare, and electricity for places outside the cityproper. He even brought down the Mayor’s office to the first floor of Silay’s City Hall to be closer to all sorts of people.
We often see a security guard at the forefront—on the lookout for any sign of trouble. A true leader advocates for the good of all. But they have one thing in common; a duty to put the people first, especially the last, in all moves and Silay’s 30th mayor seems to have melded those two personas in one.