Arya San Joseño, their slogan, has been my favorite. It expresses the people’s aspirations to improve people’s lives as the city becomes highly urbanized.
My introduction to the City of San Jose del Monte was in 2011. I facilitated a team-building program for the officers of the Barangay. Every day, for six days, I gave my best to inspire more than a hundred Barangay officials.
Since then, I have had many opportunities to help Rida and Arthur Robes. I facilitated capacity-building opportunities for the people they serve. In 2022, we inspired more than 2000 leaders to continue serving their communities.
We rarely meet local leaders who are both sincere and intelligent.
When I first met Rida, now a congresswoman, I knew she had a good heart. She has high hopes for the city. When she wants something done to alleviate the lives of the poorest of the poor, she finds ways. She is creative, innovative, and future-oriented.
Arthur is the mayor I wish we had in our municipality. He is a visionary yet practical leader. One only needs to compare San Jose del Monte to how it was ten years ago to what it is now. I had a few conversation opportunities with Arthur, and each time, I wish we had more mayors like him all over the country.
There are few mayors I admire, and Arthur tops my list.
Magkatuwang sa Progreso
I have heard this slogan so many times. Politicians always call for unity and progress. They rally people behind them, then forget about their promises after the elections.
But when I heard this slogan from them, I knew where they were coming from.
The city has seen how difficult it was to move forward when the congressman is not allied with the mayor. or the governor.
Technically, we don’t expect a lawmaker to build school buildings and roads. The job of a lawmaker is to enact laws. But in the Philippines, a lawmaker is more than that.
A lawmaker can persuade the powers that be to bring more projects to his or her district. Sometimes, these projects are more than what the budget of the city can afford.
For this reason, most congressmen allied themselves with the President.
I remember the time when Congressman Arthur wanted to bring projects to the city. But without the approval of the mayor and the support of the governor, many of those projects didn’t see the light of day.
Who would not approve of a project for the city? People with political interests. A congressman who brings a lot of progress to the city is likely to win as mayor or governor.
When Rida became a congresswoman, she started to bring many projects to the City of San Jose del Monte, something that was not seen before. She used her charm, and her skills in public relations and networking with the right people to get her projects done.
She has also principally authored bills with national significance.
She was the only politician I know who regularly enroll in classes to improve her skills.
(I met many politicians who had no idea about their mandates. They won because of their surnames.)
In tandem with her husband, she was able to accelerate the growth of San Jose del Monte into a highly urbanized city.
As a general principle, I do not approve of husband and wife in politics. I was always against political dynasties.
In a conversation with Arthur, he said that generally, a political dynasty is not good for the country. Its negative impact on the poorest provinces in the Philippines is undeniable. But on the other hand, he said that there are also political families who have demonstrated a heart for public service and who are really great leaders – and whom the Filipinos deserve.
And then, he reminded me of the kind of politicians he was going against.
He did not see what they were doing as building a political dynasty. For him, he only needs some years which the congressman and the mayor are one in mind.
That is the essence of “Magkatuwang sa Progreso”. If there is another with the same mind, why not? But they cannot find anyone.
While listening, I was thinking that though political dynasty is not good, mediocre and corrupt politicians are worst.
Arthur and Rida happened to be husband and wife who both have enormous capabilities to lead and serve. And as long as there is no law that prevents them from running together, I know that the people of San Jose del Monte will continue to support them.