MAYOR ALELI CONCEPCION
Mayor Concepcion leads her people to a
peaceful Balaoan and reveals how she became
the paradox of her so-called “liabilities.”
Novie Rose O. Nunez
Photography by Daniel Soriano
People say leaders are made, not born. But Balaoan, La Union Mayor Aleli Concepcion attests that she is neither. Despite being the eldest child of former Balaoan Mayor Al-Fred Concepcion, Mayor Concepcion believes leadership is simply in her nature.
“I don’t think I was born to be a leader, a mayor. I’m just naturally caring and diligent, and I take initiative,” Concepcion explains.
LEADERSHIP BEYOND AGE
Concepcion entered politics at age 16, when she ran and won as Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman of Barangay Dr. Camilo Osias Poblacion in her hometown. As she was still studying at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, at that time, her priorities were divided between her studies and serving the people.
However, despite the difficulties of balancing politics and academics, Concepcion continued to serve her townmates. She went on to become the SK Municipal Federation vice president (by virtue of which she became an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan) and eventually, Punong Barangay.
Before Concepcion decided to go back to her hometown to run for barangay captain, she worked as a lawyer. Though her father and grandfather were both lawyers, she admits that she didn’t become a lawyer because of them. One piece of advice from her elementary teacher made her rethink her choices, which led her to enter law school. She recalls, “When you’re a woman, it’s more appealing to have a title before your name, and not plain Miss or Mrs.”
Concepcion worked in law firms for over two years. Eventually, she made the hard decision to leave the city. While it made her happy, her father also convinced her to practice law in Balaoan instead and, at the same time, run for
“When I was working in a [law] firm, my dad convinced me to resign and run as barangay chairperson. I resigned and continued my practice here in La Union.”
Throughout her many years of living and serving in Balaoan, Concepcion has seen the changes in the local political landscape and is proud of how her family’s leadership restored harmony. She explains, “When I was a kid, Balaoan had a reputation for being a chaotic municipality— brutalities and killings were commonplace. But my late father restored peace in Balaoan until the ambush happened to us.”