Lead like a Commoner
Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia on breaking away from stereotypes and leading the City of Bacolod to greater heights
BY HELEN HERNANE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM TRONCO
Known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines,” Negros Occidental is the country’s biggest producer of sugar. Because of their vast wealth, sugar mill owners and hacienderos once had a firm hold on local politics, often winning government seats.
“They were the so-called ‘royal families.’ If you’re not a ‘royalty,’ you cannot become governor or mayor,” recalls Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia, stressing on the huge divide in terms of social strata.
Despite this stereotype, Mayor Leonardia, a “commoner,” ran for public office. He shares, “I belong to the middle class and I was fighting a dynasty. So I was risking my political career and future, just to show to the people of Bacolod that even if you’re not rich, if people want you, you can become mayor."
Mayor Leonardia conquered what most people thought was impossible. With his steely resolve, he created a paradigm shift in the city’s political landscape.
Mayor Leonardia was born to a family of nine children, with him as the youngest. His father, Jose Tulo Leonardia Sr., worked as a government employee while his mother, Ester Ramos, was a housewife.