Mother Leads Best
Mayor Menchie Abalos is an unstoppable force, and promises to continue Mandaluyong City’s streak as a model for governance and public service
BY MARIEL ABANES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MANUEL GENEROSO
Women have a place in politics. As the first- ever female chief executive of the “Tiger City of the Philippines,” Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita “Menchie” Abalos believes that men and women make
equally good political leaders.
Mayor Menchie’s leadership style contrasts with that of her husband Benhur, whom she succeeded as mayor in 2016. As the mother of the city, she strives to give her constituents the same care and attention as she does in her own household. “Yung husband ko kasi, siya ‘yung tatay na tatay. Ako naman ‘yung nanay talaga— mas metikuloso; every detail, nakikita (My husband is very fatherly, while I’m more like a mom—more meticulous and detail-oriented),” she says.
Now on her second term, Mayor Menchie plans to continue the Abalos brand of leadership that Mandalenyos have grown to know since Benhur’s time which started almost two decades ago. It’s a legacy, she says, and Mayor Menchie is duty-bound to not rest on her husband’s laurels but rather match his accomplishments.
THE UNEXPECTED LEADER
It never occurred to Mayor Menchie that she’ll eventually dip her toes in politics. “Talagang wala sa vocabulary ko ang [politics]. Support lang ako dati kay Benhur during his stint as mayor. (Politics was never in my vocabulary. I just supported Benhur during his stint as mayor, that’s all.) I never planned or dreamed of it. I enjoyed being out of the spotlight,” she confesses.
“Sabi nga nila, if he was Batman, I was his Batgirl. Ngayon, iba na—nag-180 degrees shift kami. Ako naman ngayon si Darna at siya naman ang aking Ding! (They said, if he was Batman, I was his Batgirl. Now it’s different—there’s been a 180-degree shift. Now, I’m Darna and he’s my Ding),” she laughs.