NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP
While many choose to stick to the status quo, Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco long decided to venture further for their citizens.
BY LOUISE NICHOLE LOGARTA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JO IVAN LLANETA
Apolitical life was far from the mind of the young Toby Tiangco, who hails from a family that has business in fishing, cold storage, and shipyards. “My entire family are all businesspeople,” Tiangco shares. “So much so that my training, my college course, was Business Management.”
However, in 1998, he ran for vice mayor of Navotas, much to his parents’ disapproval. They tried to persuade him to just go into business, but Tiangco had solid reasons behind his running for public office: “I had a chance to be part of the solution. If I didn’t take that opportunity, then I have no right to complain about government service.”
“Kahit ano namang bagay pwedeng maging marumi, pwedeng maging maayos (anything can be dirty work or you can make it fair),” he points out. “Kung aayusin mo ang pagserbisyo sa publiko, hindi masama ang pulitika. On the other hand, kahit anong profession mo, kung hindi mo gagawin ng maayos, e di masama din ‘di ba? (If public service is done properly, politics will not be bad. On the other hand, whatever profession you are in, if not done the right way, will be harmful).”
Tiangco adds, “It’s not the profession that is bad, per se, it’s how you will do it.” With this reasoning, he committed himself to serving his city and its people.
In the year he ran for vice mayor, both parties that ran for chief of the city accused the other of cheating, leaving Navotas without a proclaimed mayor. In the heat of rallies and protests, the municipal hall was burned to the ground. Tiangco suddenly found himself the acting mayor. “This was my first job in public service,” he recalls, mentioning that this lasted seven months.
His biggest challenge at the time was rebuilding all public records, which took about a year. This was a high priority task, for they could not conduct matters such as tax collection, having no previous record of how much citizens paid previously. When Navotas finally got its mayor, Cipriano Bautista, he passed away
a little over a year after assuming office. It was then that Tiangco assumed officially his first post as a mayor, serving until 2010.