PASAY CITY COUNCILOR JOEY CALIXTO ISIDRO
Pasay City Councilor Joey Calixto Isidro: ‘Konsi Joey’ brings his brand of corporate leadership to the local community.
BY MAAN D’ASIS PAMARAN
Prior to his stint in public service, Pasay City 2nd District Councilor Joey Calixto Isidro was an advertising agency executive as the Freelance Events Director and Clients Servicing Group Head for Ideashop Manila. When he was elected as district councilor in 2016, he brought his 12 years of agency experience to his new office.
“Before I started, I wanted to privatize the public office. I don’t want people coming into the office wearing slippers. I don’t want their work stations cluttered. I also wanted to professionalize the service. My staff can't come in late, because I don’t come in late,” he shares. His office is also aesthetically pleasing,
with a theme of brown and gold, to encourage professional behavior.
To help keep things running smoothly, he also keeps a larger staff than most. “Other offices have seven people. I have 17 [employees]. I don’t want our services hampered by lack of manpower. I want to have more pairs of hands available to offer our services to the people, and these are people who are also ready to help out in other offices in Pasay if needed, such as the Office of the Mayor or the office of other councilors, such as my cousin Mark [Calixto] who is in District 1.”
Isidro shares that he employs strategies in his projects, another holdover from his prior corporate job. “I’m lucky that some of my former staff went with me into this office, so it was easier to build the culture. We share best practices that I have adapted into public service. We have a database, we do things like post evaluation of projects in order to give better service. We have also departmentalized our work. I have assigned liaison officers who are trained to handle problems, concerns and needs.”
In keeping with his modernized practices, his office is inclusive as well. “We have staff who are persons with disabilities (PWD) and members of the LGBTQ community. I want to give them all equal opportunities and I know that they are happy. They feel like they have found their self-worth in service to others. I always hear about staff resignations from other offices, and I jokingly ask my staff, ‘When are you going to resign?’” he laughs. His secret, he says, is that even if their salaries are not high, he makes sure that his staff is taken care of, especially with food at the office.
His team has enabled him to accomplish his vision for his district, with ordinances and projects that focus on his personal advocacies on education, health, tourism, and welfare of the youth, elderly and PWDs.
During his first term, he had a 100 percent attended record and is one of the councilors with the most number of sponsored pieces of legislation in the City Council. These include the creation of the Pasay Historical and Heritage Commission and the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Affairs Office; and the enactment of the Pasay City Investment and Incentive Code, among others.
Under his chairmanship of the Committee on Education, the City University of Pasay (CUP) was recognized as a higher education institution by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in August 2020. He also supervised the course compliance of the programs offered in CUP. In October 2020, the Certificate of Program Compliance for five out of six courses offered was granted by the same commission. The university’s college students now enjoy 100 percent free tuition fee, as the institution is qualified for such under the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UNIFAST).
As Chairman of the Committee on Health and Sanitation, he has activated the Kambal Konsehal program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) which also paved the way for the early preparation of the whole city in fighting the pandemic by having constant communication with the barangays. His office assisted in the relief operations and community feeding efforts of the local government and during the vaccination phase, he placed a system for the process flow. He’s also helped to improve the facilities at the Pasay General Hospital. “Before I came in, they called it ‘Patay General Hospital’. I was able to provide the hospital with more beds so the mothers don’t have to sleep two or three in a bed at the maternity ward. We also cleaned up the emergency room, and opened more floors that were formerly used as a bodega. Now it looks like a hotel,” he says.
In terms of Livelihood, being Chairman of this Council’s Committee, he is also instrumental in the creation of the citywide E-market platform for the Pasayeños and is at the forefront of various livelihood training programs of the local government in coordination with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). He now endeavors their involvement in the One Town, One Product (OTOP) initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the city government of Pasay to provide more livelihood for the Pasayeños to sustain their basic needs.
Faith and Service
Isidro held the virtual interview from his home office, surrounded by statues of the Sto. Niño and the Virgin Mary. He says that faith is an integral part of his life and his public service. “My mom is a devotee, and I am active in our church group. Even if I am busy with my public service, I always make time to serve at church. I see this as a blessing and a commitment.”
He feels that he was called to service by a higher power. “They needed another party member in the 2016 elections and I was asked to run. So I filed in October, but I told them that I still had obligations to fulfill at my work so I could only start campaigning in January. Unlike the others running for office, they had been preparing for this for years and I had not even started.”
As a Black Nazarene devotee, he was at the Quiapo Traslacion in 2016. “I remember asking if this was really meant for me. Lo and behold, the path in front of me cleared up and I had easy access to the rope with which to pull the Nazareno. I took that as a sign and said if it is His will, I will win and I will serve. True enough, even with no preparations, I came in fourth in the election. So this is my mission and I call it servant leadership.”
Isidro is no stranger to public service. He has had considerable experience fulfilling his civic duty as a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman of Barangay 21 at the age of 17 and as SK Federation Secretary in Pasay City from 1996 to 2002. From a young age, he has been aware of what it entails to be a public official also because his family is engaged in politics.
His grandfather, Eduardo “Duay” Calixto, served as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Mayor of Pasay City in 1986. In the 90s his uncle, Antonino “Tony” Calixto and his aunt, Imelda “Emi” Calixto-Rubiano ran for councilor in the 1st District and 2nd District of Pasay City, respectively. Tony Calixto eventually served three terms as Pasay City vice mayor and mayor and now the lone representative of Pasay City. Meanwhile, Emi Calixto-Rubiano is currently serving as mayor of the city after serving three terms as congresswoman of the Lone District of Pasay. His cousin Mark is currently councilor at Pasay’s 1st District. Collectively, they are called Team Calixto.
“When people ask me, I say, ‘Oo, political dynasty kami and I’m proud of it,’” he admits. “But I think that it depends on the dynasty. We have been around [a long time] because of the kind of service that we give to people— honesty, commitment, tapat na paglilingkod (genuine service). It's what we call Serbisyong Ayos. I think it helps that there is a synergy among us in Team Calixto because we are aligned in our vision for Pasay, and we are continuing and improving the projects that have been started before. I always say that people have the right to suffrage and they can vote us out if they want to. We are here and as one mall puts it, we are ‘happy to serve.’”
With his upcoming reelection run, he shares his vision for Pasay City. “I attended seminars on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set by the United Nations (UN). I believe we can take what is applicable for Pasay and localize that. I envision Pasay City to be more stable, with no poverty and everybody having food on the table. In Pasay, through education, I want to eliminate the mindset of ‘pwede na yan’ as we all strive to be productive members of society.”