Serving Against All Odds
Hands-on Pasay City Councilor Grace Santos is eager to leave a lasting legacy.
BY JAN EDWARD BALLESTEROS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY IVAN LLANETA
HMUA BY MJ BORNALES
OUTFITS BY JULIANNE SYJUCO & RANDY ORTIZ
Call her Ms. Everywhere. There is probably no other public servant as ubiquitous as Pasay City 1st District Councilor Grace Santos. From fiestas to birthdays, to wakes, to relief operations, you can count on her to be there, especially when her constituents need her the most.
“It is very hands-on, very personalized. I also go to my constituents personally. I really let them know that I am here, that I care,” says Grace on her brand of leadership.
She adds, “I also ask them what they want in the community, what their problems are, what they want to achieve because that way I can also draft and make ordinances that will be beneficial to my constituents.”
Grace is obviously not your cookie-cutter politician. Her actions show she is someone who truly has the people’s best interests at heart. As a councilor, she has spearheaded projects to raise awareness on mental health and put up livelihood programs on computer literacy, English proficiency, massage therapy, and the
likes in partnership with Congresswoman Bernadette Herrera-Dy.
Her dedication to public service though, was best shown when the COVID-19 virus first ravaged the country in early 2020.
When the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it and restrictions were set in place, she made it a point to make her presence felt. Grace partnered with some friends and provided necessities for her constituents like thermal scanners, noodles, juice, rice, and essential medicines to name a few. All sectors were not forgotten from the frontliners, senior citizen, children, and COVID-19 patients.
“Although the situation during the pandemic was hard, I can say that I took part in helping my constituents,” shares Grace, who also had to shell out some from her personal funds in this effort. Her eldest daughter, Nina, took part as well by donating and connecting with companies to donate to the city.
“I even went to the extent of contacting Baguio farmers para sila naman matulungan ko. Inangkat ko mga gulay [from Baguio], pinabigay ko sa bawat barangay (so that I could also help them. I brought the vegetables from Baguio and gave these away to each barangay). [‘Yung tulong,] hindi naman sa laki o sa liit iyon ([Help] isn’t about how much or how little you provide). It’s your will to help other people and commitment to serve other people,” she adds.
AN ACCIDENTAL POLITICIAN
Her habit of showing up was built on a solid foundation. Growing up, running for office never really crossed her mind. But way before her foray into politics, Grace had been involved in various community services ever since she was young. Even in school, she loved involving herself in immersion projects.
“I’ve never envisioned myself to be in public service. Because when I got married at 23, I remembered during that time we were always having our birthday parties—of me and of my children—in selected foundations like ....