Youth Serving the Youth
San Rafael, Bulacan’s youngest councilor Jaime “Jolo” Viceo V aims to raise the voice of youth and
support further growth and development in San Rafael, Bulacan by infusing fresh ideas.
BY CRISSIE HONTANOSAS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAR CONCENGCO
GROOMING BY SHARLENE ANN LOMIBAO
Young Filipinos of today are certainly a different breed from decades ago. Many are breaking away from the stereotype story of young people waiting on what the older generation has planned for them. These days, young people opt to take action for themselves. Jaime “Jolo” I. Viceo V, San Rafael, Bulacan’s youngest municipal councilor, is doing just that.
Looking at what the young counci lor has achieved so far, it is hard to belie ve that he is just 22 years old. Shortly b efore receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies degree from the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), he was elected councilor of San Rafael, Bulacan.
While at the Ateneo, he served as team captain of the AdMU fencing team, leading his team in various university competitions. He delivered the university’s only gold medal for foil (fencing) at t he 82nd season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Moreover, he competed for the country, as a member of the Philippine national fencing team (foil discipline), bringing home a bronze medal during the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
For Viceo, facing challenges is but second nature. As he opens a new chapter in his life, that of public service, he takes stock of his remarkable journey, and looks ahead at what he can offer to bring change in the lives of young Bulakeños.
POWER OF CHOICE
“Ever since bata ako, gusto ko nang maging public servant (Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a public servant),” Viceo shares. Despite speculation that pressure from family members pushed him to run for office, he shares that this was his childhood dream all along.
Indeed, children learn more from parents’ actions than words. Even at a young age, the power of choice had been instilled in his mind and heart. He was inspired by his parents’ choices in serving Bulakeños, as far as he can remember.
Indeed, public service was the essence of his childhood. His mother, Atty. Emily Isidro Viceo, served as Bulacan 3rd District board member and his father, Jaime Viceo, Jr., served as mayor of San Rafael. He witnessed how his mother developed her political career from a being a councilor of Barangay Poblacion in San Rafael, to municipal councilor, prior to serving as provincial board member.
Viceo shares one advice from his parents, “Ang sinasabi lang nila, basta ‘yung puso ko dapat talaga nandoon at kung genuine ‘yung intentions ko para sa bayan ko, naka-support lang sila. (They said that if I really have the heart to serve the people and my intention for the municipality is genuine, I have their support).”
The young Viceo took these words to heart, especially when it came to making life choices. When he was ten years old, he was confronted with the decision to focus his sports activities on just one sport. During his elementary and high school years, Jolo was actively engaged various athletic programs, from football, handball, basketball, and fencing, to name a few. Until his private fencing coach advised him to put all his efforts in mastering fencing, specifically the discipline of foil.
He reveals, “Back then, I was a football varsity player. It was a tough decision, to let go of everything for fencing. But in the end, that decision paid off more than I ever imagined.” Fencing shaped much of Viceo’s character, as mastery of the sport comes not only with hard work, persistence and determination, but more so with discipline. Throughout his training and competitions, he has learned respect for technique, the rules of the game, and gained a deep understanding of the art of battle. Viceo also realized the value of mentors. From a young age, he had the opportunity to learn from the best teachers and coaches here and abroad. And as luck would have it, fencing also led him to meet Congressman Richard Gomez, a decorated national athlete and major influencer in Philippine fencing, who is also a public servant. In fact, he cites his visit to Ormoc City to train in fencing, as the biggest catalyst in his desire to push sports development in his hometown.
“In Ormoc City, I was in awe of their sports facilities and programs,” Viceo says. He shares his appreciation and admiration of how then-Mayor Gomez invested in training Ormoc’s youth by building world-class sports facilities and inviting the finest coaches to train young athletes. Viceo further commends Gomez’ introduction of the sport of modern pentathlon, saying “they are now training athletes who can go toe to toe with those in the national team.”
MAKING CHANGE FOR THE YOUTH
Viceo has much to be thankful for. Growing up around parents who are both pillars in public service, he understood that he was given choices that not all children and young people are afforded. He believes that the youth now are more proactive in taking charge of their future, if only they are given the opportunities to do so. With this, he signifies his goal in sharing such experiences to the youth of San Rafael. As the youngest councilor in Bulacan, he aims to help young Bulakeños pursue different choices in life.
“I grew up with parents who are always willing to help others, so that is the norm in our family,” Viceo says. He wants to share the learnings and experiences that sports training has given to him by promoting sports training and development in San Rafael, among others. “I want to help by organizing young people to help one another, so together we can make more progress happen,” Viceo asserts.
Viceo wants to introduce different sports activities aside from
basketball and softball, such as taekwondo, track and field, athletics,
swimming, and of course, fencing.
He notes the importance of offering an extensive sports program, when it comes to sports development. He explains that for young people to discover what they are good at and know what they really like playing, there needs to be a wide range of sports for them to choose from.
The young councilor says that sports could offer different opportunities. He adds, “Maraming nakakakuha ng scholarship (many get offered scholarships), makakalaro sa national games (play in national games), and it will help their mental health as well.”
In September 2022, Viceo was elected as member of the Board of Director of the National Movement for Young Legislators Bulacan Chapter. He is grateful for this opportunity to represent San Rafael and is excited to bring more projects to his constituents.
“We, the youth, we are much more aware through social media, more active users of technology, and much more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other young people,” he says. He is also cognizant of the reality that there are many youth-specific issues that are hardly addressed by most public services. One of these is mental health.
In fact, youth mental health emerged as one of the major issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extended lockdowns isolated most young people in the Philippines, and not just in Bulacan, creating a vacuum with regard to their need for social interaction and support.
In pursuing possible mental health programs, Viceo shares that he is now conducting meetings and consultations with professionals—doctors and experts in the field to lead seminars and webinars. He recognizes that one of the first steps in this direction is to remove the stigma of talking about mental health. “It is very hard to talk about something that we are ashamed to even discuss,” he adds. He understands the importance of creating venues for young people to feel safe in discussing sensitive issues, such as mental health.
Viceo believes that mental health is one of the foundations for the future of every young Bulakeño. He acknowledges that these concerns must be addressed and therapy solutions offered, for the youth to even think about careers, success, and excellence.
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING
Although Viceo is a neophyte councilor, he is already familiar with the environment of public service. He also knows he is fortunate to have his parents to show him the ropes in local government work. Even though it has been only a few months since his election as councilor, he has confidently hit the ground running.
He is already working on an ordinance to give recognition to local athletes and coaches that win competitions, bringing honor to the municipality. Viceo is likewise actively working on an ordinance to establish a municipal drug rehabilitation center and an ordinance to institutionalize the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the municipality.
Concurrently, Viceo is studying law at the Ateneo de Manila University Law School, to expand his knowledge, skill, and experience in legislation. He is enthusiastic about being able to apply his learnings real-time, as councilor of San Rafael.
Although he faces no dearth of mentorship in the political world, he wants to create his own brand of public service. “I’m just grateful that I’m given the chance to share my own ideas and bring in programs that are new to San Rafael,” he stresses.
He believes it is time that the youth participate actively in local government. Truthfully, it only makes sense, because no one could better understand the needs of tomorrow than the youth of today.