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The Brotherhood of Good Governance

Valenzuela City Mayor Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian is all set to extend the city’s 18 years of continuous progress.



Much is at stake for Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian as he assumes the position of Mayor of Valenzuela City.

As he succeeds his older brothers, Sher win and Rex, respect ively, in the post, the 41-year-old United Kingdom-educated chief executive is bent on preser ving, not fortune or power, but the legacy of the Gatchalians.

“It’s the legacy that I want to protect. The Gatchalian brand name has been trusted by Valenzuelanos already,” says Gatchalian. “I’m very proud to say that the Gatchalian brand has never been tainted with corruption, never been tainted with anoma lies. The Gatchalian brand has always been the good governance and transparency that people, actual ly not only in Valenzuela, but the w hole Philippines, are longing for.”


The Gatcha lians have long established their name in the political arena, beginning with Sherwin serving as Valenzuela 1st District Representative from 2001 to 2004, followed by his three consecutive terms as Valenzuela City Mayor from 2004 to 2013. He won a seat in the Senate in 2016, and was reelected for his second term in the 2022 elections.

Meanwhile, Rex was elected as Valenzuela 1st District Representative from 2007 to 2013, and then succeeded Sherwin as mayor from 2013 to 2022, while Wes served in the 16th to 18th Congress, first sitting as Alay Buhay Party-list Representative in 2013, and then replaced Sherwin as Valenzuela 1st District Representative from 2016 to 2022.

Despite heading almost a decade into his political career, Wes admits that he still catches himself being in awe of how far they’ve come in their respective careers. After all, they were “not born with a famous surname in politics.”

“Now, we are considered a political dynasty, but when we started, we were not. We had no father in politics. No uncle, grandfather in politics. We started where we started, here in Valenzuela,” Gatchalian reveals. “So among us brothers, slowly, we’re realizing it, but it hasn’t fully sunk in yet that we are on a national level already. To be able to reach a point in life where our family now is local and national level already, that’s one thing I’m proud of.”

Moreover, the Gatchalian family has always been known not for politics but for business, which their father, William, started.

Even the track Gatchalian chose for his education was to prepare him to take over the Wellex Group, as he graduated from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom (UK) with an honors degree in Business and Operations Management.

He also earned his Master’s degree in Management at the London Metropolitan University in the UK, and then worked as an executive at the Lloyds of London, the world’s largest insurer, before coming back home to take over the petrochemical plant in Bataan that his father had invested in.

“Sherwin and Rex went into politics earlier. We’re four siblings. The family discussed that the two will go into politics, the two will stay in business. Actually, I’m my father’s right hand for many years. Everything he does, I was with him, all the meetings, all the investments. I was sent abroad to close deals, including this petrochemical plant. I did road shows, I talked to investors at a young age. That really was just my environment back then,” he explains.

But his life took an unexpected turn when Alay Buhay sought his father’s help in fielding a candidate for the party-list elections after hearing the good things the Gatchalians have done in the city.

“It just so happened that they got me as one of the nominees since I’m a businessman and Alay Buhay is representing businessmen and entrepreneurs. Then, after that, it was just destiny. I continued in this path just like my brothers. It wasn’t part of my plan,” Gatchalian shares how unexpected entering politics was for him.


The Gatchalian patriarch, widely known as the “Plastics King,” founded Plastic City Corporation in 1969, which had its humble beginnings as a small, family-owned business of supplying pelletized plastic raw materials. Over the years, the company grew into an established leader in the local plastic industry, expanding from a modest warehouse into a 60-hectare industrial estate with a workforce of 1,000 people.

William diversified his business interests in the late 1980s, establishing a real estate development company, reclamation, an airline, hotels and casinos, a stock brokerage, and a petrochemical plant under five companies that are publicly-listed with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). He formally organized the Wellex Group in 1994, which has since become one of the biggest investment firms in the country.

And so, all their lives, Wes and his brothers were trained to run the business and take over the conglomerate. While kids their age had summer breaks in between academic school years to rest and be with family in their provinces or out of the country, the siblings had the factory as their playground.

“Ever since I was a child, I started working in our plastic factory, [in the] administration, doing odd jobs like photocopying, fixing the files. That’s where we started. Every summer, our playtime was play in the office, inside the office in the factory,” Wes recalls. “Our father taught us about hard work. We stayed here helping our parents in the business because my dad works 24/7. And that was the kind of work ethic instilled in us.”


Planned or not, Gatchalian made sure to make the most of the opportunity that he was given.

Among the many memories he holds dear in his three terms in the Lower House are leading the Committee on Youth and Sports Development in the 16th Congress; the difficult task of rejecting the President’s appointees in his time as a member of the Commission on Appointments and being the first to propose the SIM Card Registation Act in the 17th Congress; utilizing his business acumen as he chaired the Committee on Trade and Industry in the 18th Congress, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help small and medium enterprises bounce back from the economic blow and jumpstart economic recovery; becoming Deputy Speaker for Trade and Industry in December 2020; allowing citizens to retain their cellular numbers even if they transfer to a different network provider under RA 11202 or Mobile Number Portability Act; crafting the Internet Transactions Act for the protection of consumers and merchants engaged in online transactions; and co-authoring the landmark and historic Vape Law, which regulates vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products to protect minors and “give the 16 million Filipino smokers a chance to have access to better alternatives.”

Overall, Gatchalian proudly shares that in his years as legislator, 64 of his bills were enacted into law, 22 resolutions were adopted, and 129 bills were passed on third reading.

In the 2022 local polls, Gatchalian enjoyed a 16-0 landslide victory, together with the entire “Tuloy ang Progreso Valenzuela” slate. This proved to be a testament to his constituents’ desire for continuity in the city, as they subscribed to his campaign tagline, “Progress should continue in Valenzuela.”

This poses a different kind of challenge for Gatchalian, who admits he has big shoes to fill upon seeing how his brothers have successfully instituted reforms that eradicated corruption, bolstered the business sector, improved peace and order and social services, including education, health, in-city housing, and addressed the city’s biggest problems back then—flood control and waste management.

“I remember Sherwin, when he was elected for the first time, Valenzuela was a mess. Back then, Valenzuela was known for one of two things, floods or waste. There were tons of problems, crime rate was high. That was the hardest part, fixing all of those, the transition, and it takes two, three terms to do that. So, at least with me, I’m already faced with positive problems,” says Gatchalian.

“I guess whoever’s elected latest will have the biggest pressure and expectations also because my two predecessors performed really well, especially on the mayorship. This is something I really prepared for. Actually, during the campaign period, though there were opponents, the whole slate, I wasn’t worried about them all. I was thinking of the challenge to come because my two predecessors served the City very well,” adds Gatchalian, who now looks to elevate the level of the city’s programs and services.

Gatchalian aims to transform Valenzuela, known as the country’s top manufacturing hub with almost 15,000 factories, warehousing and commercial establishments, into a “livable city,” in which families in the next generation would choose to reside, not only because they work there, but because of the good services and amenities the city provides.

Some of the key components of a “livable city” that he identified and intends to improve are in-city housing, education, flood management, more open spaces for ecotourism, public transport accessibility, sports, health and wellness, among others.

The mayor will pick up the ‘Proyektong Kakaiba’ projects he launched on his last term as Valenzuela 1st District Representative to uplift the lives of the citizens and the generations to come. For instance, he built the WES Events Space in Barangay Dalandanan, a 1,500 square meter, two-story, hotel-like facility that Valenzuelanos can rent at an affordable price to celebrate their special occasions.

“[Celebrations] used to be, you know, just in makeshift tents. Sometimes you borrow somebody’s garage, or sometimes you have to go outside the city to Bulacan or Quezon City to find a place. Everybody wants to celebrate important milestones in their life—their daughter’s debut, their grandfather’s 60th birthday.

I believe that celebrations are not just for the rich,” Wes explains, promising to put up three more around Valenzuela, in addition to the “Spanish-style events space and museum” called Casa De Polo that’s currently being constructed in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the city, then known as the town of Polo.

Apart from the abovementioned, Wes also completed projects for the City of Valenzuela which includes 54 school buildings, 542 classrooms, 113 multi-purpose buildings, 89 roads and bridges, and 94 flood control projects.

Five of his projects are now currently under construction—Disiplina Villages in Barangays Arkong Bato, Sagip Arkong Bato, and Ugong for families living in danger zone areas; Valenzuela Polytechnic College new campus which will be Valenzuela City’s technical and vocational college; new Pamantasan ng Valenzuela Satellite Campus; Valenzuela East Wellness Center; and the new six-storey Finance Center Building and the new Legislative and People’s Center Building at the City Hall.

“These are the next level projects, flagship projects that I want to show people that government projects don’t necessarily have to look like they scrimped on the budget or look mediocre. You can always level up. There are many ways,” he stresses. “Make it higher, make it bigger, make it more beautiful, and most important out of all, it has to be accessible to the people.”


Meeting the expectations of 750,000 Valenzuelanos, as well as the expectations he set for himself, will not be easy as adjusting from being congressman to mayor will take time, just like how he transitioned from the private sector to the government.

Fortunately, Gatchalian already had a taste of what the mayorship entails when he underwent an “on-the-job training” with then Mayor Rex before the elections. Some of the changes he will have to get used to are having his personal life exposed, like constantly being put under a “magnifying lens” as the leader; sacrificing his personal and family time for his constituents; treating his activities within the city as “listening” or “study tours,” in which he’ll discover the people’s real-life stories and issues; and striving to find solutions to all kinds of problems that people look to the mayor for answers.

“Being the father of the city, expectations that everyone would run to you with their problems, even domestic issues, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) problems, things like brandishing weapons or encroaching which is common, the neighbor encroached on the wall of their neighbor. All of these, you have to be patient and you have to learn how to listen. That’s what I learned from the former mayor, you can’t drive them away,” says Gatchalian, pertaining to the open-door policy of the mayor’s office. “Of course, there are issues that are personal and beyond your control already, but those that you can address within the parameters [of the] city hall, we have to find a solution to.”

“When you are elected to this position, the expectation is you give your whole life already. It’s a 24/7 job...When I embarked on this mayorship, I already told my wife [that] as compared siguro (maybe) to congressman, as mayor, you don’t own yourself anymore. The family does not own you anymore. The people, the 750,000 Valenzuelanos, own you now. And you have to be ready, calamity, pandemic, whatever problem, you have to be there for them,” he relates.

But Gatchalian is resolved to deliver as he equates these expectations to the trust that he was given by his constituents—the same trust that his brothers were accorded.

“I don’t want to be the third brother who ruined all of this progress. It’s like they worked hard to build a house or a business, then the third sibling ruined it. So, that’s mainly the motivation I keep. It’s not about the power, it’s not about the position. In fact, I don’t care much about the title, honestly eh. It’s really the expectations of the people. I’m working hard to be able to deliver it and to continue the legacy,” Gatchalian says.

“I may be new to politics, I was the last one to get into politics, my experience is somewhat short, but someday I want when I finish my three terms, that people could say that I was the Gatchalian who continued the legacy and did not waste the opportunity that I was given,” he adds.

Aside from his determination, Gatchalian will bring with him his “corporate style” of leadership, utilizing his strong management skills in ensuring that the highly urbanized city’s departments and its close to 13,000 employees perform optimally.

He will be guided not only by his business acumen, but also the lessons imparted by his father, particularly about discipline, hard work, resilience, risk-taking, and decisiveness, as he sets on to fulfil the promise he made to the Valenzuelanos: “Many are asking me: ‘Will you continue these projects or not? Will you place a large budget towards this or cut the budget?’ For now, everything is status quo, we’ll continue. That’s what I promised— continued progress. What they’re used to and what they’re happy and comfortable with, we’ll improve on. We’ll level up.”

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