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Webster, who was obviously named after a dictionary, enjoyed the environment of his town with his beloved family and friends. As he turns into a man, old enough not just to appreciate but to also find the meaning of things, Letargo saw that Gumaca can achieve a status that can be more beautiful and progressive than it was first established.


No one really knows what the future has for them but there will always be a sign, a spark that will start a fire. Letargo was certain he did not want to be a public servant but “was always interested in leading organizations and engaging with people.”

While studying in San Beda University, Letargo shares that he has already begun his stint in government as a liaison for the youth sector in the office of former Senator Santanina Rasul back in the 90s. He then became a political affairs officer for former Senator Francisco Tatad and later as consultant for the National Youth Commission under Chairperson Amina Rasul Bernardo, during the term of then President Fidel Ramos.

Confident enough with the learnings and trainings he had under his bosses, Letargo tried his luck to be a public servant himself. He secures a seat in the council in 2001 and served for one term. He aimed to climb the ladder and campaigned to become the municipality’s vice mayor which Gumaca did not approve of. He might have lost the campaign but Letargo still served the people under the governor’s office as a chief of staff of Quezon’s former Governor, now Deputy Speaker David Suarez.

From the opportunity to be trained and learn in the national perspective of governance, he had the chance to work under former Quezon Third District Representative Danilo Suarez. And eventually went back to being the chief of staff of Governor Suarez. When he thought his service will be enough behind the scenes, he once again saw an open door to enter politics and this time, as the chief executive of his hometown.

In 2019, Letargo ran for mayoralty and won with almost 8,000 margin against his opponent, whom he lost to when he ran for vice mayor.

Letargo claims that he is not totally inexperienced with public service provided that he has worked in different branches of the government but when he won the seat as the mayor of Gumaca, he admits that he also felt the fear of being unable to fulfill expectations and the pressure to prove himself to those who supported him. Just before he was able to adjust to his new position, the biggest problem every leader could face came to challenge his leadership.


“Months after my proclamation, the pandemic hit. That was really a challenge because there is no playbook for us mayors, or whoever is leading the province, on how to run a government amidst a pandemic,” Letargo recalls. Like any other leaders who went through the pandemic, Letargo had little knowledge on how to run the municipality in the middle of the unprecedented crisis. Relying only on his way of leadership, he also finds social media helpful during that time. Through social media, he could see the best practices of other cities and municipalities. But for him, there was also a downside to it because people compares their efforts to other towns.




As if the pandemic was not challenging enough, Letargo had to face another hurdle when the political rivalries dominated the situation which resulted in the “hostaging of the annual municipal budget during a health emergency.” Letargo utilized social media for everyone’s good where he kept his constituents updated about the happenings in the local government’s office. “So para kaming teleserye na pinapanood nila. Siguro wala nga masyadong teleseryeng lumalabas nun kasi. So kami ang teleserye ng kababayan [namin], We’re like a television series that they watch, Maybe because there is not that many television series during that time so we are the television series that our townmates watch), Letargo jokes.

Kidding aside, Letargo says that they are lucky to receive donations from private entities, and help from volunteers and dedicated municipal workers led by the rural health team. He believes that through this and God’s grace, they were able to survive the pandemic.

Letargo’s first term is not just filled with learning experiences but also with problems that challenged his desire to lead Gumaca. Still in the middle of pandemic in 2021, the members of Gumaca Sangguniang Bayan filed complaints against Letargo for violation of Section 3(f) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019, Grave Misconduct, Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. They accused Letargo of forbidding the release of their Representation and Transportation Allowances (RATA) and Telephone Expenses-Mobile (TEM), which they claimed as Letargo’s way of getting back at them for not releasing the annual municipal budget during the pandemic.

On August 2023, Ombudsman cleared Letargo from the accusations due to lack of probable cause and proof that he withheld the RATA and TEM of the SB members. “It’s ironic that the Vice Mayor together with majority of the SB did not find issue with not passing the annual

budget during the pandemic that impacted the entire town, but when they were affected by the withholding of allowances, they cried injustice,” Letargo says.

For Letargo, this is one of the real challenges of being a leader. He wants to overcome the political agendas and vested interests of the people as well the traditional mindset of his constituents because these hamper the development agenda for the town. Moreover, he mentions lack of budget as a common issue among local government units but can be addressed by mobilizing finances from other sources and strengthening partnerships with public and private sectors.


“Having grown up in my hometown of Gumaca, I have nurtured this appreciation and love for it so it came naturally for me to want to serve when I arrived at a crossroads in my career,” Letargo shares. Fueled by the love for his hometown and his constituents, Letargo carried on with his service as if nothing happened.

Having set his mind on leading his town, Letargo established a brand of leadership that is honest, loving, inclusive, accountable, and transparent. During pandemic, the local government established an online platform which they named Gumaca CARES (COVID 19 Aid Reporting and Expenditure Summary). This serves as a channel to report the funds and donations that came in and how it was spent by the mayor’s office. Aside from this, Facebook and messaging apps are also utilized so people can easily reach their mayor, without setting aside face-to-face interactions when needed.

Being known as a heritage town, Letargo also understands the need to preserve Gumaca’s treasures including the ancestral houses, Fortress of San Diego de Alcala, considered by the National Historical Institute as a national treasure since 1981 and their 103 years old municipal building. Gumaca is now building a new and modern municipal building. School buildings, health centers, and classrooms are also in his list of infrastructure projects as well as the skateboard park that is already underway. Once built, it will be the first in the province of Quezon.

Apart from tourism and infrastructure projects, one of the closest to his heart is Gumaca’s eco-brick project. This encourages residents to keep their plastic bottles away from the dump sites by donating it to the LGU instead. In return, residents get rice grains equivalent to the number of plastic bottles they have donated. The eco-bricks are then turn into material-recovery facilities in barangays.

Moreover, Letargo did not forget to support the business owners in their town. Gumaca offers the Lingap sa Mamamayan Pautang Program, an interest-free loan for micro business owners which have been proven effective because those who applied loans have managed to pay back Php 5,000 to Php 100,000 of their capital.

Despite the success of his projects for Gumaca, Letargo continues to improve his leadership by involving himself in groups that further his abilities and programs as a mayor, In fact, he is one of the pioneering batches of Kaya Natin’s Leaders for Participatory Governance (LeadGov) Mayors’ Fellowship Program. In this group, leaders learn from the best practices of other local governments. “Hindi masamang mangopya. Yun ang aming panuntunan. Hindi lang ikaw ang magaling. Maaring mas magaling sila pero pwede mong kopyahin (It’s not that bad to imitate them, that’s our rule. You’re not the only one who’s good at this, they may be better but you are allowed to imitate them.)” Letargo says.

Last November, Letargo was among the Philippines' delegate to the China ASEAN Mayors’ Forum. Here, he had the opportunity to exchange knowledge, best practices, problem solving approaches, and leadership strategies with ASEAN and China counterparts. Among the 12 mayors who represented the Philippines, he was chosen to present about best practices, which was also a good chance to introduce Gumaca and what it can offer.

If there is one thing Gumaca should be known for is the honesty of the residents here. When you visit the municipality’s Facebook page, there is an observable number of posts featuring honest residents who returned money, cellphones, and other things that they found with the hope to find its rightful owners. Letargo admits that the municipality does not even offer something to reward their honest residents but this kind act is a normal scene in Gumaca everyday. The kindness goes forward as there is a small store in Gumaca that rewards honest residents with grocery items.

For Letargo, this honesty may be innate for the people of Gumaca, but he believes that this continues because honesty is also what they give to the people. He also shares that they named their FB page “We Love Gumaca” because no one else will love Gumaca but them.

When asked for a message for his constituents, Letargo claims that there has been a lot of improvements in Gumaca under his term. But those he owes not just to his hardworking municipal workers and peace officers “but all of us [people of Gumaca]. You are also part of this developments because of your continuous effort to uplift your own lives. That’s why I thank all of you for your ceaseless trust. Together, we can bring progress in our town.”

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