BY ELAINE FELICITAS
PHOTOGRAPHY DANIEL SORIANO
Public service is not a job; it’s a purpose. One can quit a job but not a purpose for the latter keeps one going.
Rep. Marlyn “Len” B. Alonte-Naguiat, from No.1 councilor to mayor to representative of the Lone District of Biñan City, has a purpose that drives her to deliver on her commitments to her constituents. Her brand of public service is her covenant to the people of Biñan. A promise that keeps her going, with a steady momentum and a resolute will. The congresswoman’s brand of leadership shines with her desire to help people and make their lives better.
While the people are the heart of public service, the elected officials are equally important in that they can be beneficial or detrimental in improving the lives of other people. Choosing the right leader has become crucial to the success of a city or a province, and is very timely as the national and local elections are just around the corner.
With her 24 years in service, Alonte has proven that her contributions to her constituents and her hard work have paid off with their continued support in keeping her in office. Her projects show her advocacies on different aspects of the community and have transformed lives in the process.
KNOWING THE CONGRESSWOMAN
Alonte says her father, former Mayor Arthur Alonte, and her mother, Fe Erlinda Belizario, have opened her eyes to the idea of public service.
“I grew up seeing my father use his position as municipal mayor to change the lives of Biñanenses for the better. There was no shortage of ways to help people. My mom Fe, a devoted wife, also taught me the many important values I carry now.”
Heeding the call of the people, Alonte started public service as a councilor at the age of 23. She recalls, “At a young age, I already had that desire to help people and do something that will make the lives of people around me better. So when public service knocked at my door, I took the chance and poured my whole heart into it.”
No matter what position has been entrusted to her, she ensures that she’s giving her one-hundred percent with the values and learnings she’s gained from her parents. This passion for serving other people has also been fully imbibed by her staff.
Alonte’s vast experience in the municipal council served her well when she became vice mayor and eventually Biñan’s youngest and first female mayor in 2007. She was first elected as congresswoman of Biñan in 2016, and was reelected in 2019. In recognition of her performance, she was recently named as one of the Deputy Speakers of the 18th Congress.
Her father’s legacy, dedication, and hard work have become her inspiration to choose the same path of public service. Along with her mother’s virtues, her father’s wisdom and guidance have moored her to be of service to others. They are her “foundation and moral compass.”
The seasoned public servant finds raising her two beautiful children, Nico and Isabel, with her husband Steve as one of her biggest achievements in life. There were times she had to choose attending to her constituents’ needs over spending time with her family, and she’s grateful that her family has been very supportive of her life mission. Getting the right kind of support, Alonte says, uplifts her spirit and makes her political life easier.
UNIQUE BRAND OF LEADERSHIP
Alonte’s experience with her family shows how much she has learned from the examples of her parents to craft her own style of leadership. She also leads by example to her staff and constituents, which draws them to her leadership.
Furthermore, the congresswoman ensures that her actions and hard work are directed toward the improvement of Biñan and encourages other people to do the same.
Alonte describes her leadership as hands- on and people-centric. She ensures that each program is well-crafted by asking questions such as “Will this benefit the people we serve? Will this make their lives better? Will this put value in their day-to-day living? Will this create equal opportunities for positive changes leading to a better and brighter future for as many people as possible?”
With all these considered, she goes ahead and plans her actions thoroughly, guided by public response and expert consultations.
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) alumna and recipient of Doctor of Humanities honoris causa from the University of Perpetual Help System-Biñan simplifies her brand of leadership as similar to that of a mother who prioritizes the welfare of her children, and in this case the people and city of Biñan. A mother’s love endures and sacrifices to make sure that her children are “safe, comfortable, and happy.” Supporting her constituents to uplift their lives has been her priority as a public servant, which is reflective of her nurturing nature.
Alonte’s leadership style worked well for her in different roles she has held as a public servant. She has received numerous commendations and awards, including The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award in 2014, which recognized her efforts in introducing changes that resulted in minimizing corruption and simplifying government transactions.
Heeding the call of the people, Alonte-Naguit has started public service as a councilor at the age of 23. She recalled, “At a young age, I already had that desire to help people and do something that will make the lives of people around me better. So when public service knocked on my door, I took the chance and poured my whole heart into it.”
FOCUS AND ADVOCACIES
People remain the focal point of Alonte’s career as a public servant and most of her projects are geared toward introducing changes to benefit them. One of her biggest achievements was the cityhood of Biñan.
She says, “The cityhood of Biñan will always be one of my biggest achievements during my term as mayor of this beloved city. More than the change in status, cityhood was about bringing more investments to the city, which meant more livelihood and job opportunities for our people.”
Her advocacies are clearly focused on education, healthcare, and the overall welfare of the people of Biñan. The Iskolar ng Biñan has provided tertiary education for over 10,000 underprivileged students, giving them a headstart in life. Her project of providing quality healthcare for the disadvantaged residents of the city through the Health Assistance Program for Indigent Families (HAPI) Card. HAPI provides medical benefits including free medicine, doctors’ services, and other fees. Its accredited hospitals include Biñan Doctors’ Hospital, University of Perpetual Help Medical Center-Biñan, Ospital ng Biñan. Discussions are currently ongoing to add Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in the future.
Meanwhile, the ‘Alagang Len’ program supports different aspects of life in community. It provides bereavement assistance, livelihood programs, and infrastructure projects. It encompasses all of Alonte’s advocacies to give the best to the people.
She mentions that one of the most difficult aspects of being a public servant is time management. There are times when she feels that the 24 hours in a day are not enough to do projects but she still continues because there are a lot of people who are relying on her. She also proceeds with all her projects and advocacies because of the “love, trust, and confidence of the people of Biñan. That gives me the assurance that I am doing a good job leading and representing them.”
As a mother to her constituents, she feels satisfied with helping her children achieve some of their goals and improve their lives.
FOR THE PEOPLE OF BIÑAN
Much like how her leadership has been for many years, being a congresswoman is no different. Her response to the COVID-19 pandemic is clean and clear—every life saved matters. She has been commended for her swift and steady response to the pandemic by focusing on how her constituents can adjust to the new normal.
Multiple projects have been in full swing and simultaneously being done for Biñanenses, especially displaced workers, to have access to sustainable employment and livelihood opportunities. Supporting the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE’s) Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, the city government of Biñan provided employment by hiring people to clean areas in different barangays and giving compensation for the work they have provided.
Another project that’s also being implemented is the initiative to vaccinate all the people in Biñan. This proactive response to the COVID-19 virus aims to minimize casualties and severe cases was borne out of the realization that a holistic approach to the pandemic is still best.
Aside from vaccinations and financial assistance, Biñan is prepared to respond to the pandemic by activating its response team and adding safety protocols to prevent the spread of the disease. Medical consultations through E-Konsulta, an app that provides consultation for Biñanenses with COVID-19-related symptoms, also proved as an important innovation.
While serving the city of Biñan for 24 years, she has been consistent with the services that she provides her constituents. Her message to her constituents emphasizes her true brand of leadership and motivation as a public servant, and her pledge to continue to work harder for them.
“Thank you for trusting me to lead and represent the City of Biñan in the House of Representatives. The transition from a quiet town to a dynamic powerhouse city was for and because of you.
We shall not rest on our laurels. Instead, we will continue to work even harder because our priority will always be to try to give all Biñanenses a better life, a life that will make you even more proud to be a resident of this city and lone district.”
Alonte-Naguit’s leadership style has become beneficial for her different roles in public offices. She has received numerous commendations and awards which shows how her virtue as a mother in protecting her children, and as a child learning from her parents.
Asked about her plans for the future, Alonte reveals her priority is to focus on her role as a member of the House of Representatives. She has authored several bills including one in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to help accelerate the recovery of the country through different steps.
Other bills also reflect her advocacies on health, education, and children and women’s welfare, featuring steps similar to what she had implemented as a vice mayor and mayor of her city. As a congresswoman, her success affects not only the city of Biñan but also other cities and districts throughout the country.
Clearly, Congresswoman Alonte’s vast experience, leadership characteristics, and drive have molded her to become the leader she is today. Ever improving despite the many accolades she has received, she continues to inspire more people to also do their best and help improve the lives of others.
Hers is a leadership by example—purpose driven, results oriented. Nothing more. Nothing less.