Traversing Her Unusual Road to Public Service
Public service was beyond her wildest dreams. But Cabadbaran
City Mayor Judy Amante is going above and beyond to ensure
that their family’s legacy will continue during her leadership.
BY FREDERICK CASTILLO
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL SORIANO
The surname “Amante” is quite familiar in local (Agusan del Norte) and national politics, and Cabadbaran City Mayor Judy C. Amante is exerting the necessary effort to ensure that the legacy of the
family name will continue during her leadership. In particular, she finds inspiration from those who came before her as she navigates the challenging responsibilities of an elected public servant.
UNUSUAL ROAD TO PUBLIC SERVICE
Amante admits that public service “was beyond my wildest dreams,” and that her “passion was always in business—buying and selling.” She was not born into a political family and her background is also not typically characterized as that of traditional politicians. “I grew up a simple girl with no clear ambition in life. My typical lower middle class family could barely provide for our needs. I remember I would even share with my classmate our recess time snack—half a piece of bread and half a 12-ounce bottle of soft drinks. We could only ‘wish upon a star’ for a new pair of trendy shoes.” Evidently, her road to public service was unusual, but even more unusual was her actual foray into the realm of electoral politics.
Amante shares that she met her ex-husband, former Rep. Erlpe John Amante, in college and eventually got pregnant at age 17, while still trying to obtain a degree. Inevitably, the challenges of juggling her responsibilities as a young mother and a student forced her to forego her studies and concentrate on her family. “We had lived a simple life—away from politics—until my ex-husband decided to run for governor in 2004. Even so, I stayed out of the limelight all those years.” Despite Amante’s effort to preserve her marriage, circumstances became challenging when they had their third child, ultimately leading to their separation. “I had to take care of all my children’s needs and attend to all of the important moments in their lives… alone.”
Thereafter, Amante’s world would radically change, as she was thrust into a new arena amidst her personal struggles: politics. In the 2016 local elections, her sister-in-law, then Governor Maria Angelica Amante- Matba, supported her bid to run for mayor against Katrina M. Mortola, who was supported by her exhusband and, at that time, rumored to be in a relationship with him. However, even the governor’s backing failed to ensure Amante’s victory as she lost by a slim margin to Mortola. Instead of losing heart, the setback appeared to further strengthen her resolve, as she again challenged the incumbent mayor in the 2019 elections. She eventually won by a landslide. Amante says that “God’s time is, indeed, the perfect time. It was truly a sweet victory for my slate as we all won in that .....