WOMAN LEADER FOR OTHERS
Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco did not choose to
become a public servant; the city chose her to be one.
BY GODFREY DANCEL
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEENO LEGARA & FERDIE FRANCISCO
Fate, indeed, has a way of changing the course of even the best-laid out plans. A good example is the story of Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco.
“My father told me before not to run [for an elective post] because politics is a thankless job,” she says. “That someday, after years of service, I will walk down the street and people will not recognize me.”
When the opportunity to help the city came knocking, however, she took a leap of faith. That decision proved to be a turning point not only in her personal life but in the political history of Zamboanga City.
By the early 1990s, Climaco had found her niche as a teacher at her alma mater, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, where she earned a degree in education before pursuing her master’s degree in
family counselling at the Ateneo de Manila University. A few years later, she found her way into mass media, working as a part-time newsreader at a local television station.
Aside from the above, she was also known as an advocate of quality education and cancer awareness. She was, in more ways than one, already serving the city as a productive citizen.
ANSWERING THE CALL
Climaco describes herself as a late bloomer. “I was very shy. I had been supportive of my father, during the campaigns, making sandwiches, being at the sideline,” she recalls, referring to her father, then Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Jose Climaco. “He would bring me around Zamboanga City, to show me the people and what it’s like to be a public servant.”
“I was fearful because that was a career change,” she recalls feeling as she became a first-time city councilor in 1998. “My life was to change, but I never expected that it would last long. I’m not really ambitious in a sense… I just thought, ‘well, I’ll be a city councilor, that’s it.’ In fact I did not really
resign from the Ateneo de Zamboanga,....