BORONGAN CITY, EASTERN SAMAR
HER HEART BEATS FOR BORONGAN
Mayor Maria Fe Abunda on driving Borongan
City, Eastern Samar to become a selfsustaining,
safe, and disaster-resilient city
BY MALOU E. ROSAL
If her surname rings a bell, that is because Borongan City, Eastern Samar mayor, Maria Fe Abunda, has a famous brother. None other than Filipino television host, publicist, talent manager, and celebrity
endorser, local show business’ “King of Talk” himself, Boy Abunda.
“Somehow as her sister, I am occasionally and sometimes unwillingly able to share a little of the spotlight because of his public persona,” Mayor Abunda shares. “When I attend meetings or seminars, I would often be asked how I am related to him. They simply would say, ‘Sister po ba kayo ni Boy Abunda? We’re glad to meet you, Ma’am.’ And then sometimes the expectations soar higher…I get to be compared to him. But he is the multi-awarded talk show host. And I am the local chief executive of Borongan.”
Quite a role-reversal from their childhood days. Growing up in Borongan, she was very sporty
and athletic as a child, playing nuru-singkulay and luksong-tinik with kids her age. “I was quite
competitive and decisive. I matured quickly,” she recalls. “Maybe because as the only older sibling
to my brother Boy, I had been trained early by my parents to assume the role of a grown-up sister and
from that, I came out very authoritative. But don’ t get me wrong. I am also very protective of my
family, especially of my younger brother.”
Mayor Abunda extends this same care and concern for family to her constituents in Borongan.
Her parents’ example was also pivotal to her calling for public service. She recounts how her mother, known to many as Nanay Lesing, was a former elementary school teacher, who later became
a member of the then Sangguniang Bayan of Borongan, then went on to be elected as the town’s
vice mayor. On the other hand, her father, who was fondly called Totoy Enyong, was a former
barangay official before becoming a councilor of their town. Despite the power and influence associated
with such positions, the Abunda family lived humbly and quietly. She says, “We led a modest and simple life, lar gely because our parents taught us that way.”
Working as a nurse before she was elected into public office, Mayor Abunda draws from her family’s values as she now shows her care and concern for her constituents in Borongan.
WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE
Closest to the mayor ’s heart is her pet project, “Baysay Borongan” or “Beautiful Borongan,” designed to make Borongan a mabaysay or beautiful place. As an advocate for the environment, Mayor Abunda pushed for this clean and green program, assigning street cleaners to maintain the cleanliness of roads,
streets, and alleys on Baybay Boulevard. They were also tasked with planting flowering plants and trees along the roads and in parks, as well as proper garbage disposal. While very strict with the implementation of this program (even checking on the work in progress while jogging on the streets at three o’clock in the morning), she also displays a soft and nurturing side when she eats with the workers or remembering them first come Christmas and other occasions.
“Not only did I encourage them to participate in cleaning our roads and streets, I was also able
to integrate an exceptional work ethic to our employees and to our people, in general. And we also see to it that when they prove worthy , they can be elevated to a higher position, should there be a necessity for hiring that would arise,”