All The Way For Bocaue
BY EDWIN ALLAN C. DIAZ
SINCE CHILDHOOD, ALL BOCAUE CITY COUNCILOR JAMELA “JAM” MENDOZA EVERWANTED WAS TO ENTER PUBLIC SERVICE AND MAKE EVERYONE’S LIFE IN HER TOWN BETTER.
When the father of Bocaue Municipal Councilor Jamela Charisse “Jam” Gabriel Mendoza told her that the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections were pushing through, she did not hesitate to file her immediate resignation. “Balita ko tuloy na daw ‘yung SK [elections]. Gusto mo ba? (I was told that the SK elections will resume. Do you want to run [as SK chairman])?” he asked Mendoza over lunch. One week later, Mendoza departed Rustan’s, where she handled luxury fashion brands for Store Specialists, Incorporated (SSI). “Noong mismong week na iyon pagbalik ko ng office, nag-resign ako kahit hindi ko sure kung mananalo ako [sa eleksiyon] (That week, after returning to the office, I resigned even though I was not sure if I will win [the elections]),” Mendoza tells LEAGUE.
A LEAP OF FAITH
Fortunately, Mendoza won by a landslide as SK chairman of Barangay Bunducan in 2018. She would later become the SK Federation president of Bocaue and an automatic ex-officio
member of Bocaue’s Sangguniang Bayan, representing the youth sector.
As a municipal councilor, Mendoza authors ordinances and resolutions for Bocaue. She also chairs the committees on Rules and Privileges, Youth and Sports Development, and is the vice
chairman of Education, Tourism, History, Culture and Arts, Women, Children and Family, and Human Rights. At the provincial level, she’s also the vice president of the SK Federation of Bulacan
SK is the governing body of the Katipunan ng Kabataan of a barangay. They create resolutions and initiate programs to develop the youth and carry out their objectives. They may also hold tax-exempt fundraising activities and ask for assistance from the National Youth Commission (NYC) to implement its projects.
No matter what hat she wears, one thing’s always for sure: Mendoza’s all in for Bulacan.
AN OPEN INVITATION FOR IMITATION
Before becoming SK president, Mendoza was already working with CIBAC (Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption) Partylist
for a scholarship program. CIBAC initially gave her 20 slots for college students, transferrable upon graduation. Now, she has 200 slots (10 per barangay) and a Php15,000 incentive per scholar, courtesy of Senator Joel “Tesdaman” Villanueva.
Mendoza’s scholarship program is just one of the multiple projects she’s proud to share with LEAGUE.
“My mindset is for Bocaue,” Mendoza says when asked if she ran as SK president solely for Bunducan. Upon assuming office, she authored Municipal Ordinance No. 19-099, titled “Empowerment of Sangguniang Kabataan in the Municipality of Bocaue,” giving Php1,500 worth of allowances and honoraria to SK secretaries, treasurers, and kagawads every quarter.
Ordinance 19-099 is the first of its kind in Bulacan, according to Mendoza, with the total amount decided by the federation. “As a president and ex-officio member of the sangguniang bayan, that’s the first thing I prioritized for my fellow youth,” she explains.
The SK Leadership Congress is another youth-oriented program, with the theme “Strengthened Youth Leaders Towards Excellence and Partners in Good Governance.” The team building and leadership seminar gathered all Bocaue youth leaders together, teaching them the importance and significance of public service so they could be effective leaders.
Organized by the late Mayor Joni Villanueva-Tugna and the SK Federation of Bocaue, the congress ran from October 24 to 26, 2019, in Zambales.
Mendoza also launched the annual Brigada Eskwela (BES) in 2018 and the Balik SKwelahan Online School Assistance in 2020. The first distributed school supplies and established a feeding program for students during Nutrition Month. Meanwhile, the latter gave students online learning materials, such as USBs, phone stands, and face masks, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three years later, BES has given over 1,000 module bags containing reading materials, pens and pencils, correction tapes, and crayons. College and master’s students also received Php1,000 so that they could buy what they need for school. Mendoza also upgraded the feeding program to accommodate all Bocaueños, not just students. But classes were not the only things that transitioned to a virtual setup.
SK Bulagaan sa Bunducan, their fiesta, was held on Facebook Live in 2021. Hosted by Mendoza and SK Kagawad Eugene Silvestre, it is patterned after typical noontime shows, complete with a raffle, games, and prizes. Everyone from politicians and influential individuals, to Bocaueños and sponsors expressed their warm wishes and shout-outs in the comments section
In 2022, Mendoza and her team hosted Simpleng Kabuhayan para sa Kabarangay (Simple Livelihood for our Neighbors in the Barangay) and Bagong Taon, Bagong Kasiyahan sa Bunducan (New Year, New Happiness in Bunducan). With the success of Bulagaan, these were also on Facebook Live.
Bagong Taon followed a TV format, identifying beneficiaries for Simpleng Kabuhayan. They gave away Php 15,000 worth of ice scramble, milk tea, and fish ball livelihood packages, including training and equipment, to five indigent members of the community.
To further showcase the youth of Bunducan, Mendoza launched the annual Halloween Trick or Treat and Basketball League in 2019, as well as the Hari at Reyna ng Bunducan (King and Queen of Bunducan) pageant in 2023.
“It’s our job to maximize their full potential and develop them even more to become the best version of themselves.”
MAXIMIZING EVERYONE’S POTENTIAL
Mendoza believes that everyone has unique skills, particularly the youth. She acknowledges, though, that she is concerned that they are not yet maximizing the youth’s full potential.
“Kahit sabihin natin na (Even if we say that) they already have talent, I know and believe that there’s more to it. And it’s our job to maximize their full potential and develop them even more to become the best version of themselves,” Mendoza says. She adds that they are taking the necessary steps to ensure the youth fully develop their skills. A Bocauelympics (portmanteau of their town’s name and the iconic sports competition, the Olympics), focusing on sports and a summer camp, is in the works this year.
Another is the Bocaue Youth Center, which will house a multi-purpose gym, library, conference rooms, and a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) training area.
Mendoza says the center is already under construction, and it was funded by Senator Bong Go.
LEADING FUTURE LEADERS
The SK is not Mendoza’s first foray into leadership or service. Ever since she was a child, she has been exposed to leadership roles. “Up until I reached 4th year high school, I ran for president of the supreme student government,” Mendoza says.
But it wasn’t until Mendoza’s selection for “Boy-Girl Officials” that her eyes were opened to the possibility of government service. One of Bocaue’s longest-running youth programs, the municipality selects one boy and one girl, ages 13 to 17, from public and private schools.
For one week, during Linggo ng Kabataan (Youth Week), participants will assume the duties and responsibilities of local government leaders. They will draft resolutions, meet the mayor, and study what the local government unit (LGU) and municipal council are doing.
“Boy-Girl” participants are guided by their counterparts—the mayor, vice mayor, councilors, and department head—says Mendoza, who has been in charge of the program since 2018.
She has expanded it to include a five-day field trip around Bocaue and allowances for all participants. Some of the destinations include the San Juan de Dios Educational Foundation, Nory’s Restaurant, Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Karilagan Stevia Farm & Pavilion, and The Garden at the Philippine Arena.
Mendoza, too, had sound parental advice. In love affairs, her mother and three brothers all took part in how she would dress up and even vet potential suitors for her; and in public service, her mom and maternal grandfather convinced her father to let her resign and enter public service.
“Dreams do come true, but only if we act and turn them into reality. “
EVERYONE’S “ATE (ELDER SISTER)”
Mendoza’s tight-knit relationship with her family, especially her siblings, equipped her with the necessary skills to be a youth leader. “Kapag may kailangan sila, ang takbo nila kay ate, hindi sa magulang namin (If they need anything, they’ll run to their big sister, not our parents).”
The ex-officio councilor recalls the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having projected their 2020 budget, around Php800,000, they used it for their COVID-19 response instead. Mendoza even used her personal funds to help anyone in need.
“Nagbigay kami ng ayuda, grocery package na sobrang daming nakalagay, para makakakain sila ng isang buong araw. Very helpful, at the same time in-address mo din ‘yung problema ng nakararami (We gave aid and loaded grocery packages so that they could eat for the whole day. It’s very helpful, and it also addresses the problems of many),” Mendoza says.
Even though Mendoza caught COVID-19 twice, her family did not stop helping others, even pledging to feed the entire community.
“Kunwari dad ko, silang magkakapatid, sasabihin, ‘Okay, isang street sagot ko, tulungan din sa family namin na makatulong din sa iba (My dad and his siblings would say, ‘I’ll sponsor and help feed residents along an entire street,’ the whole family will help others),” Mendoza says.
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE
Mendoza admits to LEAGUE that her tenure with SSI was fun since she handled fashion products. She also oversaw customer relations and managed their staff. So when Mendoza visited her former company in 2018, she surprised everyone. “Nagulat sila kasi after [leaving], councilor na ako. ‘You’re a councilor already?!’ parang ganun sila bigla sa ’kin. ‘Ang bilis!’ Ganoon ‘yung nangyari. Masaya ‘yung previous work ko (They were surprised because I was already a councilor. They were like, ‘You’re a councilor already?! So fast!’ That’s what happened. But I was happy at my previous work),” Mendoza says.
However, she couldn’t be any happier because she knew she had a higher calling. All the pieces were already unfolding in front of her, even before she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Major in Marketing degree from De La Salle University (DLSU). “Dreams do come true, but only if we act and turn them into reality,” Mendoza says on her YouTube channel, Jamela “Jam” Mendoza.
Whether it’s giving a full-body general checkup to senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) or collaborating with a famous grocery store for a one- minute take-everything challenge, Mendoza’s all the way for Bocaue.