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‘Kap Jenn’ of Parañaque’s Barangay Tambo has a hands-on approach, which proves useful when implementing national programs at the grassroots level.


By Fraulein Olavario


Jennifer Salimao-Quizon or “Jenn” is a familiar face to many. She became known as a member of the dance group Gee Girls in ABS-CBN’s noontime variety show “Masayang Tanghali Bayan” in 2003 and as the wife of actor and Parañaque City 1st District Councilor and former actor Vandolph Quizon.

To residents of Barangay Tambo in Parañaque, she is known as “Kap Jenn,” the incumbent barangay chairwoman whose grit and no-nonsense approach have helped to instill discipline in her constituents, belying her sweet, baby-faced, mestiza looks.

“Para maging maayos ‘yung panunungkulan sa barangay, hindi puwedeng ‘yung kapitan lang [ang kumikilos]. Dapat pati mga tauhan ng barangay. Pero dapat mauna ka rin na magtrabaho nang maayos, gawin mo ‘yung gusto mong gawin din nila. Mahirap magpasunod ng mga empleyado kung hindi ka maging model nila. Hindi pwedeng tatamad-tamad ka dahil magiging tamad din‘ yung mga tao mo (For service to the barangay to be effective, the barangay chairperson and employees must do their share. But you [the chairperson] should be a role model to them. Lead by example. You should not be lazy in order for them not to be lazy),” Quizon says.

Quizon did not aspire to be a politician. She loved joining beauty pageants in school and on television during her teenage years.

She joined Gee Girls in 2003 and met Vandolph, who eventually became her partner. At that time, Quizon was offered a seat at the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in Caloocan, which she turned down because she was working during that time and she knew nothing about how things work in politics.

“Ang hirap naman ‘yung sumasabak ka nang ganoon na wala ka namang alam, ‘di ba? (It’s difficult to accept the position when you know nothing about it, right?),” she recalls. Quizon married Vandolph in 2007, and they first lived in Quezon City before moving to Parañaque in 2009, as they wanted to live near Vandolph’s ailing father Dolphy, the “Comedy King,” to be able to regularly visit him in his residence in Tambo before he succumbed to pulmonary disease in 2012.

In 2013, Quizon’s mother-inlaw, Alma Moreno, who was then a city councilor in Parañaque, asked if she would be willing to run as a barangay councilor, as there was still a slot in Tambo. After studying the duties of a kagawad (barangay councilor) and consulting with then- Barangay Chairman Fred De Leon about his vision, Quizon agreed to run and eventually won, ranking first in the barangay council elections.

Quizon had to step into a bigger role after De Leon’s demise in October 2017. Being the legal successor to the position, Quizon had to take on the responsibility of being Barangay Tambo’s top leader. Her decision to continue serving Barangay Tambo in 2018 was well-received by her constituents, who formally elected her as their chairwoman.

“October 21, 2017; hindi ko makakalimutan sa buhay ko ‘yan. ‘Yung mahal naming barangay captain, namatay dahil sa sakit. Yung pag-upo ko kapalit niya hindi naman ito ‘yung parang naging masaya ako, dahil napakabait noong barangay captain namin (October 21 was a painful date for me because we lost our dear barangay captain due to illness. My taking over was not a joyous event),” Quizon says of the beginnings of her foray into politics. Moreno was a huge influence on Quizon, not only in her decision to enter public service but also in the type of leadership she hoped to demonstrate, as Quizon saw her open-door policy in serving constituents.

“Nakita ko ‘yung pila ng tao doon sa office niya, ‘yung pagpe-prepare niya ng mga nebulizer, mga pangunahing kailangan ng tao, saka talagang wala ding tinatanggihan (I saw the long line of people, how she prepared nebulizers and basic needs, and refused no one),” says Quizon. Vandolph eventually landed a seat in the city council, and they both proudly say that they serve their constituents just like what her mother-in-law had done.

“There are those who just do things because they are in a position to, and they don’t take it to heart. You are in this position because you want to effect change, and what you know is influenced by your background. You should know the people’s needs.”

Quizon did learn the value of compassion, as people now describe her as a “leader with a heart.” “There are those who just do things because they have been voted into a certain position, and they don’t take it to heart. You are in this position because you want to effect change, and what you know is influenced by your background. You should know the people’s needs,” she shares. There was a time in 2021 when she shouldered the medical bills of a two-year-old girl, who was later diagnosed with hydrocephalus. The girl needed emergency treatment requiring a down payment of Php200,000. She wanted to help the girl but barangay funds had been allocated for other items. With this, she offered help from her own pocket. Being a wife and mother of three influences how Quizon deals with the issues faced by her constituents. For example, she would occasionally act as a mediator between people who are at odds with each other over family and marriage issues, among other personal or domestic concerns.

Just as a mother would soldier on for her family, Quizon did not crumble in the face of what she considers her biggest challenge by far, the COVID-19 pandemic, as the barangay officials were frontliners in implementing measures to promote health and safety, curb the spread of COVID-19, and maintain peace and order during the public health emergency. In a barangay with a population of 27,000, distributing ayuda (assistance) was by no means easy. She shares how people fought over the 1,000 packs of rice and fish, which was really not enough for thousands of constituents.

Quizon also caught the virus while providing food assistance to a family of seven, whose members all tested positive. Together with four barangay employees, Quizon managed to continue working while they were in isolation, with only phone calls for coordination. What’s more difficult than being far away from family is losing a member of her staff who accompanied her in distributing food packs to infected families, testing positive and passing away after seven days.

The barangay leader had to be on the ground to enforce lockdowns from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., patrolling the streets and going to checkpoints to make sure that only people with proper authorization to work are allowed to leave their homes. In the process, she even caught a courier who was transporting drugs. Quizon realized how crucial it was to communicate with her constituents and explain why she was making certain decisions and taking certain actions in order to get their support after fighting the pandemic for two years. She believes that they were able to overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic because her constituents were united, and she was also listening to their pleas. She states that nothing will happen to a barangay if the leaders refuse to listen to constituents’ and government’s requests. She admits that some constituents refuse to follow government procedure, but she handles them appropriately and demonstrates how serious she is about her role as their leader.

It is this kind of painstaking effort that Quizon expends in addressing the issue she deems most pressing in her barangay: waste management. Despite numerous meetings on waste segregation and the deployment of 226 members of the Cleanliness, Beautification and Sanitation Committee (CBS) who would sweep the streets in the morning, garbage would be thrown on the streets anew by the afternoon.

She wants the residents to realize that they play an important role in waste management and cleanliness because they will be affected as well. Quizon is also appealing to her constituents for help, especially in cleaning their surroundings because barangay employees are not available 24 hours a day. The chairwoman wants to focus on cleaning up, but not only garbage disposal, for she wants this to be her legacy. Quizon has also implemented the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) program where residents can claim rice and other goods in exchange for plastic, metal, and paper, which the barangay officials then send to junk shops. She intends to continue incentivizing proper waste disposal even after MMDA’s program is over, turning to homeowners associations and promising rewards for those that can effectively implement this among their community members.

True to her campaign promises, Quizon is seeing through the repair of drainage systems and the installation of highresolution CCTV cameras and street lights along major roads. To prevent illegal electrical connections that can cause fires and maintain peace and order, barangay tanods (watchmen) who are divided into three shifts, patrol the streets, while radio operators, desk clerks, and women’s desk officers are available 24 hours. Jumping off from her experience as a member of Tambo’s livelihood committee during her time as a barangay councilor, where she took part in setting up training programs for masseuses, security guards, caregivers, cooks, and entrepreneurs, Quizon is intent on helping more constituents land good jobs. She is actively seeking a partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to train caregivers to be able to work in Canada, and welders who can be deployed to construction sites in Tambo.

Quizon’s biggest source of pride, however, is simply fulfilling the barangay’s role as the basic political unit, which serves as the primary planning and implementing block of the national government’s policies in the community. She wishes to dispel the notion that a barangay chairman is only there to enforce ordinances or to be feared by the people. According to Quizon, the role of the barangay is crucial in the implementation of the national government’s projects. She cites as an example their adherence to the First 1,000 Days law, which expands nutrition and health programs to cover children from the first day of the mother’s pregnancy to their first two years. Quizon admits being the barangay chairperson is a taxing responsibility that takes up considerably more time than what was required of her as a barangay kagawad, where she would only be expected to report every Monday and on the bimonthly Saturday sessions, allowing her to take culinary classes in her free time. While Quizon is still able to squeeze in tapings for “Quizon CT,” a travel comedy program starring the Quizon brothers—Eric, Epy, and Vandolph—her duties as barangay captain take precedence, as there’s barely any time off from addressing issues. Being a barangay chairman, Quizon stresses, is a 24-hour job. She even checks the group chat at 3 in the morning and she immediately attends to her work right after breakfast. Adding to her woes is the inevitable mudslinging, especially during the campaign period. “Not everyone likes you, but I still try to be nice to them. I do not harbor ill feelings towards them. We eventually became friends in the end,” she shares. Quizon is happy when she reaches out to her constituents, listens to what they have to say, and paves the way for solutions.

“I am enjoying my job as a barangay captain now because I can do whatever I envision for the barangay. I also lead them in the way that I want. I also like reaching out to the people and not waiting for them to reach out to me,” Quizon says, admitting that she wants to seek reelection in the 2023 barangay polls.

“I never thought that I would end up doing this kind of work. But now that I am here, I am confident because I like what I am doing and the respect that the people are showing. I will still continue what I have started. I will also strengthen my efforts to listen to their pleas and see what else I can do.”

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