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Mary Aiko Shimoji Melendez, popularly known as Aiko Melendez, is a big name in the Philippine entertainment industry. She started her career as a child actress and went on to become a popular lead in romantic films. Later, she took on diverse and challenging roles as villain in some critically acclaimed series and movies that earned her awards and recognitions both here and abroad—a validation of her caliber as an actress. Aside from acting, there is something that Aiko Melendez has proven that she can do effectively: public service.


For Melendez, who is currently a Quezon City (QC) 5th District councilor, entering the realm of public service seemed easy. She first ran and won as councilor of the 2nd District of QC in 2001. She was reelected twice, and remained in office for nine years until 2010. Her winning streak and good record in the council gave her and her party mates the confidence that she could be a formidable challenger to now Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte in the vice mayoralty race in 2010. She lost, however.

Melendez’s colorful life in the showbiz industry is open to the public. She bravely tells League Magazine that she had no regrets about the turn of events that happened in her life, except for her decision to run against Belmonte. “That’s why, in public service, there’s always a moral lesson after every decision you make, and that’s one of those regrets. I never had the chance to know the real her. I misjudged her too early,” she confides.

The councilor proudly tells of her close relationship with Belmonte, describing

the latter as the public servant she looks up to. Melendez has all praise for the lady mayor.“She’s someone that I look up to, and I especially admire her work ethics,”she shares. She recalls the time when she was reporting to the mayor about the status of barangay elections at around 2:00 in the morning, and was surprised to learn that the mayor was still at the city hall at that time. Melendez admires how Belmonte works, saying that the mayor reports to her office at seven in the morning and leaves at nine in the evening. It’s Belmonte’s work ethic and leadership, according to Melendez, that made Quezon City corruption-free. “I can proudly say while looking straight into your eyes, ang corruption, bawal sa QC (corruption has no place in QC).”

It was the mayor’s father, then House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, who discovered Melendez’s potential in public service. This happened when Melendez was tasked with introducing Speaker Belmonte in one of his campaign sorties while campaigning for his reelection bid as congressman of the 4th District of QC. She turned down the proposal of the elder Belmonte for her to run for public office, saying that it was not her cup of tea and that her life in show business at the time was still going well. Melendez recalls saying that she did not see herself in public service, although she was active in supporting some foundations and charities.

The congressman’s camp, however, according to Melendez, was very persistent in convincing her to join public service. “They would just keep on telling me ‘You deserve to be in public service.’ And I would say, ‘Okay, let me just pray for it and ask for a sign.’ ”

Even the elder Belmonte’s political opponents were trying to convince Melendez at that time to join politics. She recalls that receiving offers from opposing parties was just like the situation in show business, where an actor gets offers from various producers. Melendez, however, does not want to be involved in something she does not know about. “WhenI get into something, I put my heart and soul into it,” she says. It was Speaker Belmonte who encouraged her to take crash courses in governance and politics. That alone, she said, convinced her to run. So she took the offer of the elder Belmonte, whom she considers as her mentor in politics, and enrolled herself in the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG).

This, because aside from the fact that she always hungers for learning, she also wants to disprove the impression that actors who join politics are just all pretty faces without substance and are only using their popularity to win. “That’s why I took up a crash course. Because I knew in my heart that by doing so, people could not question my sincerity in helping them. And, if I go to the debates, and then I [can’t participate well because I] don’t know anything, I would ruin the name that I built for so many years in show business.”


Both the entertainment industry and public service have become Melendez’s passions. Growing up in a poor family, Melendez says she knows how it feels to be financially challenged, especially when you are desperately in need. This is one reason why she took acting seriously when she was young because she wanted to provide for her family. “And God has blessed me with so much—things that I didn’t even pray for,” she reveals. Being in public service, she says, is her way of giving back and sharing with the people the blessings she has received. “Look at where I am right now. I’m still blessed with projects in show business and a chance to be in public service. I can juggle my time. So, who am I not to share my blessings?” she enthuses.

Melendez makes it a point that no matter how busy her schedule is, she always arrives on time or earlier for an appointment or event. She has developed this habit because of her manager, the late Douglas Quijano. “So I respect everybody else’s time because I was trained that way,”she declares. More than this, she prides herself in being a hardworking councilor. Although the job of a councilor is to legislate, make local laws to uplift QCitizens’ lives, and be their voice in the city council, she makes it a point to personally go to any area where her presence is needed.She would personally give flowers to the families of the bereaved as her way of condoling with them. She wants to personally know the situation of her constituents so that she will know how to help them. “I do my job well and fulfill my responsibility to serve the people the best way I can. This is because they were the ones who gave me their trust, the chance to be one of their representatives in the council,” she stresses.


The councilor uses her influence and network as an actress and vlogger to get help from national government offices and her fellow public servants for her constituents. While other vloggers, she says, get paid by their guests for featuring them, she has chosen not to do the same with well-known personalities in business and politics that she has featured in her vlog. Instead, she asks them to help her constituents. The response has been encouraging, and she mentions Senators Robin Padilla and Joel Villanueva as among those who have extended help. She was also able to extend Php1000to Php2000 in cash assistance to 10,500 residents of the5th District through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program. This was made possible with the help of Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Grace Poe, and Manuel “Lito” Lapid.

The AICS program aims to help residents who are affected by disasters like fire and flooding. Her office has also given medical assistance worth Php20 million through guarantee letters.

One measure she successfully herded through the city council is the ordinance creating a youth center in Quezon City to address the issue of children being recruited by


communist groups. Another ordinance that she authored deals with the establishment of special voting areas for senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) so that those from said sectors would no longer struggle to climb the stairs of polling centers during elections.

Melendez is a recipient of the National Outstanding Humanitarian and Leadership Award from the Saludo Excellence Awards, an award-giving body that recognizes those who have helped improve the lives of people in their localities. HER PLANS

Melendez knows that she is not certain of her tenure in public service or even in show business because she believes that nothing is permanent, especially in politics. People in politics, according to her, shift allegiances. “What is important to me, and I would always say this, is that my loyalty will always remain with my district and to Mayor Joy.” As she knows that anything can happen to her and her political party, Melendez always advises her constituents and those around her to be prepared. She says that a public servant should never worry about not getting reelected if he or she is working. This, however, is not a guarantee, because “Pag tamad ka, hindi ka iri-reelect ng mga tao. Ibig sabihin, hindi ka ready kung ano man ang posisyon mo. [Iba naman kung masipag ka.] Kung itataas ka man or dyan ka pa rin, at least masipag ka. (If you’re lazy, people won’t reelect you. That means you’re not ready for whatever position you’re occupying. [It’s different when you’re diligent.] Whether you’re going to be elected to a higher position or be reelected, at least you’ve shown how diligent you are.) People will always say that you are deserving of whatever position they put you in.” The above is also the reason why Melendez is still active in show business. People, according to her, expect that a public servant would have something to give when he or she goesto their community. “People are not easily swayed by the “artista” factor anymore because they need help and expect it from a public servant,” she says.

The salary that Melendez receives as a councilor isnot enough to help her constituents. Thus, aside from being an actress, she is also active in vlogging because a portion of what she earns from such is allocated to helping her constituents. “I really praise God because my vlog’s views have increased because I am helping people. I always believe in the saying that when you share your blessings, God will always provide. And He does. There is never a time that I lack, for He always blesses me with good things, and He provides.”

Both public service and show business areequally important to Melendez. When LEAGUE asked her which she prefers, she confessed to not thinking of giving up one for the other. She is thankful to show business because it paved the way for her to enter public service. “Show business is my bread and butter. Public service is not my source of wealth. I can safely say that and look you straight in your eyes. I’m not corrupt,” she declares. Never stealing has been Melendez’s top philosophy in life. “If people cannot see what you do and what you steal from them, God sees your heart, and He sees you. You must be afraid of God’s punishment on Judgment Day. I believe in that.”

Melendez explains that her earnings from show business are allocated to her savings and for her son Andrei and daughter Martina. Both are also helpful in her life as a public servant because they sometimes represent her in official functions in District 5’s barangays whenever she is attending to other important tasks. Although she juggles her time between public service and show business, she prides herself in being an attentive mother to the needs of her children. She always finds time to spend a week without doing work just to be with her two children. She may have received trophies for her acting prowess, but her children, she says, are her biggest trophies in life. “They never gave me headaches. The sweetest compliment that I get everytime I bump into strangers is that I have raised my kids so well,” she says. This, she owes in part to her mother, Elsie Blardony, who was also a single mom like her.

She says her mother raised her well and even gave up her profession to be with her when she started her career in show business. Melendez has long achieved her dream to provide for her family and fund her siblings’ education with what she earned as an actress, but it was only recently that she fulfilled her dream to give her mom her college diploma. So she took the chance to continue her college education and graduated with a degree in Journalism from the Philippine Women’s

University. She is proud not only of having finished college, but of how she earned her degree. “I was treated like a normal student. And that’s what I appreciated about my professors,” she says.

Asked if she has plans to run for higher office, Melendez would not categorically say yes, but she is certain that she will finish her three terms as councilor. She is eligible for two more terms after her present term ends next year, and she will definitely run for reelection in the May 2025 elections. For now, she says that her constituents matter most. ”It’s not the votes that they can give me on election day that matters. I need to make good use of the position and the trust my constituents have given me. One thing that I will not let go of for the people of District 5 is my loyalty,” she concludes.


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