When she steps up to the podium in Barangay Silanga’s covered court to deliver her state-of-the-city address, re-elected Stephany Uy-Tan lives up to her reputation as the people’s mayor of Catbalogan: an eloquent, fashionable millennial both in appearance and, more importantly, her civic-mindedness.
In a sleek off-shoulder bottle-green dress, she addresses the motley crowd of fellow city officials and some guests from the national government offices. Listening to her, one could see and hear the reason why this petite lady is such a charming politician – one who is loved by her constituents. Delivered with an authoritative voice, her hour-long address and powerpoint presentation tackled head-on – complete with facts, figures and pictures – the socio-economic status of Catbalogan’s cityhood, peppering it with bits of important historical, climatic events which contributed to its ever-present struggle to remain as Samar’s capital and the region’s foremost center of commerce, trade and industry.
“As a capital, as a city, as a people, we have indeed come a long way. From a small community by the Antiao river, then to becoming the center of missionary activities, we have flourished into the center of trade and commerce of the entire Island of Samar - a status that we have maintained and enjoyed for, well, over 400 years,” she said.
At the core of her address is her STEP program, the framework on which her mandate has begun since her first election in 2013.
“Han una nga termino naton pagka Mayor, guin-paniguruhan naton nga ipundar in usa nga pangobyernohan nga hataas an pag intindi han mga panginahanglan, problema ngan ungara han aton mga kumunidad ngan sosyudad. Damo an nagduda, damo an kumuntra pero waray kita magpaliga ngan magpadisturbo, lugod guin tagan naton doon nga makab-utan naton an aton upat nga harigi han aton pangobyernohan: S-Serbisyo Panlawas papakusgon; T-Turismo Tatagan duon; E-Edukasyon ngan Ekonomiya paparig-unon; P-Progreso han Catbalogan magpapadayon,” she continues.
Yet, beneath her light and lithe demeanor is a steely resolve to do what she needs to do; her gratitude and generosity of heart and civic-mindedness in her caring for her people are a reassuring redemption of the city’s complex political nature.
“We will continue the changes we already initiated at the onset of this administration and leadership, but more change and reforms will be introduced in the coming days. There will be stricter implementation of policies and ordinances. Expect that we will be requiring each Catbaloganon to follow the law because following the law is not optional but compulsory. We should be disciplined and law-abiding to attain orderliness in our city. We should have shared responsibility in carrying out our day-to-day undertakings.
“For this, I convey my appreciation to the ever dynamic and supportive City Council headed by Vice Mayor Art Sherwin Gabon, thank you for your speedy legislative actions required for the implementation of our development programs.
Damo nga salamat para han akon mga community organizers … Sugad man ha akon mga staff… Salamat gihapon ha akon Department Heads ngan ira staff para han malaksi nga pagpalusad han mga programa han aton administrasyon. Para han mga Barangay Kapitan ngan Opisyales han Barangay, han iyo makusog nga pagsuporta.
Let me take this opportunity to also thank the almighty God for the bounty he gave our City, for the strength that emanates from our people through hardships, trials, and triumphs. For my family, Papa and Mama, my two daughters Star and Sky, my relatives and friends, for standing beside me in every challenge,” Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan concludes.
Presently the event might have come to a temporary close but the day’s ambience – soothingly warm and quietly cool at the same time – is pregnant with potential luck, heralding for Catbaloganons a renewed energy to move forward to further progress. For a city on the eve of celebrating its glorious 400th founding year, the peace and prosperity goals everyone is always hoping for are, under Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan’s steady and divine-like watch, palpable and within everybody’s reach.
In her own words…
After her state-of-the-city-address, Women’s Journal talks to the honorable Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan; here are excerpts from the tete-a-tete:
Women’s Journal (WJ): Tell me how you were in your growing-up years?
Mayor Step Uy-Tan (STEP): At an early age, I was tasked a big responsibility in helping the family business. As an eldest and only daughter with 3 brothers, I also have great responsibility to fulfill. I didn’t enjoy much in school like the way my classmates did because I had to go home immediately after class and help in the business operations and at the same time take care of my brothers. I have a disciplinarian and protective father who won’t allow me to stay out of the house for fear of untoward incidents.
I finished college studies in Business Administration, enrolled in Law School… but I was elected Mayor so I have to set aside and put on hold my ambition and dream of becoming a Lawyer. Actually, I dreamt to be a CPA-Lawyer.
WJ: What’s your political history?
STEP: I was a Youth Leader in High School and Elementary; Barangay Chairperson for 4 years; President of Association of Barangay Captain; Number 1 Councilor for 3 years, authoring various ordinances of the city: Mayor for 4 years now
WJ: Aside from your parents, who inspired you to become what you are now. What socio-economic/political events contributed to the formation of your personal and official position’s mission/vision.
STEP: A teacher from way back in grade school – her name is Ms. Isabel Espiña, she is now in heaven. I idolized her because of her firmness just like my parents, especially my papa. I don’t know, but I fancy being disciplined. I have this strange way of seeing that discipline is a way of putting me in the right direction, of making me humble and grounded.
Looking back, I see myself already as a leader. You know I’m an only daughter and eldest in 4 siblings – I have played the role of a doting “atchi” of my family. Aside from my parents I also set good examples to my younger brothers and instill in them the values that my parents taught me as their eldest. I consider it as my responsibility to do so.
As for my inner personal vision, I just want to have a happy and fulfilled life, earning from my own business and own a clothing line and living happily with my family in our own house.
By nature, I observed myself to be always extending my hands those who need me. I love to help and be of help to others and exerting every effort to help them. Even beyond the call of duty. Even outside Catbalogan. (It happened after Super Typhoon Haiyan when we responded to Tacloban and the rest of eastern Samar, and typhoon Nona when we extended help to northern Samar.) I don’t know recognition or wait for one because it’s not the main reason why we help. And that’s how fulfillment comes in.
Our collective vision is to uplift the condition and quality of my constituents’ lives. I know it’s not easy, but slowly or urgently I want to make a difference in their lives as their Mayor.
WJ: Are you aiming to finish the full 3-term limit allowed for your mayoralty?
STEP: Of course, with God’s grace, because I still have a lot of things to do to accomplish my vision and mission for my constituency. . . I still have a long way to go, as you know I’m only in my 2nd term as Mayor. Nevertheless, my heart would always want to be in public service. I don’t see myself to stop serving the public because; public service is not all about being in a position. . . I wont close door of being into business too.
WJ: How do you actually fulfill the “role model” function of your position in public service?
STEP: By walking my talk, being able to simplify the things that I say and putting into action the things that I say. . . Humbleness - it’s within my heart; that all are equal not just in the eyes of God but as brothers and sisters.
WJ: Briefly describe a typical day for you
STEP: Typical day means waking up with the kids, preparing the kids for school, it actually means mother mode in the early part of the morning. And while doing my mother role, checking with my day’s tasks at the office, it’s like multi-tasking. While at the office, it starts by attending meetings and other events, accepting courtesy calls and guests, visiting the barangays and signing documents and discussing plans and innovative programs and projects.
WJ: Do you really believe that local, international, world peace and prosperity are achievable? Why... and possibly how?
STEP: I would like to be positive in this challenging issue. The world is composed of diverse humanity that’s the reason why oftentimes misunderstanding is inevitable. But everyone should learn to live with each other in harmonious ways with understanding, respect to human rights, people’s dignity and following the international laws and treaties.
WJ: If you were to host a once-in-a-lifetime dinner, who are the 6 people/personalities (dead or alive) you would invite?
STEP: Former President Ferdinand Marcos, I want to know what happened in Martial Law; Former President Cory Aquino, because she was the first woman President of the country; My two lolo’s from mother and father side, they died before my birth; Hillary Clinton, because I want to see her up close and personal being a woman leader in America; Oprah Winfrey, I’m amazed of how she does hosting and interviews.
WJ: What is your daily beauty regimen?
STEP: I only wash my face with water, just lately I use moisturizer, I drink water a lot, more than what is required if it classify to be a beauty regimen. I wish to have more time to sleep but its impossible to do so due to the demands of my profession.
WJ: What is your fashion style?
STEP: Actually, my fashion style depends in my mood. Like if I feel light and sporty today then I would go for casual and comfy clothes, like jeans (can be ripped), white loose top and comfy shoes, then the next day I would go girly with dresses then formal and business attire comes when I have meetings. But frankly, I want to be uniquely beautiful in every occasion I attend to. I also love bright colors (reflects my mood, my being so jolly and happy) that’s my fashion statement.
WJ: List places (local and abroad) that you’ve visited and would, given the chance, revisit or live in.
STEP: Tarlac, its my mother’s place; New York, because it was my first travel abroad, I was both afraid and excited but was surprise to be warmly welcomed by Catbaloganons – felt like I was home; Paris because of the fashion and just the thought that you are in Paris excites me. . . These are only to revisit. I would only want to live in my city, Catbalogan.
WJ: How do you foresee the future of your own children?
STEP: I foresee, two beautiful grown up kids, who have college degrees with successful careers and businesses and with their own happy families. I also foresee them to have a public servant’s heart inherited from their lolo and me.
WJ: And what’s your fond wish for the youth, the millennials of Catbalogan and Samar?
STEP: I wish an empowered, confident and vibrant youth of Catbalogan with full opportunities and actively participating in the programs of the government, not just as beneficiaries of these programs but as active partners as well.