Maria Rosario Ochoa-Montejo, the very first woman-mayor of the 222 year-old Town of Pulilan in the Province of Bulacan, is fondly called MOM – derived from the initials of her name Maritz Ochoa-Montejo.
Following the footstep of her 89 year-old mother, Benita Ochoa, and fully powered up by the inspiration of her husband Mario Montejo, a former DOST Secretary, literally, MOM is a gracious mother to a wonderful family of three children: Maria Katrina married to Jan Chuidian, Maria Camille married to Ernest Ibasco and Jose Maria Francisco married to Camille Ann Cruz. MOM is also a loving grandmother to four grandchildren: Maria Isabela Lux, Lucas Joseph, Noah Sebastian and Julio Francisco.
Figuratively, she is now the “mom” of Pulileños, a community of humble, resilient and hard-working agricultural folks made popular by the world-renowned Kneeling Carabao Festival in celebration of the Feast of San Isidro Labrador on the 14th and 15th of the merry month of May each year.
Despite her busy schedule as a public servant, MOM has very good time management ability finding quality time for both her family and her government service.
MOM has simple thrust for simple Pulileños: Empower every Pulileño to achieve Pulilan Power. In her second year as the Chief Executive of the town, she has managed to introduce and launch the new market positioning of Pulilan as a Premier Tourism, Trade and Investment Destination that is accessible, business-friendly and technologically smart.
Only approximately 35 kilometers northeast of Manila, Pulilan is now a major growth-corridor and center of commerce and industry in Bulacan being the home of a number of multinational companies that derive at least 40% of their human resource requirements from the pool of skilled and schooled Pulileños. An effective tax incentive program among other benefits has been crafted to become one good reason for investing in this quaint town. A new well-thought of Industrial Estate Development Plan is in the pipeline now under MOM’s Priority Programs ensuring protection and preservation of farmlands that remain to be a major source of livelihood of the farming communities.
The infrastructure development along the stretch of Pulilan’s clean river – historically known as “Rio de Quingua” – that flows from Angat Dam is a primary tourism focus. MOM believes that once developed, a year-round river-tourism program can be implemented in order to yield higher domestic and foreign tourist arrivals atop the thousands of tourists that repeatedly come to Pulilan during the Maytime Festival of the Kneeling Carabaos.
“Tourism jobs eventually created will consider the disadvantaged citizentry – youth, elderly, solo parents and persons with disabilities as primary beneficiaries”, MOM firmly declares every now and then.
This early in MOM’s leadership, several hundreds of underprivileged high school and college students have been provided with educational assistance and scholarship grants in preparation for the influx of new jobs from tourism, trade and investment programs. Moreover, the support of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has continuously afforded individuals from solo parents to out-of-school youths with livelihood skills trainings and self-employment opportunities.
Most notable of the projects aimed at nurturing the youth is the establishment of an extension campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Pulilan expected to be operational by 2019. This provides an avenue for the opening of other academic programs such as BS Mathematics and English in addition to BS Entrepreneurship that is currently being offered at the PUP Main Campus. Even greater news is that PUP Pulilan will also be offering Master’s Degrees in Education Management as well as in Public Administration. All of these mean that more students around town and nearby areas will now gain access to quality education at significantly less inconvenience and cost.
As part of Women Empowerment Program, a partnership with the Department of Science and Technology–Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) was created for the deployment of several handloom weaving equipment and the establishment of a handloom weaving hub now managed by the Handloom Weavers of Pulilan, a cooperative comprised mainly of volunteers.
Much much more can be said but only the fact remains: Once a little-known rural town that solely depended on farming and livestock raising in the northern part of Bulacan, Pulilan now is a first-class municipality surpassing 15 out of the 24 towns of the Province of Bulacan, PULILAN POWER shall rise. Pulilan shall become THE PREMIER SMART TOWN of the country.
CELEBRATE PULILAN POWER!