IT’S often said that the future lies with the young, but in the Batangas town of Rosario, 71-year-old Mayor Felipe ‘Mamay Ipe’ Marquez has been proving that senior citizens can teach people a thing or two about dreaming big and making things happen.
A first-term local chief executive and Batangas’s oldest mayor, Marquez has been shaking things up in his town, making the local bureaucracy more professional and enforcing stricter rules regarding taxes, among other things. He has also been trying to rid the town of patronage politics, but when his constituents knock on his bedroom window or suddenly show up at his doorstep, they know that at least he will listen to whatever they have to say.
Marquez himself knows that he cannot give them everything they ask for. But he says he can certainly give them a well-run town, and if everything goes as planned, perhaps a well-run city. During the 2004 campaign, Marquez had promised he would make Rosario into a city. That hasn’t happened yet, but residents there think their town is headed that way now that major businesses and real-estate developers have taken interest in Rosario. And while many townfolk either dug in their heels or complained incessantly when the new mayor began implementing reforms, they eventually realized that they voted for Marquez three years ago precisely because they wanted change.
Marquez reached only fourth grade and can barely understand or speak English. But he has relied not only on the knowledge he gained as a longtime barangay captain and one term as vice mayor to run his town. He had promised his supporters that ethics would be the centerpiece of his administration, and indications are he has made good on that promise.
We hope the story of Rosario and its mayor, the latest in i Report‘s series on Faces of Change and Changeless Places, will inspire readers to vote for leaders who will deliver what their constituents need, and not only what they want.
Read on at pcij.org.