Story & Photos by Don Orozco

Are we able to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well I am referring to the fight against the use of illegal drugs. In the late 1990’s a program entitled Best Friends Kontra Droga was born. The Dangerous Drugs Board, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Philippine National Police under then PNP Deputy Director General Virtus V Gil and some other Non-Government Organizations supported the program. Richard Gomez’es MAD or Mamayan Ayaw sa Droga was also an affiliate. But back then there was this very young and promising poster girl in the anti-drug campaign. She is now Quezon City’s beloved Vice Mayor. She is Joy Belmonte the JOY of the City of Stars.

Joy is the youngest daughter of former House Speaker and former QC Mayor Sonny Belmonte. When we met back then I asked if she was willing to join us in the fight against substance abuse. Without any hesitation she became one of the faces behind Best Friend Kontra Droga.

Today as Vice Mayor of the biggest metropolitan city of Asia she makes herself available in the service of the needs of her constituents. I recently was able to catch up with her on a Tuesday afternoon and politely obliged to a very quick interview. This is what she says:
JB: My Tuesday is my people’s day. This is the day I dedicate myself to be in the office the whole day to address all the concerns of my constituents. This was a tradition that I observed from my Dad when he was Mayor. So I make sure that I am available to all of them even at night if need be.

DO: What made you decide to go into politics?
JB: 20 years ago I was an archaeologist and was teaching. It was actually my chosen career. One of the things I remember was I was looking to do some excavation in one of the cities in Metro Manila. I wanted to do an excavation in Manila because it was the seat of the cradle of civilization in Luzon as you remember when Legazpi went to Manila and talked about Rajah Sulaiman which proof that there were a community of Filipinos adopting the Muslim culture back then. I wanted to do a study and decided to line up in City Hall to see the Mayor. After several hours I wasn’t able to see the mayor or anyone from City Hall. I realize then and there that maybe in order to make things happen I should be in a position where I can make a decision that is important to the lives of the people. At that time it was almost the end of the term of my father as Mayor and the then Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista is looking for a running mate and things really just went into place. Herbert then asked me if I could be his running mate as it will ensure victory if there is a Belmonte as running mate.

DO: I remember you were a part of the QC Ladies Circle and we got you involved in the Anti Drug program. Are you still actively in the anti drug movement?
JB: I am not a politician as I have other advocacies like the children. Now as Vice Mayor the fight against substance abuse and illegal drugs falls under my jurisdiction. Again I ran not because of the power it will yield or its perks. I ran because I want to be in a position where I can make a change in the lives of the people of the world. Now that I got elected I was able to carry on my advocacies in life.

Photo: Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte having a conversation with her supporters. (Photo by Don Orozco)

DON: Do you consider QC as a tech hub?
JB: QC as a tech hub is a dream of my father. That is why he welcomed the entry of Eastwood City and even the Techno Hub in UP. My dad and myself envision QC as the knowledge capital of the Philippines.

DO: How do you envision QC in the event that you get elected Mayor?
JB: I envision QC as a millennial city. Let us put it at that. A City that is thriving in innovation. A city that is alive, dynamic and cosmopolitan. For all you know QC’s median age is 24.

DO: Finally how do you see yourself as a person and as a political leader?
JB: They say I am very strict and that that was my weak point. But for me I see it as my strong point. From the perspective of the voters I think they do want a strong leader that can command discipline. I just really wanted things to be done correctly and as quick as possible. Tatak Belmonte yan!

Photo: Vice Mayor of Quezon City, Joy Belmonte. (Photo by Don Orozco)

The interview actually went for about 10 minutes. I was fortunate to observe at how she will fare on her People’s day. Well let me tell you people that she is a woman not only of substance but a woman of action as well. From the looks of it Quezon City will be in good hands for the next 3 years. Who knows it could well be extended for the next 9 years. Let us see. (For questions on the article please email me atorozcoaugusto@gmail.com)

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