MAYOR Carmelita “Menchie” Aguilar Abalos was elected as leader of Mandaluyong (Philippines) in June 2016. However, her works started since she was the first lady of the city. All her works show how she cares for her people, particularly the vulnerable ones.

Works as a City Mayor

Mayor Menchie has been acknowledged for the way she utilises the Gender and Development (GAD) Fund and mainstreams it into the city’s various strategies and programmes. One of its utilisation is to support the TEACH (Therapy, Education, and Assimilation of Children with Handicap), a community-based programme for disabled children and youth coming from indigent families to obtain services such as assessment, physical and speech rehabilitation, and special education, among others.

Other programmes receiving support from the GAD fund includes the construction of a gender-neutral restroom within the city hall compound (to promote gender equality), free HIV testing, construction and improvement of barangay day care centres, purchase of related equipment and salaries of additional day care centre teachers, and education and continuous capacity development programmes for the city’s registered social workers and day care centre teachers.

Mayor Menchie has also collaborated with Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to implement the GSIS Financial Assistance Loan (GFAL) programme for employees of the city government. Taken from GSIS website, GFAL is the balance-transfer and debt-consolidation facility of GSIS to help active GSIS members settle their outstanding loan obligations with lending institutions. Members may borrow up to a maximum loan amount of P500,000. If their loan balance is lower than the maximum amount, they may apply for the remaining credit as a Top-Up Loan. The proceeds of GFAL will be paid directly to the lending institution while the top-up loan will be released to the member. It helps local government officials to get the loan without falling prey to loan sharks.

Works as the First Lady

Mayor Menchie is the wife of the former Mayor Benjamin Abalos of Mandaluyong (1998-2004, 2007-2016), making her the first lady of the city during that time. In 2010, she was elected the first President of the Nutrition Action Officers Association of the Philippines. She also served as the Regional President of the Association of Nutrition Action Officers from 2012. With her dedicated support to the City Nutrition Committee, Mandaluyong obtained the Green Banner Award for three straight years (from 2010 to 2012) for its outstanding nutrition programme management and implementation. The city also brought home the Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN) Award (2013) given by the National Nutrition Council. Mandaluyong has also received the highest award in nutrition the Nutrition Honor Award (2016), after achieving the 1st Year CROWN Maintenance Award in 2014 and the 2nd Year CROWN Maintenance Award the following year (2015).

“It was the biggest challenge for me before. I wasn’t a mayor yet, but I focused on it already. I reached out to each barangay. Now, even when you go to depressed areas, you won’t see anyone malnourished. For me, that’s a great fulfilment—to see the children healthy and active. You see, when children are healthy, they perform better in school,” she said.

The achievements and works of Mayor Carmelita “Menchie” Aguilar Abalos of Mandaluyong have shown that women leaders do have the capacity to lead.