Towards the middle of the Philippine archipelago lies the bustling areas of Regions V, VI, and VII, or the Bicol, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas regions. Each part plays a specific yet equally relevant role in contributing to the Philippines’ cultural identity. It’s one of the reasons why these regions deserve public servants who bring new ideas to the table yet have a strong sense of patriotism that allows them to put Filipinos first.
Amid all the concerns the government has to address for the benefit of Filipinos, the House of Representatives remains stalwart in giving everyday citizens a voice in Congress and prioritizing the people’s welfare today and in the future. The new faces in the 19th Congress continue to uphold the House’s legislative functions while building deep and lasting connections with the public.
HON. MARIA VANESSA C. AUMENTADO
(Bohol, Second District)
If there’s one specific goal Rep. Aumentado wants to achieve as a district representative, it’s to inspire her constituents to move forward, which Filipinos know as “abante.” Her on-the-go and diligent attitude is refreshing to witness as she also takes great care to preserve the developments her district achieved under her leadership. Rep. Aumentado is also a registered nurse, which allows her to share insights on topics revolving around health, among other things.
She is a staunch advocate of education and the youth, often lauding teachers and providing students with infrastructures, plans, and materials to improve conditions and encourage them to pursue their studies. Rep. Aumentado, also known as Van-Van, also pushes for the significance of vaccines in health. The lady lawmaker has more to offer, and her constituents are happy to have her handle the reins.
On the other hand, she also has relevant contributions to the House of Representatives through principally-authored bills, including upgrading the basic salary of government medical doctors from salary grade 21 to salary grade 23, strengthening the governance and management of the Philippine Science High School system, and converting the municipality of Ubay in the province of Bohol into a component city to be known as the Science City of Ubay.
HON. MARIA CYNTHIA K. CHAN
(Lapu-Lapu City, Lone District)
“It was during the first term in office of my better half, Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, that I decided to devote myself to public service. Working alongside him, I realized that an empowered leadership makes a world of difference in the lives of our people. I have thus made it my mission to champion our people’s causes in Congress particularly in terms of infrastructure, education, health, and livelihood.”
Rep. Chan’s motto as a public servant is “Cindi Cares” because she’s a passionate humanitarian who wants only the best for the people and will do everything she can to provide such conditions. She’s a force of her own who keeps her district on its feet through various events and initiatives meant to empower and inspire. Rep. Chan also put Lapu-Lapu on the map as a must-visit tourist destination.
The lady lawmaker is also a staunch advocate of women’s rights and helps raise awareness about their privileges, and provides them with opportunities to highlight their skills and talents in their respective industries. Rep. Chan is also active in doling out provisions and financial assistance to communities who need it most.
As for her efforts in the 19th Congress, Rep. Chan is the principal author of bills like creating the Lapu-Lapu City District Engineering Office, converting the Cebu Technological University into a university system to be known as the “Cebu Technological University System,” and requiring the establishment of dialysis clinics in all national, regional, and provincial hospitals and providing free dialysis treatments to indigenous patients.
HON. MARIE BERNADETTE G. ESCUDERO
(Sorsogon, First District)
“My motivation has always been to create positive and meaningful change in the lives of my constituents in Sorsogon.
As a neophyte legislator, my goal is to champion policies that ensure equal access to education, foster inclusivity, and promote gender equality and opportunities for all.”
Hailing from a political family, it’s up to Rep. Escudero to continue their family legacy and provide quality public service in her district. Nonetheless, the lady lawmaker has established herself as a reliable public servant with a fresh perspective to bring about change and development. She’s always on the go to find solutions to address modern Filipinos’s demands but never fails to put her people first.
Rep. Escudero is an advocate of education and proper nutrition for indigenous children. Yet besides offering educational assistance to her young constituents, the district representative also spearheads infrastructure projects. She has turned over and inaugurated multi-purpose halls and road connectors to numerous barangays to promote accessibility and increase livelihood opportunities, among other things.
In the meantime, Rep. Escudero principally authored bills like prohibiting merchandising stores and service establishments from charging more than the retail cash price of goods and services purchased with credit cards, reducing wastage by donating and recycling excess edible food, and the Philippine Immigration Act.
HON. WOWO FORTES
(Sorsogon, Second District)
Rep. Fortes initially pursued a priestly vocation from the Society of Jesus [Jesuits]-run San Jose Major but eventually pursued a law degree from the Order of Benedictines-run San Beda College. He served the government in various appointed career positions, from Branch Clerk of the Court of Sorsogon Regional Trial Court-Branch 52 to City Administrator and City Legal Officer of Sorsogon City to Provincial Administrator of Sorsogon Province.
A natural leader, politics visited him early on and he served as Municipal Councilor in the then Municipality of Sorsogon, now Sorsogon City. He actively cooperated in the causes of the National Young Legislators of the Philippines. Politics [and the public] favored him with several other elected positions. From Municipal Mayor of Barcelona, Sorsogon to Vice-Governor of Sorsogon Province to Congressman of the Second Congressional District of Sorsogon Province. That’s a timespan from 2010 through the present.
To date, he has authored eighty-one bills manifesting his growth mindset and pro-people, pro-poor bent. One example of his most remarkable contributions is the establishment of the Philippine Blood Center to ensure the constant blood supply needed by our public health facilities. Rep. Fortes also filed an act institutionalizing the community-driven development approach as a national strategy for inclusive growth and social protection, which focuses on the income growth of LGUs, among other bills.
HON. EDSEL A. GALEOS
(Cebu, Second District)
“‘Atong Amigo’ which means “our friend” is how I describe myself as a district representative. I champion collaboration and dialogue with all sectors and segments of society to effect change and development. For me, grassroot consultation and cooperation will bring the solutions the people desire to see in their district, hence my motto, ‘Kita ang Solusyon’ (We are the solution).”
Rep. Galeos sets an example of how collaborative efforts between his office and the public will bring the solutions they desire to see in their district.
The district representative provides recreational activities, like sports camps, to encourage the youth to embrace their passions and enhance their abilities. Besides that, he supports the growth of the local economy and livelihood opportunities, with some efforts to construct various infrastructures throughout his jurisdiction. Rep. Galeos also offers education assistance to working students to keep them from giving up on their studies.
As for his initiatives in the 19th Congress, some examples of his principally authored bills include enhancing the continuing professional development of Filipino professionals as an integral component of career progression and specialization programs, establishing a multi-species marine hatchery in the municipality of Argao, province of Cebu, and promoting entrepreneurship by establishing a sustainable financing program for micro and small enterprises through the “Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso Program.”
HON. RHEA MAE A. GULLAS
(Cebu, First District)
“The success behind the dedicated service of my husband, former Congressman Gerald Anthony Gullas, gave me the greatest motivation to pursue a career in politics.
My important agenda are women empowerment and environment.
I will craft bills to ensure the role of women in facing the challenges of an increasingly changing environment.”
Using a play on her name, Rep. Gullas’ motto as a district representative is “Rheady to help. Rheady to serve,” proving her eagerness and determination to carry out her duties and responsibilities. Although she has other roles, like a devoted mother and loving wife, she never runs out of time and energy to accomplish her goals, like bringing Filipinos toward modernization while preserving their vibrant culture.
Rep. Gullas supports the youth’s prospects of bringing change to the Philippines. Whether in sports or academics, the district representative shows her support in various ways. In the meantime, she also provides financial assistance to people in her district to help them lead better lives. However, Rep. Gullas also holds fun and exciting events that allow her constituents to experience advantages that could positively impact their lives.
Her contributions to the 19th Congress include providing for the Cebu Light Rail Transport System for operation in Cebu City and Metro Cebu, promoting Philippine indigenous and traditional writing systems and providing for their protection, preservation, and conservation, and creating a tripartite council to address unemployment, underemployment, and the job-skills mismatch problem in the country.
HON. TSUYOSHI ANTHONY G. HORIBATA
(Camarines Sur, First District)
“Despite being the first politician in my family, public service runs deep in my veins. Inspired by my mother’s philanthropy, which has opened my eyes to the bad state of our district, I’m committed to serving the First District of Camarines Sur. With a vision for cacao/agriculture excellence and captivating tourism, I wish to transform the district into a thriving hub, securing a prosperous future for my constituents.”
Famously known as “Hori,” the district representative advocates technological advancements in his jurisdiction because of the opportunities it presents in society. He’s frequently out and about to perform his tasks efficiently but always smiling as he interacts with the public. Rep. Horibata is also a simple individual who embraces the serenity of the environment, setting an example that the past and future can merge seamlessly. He aims for his district to be known for cacao production and ultimately be the central cacao hub in terms of cacao cultivation in South Luzon, and possibly the whole country in the future.
One example of his efforts in his district is conducting e-sports competitions to allow the youth to show their talents in a new and modern arena. There are also projects and programs like providing infrastructures to improve the quality of living or working and distributing wheelchairs to the elders. Rep. Horibata is also talking with possible investors and different officials, most notably and recently the Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss, to improve the agriculture sector and bolster the cacao production in the district.
In the House of Representatives, he principally authored bills like establishing a National Economic Stimulus and Recovery Fund, promoting the adoption of digital payments for financial transactions of the government and all merchants, and institutionalizing the use of digital technology in the public education system. The district representative is also focusing on legislation that will create more opportunities for his constituents, not just in agriculture, but also in economics.
HON. DAPHNE A. LAGON
(Cebu, Sixth District)
“Both coming from humble beginnings, neither me nor my husband, ever thought of getting into politics. Fate had it that Congressman Sonny was invited to represent the Ako Bisaya Party List and he thought that it was a good avenue for him to pay it forward. Seeing how passionate he is in his public service, I got into politics as well and the rest is history.
The Sixth District of Cebu is now a fast-growing residential, commercial, industrial and tourism center. Cordova is no longer the sleepy fishing village it used to be and Consolacion is now a bustling home to several medium and large-scale industries. As such, it is incumbent upon me to provide the policy framework that will enable the two municipalities to achieve their highest potentials as significant components of Metro Cebu and contribute to the over-all development of Cebu Province, in particular, and the country, in general – all this while espousing our brand of public service built around the provision of immediate and prompt response to the needs of our constituencies.”
Among the values that Filipinos expect to see from their public leaders, promptness sits high on their lists. That’s why Rep. Lagon dedicates herself to providing “Aksyon Dayon,” or immediate action. Rain or shine, the lady lawmaker doesn’t let anything keep her from taking on the mantle of a district representative and interacting with her fellow Filipinos to understand how she can best voice their concerns.
Rep. Lagon spearheads the distribution of financial assistance to chosen beneficiaries, whether young or old. She also uses her platform to share experiences, like instigating exercise sessions or raffles, to keep her constituents excited, healthy, and empowered. She also works closely with local government units, such as barangays, to efficiently meet her public’s demands.
She’s also the principal author of numerous bills in the 19th Congress that aim to benefit her district and the Visayas, such as establishing a specialty hospital in Cebu City to specialize in kidney and allied diseases to be known as the Visayas Kidney Institute, declaring January as the annual Visayan Heritage Month, and establishing a specialty school in Cebu City to specialize in the arts, to be known as the Visayas School for the Arts.
HON. ANTONIO B. LEGARDA JR.
(Antique, Lone District)
“I find inspiration from my great grandfather Ariston Gella, who was the representative of Antique to the Malolos Congress, also from my manang, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, so you could say that public service runs in our blood. As Congressman, I want to focus on tourism, sports and livelihood as these will significantly improve the lives of my kasimanwa.”
Having ties to Senator Loren Legarda, being her brother, the district representative decided to step away from her shadow and build his credibility in the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, he maintains the Legarda legacy in politics by providing prompt and quality service. Today, the residents of Antique know him as an active lawmaker who’s present through ups and downs and brings them exciting experiences and opportunities.
Rep. Legarda is open to working with other government agencies. One example is establishing a Technical Education And Skills Development Authority (TESDA) center in his district. He also leads financial assistance distributions in his jurisdiction as an avenue to meet and interact with Filipinos. The lawmaker also conducts events like concerts and competitions to highlight Antique’s culture.
For the 19th Congress, Rep. Legarda played a relevant role as a principal author of bills such as institutionalizing the “One Tablet, One Student” program for all students enrolled in the public schools, state universities, and colleges, the Magna Cartas of private and public school teachers, and promoting food forest gardening.
HON. RICARDO T. KHO
(Masbate, First District)
“I am inspired by the great potential I have always seen in the province of Masbate. Now, as a young leader and public servant,Iintend to help realize this potential through my hands-on initiative and fresh perspective. Education, infrastructure, and opportunities for livelihood and employment are my top priorities in working toward the end goal of providing a better quality of life for my fellow Masbateños and the future generations.”
Don’t be misled by Rep. Kho’s fresh face. Underneath his confident facade and smiles, he is a hardworking lawmaker whose primary goal is to advance the socio-economic growth of Masbate’s First District. Rep. Kho, who also goes by Richard, always knows how to handle the situation and uses his knowledge in the law and financial management to heed the public’s concerns. Under his leadership, Masbateños are happy to attest that they are empowered to progress towards a brighter future.
Among Rep. Kho’s many efforts in his district is providing assistance to students, farmers, fisherfolk, those medically ill, and persons with disabilities. The district representative also heads distribution initiatives to support every barangay and sector’s growth. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Kho is the principal author of bills such as granting tax exemption for fertilizers and pesticides used in rice, corn, and sugar production; creating a regional trial court in San Pascual, Burias, Masbate; and creating a mandatory department head position for human resource management in all local government units
HON. OLGA “ARA” T. KHO
(Masbate, Second District)
“Growing up, I saw and felt my parents’ passion to serve our fellow Masbateños. I witnessed their exemplary brand of leadership- one with integrity, good governance, and genuine concern for the people. Both of my parents led and are still leading by example, and this inspired me to follow in their footsteps.
When it comes to policy changes or initiatives, I would like to champion economic prosperity and job creation, healthcare access and reform, education and skill development, environmental sustainability, social justice and equality, public safety and criminal justice reform, and infrastructure and transportation.”
Among all the things that Rep. Kho hopes to accomplish in her district, it’s to lead them efficiently toward progress as she aspires to see her constituents succeed and live accordingly. Although Rep. Kho shares some responsibility in public service with her family, she’s inspired by her love for her district, making her a force to be reckoned with by herself as she guides her constituents as she sees fit.
Some of her efforts in the district include distributing financial assistance to various community members and donating school materials and equipment to improve the educational quality that the youth of Masbate receives. She also offers government internships to help Filipinos find a source of livelihood and realize their passion for public service.
For her contributions to the House of Representatives, she penned bills such as upgrading teachers’minimum salary grade level from salary grade 11 to salary grade 19, providing for the Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers, and establishing evacuation centers in every city and municipality.
HON. ROSEMARIE C. PANOTES
(Camarines Norte, Second District)
“I belong to a breed of persons fated to enjoy immense popularity not only in the Second District but in the entire Province of Camarines Norte. Having been born from a family of public servants, I have no other choice, as the only “heir to the throne” being an unica hija but to follow their footprints to continue the family’s legacy of public service. My father, the late, Elmer Panotes, served as Mayor of the capital town of Daet, Camarines Norte for three (3) consecutive terms.
His outstanding services to this capital town amply rewarded him when he was elected as the Representative of the Second District of Camarines Norte. When my father succumbed to prostate cancer, my mother, the late Congresswoman Marisol Conejos Panotes, yielded to the popular clamor to run, fortunately she won, and succeeded my father. Again, when my mother died, I need to pursue what they had started. Politics then is not new to me as I had served as Chief Political Affairs Officer of my late mother. I only have to follow the template of outstanding public service of my parents, which is mainly to protect the welfare of the poor and help them have access to quality education for investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. As a nurse by profession, I also supported measures advocating the protection of health workers rights, incentives and benefits, and also the right to health of the people.”
When carrying out her duties and responsibilities as a district representative, Rep. Panotes is prompt and efficient, avoiding all unnecessary ado. Moreover, she also values transparency, among other principles, because she wants to demonstrate to her constituents that she’s reliable and capable of giving them the ideal representation they deserve in Congress. She also upholds a standard of service that she hopes would benefit the Filipinos.
Rep. Panotes keeps a close eye on the comings and goings in her district. However, she doesn’t close her doors to opportunities to improve the public’s living conditions. For instance, she inspects infrastructure projects from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). On the other hand, she also doles out financial assistance to improve the lives of Camarines Norte’s Second District residents.
The lady lawmaker is also keen on imposing legislation to create balance and efficiency in the country. Some examples are institutionalizing the granting of Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), authorizing local sanggunians of municipalities and cities, except in Metropolitan Manila, to designate tricycle lanes in public roads or highways within their respective territorial jurisdiction, and mandating the Department of Education (DepEd) to integrate gardening in the secondary school curriculum in both public and private schools.
HON. EDUARDO ROA RAMA JR.
(Cebu City, Second District)
As many people say, “Age is just a number.” And that’s what Rep. Rama hopes to prove while in office. Despite being younger than most lawmakers in the House of Representatives, Rep. Rama doesn’t let it get in the way of his duties. He boasts 18 years of experience in public service, bringing an ideal combination of youth and wisdom to his efforts throughout Cebu City’s Second District.
Since he values his youth as a public servant, Rep. Rama also recognizes the prospects of the younger generations in nation-building. Besides empowering them through quality education, he promotes their interests in recreational activities like sports. In the meantime, Rep. Rama also offers financial assistance to individuals affected by crises or calamities and raises awareness about available livelihood opportunities.
Rep. Rama’s principally authored bills in the 19th Congress include creating the Metropolitan Cebu Development Authority (MCDA), providing protection for sharks, rays, and chimaeras in the Philippines, and enabling the people’s constitutional right to access information.
HON. EULOGIO “LEO” R. RODRIGUEZ
(Catanduanes, Lone District)
District representatives have goals set for their constituents. As for Rep. Rodriguez, he hopes to inspire Catanduanes residents to be alert and prepared for whatever may come their way. Due to his attentiveness and eagerness to fulfill his roles, his constituents turn to him in times of need to voice their concerns and receive equally efficient solutions from his office. Rep. Rodriguez also keeps a close eye on the completion of his priority projects to benefit the public.
The district representative has a keen eye for detail, allowing him to determine what his community needs, whether it’s as minute as a flagpole for schools or doling out mobile services that cater to the various demands of his constituents. He also takes time from his busy schedule to go around the district and interact with the residents.
He extends his concerns for his constituents and the Filipinos in the House of Representatives, having principally authored bills such as establishing the Catanduanes People Center and creating the Catanduanes People Center Authority, specifying the retirement benefits for subsistence farmers and fisherfolk, and designating a Multispecies Freshwater and Saltwater Fish Hatchery and Research Center in the municipality of Bato, province of Catanduanes.
HON. ZALDY S. VILLA
(Siquijor, Lone District)
While some public servants choose to take centerstage to demonstrate their abilities in the office, Rep. Villa takes a more subtle approach. But don’t mistake his humble demeanor for anything beyond that. The district representative is a dedicated leader who wishes to see his constituents succeed as he cheers them on. The public he serves has confidence in him and the benefits he brings to Siquijor.
Apart from doling out assistance payouts within his district, Rep. Villa also frequently conducts courtesy calls to listen to what the public, government, and private organizations have to say. This allows Rep. Villa to get a fresh perspective on how to handle things. He will not rest easy until he knows he met the goal of developing Siquijor into a modern province that can adapt to the future’s demands.
In the meantime, Rep. Villa is the principal author of bills like defining and penalizing the crime of criminal neglect of vulnerable elders or persons with disability, providing for a coastal tourism planning development program, and establishing welfare homes for underprivileged persons.
HON. MIGUEL LUIS R. VILLAFUERTE
(Camarines Sur, Fifth District)
“Having been born to a family of public servants, I have witnessed firsthand their genuine compassion and dedication to serving our townspeople. Since then, I have constantly desired to devote my life to doing the same
As I embark on my new role and mission in the People’s House, I intend to craft effective and responsive policies that are geared toward the needs of my constituents. I also seek to support programs that advocate for inclusive growth and development, government digitization, community resilience, and youth engagement in agriculture, among others.”
Emerging as the epitome of an inspiring leader of his generation, Rep. Miguel Luis “Migz” R. Villafuerte has the distinction of being the youngest-elected governor in Philippine history, having been elected as the governor of the Province of Camarines Sur at the age of 24.
Following his impressive stint as a three-term governor, he earned a seat at the 19th Congress as the Representative of the 5th District of Camarines Sur, with Vice Chairmanship positions in the Committees on Local Government, Agriculture and Food, and Information and Communications Technology.
Rep. Villafuerte intends to make full use of his fresh mandate in the Lower Chamber by pushing for measures that fulfill his campaign promise to his beloved Rinconada District—improving access to social services and economic opportunities even in the remotest of towns. His legislative priorities include championing measures that support his advocacies such as: promoting social justice and good governance; strengthening environmental protection and community resilience; improving quality of education and healthcare services; empowering youth through sports development programs; and accelerating digitalization in the country.
Rep. Villafuerte has authored several measures that have recently been passed by the House including the SIM Card Registration Act, Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act, E-Governance Act, Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers Act, among others.
HON. EMILIO BERNARDINO L. YULO
(Negros Occidental, Fifth District)
Rep. Yulo has become a household name in Negros Occidental because of his efforts in politics and his expertise as a lawyer. He goes by the moniker Atty. Dino and his constituents can attest to his hardwork, which always bears fruit. Although he knows he’s the leader everyone looks up to, Rep. Yulo doesn’t forget to appreciate those around him who play an equally significant part in bringing the Filipinos to the future.
The district representative is a dedicated champion of Negros Occidental’s vibrant culture and community. But when challenges arise in his jurisdiction, Rep. Yulo is a man of action and is always ready to lend a helping hand. He also empowers the youth through various programs to help them unlock their full potential and become the new leaders of tomorrow.
As for his initiatives in the 19th Congress, Rep. Yulo is the principal author of bills such as strengthening the technical, vocational, and livelihood curriculum for the senior high school, establishing an anti-rabies center in each congressional district nationwide, and designating one audio-visual center in each public elementary and high school.