MABALACAT MAYORAL aspirant Diosdado “Deng” Tolentino Pangilinan, a dedicated public servant in the field of print and broadcast media, an outstanding alumnus, community leader, innovator and entrepreneur. Deng has announced to ditch his pen and microphone to storm the political arena in the May 2022 local elections with the following battlecry: “Dignity, Equality, and Needed Governance (DENG) for Mabalaquenos” and “DENG MEMALEN PAMU”.
Deng was one of the active prime movers when the former municipality of Mabalacat was officially converted to a city following a referendum on July 21, 2012 through Republic Act 10162 and became the third in Pampanga after Angeles and San Fernando. He was also among the frontliners in the creation of the Mabalacat City College (MCC), a public higher education institution. It was established through Municipal Ordinance No. 2 in 2007. The college initially offered degree courses in Teacher Education and in Information Technology. In 2016, MCC opened a satellite campus at Barangay Dapdap with the aim of providing the underprivileged residents of the area more access to education. Presently, MCC offers college courses under five institutes: Teacher Education, Business Education, Computing Studies, Arts and Sciences, and Hospitality and Tourism Management. Additionally, the school has a Senior High School (SHS) program and provides the Academic and the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL) tracks. It is duly recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd). Additionally, MCC is one of the colleges and universities in the country covered by the Free Tuition Law.
Deng also spearheaded the 1st Caragan Festival in 2008, an annual festival celebrated during the city’s founding anniversary every second to third week of February. The Caragan Festival is celebrated in honor of Caragan, an Aeta chieftain who was believed to have founded the town. Caragan was also married to a Mabalaquena named Laureana Tolentino. It showcases different competing tribes of junior (elementary students) and senior contingents (high school students). The festival dance celebrates the rich and colorful culture of the Aetas. The dancers are adorned with vibrant costumes, elaborate headdresses and traditional trinkets made by Aetas. Caragan is celebrated alongside other activities: Queen Mabalacat City pageant, basketball and volleyball tournaments, singing competition, job fair, local bazaar and more.
Deng was also instrumental as Technical Working Group Member for the establishment of the Mabalacat City Bus Terminal (MCBT) under joint venture with Castro and Samson clans where he also served as Director of the MCBT. The huge bus terminal is a good example of a regional bus terminal in the Philippines and one that is also a multi-modal facility at least for road transport. It is relatively well-run and is a major transfer point for people traveling between much of Luzon Island including Metro Manila. There is definitely room for improvement including amenities for passengers and perhaps a more modern airport shuttle lounge. He also pushed for the equitable and direct remittance of the Gross Income Earned (GIE) shares of Mabalacat City from the Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ). There are no national and local taxes shall be imposed on registered business enterprises within the CFZ but in lieu of said taxes, a five percent (5%) tax on gross income earned shall be paid by all registered business enterprises within the CFZ and shall be directly remitted as follows: three percent (3%) to the National Government, and two percent (2%) to the treasurer’s office of the municipality or city where they are located.
Deng also served pro bono as senior adviser to former Mabalacat City Mayor Marino Boking Morales for 19 years. He also played a major role in the modernization of the Mabalacat City Water District (MCWD) as Chairman of the Board for 12 years and Director from 2000 to 2018. He was recognized as the youngest Chairman of the Board of Directors by the Philippine Water Works Association. In February, he was elected as one of the 2021 Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (MACCII) Board of Directors and Vice-President for External Affairs. Currently, he serves as Communications Officer of the Angeles City Government and Main Anchor of the Lingkod Bayan Program of City Mayor Carmelo Pogi Lazatin Jr. via Facebook page of the City Information Office which highlights the day-to-day activities, priority programs, current issues and Mayor Lazatin’s COVID-19 programs of action. He is also an anchor every Friday in a morning radio program of city councilorable and station manager John Susi’s Brigada News FM 92.7.
Deng’s mother “Imang Priming” worked as a part-time meat vendor while his father “Tatang Vess” worked as bus driver in the former US military facility Clark Air Base. Deng grew up in Barangay San Francisco, Mabalacat City. He attended his public schooling in San Francisco Elementary School where he earned an Outstanding Boy Scout Award. He spent his youthful days as founder and member of the multi-awarded San Francisco Drum and Bugle Corps when he was in grade 5. He finished his secondary education at St. Anthony’s College and years after received an Outstanding Alumnus Award. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications from the Angeles University Foundation. Undeterred by financial difficulties in the family, Deng endeavored his path from high school to college as a working student from chicken dresser, piggery boy, barracks boy (cleaning military quarters, toilets) to shoe shine boy at Clark Air Base.
His first job introduced Deng to Pampanga politics as researcher and enumerator of the political surveys for the late Congressman Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin. From then on he was stapled in political research to former Governor now Senator Lito Lapid, Congressman Mikey Arroyo (2D-Pampanga), Congressman Rimpy Bondoc (4D-Pampanga), the late Porac Mayor Roy David, former Macabebe Mayor Rico Laxa, and former Mabalacat Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales. His mentors in political research are the energetic and articulate writer Punto’s editor in chief Caesar “Bong” Lacson and the late veteran newsman and city councilor Sonny Lopez. He started as a newspaperman in 1988 in the Central Luzon Times, The Voice, and contributed news reports to Headline Central Luzon and Punto! Central Luzon. He was discovered by veteran broadcaster Perry Pangan during the Pinatubo years at GVFM 99.1 from 1992-1994 then transferred to the Laus family-owned RWFM 95.1 in 1995 with his call sign “Eagle One”. In 1993, he was elected Secretary General of Mabalacat Malasa Jaycees. He became president of the Pampanga Press Club (PPC)—elected four times—- and an active member of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). He is also the founder of the reigning number one news portal Iorbitnews Online in Central Luzon in a bid to provide the general public with the latest news trend through social media where they can get the news instantly anytime and anywhere in the palm of their hand.
Deng, a devout Catholic, credits his success to the providential guidance of the Lord Almighty and the support he receives from his wife Angelita, a pharmacist in a government hospital, and his three children. He has two sons, the eldest is into avionics and the other is a certified public accountant while his youngest is a media arts student.
With National and Local Elections happening in May 2022, there is an opportunity for Mabalaquenos to give serious consideration to who will represent them over the next term. The electorate has their say every three years, electing people to make decisions on their behalf. They bestow upon the City Mayor a mandate to do the hard work of setting policy designed to deliver basic services to the community with the limited resources provided. Like never before, the people need relevant, authentic, and forward-thinking leaders who understand the complexities of governing during times of uncertainty and change. Hence, I asked Deng. How can you attract your constituent-voters and get elected? What are your qualities and characteristics that are vital for a City Mayor?
These were his candid yet humble answers.
NOBLE CHARACTER AND SUAVE LEADERSHIP STYLE
Deng is a Consensus Builder. He never underestimates the value of building harmony with others, with staff, and with the greater community. Deng knows the investment of time and energy on the front end will save his emotional angst on the back end. He discouraged disrespect, contempt, and personal attacks that create unhealthy relationships and undermine sound governance. Good relationships and sound policy serve our community better.
Deng is a Team Player. A healthy governing body knows that each person was elected by the public as individuals, but that they must work together as a team. Being an effective team player, Deng is a thinker and open minded about the position of others. He can work constructively with others without dominating the flow of information or ideas. He respects and supports the decision of the majority. He sets aside personal interests and influences for the common good.
Deng is Emotionally Mature. He is in tune with his own emotional state and knows how it affects him. Given that he is required to make decisions in the best interests of the community – despite opposition – he can withstand criticisms by scrubbing and quashing with satire and humor. Being emotionally mature he stays engaged, welcomes dissent, and not over-reacts.
Deng is Approachable. As a leader he listens carefully to others with a desire to understand concerns, ideas, and perspectives. He is accessible to the people through meetings and events, and by phone, messenger and email. He is well aware that commitment to a clear, diverse, and regular communication with the people is key.
Deng is a Critical Thinker. Today’s problems often come from yesterday’s solutions. Deng always considers how to maintain a long-term perspective and considers the potential impact of his decisions.
Deng is Prepared. He never underestimates the mental preparation required to make decisions about the long-term sustainability for Mabalacat City. It is easy to believe that being an elected official means attending a few meetings a month; but Deng is committed to doing his homework. He comes prepared to participate in discussions by researching and reading background materials prior to attending meetings, fora and other public programs.
Being a good leader is not just about one’s opinion or stance on an issue. It is about vital attributes, characteristics, and qualities that contribute to the short-term and long-term wellbeing of the community – now and into the future. When asked about the future of Mabalacat City, Deng remarked: “No leader does anything by him or herself. We are aligned with the silent majority, sectoral leaders and well-seasoned political leaders clamoring for change, compassion, zero crime and corruption, low poverty rate, drug-free city, and not fear or disrespect. The strength of Mabalacat City is the people of Mabalacat, the Mabalaquenos, who constantly lift me and motivate me to lead them to the future they deserve.With this turbulent times of the pandemic, the Mabalaquenos are looking for a leader that can show strength and leadership. Given the chance to be elected as City Mayor, Deng is confident with the help of many others, he can guide the city through a very dark time and declare to the whole province that his hometown is “a city of love and compassion.” “The mayor is not the soul of the city but a reflection of the soul of a city,” he said. “Our job is to bring out what is there already and bring it to light. We will strive to make our community better for them and our city one of the best in the Philippines.”
You don’t need a special degree to run for office. “Ali masakit ing mangobyernu emula sa panakawan reng pera da reng memalen, ka rin ing maging problema, ka rin maging masakit uling reng pondu ng gobyernu para keng basic services da reng memalen,’’ Deng explained. “Being engaged in your community and having an open mind will earn you trust. No one gets elected and knows everything,” he said. “Be willing to learn and listen. Once elected, always emphasize integrity. You are the face of the community and you lead by example,” he said. The best part about being an elected official is always learning something new, he said. “It’s not about achieving something but it’s about who you want to be as a person. Seek an elected position to make a change, not as a stepping stone to future political office,” Deng said.Deng is a famous figure in Pampanga, I have known him for decades and I have personal knowledge of some of his accomplishments. But based on my comprehensive research and testimonies obtained from acquaintances, I was amazed with Deng’s umpteen efforts and contributions for the development of Mabalacat City. But these are often below the radar, without publicity stunt at all, and in spite of his media connections he does not publicize his achievements and results. There’s a term in public service to describe such a valuable person – “The Silent Worker”.