Personality Profile: Taking centerstage-A A +A
Friday, September 20, 2013
SHE used to be at the backstage, supporting each and every endeavor of his husband in serving the public. But now, she takes centerstage.
Councilor Dr. Mary Joselle Dilig-Villafuerte, wife of former councilor Jose Louie Villafuerte, has been at the frontline after she was elected to replace her husband in the City Council.
Villafuerte said she never dreamed of becoming a politician, speaking onstage, and shaking hands with different people almost every day.
She used to meet these people only during their regular medical and dental outreach program which started in 2004, offering free health services (medical check-up/treatment, free circumcision and medicines, free dental check-up and tooth extractions and medicines) to the grassroots level.
"This is where I can help. Kasi apparently kulang ang health services para sa mga tao eh. Our program is really designed to help people especially those who live in far-flung barangays where people cannot afford of medical care at kung meron man, kulang ang supplies," Villafuerte said.
She has been in public service for so long, but without much publicity. She just simply served.
But the day she never expected had arrived and somehow, become a channel to her advocacy to help people improve their health status.
"You have to run, Joselle," Villafuerte said, quoting what her husband told her when Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod Party was already busy looking for their candidates for the May 2013 elections.
The first thing that came into her mind upon hearing this was "I had no plans of running." But, she thought she had to accept it and give people the services they truly deserve.
"I told myself that I have to continue the programs that my husband and I started. The people need us," Villafuerte said.
"But it was a challenge for us to reach out to people and say 'Hey, vote for me!' because in the first place, they don't know me. How can I win it if nobody knows me? They know my husband but not me. Worse, we heard people saying they would not vote for me because I am strikta (strict), and because lisud daw ko duolan (I'm not approachable)," she said.
One thing that challenged them more was when the Hugpong could only endorse eight official candidates as what the Comelec mandated.
"So we had to double our efforts. We managed to visit 81 out of 82 barangays in the third district during the election period. The style of my campaign was not to deliver lengthy speeches in front of many people. We, instead, just continue serving them through our medical and dental outreach program," Villafuerte said.
Everything paid off. She said she won because the people trusted her. She said it was the people's most humble way of saying "thank you for helping us since 2004."
"They gave me a chance. The people were able to recognize me by my efforts in every medical and dental service we had. I have been serving them, di lang nila alam. Naniniwala talaga ako na intelligent voters voted for me," she said.
For two months now as the city councilor, Villafuerte has been working harder to assist the City Health Office in their goal to improve the health services not only for the people of the third district but for all the people of Davao City.
"Because it is very frustrating not seeing much improvement in terms of health. So now being the chair of the committee on health, I want to be proactive. I want to find out what's the problem, what is holding back the health, and why is it not improving kasi dapat sana naga improve siya," she said.
"I intend to fulfill the expectations of the people for me," said Villafuerte, a mother to four children- Lorenzo Benjamin, Louise Marie, Lourdes Nicole, Leilani Gabrielle.
Aside from being an incumbent councilor, Villafuerte is presently the managing director of Sacre Coeur Medical Clinic in Calinan, Davao City since 2006.
She is an active member of Philippine Medical Association since 1990; Davao Medical Society since 1990; and elected as the secretary of the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine for 2013-2014.
Villafuerte, a doctor of medicine, is a product of Davao Medical School Foundation (1984-1988).
She is also a product of Saint Paul College of Manila, studying Bachelor of Science in Psychology from 1978 to 1982. She also took Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the North Valley College Foundation in Kidapawan, North Cotabato from 2000 to 2003.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 21, 2013.