ESTER Sibi never dreamed becoming a village chief of Barangay 14. She took oath of office by succession, two years ago.
All she ever wanted was to legislate and do some part-time service. She had quite a luxury of time way back then.
But time put her there. There's no turning back. Now, Ester deals full-time service with some hard ups of her own.
Village leaders are not known for decent salaries. The rent for her apartment eats up almost half of what she's earning, and she has a niece to send to elementary. Still, she manages to do charity when someone seems helpless that she's the only one that can be sought for succor.
"I think all of village chiefs have their own sacrifices. I'm not the only one," Sibi reveals. "But there's no complaining now. I'm into full-pledged service."
A corner near the intersection of Kalambaguhan and Tiano streets, just outside
her apartment, is one of Ester's favorite place. The entertainment establishment offers icecold beers and the languid of acoustic music.
One night, the music suddenly stopped. Screams were heard and a chase involving gun-wielding men ensued. Moments later, blood was spilled in gunshots that happened blocks away. But there were eyes that have seen it. Her tanods witnessed the killing and came to her, quite panicked. Weeks later, that incident would put her and her men on the witness stand.
Ester tried to protect her tanods by them. She also suffered threats. The incident has turned into Ester's biggest challenge, and hence, fear.
Realizing that she and her men hold the key for the killing, she feared no more.
"I forced him to testify in court. They have a very good reason why I should
stand for them too," Ester declared. "They said what if it happened to their family and no one wants to speak the truth?"
Couple of nights after, two unidentified masked men, each riding a motorcycle, circled around the streets of her village.
The following day, another one was asking where she lives. Knowing the man's motive, residents wouldn't say where she was, while others would pretend not to know her. She felt being hunted down. That made her recoil back and withdraw from public sight for months. She would even refuse to go out to her usual hangouts.
"I was getting paranoid during those times," she confesses. "Until I said to my self, it's enough."
Tired of all the hiding, she finally made a bold decision to go out. She would not anymore spend her day and night on her apartment, and wherever she could stay where she thought was safe. She would have none of that any longer. The four-foot-eight leader is walking tall.
Before she goes to bed, she roams every corner of her village's streets and put undisciplined residents and visitors to their place.
"I'm no longer afraid going out by my own," she proudly declares.
Her bravery earned her a plaque of recognition from the Department of Justice. She got a "Good Public Servant Award" from Lourdes College.
But the work doesn't stop there. Recently, she led a series of round ups against prostitution and sex dens in her village and neighboring areas.
More than 20 pimps, including some prostituted women, were caught in the first operation.
She's also strict on vagrancy. It was not unusual for her to give a dressing down on wayward individuals on streets, be they strangers or residents. They call it toughness; she calls it a crusade.
But one way or another, no one can deny that Ester Sibi is the toughest female village chief in town. (Editor's Note: The 2008 murder case, which involves policemen, is still ongoing. One of the suspects was granted bail despite strong evidence linking him to the case. Another suspect is still at-large as of this writing, and has been dismissed from police service.)