MA. JOSEFINA G. BELMONTE
Mayor, Quezon City
Ma. Josefina “Joy” Belmonte is the newly elected mayor of Quezon City. She was vice mayor of Quezon City for the past 9 years, presiding over a City Council, which has been regarded as the Most Outstanding in the Philippines, in accordance with the exemplary standards of the Local Legislative Awards of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
As vice mayor, she was also chairperson of the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council (QCADAAC), which has been recognized as one of the most effective nationwide in addressing the problem of illegal drugs. The QCADAAC obtained a perfect functionality score in the National Anti-Drug Abuse Council Performance Awards given by the DILG in January 2019.
She believes that having a trustworthy leadership, as well as an efficient and well-functioning and effective government system within the city hall, can win the trust and confidence of the people.
Mayor Belmonte completed her high school studies at the Poveda Learning Centre. She got her Social Sciences degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, her Master ‘s Degree in Philosophy from the Institute of Archaeology, University College in London, and her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from the Leicester University in the United Kingdom.
The mayor’s advocacies cover a wide area, but are especially focused on the protection and upholding of the rights of women and children, gender fairness, economic empowerment of women, mental health, culture and the arts. She pushed for the establishment of the QC Protection Center for Women, Children and LGBT (lesbians, gay, bisexuals, and transgenders) as a one-stop-shop facility for victims of abuse. Located at the Quezon City General Hospital, the facility provides legal services, police assistance, medical assistance, medico-legal examinations, counseling and psychiatric evaluation, and referral to a temporary shelter program.
She saw the need of nursing mothers who have to transact business at Quezon City Hall for a breastfeeding station, and ensured that one such facility was put up at City hall. The facility complies with DOH requirements and has a play area suited for small children of nursing mothers.
As a means to help families in the city to reduce their food costs, as well as promote ways to transform organic waste into fertilizer, then Vice Mayor Belmonte established the Joy of Urban Farming in 2010. It is a program designed to show that, even with a small space, urban dwellers can still farm using vertical gardens, containers, and other farming techniques. The program promotes the spread of urban farms in more parts of the city, as it trains more than 6,000 people annually on backyard gardening and eco-waste management. With the help of the Department of Education, the project is being implemented in schools through the “gulayan sa paaralan” (school vegetable garden) initiative. The urban farms can also be found in different barangays, churches and areas maintained by various non-government organizations from Districts 1 to 6.
Her advocacy to promote livelihood programs and entrepreneurship is designed to empower and provide a sustainable future for indigent women, for those rehabilitated from drug abuse, and for inmates who seek a better life upon release from jail, among others. Among her projects for promoting entrepreneurship are Tindahan ni Ate Joy, Lipad (Local Inclusiveness Project for the Advancement and Development)-Pinay Program, the Artisan Academy and Lazada E-commerce on-line selling.
The QCinema Film Festival is another project that she initiated. It encourages independent filmmakers to produce screenplays that will promote the city. A Circle Competition is held, where winners receive grants to help them produce their films. It has evolved into an international film festival held annually in the city, which showcases local and international films, documentaries, and short films.
Even before she became Vice Mayor, Mayor Joy Belmonte had been supporting the training and exposure of underprivileged children in the city in various art forms. Through the Quezon City Performing Arts, these children receive scholarships in dance, voice, Filipino instruments and guitar instruction. These scholars have participated in various festivals and competitions, both local and international, garnering citations and honor for the city.