Challenging life experiences polished one of Cebu’s most brilliant leaders. LEAGUE traveled all the way to the boondocks of Tuburan, Cebu to meet Mayor Democrito ‘Aljun’ Diamante and find out what his plans are after his nine-year term
Mayor Democrito “Aljun” Diamante refers to himself as a politician driven by circumstances. He didn’t come from a political family, nor did it cross his mind that he would become a public servant someday. Like the 10 million Filipinos today, Mayor Aljun’s family was also challenged by poverty.
He was the eldest in a brood of eight, so he took it upon himself to help his father provide for their family’s needs. “Noon, ang ambisyon ko lang ay magkaroon ng hanapbuhay, makatulong sa magulang at mga kapatid ko. Kung magkaroon man ako ng pamilya, ang pangarap ko lang ay mapakain, mapaaral, mapabahay, mapadamit sila, ganun lang. Hindi ako nangangarap ng masyadong malaki (Back then, my ambition in life was to have a job, help my parents and siblings. If I ever get to have my own family, I’d like to be able to provide them with food, education, shelter, clothing—that’s it),” he says.
After finishing high school, the native Tuburanon went to the city to work. He took a variety of odd jobs, before landing a position in a logistics company. He worked his way up the career ladder—from being a driver, clerk, and processor, to becoming a supervisor, manager for sales, and manager for operations. After 10 years of working for that company, he decided to resign and build his own company. “Nakatulong ako sa kompanyang pinagtrabahuhan ko, napalaki ko…sabi ko sa sarili ko, kung magtatayo siguro ako ng sarili kong kompanya, baka sakaling lumaki din (I was able to help the company I worked for, I helped it grow, so I told myself, if I build my own company, I could probably grow it as well),” he remembers. True enough, his diligence and hard work paid off. The logistics company he built flourished.
These life experiences—the ups and downs—ignited his desire to help better the lives of others. “Galing kasi ako sa wala. Kaya noong nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon at ng grasya, binigyan ako ng pagkakataong makapagserbisyo sa mga mahihirap, bumalik ako sa amin at tumakbong mayor (I came from zero. That is why when I was given the opportunity and grace to serve the poor, I went back to our town and ran for mayor),” he declares.
CALL TO SERVE
Mayor Aljun tells LEAGUE that he used to walk six kilometers during his elementary days and 14 kilometers during his high school days to get to school. So when he won the mayoralty race in 2011, his main priority was education. “Noong maging mayor ako, nagtayo agad ako ng tatlong high schools sa bundok (When I became mayor, I immediately built three high schools in the mountains),” he quips. One is 15 kilometers from the town proper and located at the boundary of Catmon and Tuburan; one in Kabangkalan, which is at the center of Tuburan; and one in Kansi, which is at the boundary of Asturias. For the first two schools, it was Mayor Aljun who bought the lot (one-hectare for each) with his own money. He and DepEd agreed that he will build the high schools and shoulder the salary of the teachers during the first year. Then on the following year, DepEd will allot budget for it.
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