“Amag” is Proud To Be! HS 1983!

By Tina Abad Mendoza
Proud to Be! HS 1983!

Last month, during the ‘guess who is your batchmate’ segment of our Ruby class reunion, I pleasantly discovered that my friend and classmate, Angelica Magsaysay-Cheng, was the recipient of the 2018 Dangal ng Bayang Filipino award as the best elected officer in her rank (Vice Governor) for her legislative functions, as well as outreach programs, even in the remotest areas in her hometown of Zambales.

Amag, as we endearingly call her, was Vice Governor of Zambales from 2016 to 2019. Her father, Vicente P. Magsaysay, nephew of President Ramon Magsaysay, was Governor of Zambales for 28 years, the longest serving governor in Zambalez’ history (1967-1986, then 1998-2007). When he retired, his successor, who happened to be his archenemy for the governor position in the past, asked Amag to run with him.

In high school, Amag had a commanding presence that matched her booming voice. She’d tease Professor Estrada and make him smile; she was the only one who could do it. She was unstoppable, unrelenting, and determined in everything she set her mind to. She gets things done. Therefore, it was no surprise years later, that she gave of her time and resources to causes that were near and dear to her heart. When she was invited to run for VG, she asked her father what to do, and he advised her, rightfully, to go out and mingle with the people. On her first day, she removed the walls in her office because she wanted her people to have access to her. She also did not want her direct reports bringing her proposals for projects in the confines of a room. She wanted to be outdoors where it mattered, in the community, amongst her constituents, where she could see for herself what was happening and where she could make the most contribution. Instead of legislation by a few vested interests, Amag made sure that the people of Zambales drove her legislative agenda.

Amag (leftmost, seatedon the 2nd row) with her classmates from Section 1, HS 83
Standing at the center, surrounded by longtime friends from Section 1, HS 83

Her parents, who were very much involved in their communities, were Amag’s role models, and that exposure made her aware and sensitive to the plight of her kababayans. She has a special place in her heart for the children of Zambales. When she took office, Zambales was ranked no. 2 province in the country with the greatest number of malnourished children. In her words, “how can I be an overweight VG when all the children are starving?” That tested her resolve even more, and feeding the children became her no. 1 priority. Later she discovered that through her feeding programs, she was able to verify and validate the much-needed resources and programs for her constituents.

When I asked Amag to share photos and videos of her work with the people, I realized that there were so many, and it was very difficult to choose one or two that encapsulated all that she did and continues to do. She’s been doing this work, especially the feeding programs for children, even before she was elected VG. She used personal finances, and donations from her closest friends, to send relief goods to Yolanda survivors. Her family-owned Cessna named “Zambalena” could not compare with the international cargo planes transporting goods from all over the world. But Amag assured her friends, none of their donations would go to waste, and she kept her word.

Aside from feeding programs and relief works, she is also involved in medical missions. Being married to a doctor (Dr. Alfredo Cheng) has its purpose, and it’s always about helping others. At the end of her term in office, together with then Governor Amor Deloso, Zambales was ranked the richest province in region 3. I am reminded of the phrase, ‘high tide lifts all ships’— all the people of Zambales will gain when even the most vulnerable become better off. Here is a sampling of her work in action:

– Awarded by the Philippine Public Safety College as partner of the maintenance of peace and order, and the promotion of public safety in Central Luzon

– 899 ordinances and resolutions approved and attested

– Chairperson of the Pantry ng PNP Barangayanihan (community pantry) of Zambales

– Co-iniated with DTI, the Go Negosyo livelihood program for Zambalenos

– 15,758 medical assistance missions

– 748 burial assistance

– 4,408 persons with financial assistance

– 160,850 persons with food assistance (and counting)

– Numerous construction-related projects (roads, school covered courts, birthing clinics)

I thank my friend Amag for the work that she did as VG and continues to do as a private citizen. I am always looking for positive and hopeful people to inspire me. Amag has done all these big things in her life yet remains humble. She has crossed faiths, political alliances, and biases, to exemplify what it means to be a servant-leader. That is truly inspiring!