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He is running for his third and last term as Mayor of the City of Biñan in 2022 and if he succeeds, and all indications show that he will, Walfredo “Arman” Dimaguila Jr. will concentrate on promoting the city and the local economy.
He pointed out that he had achieved “sustainable urbanization and heritage conservation” in Biñan and almost all of the city’s priority infrastructure projects, including those that started just prior to the pandemic, have either been completed or nearing completion. Biñan residents have already started to enjoy the benefits brought about by these projects.
“This time, I would like to focus on promoting our city and the local economy. The pandemic has been a big challenge to our workers and small business owners. I would like to help them start and build anew here in our city,” Dimaguila said.
Dimaguila has come a long way from his humble beginnings. Born to Walfredo Dimaguila Sr., the former municipal electrician of Biñan and Feliciana Reyes, a full time housewife who does laundry to earn a living, Dimaguila is the sixth of 10 children.
WHEN he was in elementary school, he would sell boiled bananas and bread so that he would have extra allowance. In high school, he would be paid to look after vacant lots. When he got home at night, he would turnover his day’s earnings to his mother.
“My mother is a laundrywoman so when she had laundry to do, I would help her by pumping the well so that she could finish the laundry quickly. When I was done with this task, I would have time to play with my friends. We lived near the fields and the lake and we would play catch, patintero and luksong baka,” he recalled.
“We had a very difficult life. We had to work hard and be diligent. My father was the municipal electrician and he would always tell me and my siblings to study hard. We were told to study so that we would have a better future,” Dimaguila added.
There were times when he would accompany his father to the municipal hall and during those times he would earn extra by helping out those who tended the photocopying machines. While there, he would see the local government officials come and go to carry our their duties and responsibilities to their constituents. It was this experience of “working” at the municipal hall that made Dimaguila decide that he wanted to enter politics in the future.
“When I was young, I already knew that I would go into politics. We were not well-off but I was able to win the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections as the SK Chairman in our barangay. One of my favorite projects then was the youth scholarship grants. I extended financial assistance and gave school supplies to the scholars at the start of the school year,” Dimaguila said.
Most outstanding youth
DUE to his hard work, Dimaguila was named San Luis Most Outstanding Youth in the Province of Laguna in 1993. He achieved this while he was pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer.
“I didn’t go to college immediately after graduating from high school. We had no money and my father had to go abroad to work. He earned US$150 a month, the equivalent of P3,300 at that time. However, we were 10 in the family so I had to wait for my turn,” he said.
He was determined to succeed in his goal and decided to go to Manila. There, he found work as a utility man and security guard. He worked during the day and studied at night. His perseverance eventually paid off and he graduated cum laude in Political Science from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. He then worked as a tax specialist at the National Tax Research Center during the day and attended classes at Lyceum’s College of Law at night.
“When I graduated from the College of Law in 1998 and passed the bar exam, I immediately practiced my profession. I also worked as a college professor in some colleges and universities in Biñan where I taught economics, business law and taxation,” he said.
Entering the political fray
AT THE urging of then Biñan Mayor Arthur Alonte, Dimaguila joined the political fray and won a seat in Biñan’s municipal council in 2001, placing eight in the elections. As a councilor he authored an ordinance for a scholarship program that benefitted Biñan’s poor but deserving students. Aside from the scholarship programs, Dimaguila initiated the establishment of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines Binan Campus, the fullfillment of one of his dreams.
In an interview with Philippines Graphic in 2018, Dimaguila regards education as the “great equalizer.”
“I’ve seen it then that if I didn’t do anything about poverty, it will be bequeathed to me by my parents, poverty that they inherited from their parents. And it will be a poverty that I will in turn pass on to my children. Poverty is a cycle. And the only way to break this cycle is through education,” he said.
He remembered an instance when he accompanied his mother to a wedding. “She was godmother to the bride and groom. But when she had to sign in the marriage contract, I had to show my mother where she needed to sign. That was the only time I learned that she could barely read and write. She told me later that it was the reason why she always insisted that we study hard.”
WHILE he was councilor, Dimaguila also started “Serbisyong Arman” where he offered free notarial services and free legal advice to his constituents. He also spearheaded the creation of the Health Assistance Program for Indigents (HAPI) Family Card, the Magna Carta for Senior Citizens and for Persons with Disabilities among his flagship programs.
It was through “Serbisyong Arman” that Dimaguila became a familiar and popular personality in Biñan. By creating Serbisyong Arman Rescue Group, the city’s residents received assistance for accidents, fires, flooding, evacuations and other calamities. There were times when Dimaguila himself would take part in the programs.
In 2010, Dimaguila ran and was elected vice mayor. As vice mayor, Dimaguila focused on strengthening the legislative procedures of the City Council and attending to Biñan’s drug dependents and prisoners.
Thanks to his accomplishments and achievements, Dimaguila was tapped to run for mayor in the 2016 elections. He won and replaced Marlyn “Len” Alonte-Naguiat who is currently the Representative for the Lone District of Biñan.
He spent his first three years in office coming up with projects that would transform Biñan from a provincial, agricultural town into a rapidly industrializing and modern city. The unique development plan sought to combine the new with the old – a plan that embraced economic progress, even as it is consciously sought to preserve and promote much of Biñan City’s rich cultural and historical heritage.
THANKS to his leadership and good working relationship with Vice Mayor Angelo “Gel” Alonte and Rep. Alonte-Naguiat, Biñan chalked up a number of awards including No. 1 most improved city in the province of Laguna; No. 1 in infrastructure; No. 5 in economic dynamism; No. 9 most improved local government unit and in overall competititivess; No. 13 in government efficiency and no. 17 in resiliency.
As mayor, Dimaguila was named Most Outstanding Mayor of 2020 by Superbrands Philippines and Back-to-back Most Outstanding City Mayor in the Field of Social Welfare and Development under Component Cities Category by the Association of Local Social Welfare and Development Officers (ALSWDOPI).
The other awards that Binan received under the leadership of Dimaguila include 1st place Manila Bayani Awards and Incentives; One of the Highly Functional LGUs during the 2019 and 2020 ADAC Performance Audit Achievement and 3rd Seal of Good Local Governance.
Like the rest of the country, Biñan was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. But even before the lockdown was declared, Dimaguila already called for a meeting with Rep. Alonte-Naguiat, Vice Mayor Alonte, city council and barangay officials to discuss measures that would lessen the impact of the pandemic.
“Despite the economic challenges brought about by the pandemic, the city government was still able to push through with our infrastructure projects. We cannot slow down just because of this pandemic. We need to maximize our resources and assure our people that this pandemic will not stop the local government from bringing quality service and projects to its people,” Dimaguila said.
To date, Biñan has been able to vaccinate the majority of its adult population and almost all of those in the 12 to 17 age group. At the height of the pandemic, the city government went house to house to deliver government assistance to their constituents.
“I am a straightforward person. I do not like delays. I want everything to move fast. Maybe that’s why the people of Biñan tagged me as their ‘Action Man.” I do not waste any time and I want everything done right away. And I believe that our awards from the national government will speak for me, my management style and governance,” he said.
When asked what else he wants to achieve for Biñan. Dimaguila said he still wants to do more.
“There is still so much to be done for the city and in the city. It will probably be a while before I retire from politics,” he said.