Atty. Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong is the newly-appointed Director General of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administraion. Before the whole Philippines knew him as such, Atty. Gene Mamondiong is one of the fathers of Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD NECC). His signature is affixed on the back part of each MRRD NECC identification card, together with current Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno’s.
To read the views on Federalism of Sec. Mamondiong and Secretary Sueno, please proceed here.
Atty. Gene Mamondiong does not exude the usual overpowering presence associated with people of his stature. Rather, he is soft-spoken and unassuming. The first time I met him at the MRRD NECC National Headquarters, on my third day as a volunteer, he wore white cotton shirt, blue jeans and rubber slippers. He casually walked into the room without so much fanfare. He sat between me and another volunteer and asked, “ano ang problema dito?” (what is the problem here) followed by “ano ang kailangan natin?” (what do we need). I did not know who he was at the time, and I immediately told him what I thought we needed. He did not show surprise nor bewilderment (who is this stranger?), just nodded in assent and looked at me like what I was telling him was the most important thing in the world. That is Atty. Gene Mamondiong in a nutshell. He is a simple man who puts the needs of others above his own. He does not want to be recognized but he wants to address the root of the problems.
A few days after that, we transferred our operations at his home. He and his beautiful wife, Ma’am Ruby, welcomed us without ifs and buts. They provided us an area to work at, food to eat and guidance in what we did. At that point, I realized that his simplicity extends to his home life. Despite his stint as a Department of Transportation and Communication undersecretary in Gloria Arroyo administration, he and his family do not scream of ill-gotten wealth, very far from it. From that point forward, I knew that we had a gem of a leader in Atty. Gene Mamondiong. He is someone who is incorruptible and with a rigid set of personal beliefs that he will not dare cross just to get ahead.
Just before 2015 ended, Atty. Mamondiong, Ma’am Ruby and six MRRD NECC volunteers, including myself, drove to Baguio City around midnight. Atty. Mamondiong held a roundtable discussion car-version where the six of us had to give a 15-minute speech tackling then Mayor Duterte’s strengths and weaknesses, how to address some issues thrown at him and how to make sure he wins. It was intense and like my name, I almost wilted under pressure. Gene Mamondiong did not interrupt us. He just listened the entire time and made his points after all of us finished talking, and what great points they were!
The following day, with less than two hours of sleep, he reanimated the leaders of MRRD NECC – CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) for our candidate’s cause. His voice was soft but his words were sharp as knives. They were full of passion for Duterte and for federalism. When he outlined the strategy to help Duterte win, I had goosebumps. It seemed simple, and in its simplicity lies its brilliance. And that strategy is also a reflection of the man. Simple and brilliant.
On our way back to Manila, we were ready to doze off, but Atty. Mamondiong led another roundtable discussion. This time, the six of us had to give our opinions on what happened and our recommendations for improvement. That shook the sleepiness off our systems and we had a lively exchange, with him answering our questions or explaining some points further.
In our time in Baguio, Atty. Mamondiong ate breakfast with us at a fastfood chain and never made a fuss about anything. He also stayed with us on the side of the road, at a small sari-sari store, eating inexpensive bread that could feed a family for breakfast. He did not have any qualms eating boiled corn bought from an ambulant vendor. He did not tell us to keep our snores down while we sleep as we inched our way along NLEX. 🙂 That just shows how patient he is.
When then Presidentiable Duterte visited MRRD NECC National Headquarters, he was with our candidate as the leader of our group. I actually checked all the photos I took of that day just to be sure, and never was there an instant that Atty. Mamondiong was not low-key. That just increased my respect for him ten-folds.
Yesterday, July 15, 2016, TESDA Director General Gene Mamondiong and the rest of the MRRD NECC family had a thanksgiving dinner party at the clubhouse of his residential area. More than 200 guests braved the Friday payday traffic, arrived and partook in the meal, participated in the singing and hobnobbed with other sectors. The highlight of the event was Director General Mamondiong’s arrival and speech. Upon his arrival, family, friends and supporters chanted, “MA-MON-DIONG!” which gave me a feeling of déjà vu of the DU-TER-TE! chant in MRRD NECC National Headquarters. Director General Mamondiong spoke mostly in Filipino, but I will write some of the important points in English.
- Director General Mamondiong wants to increase the number of TESDA scholars during his tenure, and more importantly, to give these TESDA scholars good long-term jobs.
- With his appointment, together with the other Muslims in government service, he said that Muslims are not marginalized under this administration.
- He wakes up at 4am and arrives in his TESDA office at 630am in order to do more work to avoid disappointing President Duterte.
- He told the people in the room that President Duterte is our advocacy and, “nagaganap na ang ating adbokasiya” (our advocacy is happening).
- He will represent President Duterte in an international conference in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (K. S. A.) on July 21, with Labor Secretary Bello. He wishes to do well so he will not lose the trust and confidence of the president.
- On August 18 and 19, he and DILG Secretary Sueno will go to Malaysia for an official trip.
- He thanked the MRRD NECC supporters for helping President Duterte win, and promised to repay this effort with good service.
My Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong Experience has been short but educational. He makes me believe that genuine and unadulterated public service is possible. I fervently hope that he gets to realize the things he sets out to do in TESDA and that he and his team of like-minded people make a positive and irreversible impact in the lives of millions of Filipinos. We need more people like Director General Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong in the government to aptly claim that “change is coming”.