About the Mayor
About the Mayor

Decades before she joined politics, Mayor Jessica “Jecjec” Alpas Baricuatro was already a public servant.

Imagine her driving in darkness, with a dead stranger at the back of her own car who she volunteered to return to his family up the dirt road at the mountain barangay, so he can be buried by sunrise. It was a time when families were so poor they couldn’t afford the fees for embalming or a coffin, a time when the town government was neglectful of services like assisting families in grief. A practicing nurse, Mayor Jecjec couldn’t bear the thought of the body lying for hours unattended because his family could not afford a vehicle to claim him. She volunteered to load the body in her personal vehicle and drove kilometers up a remote area to help a family she did not know. 

This incident happened 20 years ago when all thoughts of entering politics were furthest from the mind of the now mayor of Pinamungajan. Aside from volunteering her own vehicle to carry the dead, her salary as a nurse was also often given away to indigents needing the services of the town ambulance because patients had to pay for fuel and the driver. 

Never in her wildest dreams that Mayor Jecjec would join an electoral race, although helping others in need has always been her way of life, her nature.

She is a true lumad of Pinamungajan: born and raised in Pinamungajan – learned as a child in Pinamungajan Central School where she was Salutatorian, and spent her memorable teenage years at the then Pinamungajan Provincial High School (now Pinamungajan National High School) where she was Valedictorian, consistent awardee for Science and Math, as well as feature writing. In her youth she was an epitome of leadership and excellence being a champion orator, champion table tennis player, and the editor-in-chief of the school publication.

Public service is in her blood, being the granddaughter of Ireneo Tellidua, a long-serving kapitan of her homeplace, barangay Mangoto. Her mother, Fe Alpas, was also barangay captain, while a brother, Julius Alpas, served many years as town councilor. 

It is said that "nurse is just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate everything, and soft enough to understand everyone."  Having spent many years as the Capitol’s chief supervising nurse covering all 16 hospitals under the Cebu Provincial Government, and as pioneer Code Team nurse handling critical cases at the Mactan Doctors’ Hospital, that is exactly how Mayor Jecjec is: strong in character, soft at heart.

She was supposed tomigrate to Australia in 2006 and all her papers were ready, but destiny had another plan. A tragedy that befell her family turned out to be the turning point that made her stay in the country with her husband, former mayor and now Vice Mayor Glenn Baricuatro, and this changed the course of their lives. The house of former mayor Glenn’s family, which was only100 meters away from the fire station, caught fire. One fire truck did not have water, the other one in a state of disrepair. A victim of inefficiency of the local government, this prodded them to challenge the decades-long hold of the ruling family in Pinamungajan, eventually victorious, and introduced the change and progress that Pinamungajanons had always yearned for. 

Even as a private citizen, Mayor Jecjec had already been bringing in services for her fellow Pinamungajanons. In 2005 to 2010 when the town government officials stubbornly refused to join the Capitol’s enrolment of indigents to the Philhealth program, it was she who painstakingly photocopied application forms, assisted underprivileged families, and through her volunteerism Pinamungajan was declared as having the biggest number of Philhealth enrollees that year. She used her position as chief nurse of the Pinamungajan District Hospital to assist everyone seeking help, especially to liaison patients needing anti-rabies injections, ambulance services, and other medical concerns. 

In 2011, she made history as the one who came up with a hospital manual for all hospitals under the Integrated Provincial Health Office to follow. Even when she was assigned at the Minglanilla District Hospital in 2014, she could not turn away Pinamungajanons knocking on her doors for help, so during those years the hospital in Minglanilla was also filled with patients from Pinamungajan. 

It was not surprising then, that when finally in 2019the call came for her to join the electoral race, she emerged number one among all councilors. As chairperson of the Committee on Education, Committee on Health and Social Services, and Committee on Women and Family Concerns, she continued to treat public service not as her work but as part of her nature, an extension of herself, never absent in all the legislative sessions. This is why in the fiercely contested 2022 mayoral elections, she succeeded in having a commanding win even in areas considered as bailiwicks of her opponent. 

Those who campaigned for her in her rival’s stronghold were the strangers who remember her kindness even if she herself had forgotten: the indigent new mother in the hospital from barangay Tupas who received baby clothes from Mayor Jecjec’s own kids, the father from Sibago who saw with his own eyes how she refused to give up on his dying son at the emergency room where medical workers did, the children she saved who now have grown to live happily with their own families, and all others who are living testimonies of the compassionate and selfless person that Mayor Jecjec is.

With her track record for excellence, her history of giving hope to the hopeless, and with her nurturing instincts as mother to Adrian, Dia and Aya, and loving wife to Vice Mayor Glenn Baricuatro, we can expect Pinamungajan to sustain its steady growth under the care of the ever industrious Mayor Jessica “Jecjec” Baricuatro. 

© 2018 Municipality of Pinamungajan, Cebu. All rights reserved.