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Mayor Orlan Calayag: Transforming Dolores, Quezon with faith and vision

By Nimfa Estrellado Mayor Orlan Calayag of Dolores, Quezon, receives the prestigious Most Outstanding Municipal Mayor of the Philippines 4th...

By Nimfa Estrellado

Mayor Orlan Calayag: Transforming Dolores, Quezon with faith and vision
Mayor Orlan Calayag of Dolores, Quezon, receives the prestigious Most Outstanding Municipal Mayor of the Philippines 4th-6th class Municipality in the Field of Social Welfare and Development award. (Photo from UNLAD Dolores)

DOLORES, Quezon – Nestled at the foot of the sacred Mount Banahaw, Dolores, Quezon, is a quaint town undergoing a remarkable transformation under the leadership of Mayor Orlan Calayag. Guided by his deep faith in God and inspired by Confucius' quote, "The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home," Mayor Calayag, a visionary leader with diverse international and national experience, is revitalizing the community.

Echoing the sentiments of the ancient philosopher, Mayor Calayag emphasizes, "We are not just building a town, we are building a community where every home is a sanctuary of peace, prosperity, and shared values." He further adds, "I believe in the power of collaboration, innovation, and unwavering faith in God to uplift every family, every individual, and empower them to reach their full potential."

This deep-rooted belief in divine guidance is evident in the award winning mayor's approach to governance. He attributes his success to the grace of God and considers his role as mayor a calling to serve his constituents with humility and integrity. His leadership style is characterized by transparency, accountability, and a strong emphasis on community engagement.

Born in San Pablo, Laguna, on July 22, 1974, to Nemesio Amat Calayag and Mauricia Bonquin Agbin, Mayor Calayag's journey to leadership began with a strong academic foundation. Mayor Calayag remains a dedicated family man. He is a loving husband to his wife, Babylyn Convento Calayag, and a caring father to their sons: Marcus Raphael C. Calayag, 21 years old, and Marius Gabriel Calayag, 12 years old. He graduated from Manuel Enverga University in Lucena City and pursued a Master's of Business Administration at De La Salle University in Manila. His early career included serving as Chief Legislative Officer and Chief of Staff for former Congressman Proceso Alcala.

Calayag's path then led him to Washington State in the United States, where he completed a real estate professional course at the Rockwell Institute and held various positions at the Swedish Medical Center, Bank of America, Sheraton Hotel, and KeyBank. He became a U.S. citizen in 2009 but later returned to the Philippines to serve as the National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator, under the recommendation of Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. This decision led him to renounce his U.S. citizenship, showcasing his commitment to his fellow Filipinos and his hometown of Dolores.

Before his mayoral tenure, Calayag led two national agencies, serving as the Administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 2013–2014 and Assistant Secretary for Project and Planning Development of the Department of Agriculture from 2014–2015. He chaired various committees and projects, including the Department of Agriculture Steering Committee for the Philippines Hosting the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF 2014) and the Special Senior Officials Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (SOM-AMAF 2014).

He also served as the Supervising Officer of Bottoms Up Budgeting in the Department of Agriculture Region IV-A in 2014 and as Officer in Charge of the Philippines Fisheries Development Authority in 2015. With a deep understanding of agriculture and local farming, Mayor Calayag established the Lukong Valley Farm in Dolores, Quezon, to empower rural farmers, promote high-value crops, and alleviate poverty.

In 2019, Calayag won the mayoral election in Dolores, Quezon, bringing his vision of "UNLAD Dolores" (Unahin Natin Lagi ang Diyos, Unahin Natin Lagi ang Dolores) to life. This vision is not just a slogan; it's a reflection of his belief that progress and development should always be guided by faith and a commitment to serving the people.

In his term, the mayor has prioritized increasing budget allocations for social services, particularly Aiding Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS). This program supports students through educational assistance and provides medical, burial, and emergency aid to those in need.

Additionally, he has championed raising the budget for educational materials and supplies for elementary children, increasing the number of beneficiaries of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, and initiating incentives for Nonagenarians (senior citizens aged 90 and above).

Calayag's other notable programs include revitalizing Dolores' main thoroughfares by overseeing road widening and concreting projects on the Maharlika Highway and other major roads to improve transportation and connectivity. He is also building a modern two-story public market with enhanced facilities to boost local commerce and provide a conducive space for vendors and consumers.

The municipal building is also undergoing renovations to create a more efficient and welcoming environment for government services. Additionally, Calayag is upgrading health centers and rural health units to ensure residents have access to quality healthcare. He is actively promoting Dolores' natural beauty and historical sites, including the sacred Mount Banahaw, to boost tourism and position the town as a destination for agri-tourism and pilgrimage.

Furthermore, he is providing training, resources, and market access to farmers to foster agricultural development and food security. Recognizing the importance of education, Calayag is investing in educational programs, scholarships, and leadership training to nurture the potential of the youth. Lastly, he is implementing programs for waste management, tree planting, and protection of natural resources to ensure a sustainable future for Dolores.

Calayag's dedication to good governance is evident in his participation in the Leaders for Participatory Governance (LeadGov): Kaya Natin! Movement and the Mayors for Good Governance, demonstrating his commitment to ethical leadership and citizen participation. He champions social development, economic development, innovation, people's initiatives, agri-tourism, faith and wellness, and environmental protection.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the mayor's effective leadership, rooted in his unwavering faith, has garnered numerous accolades for Dolores, Quezon. On a national level, the town has been recognized with the GAPAS Award (Gawad Paglilingkod sa Sambayanan Award), the Good Financial Housekeeping seal, a PLAQUE OF COMMENDATION from the MDRRM Council, a CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION for the municipality's outstanding performance under Mayor Calayag's leadership, the 2021 ANTI DRUG ABUSE COUNCIL PERFORMANCE AWARD, and a Good Financial Housekeeping Audit by the DILG as of November 5, 2021.

Dolores also received the 2021 Child-Friendly Local Governance Audit seal and was conferred the Seal of Child-Friendly Local (SCFLG), along with the TOP LGU COMPLIANT AWARD in 2022. Mayor Calayag himself was honored as the MOST OUTSTANDING MUNICIPAL MAYOR OF THE PHILIPPINES IN THE FIELD OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT.

Regionally, Dolores has been recognized for its ADOPT-A-SCHOOL PROGRAM, earning 2nd Place for Best Practices Award, for having the MOST NUMBER OF DOT ACCREDITED COMMUNITY GUIDES IN CALABARZON, and securing a spot in the TOP 3 OVERALL MOST COMPETITIVE LGU AWARD under the category of 3rd and 4th class municipalities in Quezon Province. Additionally, the town received the 2022 NATIONAL ANTI-DRUG ABUSE COUNCIL PERFORMANCE AWARD.

The future looks bright for Dolores as it continues to excel in various fields and receive recognition for its outstanding programs and initiatives. With a dedicated leader like Mayor Calayag at the helm, the town is poised to achieve even greater success in the years to come. Dolores' commitment to excellence and innovation is evident in its recent accolades, setting a high standard for other municipalities to follow. The town's continuous growth and development are a testament to the hard work and dedication of its local government officials and community members. 

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