He is a bright, well-to-do 30-year-old bachelor who has the world at his feet. He could travel and explore the most exciting and exotic cities around the globe if he wanted to, open up a business for a hobby, or at the very least, live from day to day comfortably and worry-free.
And yet, this low-key scion intentionally lives out of a duffle bag as he travels on a mission across the Philippines. He even makes sure to reach the farthest-flung and most isolated communities, and it is in these very places — where the bumpiest and most tiring journeys are required and where the barest of lodging exists — that he truly and happily thrives.
Today's "The Manila Times' Lights, Camera, Boto! The Chat Show Edition" (LCB) spotlights this remarkable millennial. Born, raised and educated in Legazpi City, he is No. 50 Ang Probinsyano Party-list's First Representative Alfred "Apid" delos Santos.
Now, the program's 10 a.m. premiere across The Manila Times website, and social media platforms shouldn't be the first time for regular viewers and readers of this publication to meet the ever genial delos Santos.
It can be recalled back in October 2021 how he guested on The Manila Times' pioneer lifestyle and entertainment content, "Celebrity, Style, Inspiration," with the Philippines' King of Talk Boy Abunda by his side. Abunda, then the newest volunteer of the rural development advocacy group, eagerly came on the show to inform the public of the tangible improvements he had seen delos Santos and the rest of No. 50 APPL establish across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in a mere three years in office.
"These are apart from the help Apid and his group have delivered out of pocket as a private entity — from relief goods throughout the pandemic, scholarships for the disadvantaged youths, livelihood grants and so on," the respected personality had reported, clearly impressed by the rookie legislator's genuine concern and action for the provinces and its people.
Fast forward to the present, LCB asks delos Santos, as the party-list runs for reelection, if, at this crossroads, he honestly believes he is where he's meant to be in public service. Even if, like his fellow millennials, he has not just the pass but the means to change paths and careers at any point, especially at a time when their YOLO ("You Only Live Once") battle cry seems to appeal to any age for that matter.
Still, with all the world's uncertainty so soon after he won a seat in Congress at 27 years old, the devoted and diligent probinsyano from Albay sincerely tells LCB, "I'm happy with what I'm doing."
With a wide smile, he even adds, "You know how they say if you're happy with what you're doing, why change it, right? And helping others has always been part of my life since I was young.
"It was my mom [businesswoman Grace delos Santos] and my eldest brother Kuya Emon [Raymond] who showed me from the very start that it is important to give back and help others as a way of life."
Delos Santos' mom was widowed when he was only nine years old but remarkably succeeded in raising him, the youngest, and his five elder brothers on her own, all while turning the construction company his father (engineer Freddy delos Santos) had left them into one of the biggest in Legazpi City.
"I can't remember a time when my mom didn't have scholars she was sponsoring or when she'd get all of us to help her organize food packs after every typhoon and calamity in Legazpi. Even as private citizens, we'd mount relief operations at our house, and all these things have been ingrained in me since then."
Quickly turning into a people person, delos Santos chuckles when he reveals that while all his friends wanted to be doctors or lawyers, he dreamt of becoming a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairman or a town councilor.
"I know that anyone can do good in any capacity, but I also realized early on that it is through politics or government that a person can help the public in a much bigger way."
Besides his family's example, delos Santos isn't shy to say he has happily devoted his life to public service because of "heart" — his unwavering love for the countryside.
"I have always lived in Bicol. I only went for a year in college to Manila then I came back home already because I would worry my mom needed help [being a woman in the construction business] and — well — because I just prefer to live in Legazpi.
"Na-miss ko talaga kaagad yung buhay sa probinsya kahit na talagang alam ko rin yung problems and struggles ng probinsyano. That's why the probinsyano became the focus of our advocacy and party-list because we know that more than other sectors, ang probinsyano talaga nangangailangan ng tulong at representasyon."
With the full support of his family who had never been involved in politics until delos Santos expressed his intentions to run for public office, the bold Bicolano proceeded with a bigger purpose and extend his altruism beyond Albay to as far as he could go.
"It's very clear na napakalaki po ang sector ng mga probinsyano. It is a multi-sectoral group of people. In fact, that's why it's very important that somebody should represent them in Congress.
"I know three years ago I was only 27, yes, but I knew in heart that in the way I was raised, what I have seen and experienced around me up to that point that I would be capable of helping my fellow probinsyanos."
Walking the talk
Delos Santos — and every Filipino who voted for his newbie party-list in 2019 — wasn't wrong.
For in the course of a difficult three years, the neophyte congressman has walked the talk to the best of his ability.
Impressing and thereby enticing famous and newly-minted probinsyanos who embraced the beauty and simplicity of rural living over the pandemic, top actor Piolo Pascual for one, confirmed with LCB that delos Santos and his party-list genuinely and effectively delivered.
"When we went to Zamboanga," Pascual said in the last episode, "I saw it all there for myself — Apid and APPL's livelihood projects, much-needed infrastructures in the barangay communities and so on. I said to myself, these guys walk the talk, and these are the people I can work with." (Pascual has long involved himself in philanthropy beyond the camera, and continues to support hundreds of scholars and widespread communities under his own charitable entity, Hebreo Foundation.)
Moreover, Pascual admired the young congressman's unwavering devotion to his cause, sharing with LCB how delos Santos has never missed a session in Congress, nor has he stopped visiting and revisiting as many provinces as he can to listen to the probinsyano's needs and return with a ready solution as soon as he can.
Raise promdi flag
Never one to grandstand in Congress or any time he hits the provincial ground, LCB — in the belief that uncovering good works effectively inspires others to follow suit — likewise asks delos Santos to finally talk about No. 50 APPL's achievements in the 18th Congress as well as his personally funded projects.
"With Piolo's permission, we're the same in preferring to work quietly and just really getting things done," he states for the record.
"But to answer your question, I am quite proud of what I've started [as party-list representative], especially in terms of the Covid-19 response we have taken around the country [in both capacities].
"To start with, we were able to reach out to over 50, 500 beneficiaries [with our relief operations] from our personal funds. Talagang walang allotted funds para dito ang office ko in Congress pero, together with our [private] partners, we were able to provide small businesses to my probinsyanos.
"To name a few, may napamigay tayo na mga motorized bangka para sa ating fisherfolk, financial assistance before and during the pandemic to some 34,000 beneficiaries, and we also have 8,000 scholars na pinag-aaral namin.
"Itong mga scholars, I promise to help all the way if reelected in Congress, specifically to be able to follow through [with legislation] that will help keep them in school and ultimately give them job opportunities when they graduate. Hindi natatapos ang [commitment] namin sa kanila na once nabigyan na ng scholarship, 'bahala ka na.' The youth will always be a priority to me."
Delos Santos also made headway in the areas of health, education, agriculture, rural development and tourism through a thick stack of filed bills, a good number of which have been signed into law, with the rest still pending and hoping to get going [see sidebar] if No. 50 APPL is relected next Monday.
Singling out a truly worthy and effective project, delos Santos talks in detail on LCB about particular flood control projects in Siargao and Surigao that saved lives over the past typhoon seasons.
"There is a certain barangay that would always be flooded, and sad to say, there would always be casualties there or people hurt in typhoons. But because of work we did there, for the first time in our generation, hindi daw sila nabaha," the determined probinsyano says gratefully.
Promdi in everyone
As delos Santos embarks on another election, win or lose, he promises to continue his cause toward a true and holistic rural development across the country.
He is quick to set the record straight though that in rallying more support for the provinces — and gaining it even from the likes of Abunda and Pascual's fellow celebrities Zanjoe Marudo, JM de Guzman and Donnalyn Bartolome — he isn't putting down nor has anything against urbanized cities in the country.
"We're not here to compete with big cities, and we're not saying we want to be exclusive sa probinsya alone. Inclusive tayo to everybody because everyone has a probinsyano inside themselves. Kung wala man tayong relatives sa probinsya, I'm sure ang rest time natin and down time natin is magbakasyon sa probinsiya.
"Di'ba more and more, even people who grew up in Metro Manila, choose to eventually retire in the province. So really, everybody is included in No. 50 APPL's advocacies and everybody will, in one way or another, benefit from the work we promise to continue hopefully in the coming Congress and even the next."
For more on No. 50 Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Alfred "Apid" delos Santos' inspiring interview, log on any of the following links — www.facebook.com/themanilatimesonline, www.youtube.com/c/themanilatimes, and www.dailymotion.com/themanilatimeschannel — and watch the season finale of The Manila Times Lights, Camera, Boto!
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'Ang Probinsyano' in numbers
Despite being a neophyte congressman, Ang Probisyano Party-list Rep. Alfred "Apid" delos Santos has contributed far more than expected in his three-year term in congress.
Besides showing commitment to his office — never missing a day of work — hard work and diligence yielded these remarkable numbers for the party-list.
- 252 Principal authored bills
- 20 Principal authored bills enacted to law
- 135 Co-authored bills
- 8 Co-authored bills enacted to law
- 457 Negokart and Motorized Bangka beneficiaries
- 33,359 Financial assistance beneficiaries
- 7,880 Educational assistance beneficiaries
- 4,174 Medical assistance beneficiaries
- 56,243 Covid relief distribution delivered
- 18,324 Community social services projects completed
- 69 Evacuation centers/MPB opened
- 23 Hospital/offices/buildings renovated and/or erected
- 189 Roads/preventive maintenance work constructed and comple