Monthly Archives: August 2020

My Hero is You: How Kids Can Fight COVID-19

My Hero is You – Storybook for Children on COVID-19

Published Date: 31 March 2020

“My Hero is You” is a book written for children around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My Hero is You” should be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher alongside a child or a small group of children. It is not encouraged for children to read this book independently without the support of a parent, caregiver or teacher. The supplementary guide called “Actions for Heroes” (to be published later) offers support for addressing topics related to COVID-19, helping children manage feelings and emotions, as well as supplementary activities for children to do based on the book.

Sara’s mum is her hero because she is the best mum and the best scientist in the world. But even Sara’s mum cannot find a cure for the coronavirus.

This book was a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG). The project was supported by global, regional and country based experts from Member Agencies of the IASC MHPSS RG, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries. A global survey was distributed in Arabic, English, Italian, French and Spanish to assess children’s mental health and psychosocial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. A framework of topics to be addressed through the story was developed using the survey results. The book was shared through storytelling to children in several countries affected by COVID-19. Feedback from children, parents and caregivers was then used to review and update the story.

Over 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world took the time to share with us how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. A big thank you to these children, their parents, caregivers and teachers for completing our surveys and influencing this story. This is a story developed for and by children around the world.

As the sun rose, they landed in a lovely desert by pyramids, where a small group of children were playing. The children cried out in joy and waved at Sara and her Ario.

This IASC MHPSS RG acknowledge Helen Patuck for writing the story script and illustrating this book. Source: Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Leila decided to travel with Ario and her new friends. Sara was glad Leila joined them because she knew that sometimes we need to support each other. They flew quietly, without words, but Leila knew her new friends cared a lot about her.


Note: I found this piece in my computer files today. It looked like an unfinished speech in 2019. Let me share it anyway to preserve it.

As I enter one of the most crucial challenges in my life to day – running for the mayor of the City of Bacolod – I face another important reckoning – an opportunity to assess the person you see in the mirror.

I ask myself the most important question today – what is my brand of leadership as the highest leader of a city? What does it mean when we say Jocelle Batapa Sigue leadership? I reflect upon my life as a leader since I was 6, and president of my first grader class until today as I review my curriculum vitae. I see many accomplishments and milestones – but then I still have to go back to the question – so what is it a Jocelle Batapa Sigue brand of leadership?

For me, leadership is not a position. It is a responsibility. It is beyond the title, it is what you are set to accomplish using the title you hold. To easily remember the four basic tenets I follow – I will use my tagline – a branding I have used since my second term as councilor sometime in 2007, or around ten years already – JOBS. Jobs, because I was serious in dedicating myself to the cause of creating information and communications technology (ICT) jobs since my first term began in 2004. That is a long story which is already amply covered by many materials available in the Internet. Creating opportunities for Bacolod in the ICT industry has become not only a committee responsibility since I took on the task s Sanggunian Panlugsod chair of communications and energy in 2004 – but has become an advocacy, a life-long passion until today.

Now JOBS is going beyond just its literal meaning and the fact that it is my initials JO from my first name and B for Batapa and S for Sigue.

J is for job generation and investment promotions. The end goal of a series of objectives that need to be accomplished first, such as, but not limited to:

  • Talent Development Roadmap for Bacolod which entails a comprehensive summary and analysis of our available skills in the city across all industries (not just ICT) focused on skilling, upskilling and re-skilling the talent supply, a clear and time-bound set of strategies to develop digital skills across all sectors to prepare the talent pool for the Future of Work, a continuous series of T3s (train the trainers/train the teachers) programs to ensure quality and scale of educational and training programs.
  • Business Environment, Infrastructure, Cost and Ease of Doing Business which are all indicators for the attractiveness of location to the influx of digital jobs or ICT-enabled employment opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures or startups. A mandatory compliance to the provisions of the new Ease of Doing Business law is going to be the first order of the day. There is a need to actively involve the business and private sector in addressing all current bottlenecks like energy supply, peace and order, traffic management, solid waste management and other environmental issues. A strong collaboration between the city and the business sector will serve as a mechanism to identify more relevant strategies along the way and allow for future and long-term planning.
  • Business and Investment Promotions and the need to institutionalize programs to constantly develop investment campaigns for Bacolod across identified potential industries is also in the forefront of my plans.

O is for Open Governance. A policy direction that is very close to my heart, as a systems thinker, I see the importance of bringing government closer to the people – as way of not only securing valuable feedback but a way to constantly gather ideas and solutions.

Under the concept of an OPEN Bacolod – I have four basic items that spells OPEN.

O for online, real-time easy access of every citizen to facts, data and figures pertaining to the operations, finances and administration of the city. These will entail for all data to be digitized and made available to the public. The use of online procurement system, business permit registration and registration and licensing for other departments and other transactions shall pass from experimental to full operation stage in the soonest possible time.

P is performance scorecards and ratings. In order to ensure and maintain the quality of government services, feedback mechanisms that comes with ratings for each department of the city shall be in place. Top performing agencies shall be duly commended while those with concerns will have to be revisited and improved for efficiency. We shall bring back the trust and confidence of the public for all department of the city and strive to uplift the moral of public employees through incentive program and continuous trainings.

E is for emergency and other support services.  The website of Bacolod shall not be static but interactive and hotlines for citizen’s concerns shall be in place. The website shall be fully accessible especially through mobile. The city shall ensure availability of Internet/wi-fi hotspots in major public areas for use during emergency. Closed circuit TV systems, and GPS and other technologies shall be used to ensure 24/7 safety in the city. A well-established central command shall be in place with the mayor having 24/7 direct access and full view of all cameras in major public places. Sensors and other technologies shall also be put in place to detect flood water rise and other calamities.

N is for new ideas and solutions. Open governance extends to policy innovation – creating a way to effectively crowd source new ideas and solutions from concerned groups. The city will support the development of startups engaged in developing and deploying technologies which may prove useful for Bacolod to become a smart city – with focus on major points such as transportation, healthcare, business, public services, education, and tourism.

B is for Barangay Development and Empowerment. Under my leadership, I shall empower the barangays to really create significant impact on their constituency through effective power sharing and sharing of resources. The barangays shall be in the frontline of effectively addressing and managing solid waste, all forms of pollution, transportation matters and peace and order within their area of jurisdiction with the full support of the city in terms of resources and technical guidance. Continuous training and development of barangay officials including Sanggunian Kabataan officials shall be a priority of the city. Productive dialogue and consultations between the mayor’s office and the barangays shall take place regularly to ensure collaboration. 

S is for Sectoral Participation and Consensus Building. Most important ingredient of my leadership is consensus building – a brand of governance that is participatory and consultative. To address concerns and issues in a relevant and responsive way by engaging and empowering the concerned sectors to develop solutions for themselves. The city shall empower each major sector to have access to information and opportunities to raise their concerns to the city – these include informal sector workers such as farmers, fisherfolks, drivers, construction workers, vendors, professionals, teachers, senior citizens, women and children’s groups, PWDs, LGBTs, minorities and many more.

By creating a participatory and consultative environment, I will ensure that under my leadership – respect for the independence of the Sangguniang Panlungsod is observed. As a former councilor for nine years, I have only my deepest respect for the Sanggunian as an institution and a co-equal body to the executive. Regardless of political affiliations, my leadership will work closely and harmoniously with all elected councilors especially on their concerns as committee chairs. I will objectively collaborate with the Sanggunian in achieving proper implementation of all existing ordinances that are aligned with the urgent needs of the people and direction of my leadership.

Under this premise, the major documents that I wish to see being prepared are the following:

  1. Executive – Legislative Agenda (ELA)
  2. Solid waste management program
  3. Comprehensive land use plan

Response to Concerns Raised by the Business Chambers

Last 2019, officials of the Business Chambers in Bacolod City send me a set of questions purposely to give them and overview of my position about varipus concerns in this city. They said there will be an opportunity to meet the chambers but I submitted a formal written response even before the meeting. Sadly, no meeting materialized.

I am sharing the full text of what I submitted via email to Mr. Frank Carbon, predident of MBCCI for the public to know.

Response to Concerns Raised by the Business Chambers

By Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue

Preliminary Statement:

A true leader is a builder and molder of consensus. I am fully aware that I do not know everything and that I would need to act based on empirical data acquired through extensive research. Policy and action implementation must stem from well-studied strategies ensuing from a series of discussion, the speed of which is based on the urgency of matters. I shall take into account all angles and advise of experts in every field, and the side of all affected stakeholders, both present and future.

I will be grateful to hear from the Chambers your suggestions and insights about these concerns. I am very much willing to listen and I always want a participatory and inclusive leadership.

There are issues below where I need to gather facts based on documents and hence, I reserve my executive direction on such matters. 

Please note that although these observations are indicative of my values as a leaders, I would like to extensively and be able carefully weigh all the options, studying all angles, in a time frame of expediency. 


I – Water / BACIWA Development Plan (Identifying the problem/s and solutions) 

  • Studies presented even during my time as councilor show that Bacolod will run into a water supply problem for various reasons but mostly because of degradation of water sources. I am the author of the Watershed Protection and Water Conservation Ordinance of Bacolod – and I will ensure that its provisions will be operationalized to ensure supply of water but at the same time conservation of water sources.
  • I have always envisioned a collaboration between Bacolod, Silay, Talisay and Murcia with regards to watershed issues.
  • In the case of BACIWA, there is a need to review any water purchase agreement to ensure that consumers are protected but at the same time BACIWA is upgraded to continuously stay within a serviceable level.

 II – Power Security Plan (CENECO’s P 1.5B CAPEX Requirements)

  • Power supply and rates are very sensitive matters especially in terms of building a conducive investment climate. This is part of any investment scorecard especially in ICT-enabled business. We need to look at power supply of CENECO in a more holistic manner, balancing consumers welfare and the cooperative’s efficiency. I need to look into the details and repercussion of these plan. I will be grateful to the Chambers for your suggestions and insights about these concerns.

III – Bacolod City College (CHED – COPC Compliance)

  • When I ended my term as councilor – I submitted a proposal which I have not finished to completion – the conversion of Bacolod City College as a Polytechnic College or University – offering both traditional degrees and short term certification courses which is now much needed to develop skills. Just like the Negros Occidental Language and ICT Center of the Province. I also have an approved ordinance creating digital skills courses – software, animation, techpreneurship and other trainings. My stand is to SAVE Bacolod City College, make it compliant with national standards, do everything to make it relevant to job generation program of Bacolod. I want education to be affordable. I know how it is so hard to find means to pay for quality education. I have struggled during my early years as a working student to augment my parents’ finances for my schooling. I believe in the true value of education – I am not going to be where I am today without my education. So I will do everything to improve the quality of BCC.
  • Just an update, the city is now also trying to comply with these standards. I will continue all their good initiatives.

IV – Public Markets (Rehabilitation Program)

–         Source of Funds (The budget of Bacolod which a team of big data analysts in Manila are now working show how hundreds of millions are wasted in unexplained, unnecessary, useless projects) There is no question that Bacolod can afford the rehabilitation of markets)

– My direction is to rehabilitate the major markets I several phases, professionalize personnel to manage the market as a social enterprise for the city, to make it earn as well as to ensure the economic sustainability of all the tenants of good standing.

 V – Road Congestion – immediate inventory of all public roads and creation of holistic strategies to ensure that all public roads are opened to pedestrians, all vendors are accredited and required to follow rules but at the same their economic sustainability will be taken into consideration. The city will create strategies to ensure that well-meaning and law -abiding vendors are given continued opportunity without violating city ordinances.

–         Underutilization of Road Networks – will target significant percent utilization within my term

–         Illegal Structures – will target significant percent of removal of all illegal structures within my term

 VI – Sidewalk and Street Vendors

–         Night Market – will conduct inventory and target significant percentage of compliance with all city ordinances 

–         Relocation Site / Building – I plan to create a very active taskforce to help ensure lawful and humane housing in the city. Support dialogues between landowners and squatters to achieve win-win solutions

–         Source of Funds – the city can afford initial support for homeowners including provision of livelihood opportunities if funds are well-managed

 VII – Job Order Employees / Ghost Employees (City Hall/Barangay)

–         One table / four employees doing nothing – this will definitely not happen under my term. As a councilor, I am famous for “slave driving all my staff to work even beyond office hours, including weekends”. Hiring will also be based on need and merits. Over-hiring is one culprit for mismanaged funds and lack of funds for supposedly more important concerns of the city. I will bring back the moral of public employees. I will discipline public employees and they will all undergo DILG mandated seminars of code of ethics of public employees. Rating systems and customer feedback will be used for departments.

  VIII – City Hospital – My key project is a city hospital packaged with comprehensive health cards for indigent residents and health and wellness programs.

–         Source of funds – the province has 11 district hospitals but has the same funds as the city. Therefore it goes without saying that the city can afford to run one hospital if funds are well managed.

 IX – CLUP / Urban Plan – it is time to create a NEW Bacolod – zoning must be updated. I run into a big problem when I was helping the province accredit the CyberCenter with PEZA because the zoning of the area is “institutional” and PEZA require a  zoning of commercial. This was the same with the place where SEDA is now standing – it was classified partially as “institutional/agricultural”. It took a while for me to convince the SP that we amend the zoning ordinance for the specific section of CyberCentre and SEDA. This cannot continue. We need to create order in our zonings. And we need to involve all sector in finalizing the new CLUP as soon as possible.

I plan to create a special composite committee on urban planning composed of public and private sector to finalize a comprehensive urban planning of Bacolod taking into consideration the neighboring cities that form part of the Metro Bacolod.

Just an update. I heard that the city has finished its CLUP. We will need to see it.

X – Sanitary Landfill – I have continuously voiced out frustration against out DUMPSITE. The people of Bacolod is being fooled to believe that it is a sanitary landfill compliant with RA 9003. The city spends almost 400M for solid waste management or 25 percent of the budget of the city – but what is the result. I cannot understand how Bacolodnons continue to believe in all these lies???? RA 9003 has so many components to achieve zero-waste – for many years I have been harping on all these components. In due time, I shall explain the steps to achieve zero waste under RA 9003.

 XI – Banago Port Delineation – for the record during my last term as councilor, I submitted a position paper as chair of trade and commerce – taking the stand of endorsing the delineation to allow Banago port’s improvement using PPA funds. BUT because of the objection of BREDCO which is on record – I was the lone voice in the Sanggunian. I always stand against MONOPOLY that hurts people’s welfare. This may be against business viability – but I will stand for what is good for people. Businessmen in Bacolod should know that to make profit is not the only thing in this world. We need to help our community.

 XII – Clean Water Act / Septage Compliance – we will inventory all non-compliance and ensure compliance. Non-compliance or violation of health and environmental laws – compliance is a must, non-negotiable for me.

I am also attaching my curriculum vitae and initial priorities for your perusal.

My sites are and


Yours in Service

Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue