The Singaporean Foreign Service Basic Program Familiarization Visit

WONG hand-sign. Ambassador VP Hirubalan together with his wife, Mrs. Manu Hirubalan, and the junior delegates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Singapore Embassy join Mayor Leonora C. Wong and the public servants of San Simon in a photo-op posing with the signature Wong (“W”) hand sign in their familiarization visit at the Municipality of San Simon on September 10, 2014. Seen on the photo are (front line, from left) Atty. Joyce Wong, Mrs. Hirubalan, Mayor Wong, Ambassador Hirubalan, Mr. Lewis Wong, SPA President Peter Tay and also (second to third line, from right), PCI Michael Jhon Riego, Tourism Officer April Gozum and the Singaporean junior delegates.

   As it continues to share its best practices on good local governance being a renowned e-governance model, the Municipality of San Simon emerged as one of the favorite study tour site not only to other LGUs nationwide but also to the foreign visitors in Asia as the 28 junior delegates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Singapore Embassy in the country headed by His Excellency Ambassador VP Hirubalan expressed their testimonies of admiration to the humble town bannered by the performance-driven and service- oriented leadership of Mayor Leonora C. Wong on September 10, 2014 as part of their Foreign Service Basic Program Familiarization Visit. 

What actually impressed me is that this is an example of a municipality trying to cope with modernization at the same time, trying to survive on its own. I think that Mayor Leonora C. Wong did an extreme job and I’m sure that within a short time, I hope that the people of San Simon will continue to support her and continue the office for a long time, Ambassador Hirubalan, a good friend of Mayor Wong, said.

Inspirational message. Singapore Embassy Ambassador Hirubalan delivers his inspirational message thanking Mayor Wong and the Simonians for their warm welcome and hospitality and showing his appreciation and support for his friendship with Mayor Wong and her family. 

 Ambassador Hirubalan, accompanied by his wife Mrs. Manu Hirubalan, and the Singaporean junior delegates were cordially welcomed and treated into an informative and memorable learning experience by the town’s public servants led by Mayor Wong together with her husband Mr. Lewis Wong and daughter Atty. Joyce Wong, Vice Mayor Honorato Almario and SPA President Peter Tay.


 e-Governance 101. Mayor Leonora C. Wong stands proud and tall on the spotlight as the main presenter of the e-Governance system in sharing the best practices of good local governance of the Municipality of San Simon to Ambassador Hirubalan and the junior delegates during the presentation-discussion. According to the honorable Singaporean Ambassador, her presentation speaks of her commitment and determination to achieve more progress in San Simon. 


 The presentation and discussion of quality governance and the innovative efforts of the town were imparted by no other than the lady Mayor with emphasis on the e-governance system best policies and practices. She also stressed the increased local income and lower rate of IRA dependency of the town brought by innovation.

 “It doesn’t matter whether a third, a fourth or a fifth class municipality, you can have your system computerized and innovate your practices for as long as the mayor, the chief executive wanted it. It’s the political will,” Mayor Wong said.

The multi-awarded computerization program or the FEAST (Fast, Effective, Accountable, Simple, and Transparent) program is indeed a must-learn and must-share  initiative which left a deep impression to the foreign visitors proving that as a third-class municipality, Mayor Wong’s innovation reforms is an inspiring story to tell not only in the country but also worldwide, particularly to our fellow Asians.

The best practices of the municipality in the issuance of business permit were particularly interesting to the Singaporeans which were found laudable and impressive by the Hirubalan couple.

I think it’s a good time that we came because Mayor Wong is now in her second term and within the short period of time (within the three years), she has put so much in to place, (and) everything that is working, all the systems and processes have been all effective, time is shortened and the transparency is very evident,” Mrs. Hirubalan said in the post-discussion interview of the GNN TV 44 Pampanga.

The delegates also found San Simon an ideal municipality in different aspects of local governance such as in economy and social services among others.


Interesting and impressive. The Singaporean visitors were highly impressed and were kept filled in the brim by Mayor Wong with her noteworthy presentation and discussion, intelligently answering every questions forwarded by Ambassador Hirubalan and the junior delegates. With much interest and enthusiasm to the e-governance model of San Simon, seen on the photos are the junior delegates asking questions in the open forum and jotting down notes which were lessons in the Philippine local governance that they will be taking back to Singapore and hopefully, which they will also share.


 Showing and sharing its flashes of brilliance in good governance as a remarkable achievement is indicative of the municipality’s competitive edge with the high ranks of cities and municipalities in terms of innovation, efficiency, accountability and transparency. While getting its way towards more novel innovation, the Municipality of San Simon has not only gained respect from local governments in the country but will be building its global reputation especially in the Southeast Asian region which is definitely a boost to the Simonians’ pride.

 With Mayor Wong at the helm, the town is always upbeat to reach another milestone towards good governance and the best brand of public service. 



 Welcome to San Simon!

Welcome to San Simon! Mayor Wong, together with Mr. Wong, Atty. Joyce Wong, Mr. Tay and the municipal employees blissfully greet and cordially welcome Ambassador Hirubalan and his entourage of mostly junior delegates. The foreign guests received the warm smiles coupled with the red-riboned garlands from the “employees in red shirt.”


 First Glimpse of San Simon. Ambassador Hirubalan and his wife Mrs. Manu Hirubalan enjoy their first glimpse of San Simon in their visit in the town hall as promised two years ago last September 10, 2014. Also joining them in these snapshots were Vice Mayor Honorato  Almario and Councilor George Carino (from left, 4th and 5th respectively). 


Filipino and Kapampangan Pride











Twist of Filipino language and Kapampangan dialect. Singaporean guests altogether stand up to pay respect for the Philippines’ national anthem “Lupang Hinirang” and the Simonian anthem “Himno ning San Simon.”  


Master of Ceremony. Tourism Officer April Gozum acted as the Master of Ceremony during the Foreign Service Basic Program Familiarization Visit in San Simon. She acknowledged the delegates, introduced the guests of honors and she also presented the Municipal Profile. 

Inspirational Message


“I think that as diplomats, it is important to understand that a country is not just made up of the capital. The country is not just made up of Quezon City, Manila, Taguig City or Makati City…”


“I hope you (the junior delegates) will try to understand the purpose of this learning journey to see that a country is made up towns and not just component cities.”



 Inspirational message. Singapore Embassy Ambassador Hirubalan delivers his inspirational message thanking Mayor Wong and the Simonians for their warm welcome and hospitality and showing his appreciation and support for his friendship with Mayor Wong and her family. 


  Mayor Wong’s Brand of Good Governance

Best Practices in Local Governance. Mayor Wong staged presentations and discussions highlighting the FEAST program and innovation initiatives of her administration. 


POLITICAL WONG. Mayor Wong stressed that the innovation efforts of her administration was a tough job but not at all impossible for a third class municipality. The scarce resource of the town is not a stumbling block at all but because political will or “Political Wong” served as the stepping stone for the humble town to reach such a milestone. 

Questions and Answers


Open Forum. The junior delegates and even Ambassador Hirubalan posed serious and interesting questions paving way into an informative and interactive discussion. They also showed great interests on how local governments in the Philippines do business

Why Enter Politics?

                       Mayor’s signature statement                         “WALANG CORRUPT AT TAMAD.”

  “In my mind, politicians are corrupt and lazy that’s why I came up with Walang Corrupt and Tamad.”

 “I gave up a lot of good things and I have to resign in my company as the president. I believe I cannot serve two masters because I am serious to do public service and I want to make difference among politicians.

 “It’s a calling. I believe it’s a destiny.”

Political stance.  Ambassador Hirubalan requested Mayor Wong to share with the young delegates her political perspectives and her motivations to become a servant leader.

 Press Interview

Press time. Mayor Wong, Ambassador Hirubalan and his wife Mrs. Hirubalan were interviewed by the reporter of GNN TV 44 Pampanga shortly after the presentation and discussion.

Study Tour: Learning plus Experience

Office tours. The junior delegates are pleased and euphoric to be toured around the Municipal Offices particularly the Mayor’s Office and the Business Permit Licensing Department (BPLD) guided by Municipal Secretary Jose Meneses and Tourism Officer April Gozum. 



Savor of Filipino and Kapampangan dishes

Highlights of the Special Menu

 We are happy to serve you! San Simon as the gracious host of the event treated the Singaporean delegates into a one-of-a-kind sumptuous, craveable and delectable fine-dining savoring the good tastes and pleasurable mixes of Filipino and Kapampangan cuisine sensibilities. 

 A show-off of food specialties. The uniqueness of taste and aroma indulging their insatiable tummies has mesmerized and delighted the foreign visitors with the highlights of the special menu heartily served by the ever-charming, cheerful and genial ‘municipal employees in red’ flavored with hospitality and appreciation. Looks is not at all deceiving with the tasteful native chicken adobo, pinakbet ( stewed eggplant, okra, ampalaya with salted fish sauce), tokwa at baboy ( tofu and pork) , crispy pata (crispy fried pork shank) , biringi ( aroz valenciana), tocino (cured pork meat ), longanisa ( pork sausage)  sisig ( sizzling pork ears and meat) , daing na bangus (boneless milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic, our national fish), termidor prawns, and sinigang na baboy (pork sour soup). To complete the savory appetite, Singaporeans went head-over-heels in love with the sweet, appetizing desserts- pichi- pichi, emma balls and maja  blanca  matched simply with the delicious buko juice prepared by SIMONIANS  ( people of San Simon).


"Good, good, very nice, taste like chicken.”



“It’s great indeed. One more.”

 The BALUT Extra Challenge. The Singaporeans did not miss savoring their first taste and first impression of the notorious exotic Filipino delicacy- the “specialized egg” or our very own “balut.” A street food-turned-dainty-restaurant-dish is a real tourist attraction in the country. What turns out to be a “yucky food” for some is the yummiest among the Singaporean delegates and the chewing and choking show went on making their discriminating palate refreshed anew by the “balut,” a delicacy of Filipino culture. Served with some salt and vinegar, “balut” is an incubated fertilized duck egg, a favorite egg delicacy with the delighting mix of tasty soup, bird meat and yolk. Apart from the lessons and experiences, the taste of our authentic native cuisine is a worthy “pasalubong” they will be taking back home in Singapore.



Wrapping Up and Photo-ops

Token of appreciation. Mayor Wong and Mr. Lee Boon Beng, leader of the junior delegates, exchanged their token of appreciation for the cordial invitation and visit and for the enlightening and successful study tour.


Photo ops and souvenirs. The main event wrapped up with photo ops and souvenirs received by the Singaporean delegates


Say Mayor Wong! The junior delegates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Singapore Embassy  are Mr. Lee Boon Beng, Ms. Liew Mei Ling, Mr. Niclolas Lee Zhi Wei, Ms. Soh Hui Qi, Mr. Chan Toh Han Matthew, Ms. Cheong Yiling, Ms. Chua Weili Germaine, Ms. Hoe See Woon Melinda, Ms. Lam Keat Ying, Mr. Lee Mun Wei Daniel, Ms. Lim Su-Mei Michelle, Mr. Lim Ziguang Michael, Mr. Logaventhan s/o Karuppannan, Ms. Loh Jing Ting, Mr. Muhammad Amin Bin Abdul Rahim, Mr. Nikhil Jonas Antony, Mr. Ong Chong Hui, Ms. Ow Mae-Yen Anthea, Mr. Quah Chun En Joel, Mr. Sivanesh Sivarajan, Mr. Soh Yuanjie, Mr. Tan Hui Boon Ignatius, Ms. Tay Xiang Yi, Ms. Teo Swee Lin Eunice, Ms. Tham Yingshen Davina, Ms. Vicky Vikneshri Puminathan, Ms. Watriah DP Haji Zainidi and Mr. Wong Yun Shen Calvin.


Thank you for visiting and we are happy to serve you!



(Photo credits: Mr. Perlito Dagdag, Executive Assistant)