Manila’s ‘Honey’ of a mayor

Published August 13, 2022, 11:35 PM

by Deedee Siytangco


The sprawling, historic city of Manila with its more than 1.8 million residents (almost double during day time working hours) has its first woman “mayora” in Sheila Honey Lacuna Pangan.

Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan

The petite, soft-spoken mayor is a Saint Theresa’s College elementary and high school graduate, and a pre-med BS Biology alumna of UST. She took up medical studies at De La Salle-Emilio Aguinaldo College of Medicine in Dasmariñas, Cavite, where she met her husband, Dr. Arnold M. Pangan.

Mayora Lacuna is the eldest of former vice mayor Danny Lacuna’s five children. She was a former city councilor too and did her work without fuss and did it well. The Pangans have one child, Lucia Danielle, now 24, a graduate of the New York University with a bachelor’s degree in politics and arts. She majored in journalism and minored in French and arts. 

Mayor Honey Lacuna with predecessor and mentor, former Manila Mayor Isko Moreno

When Mayor Lacuna was the head of the local DSWD, she realized that more attention should be given to Boystown and the Manila Youth Reception Center. Now she wants to improve these facilities and create new systems of management for them, turning them into spaces focused on learning and rehabilitation, rather than punishment.

As the first female chief executive of the city, Mayor Lacuna is also intent on seeking to strengthen the rights of women in Manila. Here’s a brief Q&A to round out our knowledge of Manila’s first female mayor—Honey Lacuna.

3.  Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna with husband Dr. Arnold Pangan and daughter, Lucia Danielle.

How are you as a “nanay” to your only child?
As a mother, I am very hands-on. Family has and always will be of the utmost importance to me. I have always sought to maintain a balance that ensures I get all of my work done without ever compromising my family’s wellbeing. This is why, despite the time-consuming nature of my work, I am incredibly lucky to have a very close relationship with my daughter.
While she was growing up, I tried my best to ensure I was there for her, be it for school or for anything personal. I wanted to set her up for success—my husband and I even split all of her school subjects, so that we could teach them to her one-on-one, but, more than anything, I want my daughter to be happy. As such, I am proud to say I am very involved as a mom. I would say this also translates into how I act as the so-called ‘Mother of the city.’ Just as I am hands-on with my daughter, I will be very hands-on with managing Manila. I plan on being there for every step, every part, and every plan for Manila’s development.”

You have many dreams for your beloved city. What are these dreams?
As a doctor, I would like to further develop the healthcare of Manileños. A big dream of mine is that by 2030, Manila City will have the best healthcare of any city in the Philippines. In line with this, the Manila city government has set the goal of converting our city health centers into super health centers to strengthen our primary health care. These super health centers will provide services such as ultrasound, ECG’s, x-rays, and basic laboratory exams. Our goal here is provide Manileños with a one-stop shop for healthcare that they can access within their own communities before even going to a hospital.

What are your specific plans for the women of Manila?
Though the Philippines ranks highly on the Gender Equality Index, there is much that we can do to empower Manileñas, and the LGU wants to lead this movement. We have plans to draft programs and infrastructure to support women’s health, as well as shelter women in less-fortunate circumstances. I want Manila’s government to serve as a support system, the same kind I have had, for other women as well, that it may empower them to reach their goals and aspirations.

Many find it hard to believe you can truly be friends with other politicians, particularly your predecessor, former Manila mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso. How do you do it?
On social media, for example, I’ll see people comment on my relationship with Yorme Isko, saying we are friends now, but come next election, mag-sisiraan na yan (they’ll start putting each other down). Fortunately, it can’t be any further from the truth because I have been blessed with never-ending support from Yorme. He has always believed in me and that I would be the best candidate to follow him as mayor. Even now, he continues to advise me behind the scenes because he wants Manila to improve more. I am very lucky to have him as a colleague and confidante. Honestly, it would not be a stretch to say that Yorme is not only my partner when it comes to work, but a part of my family!