Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia is the first woman governor of Cebu.
Born on October 12, 1955, Garcia is the eldest daughter of former Cebu governor and now Congressman Pablo P. Garcia and Judge Esperanza Fiel.
Garcia was first elected in 2004 where she won by 7,000 votes. When she got re-elected in 2007, she won a historic 500,000 votes.
Garcia finished elementary and high school as a consistent honor student at Cebu’s St. Theresa’s College. She took up Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines, Diliman.
Among others, her governance boasts the following accomplishments:
- Infrastructure. Garcia paved 68% of the 825 kilometers of provincial roads, concreted barangay roads, converted wooden provincial bridges to concrete and built classroom buildings. She also headed the construction of the roll-on roll-off port in Daanbantayan and the development of the Naga International Port and the Liloan International Port. She also determined to connect road networks to a common backbone, the envisioned Trans-Axial Highway.
- Water and Power. The Level III water systems in the province were completed, which provided water to thousands of households including major island towns like Bantayan, Sta. Fe and Madridejos. Garcia was able to distribute electric poles in barangays and energized sitios, closely achieving its target of 100-percent electrification of every sitio in the province. She supported the construction of new power plants in the cities of Naga and Toledo. To ensure an additional power supply to sustain Cebu’s growth, she signed an agreement between KEPCO-Salcon, National Power Corporation and Transco.
- Health. This includes completion of two provincial hospitals and the distribution of ambulances and mini-ambulances to local government units. Garcia continues to enroll indigent families in the PhilHealth medical insurance program and hold medical missions.
- Food Production and Livelihood. Farmers were trained in new technology and techniques to improve agricultural yield through the farmer-scientist training program. The “Sinanduloy Alang sa Kabusog, Sinanduloy Alang sa Kahimsog” (SakSak) program was initiated, the mixing of sweet potato (camote) with boiled rice in response to the rice crisis. She distributed banana suckers for the “Basta Saging, Kanunayng Labing” program. The provincial nursery and farmers training center in Barili were revitalized. The operation of the Pinamungajan Brackish-Water Fish Farm and Provincial Soils Laboratory continues.
- Tourism and Business. The biggest step was the institutionalization of the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo, a high-impact and successful tourism program for the towns that has since expanded into five different packages: Southern Heritage Trail, Northern Escapade, Urban Adventure, Discover Enchanting Camotes and Explore the Midwest. Another is a new direction for tourism beyond beaches, which is the promotion of culture and heritage through the establishment of provincial and town museums and the encouragement of towns to have their own festivals. Garcia partnered with various chambers of commerce in Cebu for the launching of the One Cebu Business Expo to showcase the best of places and products in Cebu.
- Peace and Order. Military jeeps to police stations and fire trucks were distributed to towns and cities. Through a private partner, closed-circuit television (CCTV) or security cameras were distributed to police stations. New headquarters for the Cebu Provincial Police Office were constructed. To steer the thrust for the maintenance of peace and order, Garcia heads the Regional Peace and Order Council. She pushes for an all-out war against insurgents by focusing on improving economy in the countryside and offering a second chance to those who turn themselves in.
Her contributions for the development of the province have earned her the honorary degrees of Doctor of Humanities from the Cebu Normal University (CNU) and Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management from the Cebu State College of Science and Technology (CSCT).