Thursday, December 11, 2008

Say no to violence against women

1 out of 3 women have been victims of some form of violence. The abuser is usually known to her - a husband, boyfriend, father, brother, relative or some other person in her life.

Violence does not distinguish between economic class, culture or religion. In a World Bank study on selected risk factors facing women between 15-44, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war ans facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria.

The say no to violence is an internet-based campaign initiated by UNIFEM. In today's meeting, the women parliamentarians committed to join this campaign to put an end to violence in our respective countries.

This is a simple signature campaign. Just visit the website at and sign up by adding your name. That simple.

Sign up, learn more about it and spread the word. End violence now. Dont wait for your sister, daughter or friend to be a victim.

My office conducts seminars around the country. If you need more info, let me know. Drop me a line if you sign up. It will encourage others to do so as well. God bless

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rain, Worms and Women Power

Worms were not part of my agenda in going to Dumaguete. But it found its way into my schedule after City Mayor Agustin Perdices and Governor Emilio Macias III, each told me how they are using worms to create organic fertilizer. The process is fairly simple: Mix manure, organic products like leaves and a handful of worms in a big sack. The worms eat and excrete and in a few weeks, voila, you have organic fertilizer…The goal is to get more farmers to make their own organic fertilizer instead of buying coomercial fertilizers which are much more expensive and have chemical ingredients.

But I jump ahead of my trip.

My staff actually had been there for the last three days conducting seminars on breast feeding and women empowerment.

I arrived on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Aren’t rainy Saturday afternoons just perfect for going to sleep? But this was a working Saturday for me and I was scheduled to meet the governor and get a tour of the provincial hospital.

The governor, it turns out is a PGH trained surgeon, a passionate healthcare advocate who shared a lot of his ideas about devolved health care, its problems and possible solutions. It was great to meet him and the medical staff of the hospital. I hope to use their experiences in reviewing our health care policies.

From health care Negros Oriental style, I got a taste of women power, Siliman University style. I met their student council, headed by SC President Stacy Danika Sia Alcantara. Wow! What an energetic talented group of young women, to say the least. They proudly told me that their school is very gender sensitive and has always had a strong women studies department, that the young men who enter the University are soon enough indoctrinated into a lifestyle that is gender equal in all aspects. More power girls. I promised to write a future entry on women empowerment and the girls promised to contribute☺

Later that evening, I met with Green Alert Negros, who expressed their concern about the plans to cut thousand of trees and develop part of Mt Kanlaon as a source of geothermal energy. I actually climed Mt Kanlaon years ago and was quite familiar with the affected area. But more importantly Mt. Kanlaon is a natural park protected by law, rich in biodiversity and is home to many endemic species.

Next day, I woke up to a dark morning, with tree branches swaying from the strong winds.. It looked like rain was inevitable, but in fact, shortly after 5 am, the sky started to lighten up.. Ani and I ran straight from our hotel to the starting line where we joined thousands of runners who like us, got up at dawn for the fun of running in one of the 3 distances of the Milo Maratthon series --3k, 5k and 21k.

I joined the 21k run which took us along Rizal Boulevard, right by the Tanon Strait which was a beautiful site. Then we turned into a side road and went thru very pleasant countryside, where the locals lined the streets to watch us go by.

The exciting part of every run for me is seeing the strong women runners race. We had a chance to chat after the awarding ceremonies. They come from all backgrounds, mothers, students, teens and women in their 40s, all fast runners who outrun most men!

In just about 24 hours from the time I got to Dumaguete, I was homebound. I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the beautiful city, but thanks to the local government officials, the locals, my staff and everyone who gave us some of their valuable time, we had a productive and fulfilling trip.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Have You Done Today to Make You Feel Proud?

This is a refrain from a song in my ipod shuffle, which I hear a couple of times a week when I’m out biking or running. I often ponder on that song and wonder what I have done to make, not only myself proud, but my parents, and the people around me? I wonder if people ever ask themselves what they have done to be proud of this country.

I had planned on posting this on June 12 in celebration of independence day, but as usual got caught up with a billion things. Delayed as it is, I think we should all ask ourselves that question. As a human being, as a God fearing Filipino, does my existence contribute to the general welfare of the people around me, my country? Do I complain about what’s wrong with this country before asking myself what have I done to make it better?

It’s a serious question but depending on your mood, you can answer it lightly or with as much as serious thought as you wish to put into it.

I’m choosing to answer this from a personal point of view, as in what I am personally proud of, and also collectively, as in my views on what we as a people can be proud of…

1. As a mother, I am proudly raising my two daughters to be responsible citizens who care about others and the environment we live in. During the summer, I had each of them list their energy-saving tips and ways of saving the environment (subject of a future blog). I try to expose them to all aspects of Filipino life, so they understand that there is still so much poverty around us and that each of us can do something to make a difference. I want them to be cognizant of the fact that life is tough for many. Their baby brother Gabriel did not have an easy life. He could not breath without assistance, could not eat without a tube in his mouth.

So every year, we celebrate Gabriel's life with a 12-hour fundraising and awareness multi-sport event for the benefit of children with disabilities ( I hope my daughters will grow up to be compassionate Filipinos who care about the well-being of others.

2. We Filipinos take pride in our love of family and respect for our elders. We take care of our parents and grandparents. We are proudly the best caregivers in the world, from doctors to nurses to caregivers; our professionals are sought worldwide. But government must not lose focus on the fact that as we supply the world with our human health care professionals, we must also plan on how to take care of our own. These were some of the issues I have been working on locally and abroad, most recently at the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Cape Town last April (future blog). We need to focus on improving access to healthcare for our own people.

3. I am proudly promoting the cause of health and fitness. I cannot talk enough about how important it is for each one of us to be responsible for our own health. It does not come for free. One must eat well, exercise and live a healthy life. For more on my health agenda, visit my official website

4. I am proudly fighting for a greener cleaner Philippines. We are working on the passage of the sustainable forest management bill. We are also trying to increase awareness and compliance with our solid waste management law (RA 9003). More and more Filipinos are aware of the need to segregate waste. And yet of 42,000 barangays only 2000 have a segregation program and an MRF (material recovery facility). Is there one in your barangay?

5. We were all born into this country that is rich in natural resources. I am proudly sponsoring bills to declare many of these areas as protected areas. I have called on Filipinos to vote for Tubattaha and our other natural treasures on But what have we each done to contribute to the preservation of these Philippine wonders? There are rivers and mountains that need to be restored and rehabilitated all over the country. You can each take up a cause close to your heart. (there are a lot of causes, more on these in future blogs)

6. I am proudly working towards the attainment of our Millennium Development Goals in 2015. We need to decrease our infant, child and maternal mortality rates. Today, there are still many women in the rural areas who die of childbirth, simply because they do not have access to a childbirth attendant (a certified midwife, nurse or doctor). Many newborns are underweight, malnourished and sickly because their mothers did not have pre-natal care. Access to prenatal care is vital.

7. I am proudly promoting breastfeeding. Many mothers still do not know that they are capable of exclusively feeding their baby for the first six months with their breastmilk without the need of supplementing with formula milk or food (visit my breastfeeding blog on

8. Filipino women are the bedrock of our homes and our society. I proudly support women empowerment thru my Pinay In Action programs. Every year, we celebrate Women's Month in March with an all-women's run and expo. My team, headed by national team tri champ Ani de Leon goes around the country giving talks on empowerment to young girls and teaching them how to run.

9. I proudly support the Philippine teams that compete in international competitions. These athletes work hard, despite the limitations in training facilities, financial and sometimes even moral support. They persevere and excel..and bring glory to our country.

10. I love to race. I join triathlons, duathlons and marathons whenever I can. It is my pride and privilege to carry the Philippine flag.

I could spend a whole day on this list. But the point of this exercise is to get people to think, just as the song goes, “what have you done today to make you feel proud?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Life as it is in the Senate

This will be the first time I will be posting something on my blog that I did not write. I prefer to write about my personal insights, life experiences with family and friends, and avoid serious work related stuff, since all that you can read on my official website But given the subject matter, I thought it would be best that those who heard about this issue get the chance to read this piece. The introduction is from my media officer Mike Ac-ac who sent out the article below to those on our official mailing list. If you would like to be included, just send us an email at

Dear All,


On Jan.28th and 29th, TV, radio and print media carried news on the "walk out" staged by Sen.Jamby Madrigal at a committee hearing being presided over by Senate environment committee Chair Sen.Pia S. Cayetano on 30 proposed protected area laws in different parts of the country.

News reports quoted a fuming Sen.Madrigal calling Sen.Cayetano a "spoiled brat" after her walk out. She also criticized the latter for spending too much time on sports activities instead of focusing on legislative work. But Sen.Cayetano remained calm, choosing not to dignify the accusations and appealing on Sen.Madrigal to just let her do her job.

Below is an insider's view of the Jamby-Pia incident written by Senate beat senior reporter Efren Danao, and which appeared on his column in the Manila Times on Feb.4. Mr. Danao knows the Senate inside-out, having covered the beat for decades. We are sharing this article to give others a wider perspective of what appeared in the news as just another emotionally charged moment at the Senate.

Mike C. Ac-ac
Media Officer
Sen. Pia S. Cayetano

By Efren L. Danao, Manila Times, Feb. 4, 2008


Rumble at the Senate: Pia vs. Jamby

Women have gone a long way at the Senate since the election of Geronima Pecson as the first lady senator in November 1947 and served for two terms. From 1947 to 1965, only one lady senator was elected in each election—Pecson, 1947 to 1953, Pacita Madrigal,1956to 1961, Maria Kalaw Katigbak in the 1961 election. Now, in the Fourteenth Congress, there are four lady senators—Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal. Four is the biggest number of lady senators ever and this was also reached at the Eleventh Congress and the Thirteenth Congress.

I now fear that the strides made by lady politicians would be set back by the latest incident between Pia and Senator Madrigal. The two entered the Senate at the same time, in 2004, and almost immediately, Madrigal showed her antagonism towards Pia. A member of the majority, Pia was given two committee posts, one of which was coveted by Madrigal, who belonged to the minority. When Pia said she was willing to give up one of the committees in favor of Madrigal, the latter angrily retorted that committee chairmanship is not a thing that could be given to somebody as a favor.

Bad blood

The "bad blood" between the two was also discernible each time Pia sponsored something on the floor. Madrigal would ask for the submission of even minute details about the subject. Maybe, Pia would have wanted to return the "favor," except that Madrigal had never sponsored anything since 2004. Oh yes, she did sponsor one—the Juvenile Justice System—as chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations. However, she later disowned the bill, interpellated the sponsor, proposed amendments and even voted against it—unthinkable for a chairman of a sponsoring committee if you ask me.

The latest "encounter" between the two took place last Tuesday when Pia held a hearing on protected areas as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Madrigal walked out of the hearing after failing to convince Pia to hold separate hearings on each of the 30 bills on protected areas, and called her "a spoiled brat." She had also derided Pia as one who was not born with a silver spoon. The Madrigals (Pacita Madrigal, the second senator of the land was her aunt) are old rich that made their fortune in shipping and mining, among other businesses.

I may be partial towards Pia but I do know that she would call as many hearings as possible to get full data and cross-section opinions on a bill. Her industry might have escaped public notice because very often, her committee hearings were not extensively covered by the media. In several such hearings, I was the only newsman present and in some instances, I was joined by Bulletin's Mar Casayuran. During the holiday break, Pia was conducting hearings while others were enjoying their vacation.

Jamby's record

Madrigal would have been more credible in seeking more committee hearings had she been as industrious as Pia in conducting them. Since 2004, she had never sponsored on the floor any of the hundreds of bills referred to her committees. In the Fourteenth Congress, I think she did hold one committee "hearing," but this was held in The Netherlands and by his lonesome, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation.

Her negligence as chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations was also evident in her inaction on various bills proposing a Magna Carta for Women. A group of women activists led by Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez David went to the Senate Wednesday to lobby for passage of the proposed law, whose bills had been languishing in Madrigal's committee.

The Magna Carta for Women seeks to give more teeth to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations and ratified by the Senate in August 1981. Although it has been in force for 26 years in the Philippines, Filipino women continue to suffer from various forms of discrimination. The proposed Magna Carta for Women is meant to strengthen the promotion of gender equality in the country, which should be a priority for Madrigal's committee.

Incidentally, there are six bills pending in the Senate on the Magna Carta for Women. These bills were filed by Senators Manuel Villar, Bong Revilla, Ping Lacson, Loren Legarda, Edgardo Angara and Pia Cayetano. Could Pia's authorship have any bearing on Madrigal's failure to act on the bills? Expect media, to give full coverage to that hearing if and when it is held in anticipation of sparks flying between the two again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My kind of Jeep

Finally a road vehicle that excites me...I'm not into cars, slow cars, they don't really matter to me.. I cant distnguish one brand from another. I describe cars by their size and color..

Needless to say, new vehicles on the road do not grab my attention...except for one...

As I was leaving the provincial capitol of Negros Oriental in Bacolod City, my staff reminded me that to get to my next meeting, I would be riding the latest jeepney to hit the streets of bacolod.. I should mention at this point, that if there is any public utility vehicle that would pique my curiosity it would be the jeep.

For one, I love looking at the art work found on the sides of jeepneys, especially the very colorful ones and those that depict images related to our culture or beautiful places in our country. And second, as a child, my mom used to take me to the Intercon Hotel jeepney coffee shop where we would sit in the jeep and eat merienda..

But back to the jeep in Bacolod..This jeep is super special because it does not run on gasoline or diesel! It runs on electricity. Like any electronic gadget, you just have to plug it into an outlet, charge for a few hours and its good to go!...
Its called the E-Jeep. Its a joint project of the Green Renewable Independent Power Producer, Inc. (GRIPP), Greenpeace and Solar Electric Company.

Here's another exciting bit of info about this jeep and the vision of the groups behind the e-jeep. The intention is to use energy from biodegradable waste from the city's wet markets to power not just the jeep but an environmental-friendly mass transport system.

So, we address the problem of air pollution and solid waste management at the same time!

cool diba?

At present, the e-jeep is being test run in Bacolod and Makati. Since it only runs at 40kph, it is meant to ply small busy roads where the speed is usually slow anyway. Perfect for commuters inside a subdvision or short destinations. For efficient operations, we are told that the plan is to build stations where the jeeps can be charged, so instead of gas stations, we will have charging stations..

Needless to say, I enjoyed my short but extremely pleasant jeepney ride. Oh, by the way, it also is super quiet. No rumbling engines, no noisy tambutso!

I am really hoping to see more innovative environment-friendly projects like this.

Next thing you know, you'll be calling your mom or boyfriend and saying, sorry Im late, no low bat yung jeep na sinasakyan ko!