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Who is Nancy Binay?

You see her face and name on the back of public buses plying Metro Manila routes. Most everybody knows Nancy Binay is running for the Senate in the May elections, although the advertisement does not say that.

Surveys are showing that she has been climbing the senatorial charts.

But who is Nancy Binay? Does she deserve to sit in the Senate?

This columnist was the first to be granted by her media handler an interview.

Her baptismal name is Maria Lourdes Sombilao Binay, popularly called Nancy, age 39, daughter of Vice President Binay and former Makati Mayor and medical doctor Elenita Sumbilao Binay, and sister of Makati Mayor Jun Binay and Rep. Abigail Binay. (The youngest girl not yet eyeing an elective position is Annie.)

Naturally, the first question asked her by anybody, is, isn’t her family promoting political dynasty? Nancy’s answer is the same given by her dad and politicians with relatives running for political positions: “No, it’s voters who will decide who to vote for. It’s like a family of doctors, you choose which doctor to consult for treatment. Kung ayaw ka ng bayan, if the country does not like you, people will not vote for you.”

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Running for public office was farthest from her mind. But she has had previous exposure to administrative duties, having served as the personal assistant of her mother when she was Makati mayor from 1998 to 2001. Her tasks included handling the mayor’s schedule and acting as liaison between her and the various departments and offices of the city government. She assisted in the planning of city government programs, and served as the link between her mother and the private sector, relaying urgent concerns to ensure swift action from the concerned city officials and agencies. Her father called her her mother’s ”Ballsy,” referring to the late President Cory Aquino’s daughter Ballsy who was her personal assistant.

She currently serves as personal assistant to her father, the Vice President who is who is head of Housing, a position she has held since 2010. Her duties include serving as liaison between the VP’s office and shelter agencies under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and between the OVP and local government units on housing concerns.

Late last year, her name, she said, was included among 60 to 80 senatoriables to run under the banner of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and, to her surprise, a Pulse Asia survey showed she was among the top 20 on the list. By then she was elected UNA deputy secretary general. “Daddy said, alisin ang pangalan ko, my name should be removed from the list of candidates.” No such thing happened. Then Nancy was No. 15. “I asked that my name be removed.” But father and daughter were told, “Wala namang mawawala dito. (We have nothing to lose.)” And, what more, Nancy’s running would be a good test on the winnability of the Binay name.

The die was cast.

Nancy slowly became convinced about running. “Jinggoy (Estrada), who is part of the UNA executive committee, addressed me once, as ‘Senadora.’ I got to thinking, aba, baka destiny ko na nga na tumakbo para sa senado.” (It’s my destiny to run for the Senate).

As she went with the 11 other senatorial candidates on familiarity tours of northern provinces, and she and her husband drove through provinces and towns in Batangas, she noted that her father’s name was “a brand name of public service.”

Accompanying her father on his provincial trips and visits to calamity-ridden areas, she saw how he worked hard. “Masipag talaga. (He’s a hard worker.) We would be out the whole day, meeting people, assessing and helping with their needs. The next day, I would have some rest, but Daddy would still be on his feet, meeting people, shaking hands with them.” Nancy’s husband, Jose Benjamin “Pito” Angeles, said it seemed his father-in-law was working “as though he was running out of time.” The trips also convinced Nancy, the tourism major, to work for building of more airports.

This early, the tall, dusky and soft-spoken Nancy realizes she needs to be a more persuasive public speaker. But she’s willing to learn. Plus, she carries the Binay magic word. 

Even as a teenager, Nancy saw the good qualities of her father, whom she calls her No. 1 Icon. ”Daddy is not vindictive, he has great respect for the law.” And she admires Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for his staying cool under pressure.

Nancy attended St. Scholastica’s College for her elementary and secondary schooling. The tall and dusky girl went to the  University  of the Philippines in

Diliman for a bachelor’s degree in tourism, then went to work for her mother, quitting when she married construction and real estate businessman, Pito Angeles, a De la Sallian who finished the business management course at Pace University in New York City.

Nancy and Pito, who look so alike they’re mistaken for siblings, decided to do housekeeping without a maid. “He cooked, I did the laundry,” recalls Nancy. They did not even have a yaya for their eldest baby, now 11 years old.

Then they moved to the Binay house, in Sampaloc, Makati. The senior Binays, their four children and spouses and 12 grandchildren including Nancy’s and Pito’s four kids all live in a 750 sq.m. house. Each family has a big bedroom each, but they all eat together in the dining room. The cardinal rule is that all the Binays, big and small, are together on Sundays.

If elected to the Senate, Nancy says her programs will be children-centered. “As a young mother, I’m very concerned with the protection of the mothers when they are still pregnant, and the protection of babies.” Hence she plans to sponsor bills making pre-natal care tax-deductible, establishing more children’s hospitals or bigger wings in government hospitals for children and more day cay centers , and having all children’s toys checked for the presence of toxic chemicals.  

Nancy is not in favor of the Reproductive Bill law. She believes in promoting the natural family planning method. “My husband and I practised the natural family plannng method successfully, we were able to space our kids — a two year gap between the eldest and second children, followed, after six years, by a set of twins, now age 3.”

 She said civilians must be allowed to purchase firearms for self-protection, but they must undergo a strict screening process before they are given permits and licenses to own them.

Perhaps, because she is happily married, she is not in favor of divorce. Said she: ”Will divorce give jobs? Will it mean more food for people? The issue will be divisive. As it is, we already have annulment, why have a divorce law?”

In between performing her roles as wife and mother and her official functions, Nancy is involved in programs for children. At present she serves as a member of the boards of trustees of Brighthalls Children’s Foundation, which provides temporary refuge for abandoned infants and children, and whose main goal is to provide underprivileged youths acccess to quality college education in public and learning institutions; Bigay Pagmamahal Foundation (of which she is also executive director); Serbisyong Tunay Foundation, Inc., which provides Makati residents with free personal accident insurance, medical treatment and burial assistance, and JCB Foundation, which seeks to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged sectors through community development and livelihood programs. Currently, JCBF has a livelihood program in partnership with NGOs like Kababaihan Gabay ng Bayan for urban poor women and a mothers’ network.

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My e-mail:dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

 

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