Andrea Domingo: A tough lady on equally tough job
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda () - June 18, 2003 - 12:00am
Some weeks ago, we had the chance to interview one of the toughest guys in public service—Andrea Domingo. She heads one of government’s most controversial agencies —the Bureau of Immigration. Life at the Bureau is tough but friends and foes alike swear Andrea Domingo is tougher. Andrea fell in love and married when she was 18 to Rolando, an artist. She dotes on her four grandchildren. Here she talks about life, death, marriage and how she buys underwear.

Boy Abunda (BA): How often do you get death threats?

Andrea Domingo (AD):
I changed my cell numbers five times already. I have been advised by the intelligence agency to increase the number of my security because I’m on the hit list.

BA: You are not afraid to die?


AD:
No. I just don’t want my family to get involved. Me, I’m fair game. I accepted this job and therefore, it’s ok with me.

BA: Do you go to church?

AD:
Yes. I go to church every Sunday and I pray my Rosary everyday.

BA: Why are you so tough a commissioner?

AD:
Because I’m in a man’s job. And I have to be doubly tough. Kasi ine-expect nila sa isang babae na hindi marunong gumawa ng mga importante at mahihirap na desisyon. But you know, you really have to be tough… matapang and all of that. But I also know how to cry.

BA: When was the last time you cried?

AD:
Two days ago.

BA: Why?

AD:
I had a frozen shoulder. I twisted it. It was really painful.

BA:
Are there men who find it difficult to work for you because you are a woman?

AD:
I think so. I tell them, I have a brain and my brain has no gender. It is just as good as anybody else’s, man or woman.

BA:
How do they respond to that?

AD:
I think they are embarrassed that I could sense that they feel they can’t work well with a woman boss. After that everything is ok.

BA: What is your advice to women in a stronger position than their husbands?

AD:
Forget that you are a woman when you are in office. Remember that you are an executive and you have a job to do, and you have do it well. But at home you have to be wife and mother. There is no conflict in there.

BA: Is it easy or difficult for you?

AD:
It is easy for me because my husband is egalitarian and he is not at all sexist.

BA: It’s a man’s job as you would say. What makes it difficult?

AD:
You have enemies from within. And you have enemies from without.

BA:
Let’s talk about the enemies from within… Who are they?

AD:
These are the five percent of our employees who would like to go on doing what they have been doing in the last three or four decades which is fixing. I tell them, "Ok ,if you insist on being bad, be careful that I don’t catch you, but if I do catch you, sorry na lang."

BA: Who are the enemies from the outside?

AD:
These are the illegal recruiters, the human traffickers and criminal syndicates who have been operating here in the Philippines.

BA: Sino po yung mas delikado. Yung kaaway sa loob o kaaway sa labas?

AD:
Yung pinakadelikado yung may gusto ng posisyon ko.

BA:
What is in that position?

AD:
The traditional view is, it is a very lucrative position.

BA:
Will it make you rich?

AD:
Only if you will it. But if you are serious in your reforms, and in the modernization, it’s tough. It is a 24 - hour job, seven days a week.

BA:
You worked for former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. How was she as a boss?

AD:
She is a very strong woman, one of the strongest I’ve ever seen.

BA:
In what way?

AD:
She’s a very efficient thinker. When she thinks, she thinks in a straight line and she implements what she thinks in the shortest possible time and in the shortest possible way.

BA:
What kind of boss are you?

AD:
I think I am a very tough boss.

BA: Are you loved? Are you feared?

AD:
Many of our people love me or like me. They appreciate what I am trying to do on a professional management job rather than yung hula-hula, pa-oido-oido because I do have a background in management.

BA:
In 2002, how much did you collect?

AD:
One billion, one hundred sixty million

BA:
How do you express your anger?

AD:
I always express my anger behind closed door.

BA: Do you know how to text?

AD:
Yes, of course!

BA: Sino ang nagturo sa yo?


AD:
Yung anak ko, si Karen.

BA:
How many bodyguards do you have?

AD:
I have bodyguards at any given time. Three of them are always with me wherever I go.

BA: Are you comfortable with having guards?

AD:
Hindi. I have a very strict lifestyle and it is hard to shop with the guards around.

BA:
How do you do that? Do you still shop with the bodyguards?

AD:
No. I order na lang. E, meron mga sales ladies, di ba? I-che-check mo na lang yung form.

BA: Where do you buy your underwear?


AD:
I order it sa nag-ma-manicure. Meron siyang leaflet, you know, tsine-tsek ko na lang.

BA:
You were saying that your husband is a cradle snatcher.

AD:
Yes. That is why he has to rate me 10 because he almost brought me up. I was only 17 then when I met him and I’ve spent most of my life with him.

BA: What is the best thing about your husband?

AD:
He is my best friend.

BA: Do you talk every night?

AD:
Yes. We not only talk. We really know each other very well because as he says, "o ako ang nagpalaki sa’yo kaya kahit anong gawin mo, kahit magsasalbahe ka kasalanan ko eh."

BA: You were once quoted to have said: my husband developed me intellectually and I developed him socially. What do you mean?

AD:
He’s an intellectual.

BA: He’s a writer.

AD:
Yes. And if he didn’t get married, he will marry his books because you know every time we go abroad, we fight because he will have two boxes of books. ’Yun ang kanyang passion. So parang meron akong encyclopedia.

BA: What is the book you are reading right now?

AD:
I am reading Tolstoy. I am trying to get a life by reading. I am reviewing my literature.

BA: What kind of a mother are you?

AD:
I think I am a good mother but I am a better grandmother.

BA: Are you a better mother than a wife or a better wife than a mother or grandmother?


AD:
I think pareho. But I’m the best grandmother.

BA: If you were to teach a lesson or two on love to your four grandchildren, what would it be?

AD:
To be truthful and to be kind.

BA: Why do you say that?


AD:
Because relationships only last if you tell the truth and if your partner accepts the truth.

BA: Kindness?

AD:
If you don’t have kindness in your heart you cannot understand.

BA: What was the lowest point in your life?

AD:
When I feel that the world is against me

BA: What do you do when you are in that stage?

AD:
I ask my husband to hug me.

ANDREA DOMINGO BECAUSE I BOY ABUNDA BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION BUT I SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO SINO SUNDAY AND I WHEN I YUNG
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