In praise of frontliner lady solons

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
In praise of frontliner lady solons
Deputy Speaker Rose Marie J. 'Baby' Arenas, president of the Association of Women Legislators (AWL), with (first row, from left) Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, Rep. Estrellita Suansing and Rep. Olga Kho; (second row, also from left) Rep. Ria Vergara, Baby, and Rep. Rida Robes; and (third row, also from left) Rep. Mikaela Violago, Rep. Aleta Suarez and Rep. Ma. Theresa Collantes

First, cheers to women, particularly those in public service, for shining brightly in these dark times fittingly during the celebration of International Women’s Day last March 8. March is also hailed as National Women’s Month. The honor roll of Empowered Women in government is led by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte (photo) who topped a non-commissioned independent survey on performing local chief executives in Metro Manila with an approval rating of 86 percent (followed in the Top 3 by two males, Vico Sotto of Pasig City with 83 percent and Isko “Yorme” Moreno of Manila with 80 percent).

Here’s the standing of the other Metro Manila lady mayors: Abby Binay of Makati (68 percent), Carmelita Abalos of Mandaluyong (58 percent) and Imelda Aguilar of Las Piñas (37 percent).

There are also several empowered women in showbiz like (to name some) Mother Lily Monteverde, Charo Santos-Concio, Laurice Guillen, Korina Sanchez-Roxas, MTRCB chief Rachel Arenas, Viva Films’ Veronique del Rosario-Corpus, Regal Films’ Roselle Monteverde, Star Cinema’s Olivia Lamasan, Dr. Vicki Belo, Nora Aunor, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, GMA’s Annette Gozon-Valdes, Kuh Ledesma, Sharon Cuneta, philanthropist Pinky Tobiano, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado, Annabelle Rama, Heart Evangelista, GMA’s Lilybeth Rasonable, TV5’s Luchi Cruz-Valdes and the Miss Universe title-holders (Gloria Diaz, Pia Wurtzbach, Catriona Gray and CCP’s Margie Moran).

Rep. Cristalle Bagatsing, Acting Majority Floor Leader during the all-women Plenary Session

In the House of Representatives, ladies constitute almost half of the 4,000 members of the workforce including members, Secretariat employees and Congressional staff members.

In the recent celebration of the International Women’s Day and the National Women’s Month, the 85-strong Association of Women Legislators Inc. (AWLFI) of the 18th Congress led by Deputy Speaker Rose Marie J. “Baby” Arenas and the Committee on Women and Gender Equality of the House of Representatives, headed by Rep. Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba, collaborated to mount an All Women Plenary Session where only lady legislators assumed leadership positions in the plenary session in keeping with the annual tradition.

Said Baby, “After a year of lockdowns and quarantine that kept many legislators away from each other, and from physically attending the plenary session, it was refreshing to behold these women, the session hall  ‘teeming’ with them, and lording it over, all dressed in simple, smart but elegant Filipiniana outfits. One cannot help but feel hopeful again, as if a new day has begun. It was a strong statement that we will be building back better.”

Rep. Dahlia Loyola

Aside from the powerful privilege speeches, that raised awareness on a wide range of issues that affect women and gender quality, particularly during this pandemic, one of the highlights of the session was the adoption of House Resolution (HR) 1513 in consolidation with HR 1625, congratulating Camille Calimlim-Touton, the new deputy commissioner of the US Bureau of Reclamation. The measure provides that Touton’s appointment is historic being the first Filipino-American to serve in the agency’s leadership role.

Also, HR 1613, in consolidation with HR 1578, was adopted, commending Gloria Diño-Steele on her appointment as Acting Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Resolution recognizes Steele’s exceptional leadership and outstanding contribution to international development.

Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero (mother of Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero)

Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero opened the Session with a heartfelt invocation. Those designated to preside over the Session, aside from Baby, were Reps. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (First District, Negros Oriental), Estrellita Suansing (First District, Nueva Ecija), Elisa Kho (Second District, Masbate), Florida Robes (Lone District, San Jose del Monte City), Rosanna Vergara (Third District, Nueva Ecija), Stella Luz Quimbo (Second District, Marikina City), Aleta Suarez (Third District, Quezon), Micaela Violago (Second District, Nueva Ecija), and Ma. Theresa Collantes (Third District, Batangas), and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party List).

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

Rep. Ruth Hernandez as Acting Deputy Majority Leader and and Rep. Lianda Bolilia, the over-all coordinator of the session
Rep. Olga Kho


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