Sunday Lifestyle

First Ladies / First Gentlemen Sara Duterte: She will cook, clean the house. Magkabit ng kulambo.

LIFE & STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil - The Philippine Star

By now, you should have made up your mind as to who you want for the next President of the Philippines. In effect, you should have decided too, on your choice for the next First Lady or First Gentleman of the land. It’s a package deal.

The five presidential candidates went to the Philippine Star office on separate dates in the past weeks, and we asked them: What role will your spouse play when you become president?

Here are their answers:

She will cook for me, clean the house. Magkabit ng kulambo (Set up the mosquito net).”

These will be the roles of Rodrigo Duterte’s  First Lady when he becomes the next president of the Philippines.

“Well, okay,”Duterte adds when pressed to name other tasks, ”she can help feed hungry children. We should have a really good program for that.”

And who will be his First Lady? ”It will be my daughter Sara,” replies Duterte, whose 30-year marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman was annulled in 2000.

“Can I beg off?’ Sara replied to this. “If I win as mayor of Davao, I want to focus on my job. Gusto ko nakatutok sa trabaho. My family is there. The biggest challenge of being a politician is motherhood. Time management.” During her campaign tours for her dad in the provinces, Sara brought along her children Sharky, 7, and Stingray, 3, on the bus just to make sure she could still look after them. Also busy campaigning were Duterte’s sons Paolo and Sebastian.

Sara is married to  lawyer Mans Carpio who she met in law school. Duterte cried when Sara passed the Bar exams. “He cried because I did better than him,” Sara joked on her Instagram post. Duterte, who is also a lawyer, has repeatedly said he got just passing grades of 75 in school.

The beautiful Sara recently shaved her head to show support for her father’s candidacy (#KalboParaSaPagbabago) and also to sympathize with her mother’s struggle with breast cancer as she will be losing her hair after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation (#NoHairWeCare).

Sara was first thrust into limelight as the feisty vice mayor of Davao who punched a sheriff four times in the face when he refused to grant Sara’s request for a two-hour reprieve during the demolition of shanties in Davao.

Once, she asked her dad: “Can my friends visit Malacañang if you become president? His reply:” Yes, they can also sleep there.”




To which Sara said: “Ayaw ko matulog doon kasi maraming multo (I don’t want to sleep there, because there are many ghosts.”)

If Sara is afraid of ghosts in Malacañang, Duterte’s common law wife, Honeylet Avancena, 46, and their daughter Kitty Duterte, 12, will willingly  be there by his side in the haunted halls of Malacañang. Even if Honeylet has declared:”I don’t want to be in the limelight.”

Honeylet took up BS Biology, BS Nursing and Masters in Nursing and worked as a nurse in the United States where she gave birth to Kitty. Surely she can help in medical as well as feeding programs for children.

“He is projected as tough, but he has a soft spot for women and children,” says Honeylet. “Mababa din ang luha niya (He easily cries). He cries when he remembers his parents and visits their grave during Christmas and their birthdays. He becomes teary-eyed when his favorite song, You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban, is played.

During pensive moments, Honeylet would let Duterte read the Bible, and his favorites are Psalm 23 and  Psalm 51. “His prayers are always selfless. Whatever be God’s will, that’s what he would say. “

Honeylet even lets him bring a Bible especially when he travels.”I’m scared everytime he rides a helicopter. God, just bring him back to us alive.”

Grace Poe on Neil Llamanzares: His main role is really to take care of our family.

Neil Llamanzares: Hackers, beware!

Chief inspiration. This will be the role of Teodoro Misail Neil Llamanzares when he becomes the First Gentleman to  President Grace Poe.

Kailangan naman, di ba (It’s a must, right)?” Grace says with  demure laughter. “So I said, it should be for both of us. We should both work out because we have both neglected ourselves during this campaign.” From 118 pounds, her weight went down to 98. Dressed in her trademark white, Poe still looks her usual poised and pretty self.

Seriously, Grace then declares: “Neil’s main role is really to take care of our family. Our  kids (Brian, Hanna and Nikka)are still pretty young, and I think he’s doing a good job at that. He’s very patient. My kids love him more because he’s more permissive than I am.”

Neil and Grace were high school sweethearts before they got married in 1991.  Neil’s parents were studying in the United States when he was born. He served in the US Air Force from 1988 to 1992. Grace was a pre-school teacher in America when Neil graduated from the George Washington School of Business in 1998. They sold their  four-bedroom house  before they returned to the Philippines in 2006.

“As much as possible,  Neil tries to stay away from the limelight.  He goes only to official functions where a family member really needs to represent me. As to what role he can play , he is not a lawyer so he can’t really be my adviser on legal matters. He’s in IT (Information Technology) so  maybe he can make sure that all of our files in Malacanang are not hacked, ha ha.”

Grace adds:” You know, he has always said that it really makes a difference when things are manufactured in the Philippines. You’ll be actually giving jobs, and this is very important to him. But he will be doing this in his private capacity.”

As Poe continues to to stay up in the surveys, her rival camps brand Neil as an American boy in Malacañang. “He has renounced his American citizenship, it is in process,” says Grace.

Just an American-born boy with a Filipino heart and soul.

Unifying leader Jejomar Binay and healing Doctora Elenita Binay

Dr. Elenita Binay:The healing First Lady

There will be a doctor in the alace  when Vice President Jejomar Binay  becomes our next President.

Not just a doctor, for Elenita Sambillo Binay will also be a health advocate and environmentalist. Having served as Makati mayor from 1998 to 2001, Doctora Ellen is no stranger to public service. Makati citizens are familiar with her trademark compassionate and humble ways.

“Family will always be her priority, especially  our grandchildren. She will be a doting grandmother,” says VP Binay. The Binay children — Nancy, Abigail, JunJun, Marita Angeline, and Joanna Marie Blanca — and the 13 Binay grandchildren will keep the Doctora busy.

But she will still be helping the President. “Given her background as a doctor, I would expect her to be a health advocate. She was a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist, and women’s health has always been her advocacy,”explains Jejomar. “Ellen is also an environmentalist. She has been very passionate about saving the emvironment. With the First Lady as an advocate for women’s health and the environment, we can look forward to greater support and participation for all sectors.”

VP Binay has vowed not to be a vindictive president. He will be a unifying leader. Perhaps Doctora Ellen can work hand in hand with her husband to help in healing the nation.

The Roxas family portrait: Mar, Korina, Kolette, Chelsea and Goya. Not in photo is son Paolo Roxas.

Korina Sanchez-Roxas: Rated-A homemaker

When Korina Sanchez-Roxas becomes First Lady , this thing I am certain of: Malacanang will be in the good hands of a homemaker who has an eye for Philippine art, interior design and elegant dining.

I saw this in the dinners I have attended in her BGC condominium where she  hosts get-togethers for her family and friends. Every detail is impeccably and tastefully in place, juxtaposing a Filipino artist’s work with an Oriental vase. Her husband Mar Roxas’s childhood photo with her own, atop a pile of  interesting books. A vignette of an old Philippine relic with a modern sculpture. Nothing showy nor ostentatious here.

Malacañang’s state functions will surely see her touch of perfection: Korina is certainly OC and well-organized. I saw this when she led her St. Theresa’s College batch in hosting our grand alumnae reunion in 2007. It was a seamless homecoming that looked television-worthy. The admirable part is that she declared at the start that she would not use the event to promote her own TV station, out of respect for those alumnae who were rival media practitioners.

The awardwinning albeit controversial Rated K host of ABS-CBN has the credentials (BA Communication Arts, Maryknoll; MA Journalism, Ateneo University) to run the media bureau  of Malacanang. But then, presidentiable husband Mar Roxas  has other tasks in mind for her.

“Korina will use her vast experience in public service and journalism to lend her voice to the plight of the underprivileged and marginalized. She has always lent her voice to worthy issues and causes, and this will not change,” explains Roxas.

“She is close to issues affecting children, women and the LGBT communities. She would like to take up advocacies for LGBT rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, children’s nutrition, women’s financial literacy and population management.. She has always been close to the poor all her broadcast career and will continue working closely with and for them. There is no need for an official government position to achieve this. She will be a working First Lady.”

One of Korina’s advocacies include taking measures against medical malpractices. Her mother Celia Santos was misdiagnosed as having stage 4 cancer in a Philippine hospital; it turned out to be stage 2 colon cancer in New York’s Cornell Hospital. A deep-sea diver, Korina is also a fighter for  pollution control, and coral and marine life preservation.

Oh, another thing is certain: There will be a dashing First Son, Paolo Roxas, in the Palace. And there will be First Dogs to enliven the Palace — and their names are Kolette, Chelsea and Goya.  Korina is a rated-A dog lover.

Lawyers Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Narciso Santiago Jr.:

The First Gentleman must provide the President with comfort.

Narciso Santiago Jr.: Must stay home

He has to be there when I get home. To provide me comfort.”

That simply defines the role that Narciso Santiago Jr. will play when he becomes First Gentleman to President Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

“He will play no role whatsoever in the determination of national and foreign policy. I don’t want him to fraternize with my cabinet members because he will be seen to be using his position to be an influence peddler,” says Miriam. “My husband will have to completely divest himself of any relationship to any government official or agency. He may just continue with his small business as a game fowl breeder to occupy himself.”

Miriam says his model is British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s husband Denis Thatcher who never played any role in her administration. He was a paint distributor in South Africa, and he was a millionaire when they met.

Narciso “Jun” Santiago was likewise already comfortably rich when he and Miriam met. At the UP Law School library one day, Miriam was struggling  to carry a heavy load of books, and Jun asked her: “Do you need help?”

Miriam said yes as well to his offer to bring her home in his fancy red car . And they eventually drove towards the altar, producing two sons, Narciso III and Alexander Robert .

I personally admire this fearless and erudite lady  who was our UP ROTC Corps Sponsor in college, aside from being the  first woman editor of our UP Collegian. This iconic lawmaker and international leader breathes fire in the Senate and has made men tremble. Where there are cowards, she has the balls to do what should be done.

“I just hope that my husband will stay sane. If you have a president for a wife, that’s crazy.”

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Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook@milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at mananquilmillet@gmail.com.

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