Emily not on the run but running
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2019 - 12:00am

It is refreshing that people are now talking – beyond politics, governance, budget allocations going to in-laws, and profanity in government executive suites, in the halls of Congress, and in meetings where officials outdo one another with their choice cuss words.

People have begun talking – not about something profane, but about something profound. It is so profound it is simple. It is as basic as the foundational unit of society – the Filipino family. 

It is as essential as GMRC – if you still know what these initials mean. GMRC is  “good manners and right conduct.” GMRC attitude and behavior have been planted firmly in our generation’s hearts and minds since the elementary grades. And, yes, we never departed from these teachings. It’s too bad GMRC is no longer taught as a subject in our grade schools. 

It is therefore a whiff of fresh wind if we hear a civic leader, a successful businesswoman, and a committed Rotarian speak plainly and yet intensely on this theme: “Pamilya ang Sentro.” 

Emily Apostol Alvarez is a good friend from years back when she was still working with one of the Christian businessmen who has invested in real estate. It has thus become natural that she gravitate to the Rotary, and became a woman president of one of the clubs.

You’re right,  I’m talking about the same Emily Apostol Alvarez who was abandoned by her husband, a former Speaker of the House, for another woman.

Instead of moping and crying over her abandonment, Emily has continued with her life, taking care of her four children, and be active with the Rotary Club. What’s more, she is running for a seat in Congress, under the newly organized party-list called METRO. 

Emily has a bachelor of science in medical technology degree from the University of Santo Tomas. She was employed with ASB Realty; was president of the Association of Makati Industries and a provincial board member of Davao, where she chaired the committee on human settlements, planning and development, and established the first CAMP community mortgage program in Tagum City.

Before she filed her candidacy for this coming election, she was consultant at the National Home Mortgage Financing Corp. She helped LGUs in the provinces with their housing concerns especially the marginalized and employees. She was consultant of PRA-Phil Retirement Authority and of PEZA, dealing with investors interested in establishing business in the Philippines.

I have many Rotarian friends, and I can say that “service above self” is truly in their DNA. Rotary actually began as an evangelical Christian association, along with the Red Cross and the YMCA. So, embedded in their philosophies is the Christian imperative to express love – not only in words, not only in social service, but more important, in social action.

Emily says: “I know in my mind,  heart, and soul that our Christian service of providing employment, building shelter, conducting medical mission, rescuing the children are all worthy humanitarian projects.”

And yet, Emily points out, “Christian social service must be followed by Christian social action. We must institutionalize all these worthy initiatives, so we can serve and save more people.”

We need pieces of legislation to make this happen, she said. 

Emily, along with well-meaning Rotarians – both men and women – have organized the movement called “Movement for Economic Transformation and Righteous Opportunities” – METRO, for short.  

And this transformation begins in the home, with the women who nurture the family, and mothers who bring up their children to become responsible and responsive members of society.

The Movement seeks to strengthen the Law on Violence Against Women and Children (RA 9262). This is welcome legislation for women, who need further emancipation.

Emily wants to strengthen laws on human resettlement. There have been many cases of “project affected people” who are displaced and uprooted from their workplaces. “Relocation must only be allowed if families are assured employment or commerce in their resettlement area,” the feisty woman leader said.

Logically, METRO will further push socialized housing. “It should not be difficult for our people to have shelter above their heads,” she pointed out.

Ever aware of our diverse society, the METRO leader wants to expand “caring for our people” among indigenous people, the “differently abled,” and detainees whose freedom of movement is severely limited.

Emily wants our tried and tested Filipino values back in our schools, supported by a piece of legislation that requires teachers to go back to GMRC or its modern equivalent.  

Is METRO a party-list? “Yes,” Emily said. “That’s the only way to go so we can have an impact, and make such impact permanent,” she added.

“I noticed that the thinking behind the agenda is characterized as women projects and causes,” I said.  

Her lips curved a pained smile, but a cautious one. “We will uphold the family, grow our children, rebuild society with or without the ‘man in the house.’” I was taken aback, but kept quiet.

“Sad to say, there are a lot of men in the house who shirk their responsibility,” Emily continues. “The joke about sumakabilang bahay is a sick joke, but it’s true.”

Emily knows whereof she speaks. She leads hundreds of thousands of women around the country whose husbands left home. And yet these women, like Emily, have been steadfast in upholding the family and in nurturing the children alone. 

Her scandalously publicized failed marriage  did not devastate Emily.  Like many brave-hearted women, she has stood firmly, her dignity intact, her courage  marvelous – and her resolute plans are unshakeable: To save the children and, yes, transform society.

* * *

Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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