PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

She may have lost 15 pounds from the rigors and challenges of aiming for the presidency, but Sen. Grace Poe remains a heavyweight. Despite being a neophyte senator, she is well-versed on many issues, is aware of the country’s problems and what she believes is the solution to them. Most of all, she is cool, confident and composed.

“A person with a quiet conscience sleeps like thunder,” she told editors and reporters during a visit to The Philippine STAR last Monday.

She has few regrets, and is determined, as a biblical passage goes, “to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith.” She says she will abide with what the Supreme Court decides on the disqualification cases against her centering on her eligibility as a presidential candidate. No ifs and buts.

It helps that she was raised by a mother who didn’t baby her. Her adoptive mother Susan Roces, according to Grace, is the most influential person in her life, even more than her husband Neil Llamanzares.

“Although my mom is very emotional, I feel like her years of experience have gained for her so much wisdom. Being an actor, she has met different kinds of people kaya may pulsong nanay — she has the pulse but she’s also fearless when she believes in something. She’s not the type of mom that says, ‘You can cry on my shoulder, kawawa ka naman.’ She would say, ‘Kawawa ka, pero kaya mo ‘yan! Labanan mo ‘yan,’ and I need that.”

Her husband and children are also pillars of support, even when support from others waned when the disqualification cases were filed.

“My children are very idealistic…Sometimes when I have second thoughts about running, I’ll go to my children and ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ and they respond, ‘Yes, it is worth it!’ Before, my youngest was the most hesitant about it, she’s 11 years old. But now, especially when she hears about my citizenship or the talks about the circumstance of my birth — she has become a more conscious supporter now so I’m just glad that my children have no shame on what I do. In fact, anybody that would be given a privilege to serve a country should welcome (the privilege).”

She told her youngest child Nika that she (Grace) was adopted when she ran for the Senate in 2013. She doesn’t remember when she told her two older children.

Grace was upfront when asked who of her three children (Brian, Hanna and Nika) are US citizens.

“They are all natural-born Filipinos who happen to be a dual-citizen. My son was born in the US, my two daughters were born here. But because my husband was born in the US, this automatically makes them its citizens as well. Before we even go there, I’m giving my children the right to choose because I feel it’s unfair for me to impose on them which path they should take at their young age.”

If she is elected President, her husband prefers to still live in their Quezon City home, which they started building in 2006.

“He said if it happens, he’ll take it. Neil is very attached to our bed. Actually, I feel that I want the same thing, anyway it is still a reasonable commute but you have to be prepared also to stay in Malacañang. Logistically, to be able to keep transporting people is expensive. Now, if my husband insists on staying home, that’s fine — as long as I can install a number of  CCTVs to make sure that he’s really home by himself!” she quipped.





* * *

At 48, Grace gives me the impression that nothing will surprise or shock her anymore as she has  seen them all falling on her shoulders like hollow blocks.

But if she saw support waning, it was from people who usually go, “where the wind blows.”

“I feel an ascertaining of support from family and friends who actually believed in me from the very start. Now, those who have just come in recently during the campaign…there’s no denying of course some of them are in the wait-and-see stage now.”

The roadblocks to the summit of her intentions are firmly in place, but to her, they’re not insurmountable. In fact, they’re preparing her for her future role, if ever.

“Obviously, when you’re Commander-in-Chief you’ll encounter more difficult problems than these. How did the experience help me? I think it made me tougher. Before, I’ve been worrying about the smallest things but this time I have this attitude now that I will just do my best and pray and keep the best intentions at heart.”

She has seen loyalty, but also come face to face with betrayal.

“There are some that you would least expect to be the person or persons to betray you but it happened and I don’t want to dwell on that and I don’t want to mention it anymore. But with political friends, I don’t really count it as betrayal because from the beginning I knew it was a political alliance. And it is bound to change depending on where the wind blows,” she says with cool composure.

Her “joyful detachment” keeps her on an even keel. “As you know, it’s anybody’s ballgame (at this time). So people have actually remained non-committal to everybody. I am fine, I don’t have any major political betrayals because from the very start, I already knew what their intentions were. And I’ve always kept the distance when it comes to them and I always managed my expectations.”

Her training at the Assumption Convent, where she formed lifelong friendships, has also kept her focused. This teaching of the nuns, “Because I love, I serve,” is an underpinning of her campaign.

“Just recently, I had a dinner fundraiser among friends from high school, it was very nice and heartwarming to see their support. But clearly, I think the concern of the public is this: Will you be beholden to the major donors. This is what I promise anybody na hindi ko sila gigipitin pero hindi ko rin sila bibigyan nang mas mataas na pabor. You would be surprised that a lot of them actually welcome that kasi natatakot lang naman sila na ang magiging pangulo ay benggatibo, somebody who would seek revenge if you didn’t give your support. I promise you this, I would keep the best and the brightest people in the administration even if they used to be with GMA or FVR. No one has yet committed to me or I to anyone, but as long as they don’t have an active case, they were not involved in corruption themselves, they can serve. If they are competent and have the integrity, they can still do their job. There are only a few key players, and they just want to have a fair shake right now. I think they already have built their stature and now they realize  that what they want is just a fair government.”

If she hurdles all her cases, and wins the presidential elections, I have no doubt that Grace Poe will govern with grit and grace. I also have no doubt that she will face her destiny gracefully. (You may e-mail me at

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