Undersecretary Margarita ‘Marge’ Gutierrez: Lessons from my mother

WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo - The Philippine Star
Undersecretary Margarita �Marge� Gutierrez: Lessons from my mother
Justice Undersecretary Margarita “Marge“ Gutierrez.

When you see Justice Undersecretary Margarita “Marge“ Gutierrez, you would think she is a beauty queen rather than a crusading lawyer. Inspired by her grandfather, the late former Bataan Gov. Rufino Navarro, and her mother, the first female Justice Secretary and Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez, Marge believes in being “a true woman for others.”

“My decision to enter government service was fueled by the powerful example set by my mom, who is also a former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel. Seeing the impact of her work ignited a passion in me to walk in her footsteps,” shares Marge. Prior to DOJ, Marge served as undersecretary for Plans, Programs and Communication of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

“Witnessing my mother’s remarkable contributions and achievements, particularly within the Department of Justice, deepened my admiration for her. Her dedication, integrity, and commitment to justice serve as a guiding light for me, motivating me to strive for excellence, be of service to others, persevere in the face of challenges, and always uphold what is right and just.”

Marge, who is the youngest in the family, has three brothers: Johnny a businessman currently taking up law; Michael, a banker, and Dino Rufino, a businessman. When not busy, she enjoys quality time with her significant other. When she finds the time to relax, she watches her favorite shows on Netflix, dives into a good novel, or just catches up on much-needed rest. And if her schedule allows, she loves to travel and explore new destinations, especially on the beach.

She shares 10 lessons passed on to her by her mom.

With mom, former Justice Secretary and Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez.

1. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity. My mother taught me that failure is not a setback, but a stepping stone towards growth and success. Every time you fail, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and become a better version of yourself. By learning from your failures, you’re setting yourself up for success in the future.

2. Persevere in the face of adversity. She showed me the importance of resilience and determination in overcoming challenges and obstacles. She taught me that the road to success is often paved with challenges and obstacles, and that the ability to persevere in the face of adversity differentiates those who achieve their goals from those who stumble along the way.

3. Believe in your strength. My mother instilled in me the belief that women are inherently strong and capable of achieving great things, not only for themselves but for also for others.

4. Empower other women. She emphasized to me as well the importance of empowering and supporting other women in their journey towards success. Growing up, I was often told that empowered women go on to empower others. It was cultivated in me so it has become my personal mission to encourage women around me, make them feel special and strong, and make sure they know the value of their opinions, so that they’re never scared to use their voice.

5. Take risks and be fearless. My mother encouraged me to take risks, step out of my comfort zone, and not be afraid to pursue my dreams. Being okay with stepping out of my comfort zone is something that has greatly helped me in my career, especially in dealing with changes that are both vital and life-altering.

6. Lead with integrity. She taught me the value of integrity, honesty, and ethics in all aspects of life and leadership.

7. Be compassionate and empathetic. My mother showed me the importance of compassion and empathy towards others, especially those in need. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes and looking at the world through their eyes create a strong sense of empathy that inspires me to want to take action in the pursuit of the greater good.

8. Stand up for justice and equality. She instilled in me the belief that everyone deserves justice and equality, and to advocate for these principles.

9. Value self-care and mental health. My mother emphasized the importance of self-care, mental health, and well-being in maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life.

10. Never give up on yourself. Finally, my mother inspired me to never give up on myself, to keep pushing forward, and to believe in my potential to make a difference in the world. She taught me that when something becomes seemingly unbearable, it’s okay to pause, lick your wounds, gather yourself, and after a little while, stand up and keep moving forward. *



We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @monsromulo.

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