Author: Pia

My Seatmate…Senator Juan Flavier

Attending session is like going to class. We have a bell that rings reminding us that session is about to start. We start every Monday with a flag ceremony, every session day with a prayer. Right after that is attendance, when we are all scrambling to be on the floor to be sure we are not marked ABSENT or LATE.

Like the nerdy school girl I was, I sit in the front row, next to Senator Juan Flavier, on his side is the majority floor leader Kiko Pangilinan.

My seatmate is never absent nor late. He is always the first one there. When I arrive, he always greets me with a warm smile and in return, I give him a kiss on the cheek…

Then I sit down and he says “how are you young lady”?And like a girl in need of a father, without further prompting, I pour my heart out to him, sharing the highs and lows, the joys and trials of my day.
He listens patiently, laughs heartily, shakes his head compassionately.

Today, my seatmate, along with some great men the senate has seen, Senate President Frank Drilon, Senator Jun Magsaysay and Senator Serge Osmena graduates from 12 years of serving the people in the Senate.

I will miss him so dearly. In many ways, he was the father of a girl who sorely missed her father. He was the mentor of a neophyte senator both in the political arena and in the legislative field. He was an attentive listener to her sometimes, nonsensical babbling.

He protected me from the naughty boys who sat in the back. You know how boys are. They have nothing better to do some days but joke about my breastfeeding bill or the color of my dress or hairclip. But that’s just the way they are. He would give them a stern look every now and then reminding them to stop bugging me.

When I confided in him about the frustration of dealing with certain groups who refused to see the other side of certain issues, he would say to me, “hayaan mo silang kumisay. When I explained that some people are impossible to deal with because they expect me to adopt their entire position en toto, he says sabihin mo, pwede nilang gawin yun, kung sila na ang senador. Of course, only he could get away with saying that. But he always gave me the reassurance I needed to hear that after studying an issue, he trusted the decisions I reached and would always, as he did, support them.

One other thing I loved about him, we both dislike long circuitous speeches and debates. Sometimes debates would go on and on for days. I would tune in and out and at some point say to him, the last I heard , ganito ganito ang pinagdedebatihan, may bago na bang pinag-uusapan? And he would, say wala, ganun pa rin, buti pa magmerienda ka na lang at growing girl ka pa.

But close to my heart, of course, is when he shares his memories of my dad, his former colleague, the late Senator Rene Compañero Cayetano.

Ayy, I feel so sad that my seatmate has graduated. Its like your best friend transferring to another school. You know you can still see her, you know you can have lunch dates anytime but it’s just not the same without him by your side (especially kung hindi marunong mag-text, email or ym).

To my seatmate truly the Honorable Senator Juan Flavier, doctor to the barrios, senator of the Filipino people, it has been my pleasure and utmost privilege to work with you, laugh with you and share my life with you.

I know he will now be busy in the Mr. Bean Watchers Club, where his granddaughter Kia is the self appointed President, his grandson Pio is the Vice President, Migo, the Treasurer and he is well, just a member. What does he say about that?

He says, Who could ask for more?

FN: I copied that Mr Bean story without his permission from his autobiography, From Barrio to Senado.

The Little Prince and the Miracle Workers

Last Saturday, May 26, 2007, upon the invitation of PGH Neurosurgery’s Chief, Dr Gap Legaspi, I went to PGH to observe their mission for children with hydrocephalus and cranio-facial disorders.

They do this mission 3-4 times a year as there are just too many indigent patients in need of surgery that cannot be accommodated during the regular days.

I got there late morning and suited up in scrubs, nice color but not dri-fit as Dr Gap had promised me:(

There were five operating rooms being utilized. We met his energetic staff and colleagues, all of whom gave up their Saturday to join this mission without pay to make a difference in the lives of 14 young children, including Dra Kay Pioquinto neurosurgery’s chief resident. A girl! Yeh! Also met Dra. Geraldine Jose, the first and only neuro-anaesthisiologist in the country. Another girl, yeh!

I saw kids with bumps and swellings on their faces and heads that distorted their beautiful faces. This 20 month old child, nicknamed Prince had a sack of cerebro spinal fluid (CSF) that was already larger than his head. He just lied in bed because the sack was so heavy, he could barely move.

Dr Gap showed us around, explained a few cases to me (in very layman’s terms of course) and gave me a crash course in reading an xray. Wow, I actually can point out the fluid in an xray headshot. He also showed us the new pedia surgery rooms, renovated courtesy of Rotary Club San Juan del Monte.

Back to the little Prince, we met his worried parents in the corridor as they waited for him to be rolled into the OR. His mom silently wept as they put him on the operating table.

I lightly tapped her shoulder and smiled (yeah as if she could see my smile under the mask I was wearing). I felt her pain all too well, because.. well, my son had lived in a hospital all his life and I know what a mother feels.

Dr Gap and his staff went about their job. A little past 2:00 the little prince was freed from that sack of fluid which he had carried with him in the back of his head, for all his life.

Like him, all the other 13 kids were successfully operated on. What a miracle. They would have wanted to do more kids, but this is a long tedious process.. and fatigue does take its toll even on miracle workers.

I take my hat off ( ALL the different kind I have – running caps, bike helmets, swim caps ete etc) to Dr Gap Legaspi and his team and all the other doctors and staff of PGH and health professionals like them, who choose spend a beautiful Saturday to give a child a new life

Now if only…

– Malacanang will allow DBM (the Department of Budget and Management) to release my funds for all the other projects I have pending in PGH including the Liver Center, the Women’s Desk, various hospital equipment (from my last count this totals close to P15Million)
– My funds for all the other hospitals like Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, the Provincil Hospital in Marinduque, and various health centers all over the country.
– DBM will release the allocation from the proceeds of VAT and SIN tax as specified in said laws for healthcare;
– if only more local governments would prioritize health care for their constituents;
– if only pumasa na sa Lower House ang bill on Cheaper Medicines which the senate has already passed;
– if only we could comply with the WHO minimum recommendation of allocating 5% of GDP to health, instead of our current 2+%.

ayy, if only..

Meanwhile, I’ve allocated P2million of my 2007 Priority Development Funds (otherwise knows as pork barrel) for the pediatric neurosurgery program of PGH.

But knowing the release of those funds will take a while, I’ve also pledged from my foundations (Companero Rene Cayetano Foundation and Gabriel Symphony Foundation to fund the salary of the nurses for the pediatric neurosurgery OR which according to Dr Gap will immediately allow them to start using the new Operating Rooms shown above and operate on 200 more patients a year. Imagine 200 more little princes will have a better life.

If anyone would like to contribute to our foundations for this project which is so so deserving please contact Mailet Bonoan at at 09177008665 or Dr Gap Legaspi’s office at 5242338.

Until then, preventive health care muna tayo… Jogging, jogging or other forms of exercise, good nutrition and healthy living, pampatanggal na ng stress, pampapayat at pampalusog diba?

What's in a Name: Alan Cayetano

When I was four years old, my brother Alan Peter S. Cayetano was born. Alan’s namesake is an older gentleman who took in my father, Rene Cayetano as an employee which eventually led him to grad school in the University of Michigan. Peter is my grandfather’s name.

At 21, while still in college at UP, Alan became a councilor in Tagig, and the youngest councilor in the country. At 27, he became the youngest congressman..In the halls of Congress, he was called Alan, Alan Peter or Peter.

Last week, when we all headed for the precincts, Comelec ordered that Alan be stripped of all votes referring to Cayetano, even though the whole country knows that he is the only legitimate Cayetano running for the Senate.

Also, since Comelec refused to resolve this case earlier, all votes in favor of Joselito “Peter” Cayetano, went to Joselito “Peter” Cayetano since his name remained on the ballot.

Today and in the last few days, Alan continues to fight that votes in his own name be credited to him.

Tinanggal na nga nila ang Cayetano, ang Peter Cayetano at ngayon pati na rin ang Alan Cayetano binabawas pa sa kanya. But they do not dishonor Alan by what they do. They dishonor the Filipino people.

Kung binoto ng mga tao si Alan dahil pinaniniwalaan nila ang pangalang Cayetano, dapat ito pahalagahan ng mga tao sa administrasyon.. And it is only right, that the votes the Filipino cast in favor of Alan, be credited to him..

All our life our father reminded us “when I die, I will only leave you two things, a good education and a good name…”

In the end, they can try to strip Alan of his votes, but they can never take away our name and what that name means to us and to those who trust in that name.

Meeting with Legislators from Around the World (IPU)

I attended the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), where I am the Vice President of the Committee on Women Parliamentarians last April 29 to May 3 in Bali Indonesia. At the meeting of the Women parliamentarians, we discussed the effect of globalization and (1) how to empower women workers and entrepreneurs, and (2) improving working conditions for women.

I presented the situation in the Philippines- the high demand for our health workers, particularly our nurses and how this creates employment opportunities, but on the downside, results in brain drain, a health crisis and its negative impact on children with absentee parents.

I also discussed the growth of the ICT sector, including call centers in our country and how we can further strengthen the growth of this sector with relevant educational and training programs, with the hope that this would open more job opportunities for women. That’s me and Director Carmen Arceno.

In the IPU’s 2nd standing committee, I presented the Philippine experience where we continue to conduct interfaith dialogue on the national, regional and international level.

I also attended the meeting on global warming where various speakers and delegates expressed their opinions on the matter. I shared with some delegates my view that there is a need to distinguish the response and responsibility of developing countries from that of industrialized countries. Our lifestyles and industries are very different and although all nations must do their part to address global warming, certain countries must be accountable for the effects of GW which we are all experiencing.

On the lighter side, I got a chance to see a bit of Bali with my good friend Mona Valdes, who happens to be Indonesian. As you can see, we met a friendly monkey while visiting a hindu temple.

I also tried lots of super delicious Indonesian food, my favorites were esteler, which is like halo-halo, except made with fruits and coconut milk…

… and a specialty of the street vendors –martabak (and I’m probably not spelling that right) and Dutch pancake complete with condensed milk, grated cheese, chocolate and peanuts…which Mona said, put me back 1000 calories per serving!!!…After all that yummeee food, I was happy to go home.

For more details on the IPU, please visit my website at


While Alan was stuck in Manila attending to his COMELEC case to have Joselito “Peter” Cayetano disqualified as a nuisance candidate, I did my only little thing campaigning for him across the country (as of posting, Comelec has not yet disqualified the nuisance candidate which means his name is still in the ballots and as reflected in the past surveys is causing Alan’s rating to drop from 7-12%).

We headed north and biked throughout the provinces of La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. Biking with me were my brother Lino, national triathlon champ, George Vilog and Patrick Joson of Kape ni Juan and Yabang Pinoy.

We also did market stops along the way. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a vegetable vendor, Aling Nellie in a market in San Fernando, La Union, wearing dad’s shirt. Imagine how I felt! I wanted to hug her… which I did. Promised to send her Alan’s campaign shirt and one of my Pinay In Action shirts.

We slept in beautiful historic Vigan that night. The next day we took in the sights and food, walked along the cobble stone road and ate good ol’ dirty ice cream. That’s Lino and my kids, Maxie and Nadine.

Next day we moved on to Laoag and then Pagudpud. As the sun started to set, I went for a run heading eastward, running through the breathtakingly beautiful golden rice fields and then up the mountains towards Cagayan.

The following week, I biked with a group of ever enthusiastic Cebuano
supporters, organized by former national triathlete and long distance triathlon champ, Nonoy Jopson, who rode with me around Cebu campaigning for Alan.

We did the same thing in parts of Batangas, Cavite and Tagaytay.

I have to admit, biking is my favorite way of campaigning!

Before I go, a friendly reminder.. para mabilang ang inyong boto, isulat ALAN CAYETANO!.


If you are reading this, consider yourself a participant invited to share my daily race called life…This being my first blog, I am not sure how it will evolve. But the intention is to share with family and friends the ups and downs, happy and not-so-happy parts of my personal, professional/political life.. Nothing majorly serious, but hopefully inspirational, thought provoking, at times funny…

Your comments are always welcome but since this is meant to be a “feel good” blog, you can only say nice things. Hehe!

Let’s start with some serious stuff…


A lot of you hear about my biking and running from media coverage. But not all of you know about the work I’ve done in the senate. I’d like to share the same with you as it is important to me that you also know about my senate work.

I am currently the chairperson of two senate committees, Health and Demography and Environment and Natural Resources. As such, I have sponsored a number of measures on these subject matters in the last two-and-a-half years. The bills listed below are those that have passed in the Senate. Two major bills have been signed into law by the President, namely, the Biofuels Act (RA 9367) and the Hospital Detention Act (RA 9439). We expect the other measures to likewise be signed into law before the 13th Congress formally adjourns this June.


“Biofuels Law” (Republic Act 9367) – Reduces the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, protects public health and the natural ecosystem, and supports domestic industries engaged in biofuels production, particularly the sugar and coconut sectors. I am a co-sponsor and author, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago being the principal sponsor.

“Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007” (Senate Bill 2600) – Creates an Oil Pollution Management Fund which will cover expenses for containment and cleanup operations in case of an oil spill. The bill has been passed by both chambers of Congress and is now awaiting the President’s signature.

***thats me with Congressmen Neric Acosta and Miles Roces in Guimaras after the oil spill incident

“Cebu Central Protected Landscape Act of 2007” (SB 2532) – Consolidates the management of Cebu province’s five remaining forest areas and critical watersheds to be known as the Cebu Central Protected Landscape. Like SB 2600, the bill is ready for signing by the President.


“Hospital Detention Law” (Republic Act 9439) – Prohibits any hospital or medical clinic from detaining, directly or indirectly, patients who have fully or partially recovered or who may have died, for reasons of nonpayment of their hospital bills or medical expenses.

“Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act” (SB 2490) – Pushes for greater public awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding. It mandates the establishment of lactation stations in the workplace and public places where nursing mothers can express their milk. The Senate has approved the measure while the House is expected to pass its version soon.

***at the Fabella hospital encouraging new moms to breastfeed continuously

“National Anti-Rabies Act” (SB 2541) – Mandates dog owners to have their pets immunized against rabies and registered with their local government unit. This measure only needs the President’s signature to become law.

“Mandatory Hepa-B Immunization Act” (SB 2012) – Expands the national immunization program by making basic immunization services against Hepatitis-B mandatory for infants within 24 hours after childbirth. The measure has passed the Senate but is still waiting for the House’s final version.

“Cheaper Medicines Act” (SB 2263) – Reduces drug prices by amending specific provisions of the Intellectual Property Code. I co-sponsored the measure with the main author, Sen. Mar Roxas III. This bill awaits the House’s final version.


Republic Act 9421 – Upgrades the Valenzuela General Hospital into a 200-bed capacity tertiary hospital to be known as the Valenzuela Medical Center;

Republic Act 9420 – Converts 200 beds of the 2,000-bed Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium for tertiary general health care; and

Republic Act 9419 – Increases the bed capacity of the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina from 150 to 300 beds.


Other bills I have authored are pending before the different senate committees. For more details on my bills, updates on my work in general please visit my website at


Ever run out of fun things to do on your birthday? I found a great way to celebrate mine. . . I joined the Philippine duathlon and tri team at the Mekong River International Multisport event in Thailand.

Here is a recount of my racing weekend.

I had planned on running a sprint duathlon the first day and a sprint tri, the 2nd day. But 30 mins before the race started, team manager, Melvin Fausto prevailed upon me to run as an elite in the olympic distance. . I had not trained for this at all, but I figured why not? Worse case scenario, i would be very tired and very slow. . but at least i would burn a lot of calories and could eat a lot.

But it turned out to be a good race! Planned a steady 10K between 1:52 and 1:53. Did a 1:53! My bike was suprisingly good, despite the lack of practice. . . Figured i would only bike a 1:30 and anything faster would be a bonus. I ended up with a 1:19. . . Last run was good too. About 26+. So, including time in the transition area my time was 2:42 which i was very happy with considering that my only serious training was my run. .

The Team did very well. We took 1st and 2nd place in the under 23 women, Monica and Annalisa. And 1st and 3rd under 23 mens, August and Ryan. Our defending champ Ryan, failed to defend his title as the field was really deep and strong this time with non-asian entries.

Next day, was the triathlon race where i registered as an age grouper for the sprint distance.

Boarded a ferry that took out us 750 meters. When the whistle blew, Ani and I jumped off the side of the ferry and swam. As planned, Ani swam with me but around 250 meters into the swim, i told her to go ahead since i was fine. I knew she had a shot in winning so sayang naman if she just paced with me. Sure eneough, she did!. Yey Ani!

Swim turned out to be nice and uneventful (compared to last year where i found myself halfway to Laos because of the current). Bike and run went well too. And i finish in 1:20.

The hightlight of Sunday was that national champ, George Vilog beat the Philippine record! He clocked in at 1:56. Its an ITU certified race so we’re waiting for final word that it will be honored by TRAP.

And so ends a great weekend of racing and hanging with some admirable people, the men and women comprising the Philippine duathlon and tri team. . . Good job team!

Next birthday uli!

March 18 was such a fun and inspirational day. Hundreds of women joined our Pinay in Action run\walk to celebrate women’s month and various women causes.

There were serious runners, like the Philippine team athletes, including one of whom chose not to run competitively that day, but instead carried her baby on her back on a baby carrier. There were kids of all ages, other moms who walked/ran with their kids, disabled athletes, grandmothers, cancer survivors and women of different profession, athletic abilities and backgrounds.

Together, we strive to raise awareness and support for breast cancer (no. 1 cancer killer for women in the Philippines, according to the DOH), cervical cancer (no. 2 cancer killer, which is caused by the hpv virus and is sexually transmitted), hepatitis (which may lead to liver cancer and is the 7th top killer for women) , breastfeeding and violence against women and children. We had booths with information on these issues, including screening and vaccination for hepatitis.

And of course, close to my heart, is encouraging women (men and kids) to start and maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. Running and walking are one of the easiest exercises. All you need is a good pair of shoes, a place to run or walk and ideally a fitness partner to keep you company or keep you motivated.

There is so much to do, but it is good to know that we’ve gone beyond the first step to address these issues.

See you at the next race?