Category: Women Issues


It starts from Km Zero

Road to Senate 2019

A couple of days a week, I hop on a bike to work out before I start my day. Today was no different, except I had a specific destination. I was going to ride to the Commission on Election’s (COMELEC) office in Intramuros, Manila to file my certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator for next year’s elections. That ride was symbolic in many ways.

On my way to the COMELEC with friends and supporters

First, it marks the beginning of my journey to return to the Senate, fourteen years after I first stepped on its hallowed halls as the country’s youngest elected female senator (2004-2010). I would later serve a second term (2010-2016).

It’s official! With my supportive younger brother Lino

The battles I fought throughout the twelve years in the Senate and two more in the House of Representatives were not easy. Most of the landmark measures I passed and continue to be involved in – reproductive health, sin tax, cheaper medicine law, anti-age discrimination, expanded maternity leave, and divorce, have been met with so much resistance from different fronts. But I’ve learned to use my training as an endurance athlete to persevere and fight to the very end, until I reach my goal.


Second, I purposely biked to represent my advocacy for sustainable transportation, something that is urgently needed in our society today. It includes the building of efficient mass transportation systems, bike lanes, sidewalks, and pedestrian walkways. A well-designed transport system will ease the traffic situation in Metro Manila and other urban centers, which has been greatly affecting businesses and individual productivity. Sustainable transportation is kinder to our environment, better for our personal health and fitness, and good for the economy.


Third, I wore a skirt. Yes, I did. I took a few spins on my foldable bike around the Rizal Monument in Luneta first to make sure I can comfortably bike in a skirt. And I’m happy to say, I can and I did! It is a nod to women everywhere who are playing multiple roles in society today, and doing a great job at it. On this note, I’m so proud to include an update on my package of laws to support women – the recently ratified Expanded Maternity Leave Bill that gives 105 days of paid maternity leave to working mothers. As a working mom myself, I’ve seen the balancing act women perform to be mothers while working at the same time. But women in the work force are here to stay and it is society’s job to make this environment supportive to working mothers.


Lastly, I started from the Rizal Monument because that’s where Kilometer Zero is. “KM 0” markers are normally located in a country’s capital from which road distances are measured. I see those kilometer posts all the time when biking, and those numbers indicate how far the place is from Kilometer Zero. As a senator, it’s a reminder to me that I represent the entire country, from kilometer zero to the farthest towns north and south of the Philippines.

At Km Zero where I will begin my campaign

And now, I am back on this road to the Senate starting from KM Zero, willing to take on more challenges in the humble service of the Filipino people.

Senate's Launch of our Film Showing on the State of Maternal and Child Health

8 March 2011

Senate of the Philippines

Film Showing on the State of Maternal and Child Health

Last March, in  celebration  of Women’s month, my office and the Senate, in cooperation with Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity of UP Manila College of Medicine, hosted a  film showing on women’s lives.


The films which include a documentary and short films are part of the recently concluded 2nd Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health (QEFF2). This film festival is a nationwide film-making competition by the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity. This combines the visual power of cinema with the passion of the health advocates.

The first film “Sa direksyon ni Makoy: Da Final Cut”, Jury’s Pick for Best Short Film, tells the story of the six final days of a young boy who lives a lonely life because he has HIV. He knows he is going to die just like his mom who also had HIV.

Z Shorts - Sa Direksiyon ni Makoy (The Final Cut)

The second film “Badong Buntis” is a very short and funny but so real- a man experiences being pregnant and all the difficulties of being a woman.

The third film is “Ang Ina” which is Jury’s Pick for Best Documentary. Ang Ina is a documentary about the economic hardships of raising a family. It gives us the sad statistics about maternal and infant deaths.

Z Documentary - Ang Ina
The fourth film is the QEFF Grand Prize Winner “Limang Libo” about how the paths of a midwife and a scavenger with a pregnant wife are intertwined because of poverty.

Z Shorts - Limang Libo

The last film shown is “Tinalikdan” which follows the plight of two women forced by poverty to make difficult life decisions out of hope and despair.

Z Shorts - Tinalikdan

After the film showing, Dr. Anthony H. Cordero, Director of the Center for Gender and Women Studies- University of the Philippines- Manila, facilitated an open forum.


The film showing was warmly received by a diverse audience including non-governmental organizations, government agencies, students, senate employees and senator’s staff. Senator TG Guingona joined us as well. Also in attendance were members of the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity of UP Manila College of Medicine led by Dr. Danilo DV. Alpapara Jr. Also gracing the event and giving a short introduction on their works were Mr. Donnie Sacueza of  Ang Ina, Ms.Aiza Jane Idanan of Limang Libo and Mr. Edgar Baltazar of Tinalikdan.


For related blog on our series of film showings.

IPU Meeting in Geneva 2009

Every October, Parliamentarians from all over the world meet in Geneva for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference. I am currently the  President of the Women Parliamentarians and our  committee of women meets here once a year to take stock of our work and to prepare for the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians the next year (2010 will be in Bangkok).

At the women's meeting with the Sec Gen and Iranian delegates
At the women's meeting with the Sec Gen and Iranian delegates

In the Women’s Committee, we discussed the gender dimension on the topics pending in the IPU’s standing committees:

       On the topic of  Cooperation and shared responsibility  in the fight against organized crime, in particular human trafficking. it was underscored that human trafficking was often under-acknowledged and that the first step was for parliaments to call on governments to recognize the full extent of the problem and develop strategies to address it.  This in fact is a big problem in the Philippines and much needs to be done.

       On the Role of Parliament in developing cooperation in order to accelerate achievement of the MDGs,  the women  emphasized the need to focus on  MDGs 4 and 5, on child and maternal mortality. This has been my campaign in the country for the last two years. We need more midwives to the barrios, more birthing facilities and access to information and support re family planning.

       On Youth Participation in the Democratic Process, it was suggested that different strategies be considered to include young people in parliamentary debates and hearings, parliamentary youth forums and political party work. The need for gender-sensitive training was also emphasized. I met with the representative of UNICEF to brainstorm on this item later in the week. This would be a good project to implement back home.At the plenary hall during the debates on Youth and the Democratic Process with Cong. Emano and Enverga

The Secretary General Anders Johnson briefed us on IPU’s campaign “Parliaments Take Action on Violence Against Women.” IPU is urging parliaments to take part in this campaign and organize activities to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. This has also been my campaign for the past few years (my related blogs on violence).

Our  Gender Partnership Group met twice. We looked at the IPU budget and noted that due to budgetary support for gender issues, the IPU has been able to focus on many gender related activities.  As for participation in the IPU, the Group noted that there are still 6 countries without women parliamentarians from the Gulf States and the Pacific Islands.

At the second meeting, we met with the Senator from Palau who briefed us about the recent election of two women in the Palau Senate.  He explained that Palau is actually a matriarchal society.  Women are king makers in the communities but do not themselves run for office. I opined that there may be  a need for re-orienting society to support women in leadership positions.

At the General Council Meeting on the last day, the body approved the resolution on the emergency item on  Global Food Security. I supported an amendment to  this resolution, urging governments to make microfinance funds available, guaranteeing that at least 50% would go to women.

Finally, I presented the report of the women parliamentarians to the body. Although the IPU meeting formally closed on Wednesday, there were still events going on, including the seminar on the Convention on the Elimination of  All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which I would chair the next day.

Delivering the report on the work of the women parliamentarians
Delivering the report on the work of the women parliamentarians

Over the years, I have  made friends with parliamentarians from different countries. It is always a pleasure to see them during the IPU meetings. Many of them are seasoned parliamentarians, and I always go home inspired by the people I meet and the lessons I learned.


Sen. Pimentel, Ambassador Basilio and our friends fr Canada, Sen Carstairs, her husband and Judge Debby
Sen. Pimentel, Ambassador Basilio and our friends fr Canada, Sen Carstairs, her husband and Judge Debby
Chatting with the MP fr Cambodia who I met last Sept when I was a speaker in Siem Reap Cambodia
Chatting with the MP fr Cambodia who I met last Sept when I was a speaker in Siem Reap Cambodia