“While I am quite proud of what I have achieved, I do not think I have reached the pinnacle of success or the peak of my career. I will continue working for it”,” Juico tells Lifestyle Asia.
Lena Marie P. Juico is not a name that attracts immediate recognition. She’s not a celebrity, nor is she a social media influencer and in fact, if you hear her name, it may sound familiar, but not top-of-mind to the general public. However, despite not being famous, she has made huge progress in support of her advocacies by authoring laws for communities such as the LBTGQ+ as well as for women, teens, and children.
Mayen, as she is more commonly known, served as City Councilor in the first legislative district of Quezon City from 2013 until June of this year, when her term ended. To call her nine years in office “productive” would actually be a supreme understatement. Her landmark legislative achievements include authoring SP-2357, S-2014 which is an ordinance that provides a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) or more commonly known as the Quezon City (QC) Gender-Fair Ordinance. This was passed into law on November 28, 2014 by the mayor of QC at that time, Herbert Bautista.
This ordinance forbids any form of discrimination against LGBTQ+ members in their schools or workplaces as well as in providing accommodation and in the delivery of goods and services.
“I passed the most comprehensive piece of legislation when it comes to SOGIE and anti-discrimination of LGBTQIA+. To this day, we have yet to have a national law for this, but I’m proud of the ripple effect in other LGUs passing the same legislation,” Juico states.
Rightfully proud, as Quezon City is the first to pass this kind of law and this is not the only groundbreaking legislation she’s been involved with.
“I also authored the first anti cat-calling ordinance in the country, before it became the Bawal Bastos National Law. Before I ended my term, I also succeeded in passing landmark ordinances like the management and prevention of Adolescent Pregnancies and the policy on the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS in the city,” she enumerates.
A purposeful nine years
Obviously, Juico walks the talk when she speaks of supporting her advocacies. Aside from LGBTQIA+, teens, and women, she has also lobbied for solo parents and Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) victims. Now that she’s no longer a City Councilor, how does she continue to support these causes close to her heart?
“I continue to accept invitations from other LGUs to teach them about these measures I have passed. I love enriching people with new knowledge and inspiration that their LGUs can do the same, and that they can be allies who fight hard for these advocacies.”
After nine years in the local government service, which Juico calls “purposeful and inspiring,” she now most especially encourages women to consider public service, “It is time we ensure equal representation!”
With newfound “free” time, Mayen is now involved with what she calls, “mommy duties.” She is mother to a beautiful daughter and recently a new dog. The former has kept her busy while she enjoys this time with her daughter. When asked what her parenting style is, she quips, “I listen, I take her voice into consideration, but she understands when there are rules that cannot be broken. I encourage her to speak out when there is an issue, too.”
Asking for help, setting boundaries
Working in Local Government is a full time, sometimes even an overtime, job. How was she able to manage raising her daughter as a single parent while working, plus have time for much-needed self-care?
“With help! It is so true that it takes a village to raise a child. My parents and siblings help me out, too. I set boundaries as well. I’m ‘old school,’ so I keep a calendar/planner to map out how my schedule will be. Now that face to face school is back, I am able to squeeze in ME time,” she shares.
While life seems to be good, Juico does not forget to be grateful for what she has and what she has achieved in this past year. “I am grateful for having completed my three terms as City Councilor. I am thankful to have the luxury of time to spend with my aging parents and my growing child. I am at the sandwich stage, where I care for my elderly parents and my young child at the same time, and I am grateful that I am able to do so.”
Speaking of luxury, Juico has come to realize that its definition has evolved. “The definition of new luxury to me is no longer having the priciest or most coveted possessions, even if it is the most “luxurious.” I think the pandemic has had all of us looking at the world, our lives, through a different lens. To me, it has highlighted what was most important, what the real necessities were, and the real “cannot be withouts.”
New luxury is what matters most to you, what’s beyond the basics. Two of life’s luxuries that I cannot do without or I find hard to function without, is a good night’s rest and quality time with my daughter. A good, restful sleep is key to good health, and most of the time, I have trouble silencing my mind to prepare for respite. As a solo parent, I cannot do without being able to spend unrushed, undisturbed time with my daughter. It’s important to me that she knows she has a parent who will drop everything for her.”
Juico concludes with her definition of success. “Success is relative. We have our own meter sticks depending on what matters most to us and what brings us the most joy. What success to me may be completely different and unthought of for other people, and what success to them might be something that lies low on my list of priorities. Success to me is a healthy, balanced life. It’s doing what you love the best way you can, it is achieving inner peace and peace of mind and being unaffected by all the noise.”
When asked if she feels she’s reached the pinnacle of success considering all the achievements she’s made as a City Councilor and even as a mother, she quietly, almost introspectively replies, “While I am quite proud of what I have achieved, I do not think I have reached the pinnacle of success or the peak of my career. I will continue working for it.”