Three-term senator Loren Legarda assesses the challenges of legislation and being an advocate for art and culture, the environment and the rights of women and children
There is much that Loren Legarda will be doing even after June 30, 2019. By then, the senator who has registered the highest number of votes historically in the electoral exercise for a seat in the upper house, will have completed her third and last term. While there are options to continue in public office in other capacities, it is passion that is driving her plans to pursue the advocacies she has championed even before she became a legislator.
Seat in the Lower House
The senator, who is credited for the country’s return to the Venice Biennale after a 51-year absence, is merely living out the values and tenets she espouses. “We were able to bring the Philippines back to the world’s oldest and most prestigious contemporary art platform after five decades of absence. That alone is a big boost for the art and culture community, and we have so many programs now here and abroad to promote Philippine art and our rich heritage.”
Senator Legarda has also been a champion for women’s and children’s rights, as well as for the environment. “There are offers to lead agencies whose functions are related to my advocacies,” she shares. “I still have climate work as I am a Global Champion for Resilience of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and a National Adaptation Plan Champion of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Fellow advocates in both my climate work and my cultural advocacies are urging me to continue working with them because they have seen that my work goes beyond legislation. Even if I am no longer a senator, I will always be a passionate advocate who will find ways to advance my causes and seek solutions to challenges. There is also a possibility to remain in the legislature in the Lower House.”
She pauses momentarily before adding, “There is still so much that needs to be done. I will continue with my advocacies on climate justice, adaptation and mitigation, on environment, on art and culture, and on women and children. I will continue to find ways to alleviate poverty and uplift the lives of our people not only through enactment of laws, but also by monitoring the strict implementation of these laws and initiating programs that I know would benefit our people.”
Reflecting on the years in office, she is circumspect. “It is very challenging to be a public official because even if you want to do everything for everyone’s good and solve all problems at once, you can only do so much. As a legislator, I have done many laws with only the best intentions in mind. But I realized that government alone cannot do everything; it has to be a whole-of-society approach, all sectors of society working together.”
“Public office is serving the people selflessly and passionately. A public official must not only be hardworking but must also have the passion to serve, vision to achieve and go beyond expectations. Before running for public office, I was a hardworking broadcast journalist for 20 years and I exposed and documented the ills of society. I envisioned that by becoming a senator, I would be able to contribute by providing solutions to these problems through policy legislation, which I did.”
While her efforts have contributed benefits to the sectors she has worked with, there have been challenges. “Acceptance is key,” she reflects. “Everyone will experience failure, but what is more important is what you make out of it. Accept that you failed, find out what you did wrong, learn from it by doing better. I have failed many times; I will continue to fail sometimes. That’s life.”
Setbacks do not deter her. “I want to inspire people to dream big and do their best to achieve that dream. I want to be remembered as someone who has brought about hope and positive change. I would like to be remembered as someone who lived and loved.”
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Read the full special feature on Senator Loren Legarda in Lifestyle Asia’s October 2018 Edition, titled the Power Issue. Run to the nearest bookstore for your print copy or download the FLIP100 app for a digital version.
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