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Life as it is in the Senate

This will be the first time I will be posting something on my blog that I did not write. I prefer to write about my personal insights, life experiences with family and friends, and avoid serious work related stuff, since all that you can read on my official website www.senatorpiacayetano.com. But given the subject matter, I thought it would be best that those who heard about this issue get the chance to read this piece. The introduction is from my media officer Mike Ac-ac who sent out the article below to those on our official mailing list. If you would like to be included, just send us an email at [email protected]

——
Dear All,

Greetings!

On Jan.28th and 29th, TV, radio and print media carried news on the “walk out” staged by Sen.Jamby Madrigal at a committee hearing being presided over by Senate environment committee Chair Sen.Pia S. Cayetano on 30 proposed protected area laws in different parts of the country.

News reports quoted a fuming Sen.Madrigal calling Sen.Cayetano a “spoiled brat” after her walk out. She also criticized the latter for spending too much time on sports activities instead of focusing on legislative work. But Sen.Cayetano remained calm, choosing not to dignify the accusations and appealing on Sen.Madrigal to just let her do her job.

Below is an insider’s view of the Jamby-Pia incident written by Senate beat senior reporter Efren Danao, and which appeared on his column in the Manila Times on Feb.4. Mr. Danao knows the Senate inside-out, having covered the beat for decades. We are sharing this article to give others a wider perspective of what appeared in the news as just another emotionally charged moment at the Senate.

Mike C. Ac-ac
Media Officer
Sen. Pia S. Cayetano

INSIDE CONGRESS
By Efren L. Danao, Manila Times, Feb. 4, 2008

Link:
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/feb/04/yehey/opinion/20080204opi4.html

Rumble at the Senate: Pia vs. Jamby

Women have gone a long way at the Senate since the election of Geronima Pecson as the first lady senator in November 1947 and served for two terms. From 1947 to 1965, only one lady senator was elected in each election ”Pecson, 1947 to 1953, Pacita Madrigal,1956to 1961, Maria Kalaw Katigbak in the 1961 election. Now, in the Fourteenth Congress, there are four lady senators Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal. Four is the biggest number of lady senators ever and this was also reached at the Eleventh Congress and the Thirteenth Congress.

I now fear that the strides made by lady politicians would be set back by the latest incident between Pia and Senator Madrigal. The two entered the Senate at the same time, in 2004, and almost immediately, Madrigal showed her antagonism towards Pia. A member of the majority, Pia was given two committee posts, one of which was coveted by Madrigal, who belonged to the minority. When Pia said she was willing to give up one of the committees in favor of Madrigal, the latter angrily retorted that committee chairmanship is not a thing that could be given to somebody as a favor.

Bad blood

The “bad blood” between the two was also discernible each time Pia sponsored something on the floor. Madrigal would ask for the submission of even minute details about the subject. Maybe, Pia would have wanted to return the “favor,” except that Madrigal had never sponsored anything since 2004. Oh yes, she did sponsor one ”the Juvenile Justice System” as chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations. However, she later disowned the bill, interpellated the sponsor, proposed amendments and even voted against it” unthinkable for a chairman of a sponsoring committee if you ask me.

The latest “encounter” between the two took place last Tuesday when Pia held a hearing on protected areas as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Madrigal walked out of the hearing after failing to convince Pia to hold separate hearings on each of the 30 bills on protected areas, and called her “a spoiled brat.” She had also derided Pia as one who was not born with a silver spoon. The Madrigals (Pacita Madrigal, the second senator of the land was her aunt) are old rich that made their fortune in shipping and mining, among other businesses.

I may be partial towards Pia but I do know that she would call as many hearings as possible to get full data and cross-section opinions on a bill. Her industry might have escaped public notice because very often, her committee hearings were not extensively covered by the media. In several such hearings, I was the only newsman present and in some instances, I was joined by Bulletin’s Mar Casayuran. During the holiday break, Pia was conducting hearings while others were enjoying their vacation.

Jamby’s record

Madrigal would have been more credible in seeking more committee hearings had she been as industrious as Pia in conducting them. Since 2004, she had never sponsored on the floor any of the hundreds of bills referred to her committees. In the Fourteenth Congress, I think she did hold one committee “hearing,” but this was held in The Netherlands and by his lonesome, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation.

Her negligence as chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations was also evident in her inaction on various bills proposing a Magna Carta for Women. A group of women activists led by Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez David went to the Senate Wednesday to lobby for passage of the proposed law, whose bills had been languishing in Madrigal’s committee.

The Magna Carta for Women seeks to give more teeth to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that was adopted in 1979 by the United Nations and ratified by the Senate in August 1981. Although it has been in force for 26 years in the Philippines, Filipino women continue to suffer from various forms of discrimination. The proposed Magna Carta for Women is meant to strengthen the promotion of gender equality in the country, which should be a priority for Madrigal’s committee.

Incidentally, there are six bills pending in the Senate on the Magna Carta for Women. These bills were filed by Senators Manuel Villar, Bong Revilla, Ping Lacson, Loren Legarda, Edgardo Angara and Pia Cayetano. Could Pia’s authorship have any bearing on Madrigal’s failure to act on the bills? Expect media, to give full coverage to that hearing if and when it is held in anticipation of sparks flying between the two again.

[email protected]

My kind of Jeep

Finally a road vehicle that excites me…I’m not into cars..fast cars, slow cars, they don’t really matter to me.. I cant distnguish one brand from another. I describe cars by their size and color..

Needless to say, new vehicles on the road do not grab my attention…except for one…

As I was leaving the provincial capitol of Negros Oriental in Bacolod City, my staff reminded me that to get to my next meeting, I would be riding the latest jeepney to hit the streets of bacolod.. I should mention at this point, that if there is any public utility vehicle that would pique my curiosity it would be the jeep.

For one, I love looking at the art work found on the sides of jeepneys, especially the very colorful ones and those that depict images related to our culture or beautiful places in our country. And second, as a child, my mom used to take me to the Intercon Hotel jeepney coffee shop where we would sit in the jeep and eat merienda..

But back to the jeep in Bacolod..This jeep is super special because it does not run on gasoline or diesel! It runs on electricity. Like any electronic gadget, you just have to plug it into an outlet, charge for a few hours and its good to go!…
Its called the E-Jeep. Its a joint project of the Green Renewable Independent Power Producer, Inc. (GRIPP), Greenpeace and Solar Electric Company.

Here’s another exciting bit of info about this jeep and the vision of the groups behind the e-jeep. The intention is to use energy from biodegradable waste from the city’s wet markets to power not just the jeep but an environmental-friendly mass transport system.

So, we address the problem of air pollution and solid waste management at the same time!

cool diba?

At present, the e-jeep is being test run in Bacolod and Makati. Since it only runs at 40kph, it is meant to ply small busy roads where the speed is usually slow anyway. Perfect for commuters inside a subdvision or short destinations. For efficient operations, we are told that the plan is to build stations where the jeeps can be charged, so instead of gas stations, we will have charging stations..

Needless to say, I enjoyed my short but extremely pleasant jeepney ride. Oh, by the way, it also is super quiet. No rumbling engines, no noisy tambutso!

I am really hoping to see more innovative environment-friendly projects like this.

Next thing you know, you’ll be calling your mom or boyfriend and saying, sorry Im late, no low bat yung jeep na sinasakyan ko!

You Have Turned My Mourning Into Dancing

September 11, 2001, I was in the coffee shop of a hotel when the news of the twin tower attack reached us. It was horrible horrible news. I was left thinking of all the families who had lost a parent, a sibbling, a loved one. I kept wondering how would they cope…how would they go on after that..

I had no way of knowing that a week later, September 19, 2001, I too would suffer such a devasting loss..On a day that was otherwise a regular working day to most moms, a school day for most kids, my only son and baby, Gabriel, breathed his last.

That day i walked out of the hospital, not like most moms with a content sleeping baby in her arms. I walked out carrying a baby who no longer breathed. As I stood in the parking lot with Gabriel in my arms, I realized the cool air brushed against his cheeks for the first time. If he could open his eyes, he would have seen the beautiful sky..How I wished that he had been normal, that I would have been blessed to see him grow, to run after his sisters, to learn to ride a bike..But that was not God’s plan and I had to accept it..

Many days before that in the middle of a run, I would find myself thinking that one day he will be gone and I will know sadness as I have never known it before. How will I cope? How will I go on?

When he died, I had to break the news to my children, Max who was then 6 and Nadine who had just turned 3. Max cried silently when I told her. Nadine didnt seem to understand then. But today, 6 years later, Nadine comes to me crying saying she misses her brother. I end up crying with her because I miss him too.

Last September 9, we celebrated our annual 12 hours in Memory of Gabriel (www.gabrielsymphony.com). I ts a fundraising multi-sport event we organize where we invite people to join us for 12 hours of walking, running or biking to raise funds for children with disabilities..Every year, I strive to make it more family friendly to encourage more people to come. I want it to be a venue for families to have a fun time, enjoying a beautiful day outdoors and at the same time raising awareness about kids who have special needs. I want my kids to know that their brother was special in many ways – special in the medical sense, because he had special needs – he could not see and hear. He would have never talked, walked or read a book. But also special because, through him, other kids would have a chance at a better life.

This year was a little bit different because aside from the 12 hour run, walk and bike event that was going on from 6am to 6pm, we had a super kids triathlon and an all women’s beginner’s triathlon.

We also had Maiqui Dayrit do his 3rd ironman distance triathlon (swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run 42km) and this year we also had a woman! Ge Santiago did an ironman distance as well! Both Maiqui and Ge went out of their way to get friends and family sponsor them, thereby raising more funds for our cause.

Maiqui, did an amazing race in just over 11 hours. He actually finished before it got dark. I did not know what to do with him because he looked so fresh and was happy just hanging around the area waiting and cheering for Ge.

The girls decided to do a “girl power” and keep Ge company in the run. Ani and Angeline (Labs to George and the tri community) ran with her almost from the start. I joined in later.Way after the sun had set, my kids, the Torres kids,their dad Joey, my brothers and other friends were still playing soccer and cheering on Ge everytime we passed by..

Ge finished in 13:58 with her kids and husband by her side…and the rest of us cheering wildly.

My daughter, Nadine decided to do her first triathlon at Gabriel’s event.

Maxie and her best friend Amanda, feeling they were tri-veterans, didn’t train for the triathlon. On race day, they winged it on the swim, biked comfortably and dragged their feet on the run, but in the last hundred meters, managed a sprint!

As we packed up, I couldnt help but think what a beautiful day this has been…I realized I had not cried that day..It was filled with so many good things –it was one big celebration of Gabriel’s life (he would have been 7 this year), everyone said they had fun and we raised funds for lots of disabled and disadvantaged kids..I had truly momentarily forgotten my sadness..And then I remembered one of my favorite songs in church which goes “You have turned my mourning into dancing…You have turned my sorrow into joy..”

Truly, on that day, God in his wisdom and grace had turned my sorrow into joy.

Thank you to everyone who joined us, thereby bringing joy to the lives of other children.

P.S. Pictures of the event to be posted soon on mydailyrace.multiply.com

Remember Possibilities…Phooey with Limitations

My eight year old daughter came home last week with a major decision
to make – whether to run for student council Assistant Treasurer or
not. Why was this decision so major? Well, she is currently class
president and the rule in their school is, if you run and win a
position in the student council you have to resign as a class
official.

So, I asked her, which position, do you think you will do better at
and enjoy doing? She says, “I dunno.” So, I said, “okay, let’s look at
each position carefully, so you can decide.”

me: What does a class president do?
Nadine: Helps the teacher and tells the class to be quiet.
me: ok, do you like doing that?
nadine: yes.
me: how about student council assistant treasurer, what does that person do?
nadine: helps the treasurer (oo nga naman).
me: What do you think of that position?
nadine: Well, I have a bit of a problem with it mom…
me: what’s your problem, baby?
nadine: I dont think I count very well.
me: ah, well, hmmm, that might be a problem.
long pause…
me: Let’s do this, let’s pray about it and then see how you feel in
the morning, okay?
nadine: okay mom.

So, we prayed, she slept, I slept… and in the morning, she gets in
bed with me and I ask her how she feels and whether she wants to talk
about it some more. She says yes, so we talk.. I finally realize that
she seems to be excited about the whole idea of the campaign – making
posters, talking to people, campaigning with her partymates…
So, I said, “Nadine I think, what you are excited about is the campaign but
not the position you are running for..Why dont you be the campaign
manager. That way, you dont have to run and give up being class
president but you can help your party and enjoy being part of the
campaign!” I thought it was a brillant idea, she seemed to think it
was okay too. So, we prayed again before she left for school and she
said she would think about it.

That afternoon, she came home and I asked her, how did it go. She said
she asked if she could be campaign manager, but was told she was too
young…

Awwww…

With that, Nadine decided, and never waivered in her decision to stay on as class president and not to run for student council, despite
the persistence of the party. She said
she’ll think about running for student council next year.

Seems like such a simple story. But not really. I went through almost
the same nightmare/walk-through-the-unknown during the days I did not
know whether I would be a candidate for the senate or not, whether I
wanted to be such a public figure … No, I did not for once, worry
that I could not do the legislative work. Like Nadine, I had thought
about my skills and knew what the job involved. Being a lawyer, having
worked on radio on my dad’s legal talk show “Companero y Companera”
and actively doing advocacy work, gave me the experience I felt was
necessary. My problem was taking on a new life style/role as a public
official, something new to me, something I was not too familiar with.

But like Nadine, i prayed about it, I asked myself if I could do a
good job and if so, what was stopping me. I realized what was stopping
me was fear…

-fear that I would cry when I gave my speech and remembered my dad ( I
did that and survived),
-fear that I would lose a bit of my privacy (I did and still
survived), but I also met and continue to meet a lot of inspiring
wonderful people,
– fear that I had to do things I did not want to do ( I do, but who
says life would be easy)
– fear that I might lose ( I did not, I actually came in 6th).

I was not rating well in the beginning (though my standing did improve
with every survey)..I was so scared of losing…But in the last few
days of the campaign, I knew in my heart, that I had given it
everything I had,

and if I did lose, that was God’s choice and I was a
better person for what I had gone through. After casting my vote that
day, over 3 years ago, I went home, ate and went to sleep. I woke up
in the late afternoon, looked at my celphone and saw numerous texts
from friends congratulating me for being in the top in the first few
hours of counting…the rest is history.

What’s the point of this entry? It started out with a simple story
about my little girl, and at this point is about my campaign story.
But this is not about my running or Nadine’s decision not to run. It’s
about setting aside your fears and believing. I’m reading this book
“Life’s Missing Instruction Manual” and I was totally struck by the
following lines quoted by the author Joe Vitale (www.mrfire.com):

“There never was anything to be afraid of. The opportunities I passed
up, the people I never approached, the rock star I never became. All
sacrificed at the altar of fear–fear that never really existed.”
-Dr Paul Hartunian (www.Hartunian.com/ezine).

“I wish I had learned that I can do anything I really believe I can
do. It may sound simple, but it’s the basis of any and all
achievements (or lack thereof) in anyone’s life…If you want to
change your life for the better, change your belief about what’s
possible for you..and what you can accomplish, if you simply put your
mind to it.”
-Jim Edwards, author of 5 Steps to Getting Anything you want (www.HowToGetAnythingYou.Want.com)

It’s true. I grew up not thinking there were any limitations – not
because I was a girl, not because I was young, not because I wasn’t
smart enough or talented enough (even though all around me there were
smarter and more talented people). No one ever told me, I couldnt do
that.

With that background, I entered college at 15, joined the UP
volleyball varsity (although I thought I was going to die on the first
day of training), eventually became its team captain and the youngest
member of the Philippine team while getting my degree in Economics and
graduating cum laude at the age of 18. I went on to become a lawyer,
practice law, set up a retail business (Maxibear, Maxitoylab and
Maxiworks), write parenting books, give talks on parenting, became a
radio host, an advocate for breastfeeding and children with
disabilities, oh resumed my passion as an athlete – this time as a
runner/marthoner, cyclist, duathlete and triathlete..and yes, my
current job, I am a senator with a few more advocacies- health care
reforms, the environment, education and women’ s and children’s
rights.

I mention all this, only because I want to emphasize the point that
you can really do anything you put your mind to.

So, whether your dream is to change the world, to be a doctor or a
rock star, an olympian or the next President, set your sight on that
dream, do what it takes and conquer your dream.

Oh, one last story…Right after I put down the book I mentioned
above, I looked up and saw my other daughter Maxine, 12,

in front of
our mac, blogging. I went up to her and looked at her home page,
which she is constantly changing/redesigning… it read “Remember
possibilities… phooey with limitations.”

What can I say? My daughters… I’m a happy mom (big smile).

A Sleepytrigirl is Made not Born

How does a sleepytrigirl who has been a night owl most of her adult life become a triathlete or a morning athlete -runner, cyclist whatever?

It was a process. It started with the death of my son… Running consoled me..
As I added on the mileage, I decided to train for a marathon (the Chronicle Marathon in SF in 2002) to help me deal with my grief. At that time, I was an entrepreneur then working at home, which allowed me to do my runs at sunset, my favorite time. Before that I was a practicing lawyer, doing my runs in the evenings and weekends.

But right after the marathon, I was so sick of running and needed something else to do. My brother Lino, friends Earl Medina and Patrick Joson kept bugging me to try the tri. Lino lent me his yellow mountain bike that he bought, I think, in the supermarket. I’m not kidding!

Despite my bike being an eyesore and my not knowing which was the front or back side of my bike helmet, I managed to learn to ride with cleats and even survived a few scrapes and stitches..

I disciplined myself to sleep earlier than normal so I could wake up earlier than normal to bike. After about a month of this, I had to leave for the US to be with my dad who was very sick…He needed a liver transplant and as it turned out, Lino gave our dad, 2/3rds of his liver…

We eventually took my dad home. I did my first duathlon that weekend (5k run-20k bike-2.5k run). Lino also joined and finished the race, a mere 4 months after the liver transplant. I actually won that race. Sadly, my dad died the week after…Lino and I went for a run when they took him away. It was the only way I knew how to console myself.

I continued to do duathlons, waking up early to bike or run. Fast forward a few months, I ran, uhh.. I mean, I ran for public office as a senator. I squeezed in a run or bike wherever I was. Some of the more memorable ones were, running around a church compound in the pouring rain.. running in a state-of-the-art track oval on a moon-lit night in Lanao del Norte, surrounded by soldiers and the PSG.. biking through Cavite, just me and Dags (our ever reliable former Tour, now bike mechanic), shaking hands with people in the jeeps and going down at every market we passed… Oh, and how could I forget, biking up Baguio via Marcos highway.

As fate would have it, I won, became a senator and went back to a more predictable training schedule – that is morning bike rides and runs 4-5 days a week before starting my workday and 1 or 2 afternoon/early evening sessions. Last year, I started swimming regularly and made the shift from duathlon to triathlon. Today, I do both.

How does a sleepytrigirl do it? Believe me, with much difficulty. I come from a family of late sleepers. I’m used to working past midnight. When I reviewed for the bar exam, I studied til 3 am in the morning everyday, ran in between review classes, joined a half marathon a month before the bar exams and got typhoid fever, but that’s another story…I guess that’s just the kind of schedule that works for me…

Since I became a duathlete/triathlete I have had to try to be in bed before midnight, preferably 11 pm. Tough..especially with two girls who know mommies are on call 24 hours a day…

These days I’m a sleepytrigirl who needs to constantly review her schedule to balance work and family time, speaking engagements, meetings, study time, training and yes, sleep… I have no fixed sleeping time, and no fixed waking time. Some days, though rarely, thank God, I’m up at 5am (like the days when I biked from my house to Batangas). Other days, even more rarely, thank you, thank you God (!!!), I sleep at 6 am (when we had marathon sessions in the senate and the day after election- that’s at the campaign headquarters). I just do what I can every single day.. and at night, my girls and I thank God for all the blessings.. and then, I pray that my daughters let me sleep and I wake up with a smile without having to hit the snooze button 10x.

Why do I do it? Because…

– i like being fit, I hate being fat and I love to eat.
– i love to race…and race well. But I need to train well, if I am to race well..After the grueling campaign period, Philippine team manager Melvin Fausto signed me up for and olympic distance duathlon (10k run-40k bike-5k run). I knew I would suffer…After the first 10k run and the 40k bike, I was dragging my feet to finish the last 5k. I was so slow, I was almost walking and one of the race marshals, Rene Zablan, who was on a bike beside me kept saying, “out of shape ka ‘no?”..and, “gusto mo nang maglakad ‘no?” I wanted to bop him. But everything he said was true and I realized it wasn’t fun doing this when you haven’t trained well.

-its a great way to spend your vacation.That’s the Philippine Duathlon team in the World Duathlon Championship in Australia.

-I love being around all these disciplined crazy people who work hard and persevere in the pursuit of victory.
-I love seeing friends and meeting new people at races.
-I love the bond I have with my dua/tri/cycling friends, some of whom have become very good friends.

– when Im out there running and biking, I have peace.

Are you ready to tri?

Please check pinayinaction.multiply.com soon for more updates on running, triathlon, fitness and women’s health.

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 www.gabrielsymphony.com) 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 www.senatorpiacayetano.com

ITO ANG GUSTO KO! ALAN CAYETANO!

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!.