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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Jan 31, 2024

What I learned from Senator Loren

I was still in college at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) when I first met Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda. Little did I know that a few years after that meeting, I will not only be able to cross paths with her again, but also be mentored by her.

In 2012, I joined her Senate team as legislative and communications staff. Anyone familiar with Senator Legarda would know the amount of discipline that it requires to be part of her team. My work ethic was largely built at the time I was working with her.

She taught me the value of detail, hard work, and discipline. She gives 110 percent to all her advocacies. She goes by the discipline of complete staff work (CSW), and she expects the same dedication from her staff.

From her, I learned that even the smallest details need attention, and that planning is as important as execution itself. Thus, when she says CSW, she means that you have covered every tiny detail that is vital to the success of a task.

Her unrelenting passion for her advocacies is infectious and she was always ahead of her time. For instance, even before climate change became common knowledge, she was already advocating for adaptation and mitigation.

She authored and sponsored the country’s landmark laws on the environment, climate change awareness and action, and disaster resilience, such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Air Act, the Climate Change Act, the People’s Survival Fund Act, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Green Jobs Act, the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, among others.

Senator Legarda is also a champion of promotion and preservation of Philippine culture and the arts. She authored laws such as the National Museum of the Philippines Act, the National Cultural Heritage Act, the Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act, and the National Indigenous Peoples Day.

She is also one who literally wears her heart on her sleeve as she was already known for her “fashionalism” even before wearing garments made by Filipino artisans became a fad. 

She is the author of the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law that mandates the promotion of the country’s natural fabrics through the use of such materials for official uniforms of government officials and employees. I remember that,aside from special events, we would also wear Filipiniana during Mondays at the Senate in compliance with this law she authored.

Senator Legarda has initiated numerous projects that promote Philippine art and culture, and benefit our indigenous communities and local artists, but one that I fondly remember during my time as her staff is the HIBLA Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines, which was part of the Manila FAME Design and Lifestyle Event 2012. 

It was a showcase of Filipino indigenous weaving traditions featuring several cultural villages in different parts of the country. She asked us to interview the artisans so that we could have a better appreciation not only of their artistry and talent but also of the importance of preserving our indigenous culture. She would allow us to immerse in her advocacies so that we understand the value of the work that we do.

I have always considered Senator Loren as one of my first mentors in government. And one of the best things I learned from her is to have a “can-do” attitude, that when you want to achieve something, you have to give it your all and do your best to attain it, because as she would always say, “There is no such thing as, it can’t be done.”

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