By Deedee M. Siytangco
“You are either for the cause of democracy or for the curse of tyranny” —Ninoy Aquino
Good news! Bouquets to Sen. Cynthia Villar for her award, the Most Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) given during the homecoming and awards ceremonies at the Bahay ng Alumni in UP Diliman.
Aside from her, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno also received the Alumni Award. Some 20 alumni were also cited as “professional awardees.”
“I am so honored, not so much about our achievements as individuals, but how our efforts have benefitted others and have done this esteemed university proud,” Villar said.
“This recognition encourages me to carry on with my advocacies and it also serves as a validation of my continued efforts to inspire and help our fellow Filipinos. The award is really a bonus. It feels good to be recognized. But it feels even better to know that you are making a difference in people’s lives.”
As the chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, Villar is pushing poverty reduction as a legislative priority.
Together with former Senate President Manny Villar, she established the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG), which allowed her to provide assistance to overseas Filipino workers, to support environmental protection, and to establish livelihood projects and farm schools all over the country.
Senator Cynthia earned her degree in Business Administration (BA) from UP and completed her MBA at the New York University. She was elected as Representative of Las Piñas in 2001 and served for three terms until 2010. Three years later, she was elected senator. She is the current chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
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In the Lower Chamber, a young congressman is pouring over the national budget line by line. Cong. Karlo Alexis Nograles, who will celebrate his 41st birthday on Sept. 3, heads the powerful, but contentious Committee on Appropriations. It is congress who holds and dispenses the National Purse worth a trillion-something, so conscientiousness is highly expected of this committee composed of over a hundred members and dozens of vice-chairmen.
We are happy to report that this congressman from the first district of Davao fits the bill very well. He has the political clout, (he belongs to the majority block and has the trust and confidence of the chief executive but is no rubber-stamp minion), the work ethic of an iskolar ng bayan at the Philippine Science High School (he was a CAT awardee there and he is a Jesuit-trained management-engineer and lawyer. He also has the finesse of a seasoned diplomat who can deal with the different heads of government bodies whose budgets he will meticulously scrutinize under a microscope to safeguard the national coffers.
The boyish congressman, son of former speaker Prospero Nograles Rhodora Bendigo, is a well-rounded legislator, active in social work with the Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanity, a member of the Jaycees, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, an advocate against poverty and drugs, a champion of health, livelihood, and education opportunities for the poor together with NGOs and TESDA, and a human rights defender. In his district, he is hands-on with the barangay projects he supports in sports, environment, and disaster-preparedness.
Does he sound too good to be in Congress? Well, he has served two terms honorably and with honor. I salute him, and I know he is destined for a higher post when he finishes his term!
Asked by the media ladies of Bulung Pulungan sa Sofitel about the divorce bill brewing in Congress, Karlo admitted he “shudders” at the divorce bill and professes his lifelong commitment to his wife Maria Margarita “Marga” Montemayor, also of Davao, with whom he has three children. Marga has her own business advocacy, making jackets, bags, and other fashion accessories from indigenous Mindanao fabrics. They will be part of a fair at Rockwell starting Monday.