Ma. Gracia Padaca (Isabela), Luisa Cuaresma (Nueva Vizcaya), Josefina Dela Cruz (Bulacan), Teresita Lazaro (Laguna), Bellaflor Castillo (Aurora), Carmencita Reyes (Marinduque), Josephine Sato (Mindoro Occidental), Salvacion Perez (Antique), Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu), Milagrosa Tan (Samar), Rosette Lerias (Southern Leyte), Aurora Cerilles (Zamboanga del Sur), Imelda Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte), Ma. Elena Palma-Gil (Davao Oriental), Daisy Fuentes (South Cotabato).
Floydelia R. Diasen (Province of Kalinga).
Thus goes the list of women elected as governors in the country. Some of them have sought re-election, while some have moved on to the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, they have all become members of the Governors’ League – further cementing the study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which lists the Philipines as one of the most “gender-fair” countries in the world. The UNICEF report on the state of the world’s women and children observed that the Philippines has accomplished “significant progress in the involvement of women and young people in the political decision-making process.”
Dr. Floydelia Diasen, though relatively new in the realm of political decision-making, has, for the past three decades, a contributor to rural development by way of teaching – a stint that takes the biggest chunk in her resume where professional experience is concerned.
“My stay with KASC since 1979 has effectively imbued in me the management skills that I would be needing,” the governor-elect replied when asked whether her long-time career in the academe would be sufficient as preparation for the tasks at hand at the Capitol Hill. “I had, for a long time now, been holding administrative roles in KASC. Plus, it is now an opportunity for me to put into motion all the concepts I have been teaching about public administration.”
Following is the transcript of the actual conversation with Dr. Floydelia R. Diasen:
MPJr: You would be remembered in KASC as being considerate. Would this flexibility still be around, now that you are the chief executive of the province?
FRD: I would strongly push for a people-oriented administration. I do recognize that planning does not involve only one mind – therefore, I would be heavily advocating participatory decision-making. But of course I have to be firm in areas where strong will is needed.
MPJr: Indeed, you were cast as a strong-willed woman during the campaign period. Where exactly did you draw this strength from, considering that you are still grieving?
FRD: It is still a matter of wonderment for me how I managed to keep up with the demands and pressure of the campaign period. I think, at the back of my mind, is the prodding resolve to continue what has been started. As our battle cry says, “On with the fight.”
MPJr: Has there ever been a moment when you felt like giving up?
FRD: A lot of times. But then I keep getting my inspiration and willpower from the outpour of support from people. There had been an overflowing show of love and care that I could not do anything but give in to their clamor that I should pick up where my husband has left off.
MPJr: If I may touch a bit on the late Atty. Diasen, you mentioned last April to Mariz Umali of GMA-7, “What makes me sad is that it happened in a place where my husband and I would feel very safe.” How have you been coping so far?
FRD: Only God knows how I have been handling it all. It’s a miracle, really. What keeps me going now is the thought that I have been given something to do, and I have to do it. People believe that I can do it – that is inspiration enough.
MPJr: It’s written somewhere that our true source of strength are the people around us – and not from within ourselves as other philosophers would like to stress.
FRD: That is true. After asking guidance from God, I simply looked around me, and there the people were – believing in me, pushing me. It really re-invigorated me. It made me feel I could trust people again.
MPJr: And soon it will be your turn to give back to these people who have such trust in you.
FRD: Yes. It would be a pleasure to serve them, and the whole province. I have been a politician’s wife for such a long time, but never did I entertain the idea that I would one day be a politician myself. As a politician’s wife, I have been dealing with people only from the sidelines.
MPJr: Now you also have former rivals to deal with. How would you launch your camp’s healing scheme and bridge gaps with those from other camps?
FRD: The occurrence of a healing process is the natural course of events after elections. That’s why I keep appealing to all my supporters and friends to let go of the pain and animosities that we allowed to build up during this past campaign and election period. We should move forward, and instead work together – whatever side one may be identified with.
MPJr: Your arrival at the capitol is highly anticipated, that your departure from KASC is somewhat overshadowed. Would you be missing your former “professional home?”
FRD: I have always thought that I would retire as an educator, but given the circumstances, I have to put that behind me. I cannot say that I would be leaving the academe, because part of me would always be an educator. Instead, I shall be bringing this with me and see what I can do in the field of education for the province. I only have three years to serve, and I just wish that I could serve the people uninterrupted. After which, I shall then bow out and retire. (End of interview)
Dr. Diasen’s addition into the list of female governors further establishes Philippines’ 6th rank out of 115 countries on gender equality – the only country in Asia to land in the Top 10.
According to the Manila Times (Dec. 16, 2006), “Filipinos have elected a great number of women senators and representatives. Female governors and mayors run provincial and municipal governments across the country. The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the judiciary have benefited from the wisdom of women justices and judges.“The barriers are formidable, of course. But their stories demonstrate the power, the place and the potential of the Filipina.”