[At the Museo Vaticani mosaic art section, in front of St. Peter's Basilica]
‘Believe in the Supreme Being that is higher than all of us.’
INTERVIEW WITH MYRISH CADAPAN-ANTONIO, City Councilor(By Lyde Gerard S. Villanueva)
Q: Did you ever dream of entering politics?
A: No, it never came to my mind. It just came at a point when I was just too bored of (law) practice in Manila. I wanted to come home, and Ipe Remollo was then mayor and invited me to join his administration and his ticket for 2001. It was a way for me to find out whether this was the direction God wanted me to take.
Q: You topped the list of councilors during that election. How would you explain this?
A: I don’t know, honestly…I remember the mechanism of the campaign was patterned after my experience (as president) of the SU Student Government. I organized a group of friends who wanted to help me campaign. From that organization we invited others to join, so we had a small core group. I cannot explain, maybe you can ask some of my friends why that is so. When people interviewed me after the counting was done, they would say that maybe it was because I was a young person, a woman and a lawyer. Maybe somehow it was not ordinary in Dumaguete to have, modesty aside, someone with those qualifications. There was probably some mass appeal, they would say.
Q: Maybe you have charisma?
A: Maybe. Or maybe because of the long years I spent in broadcasting, 12 years with what used to be the only FM station in Dumaguete—DYEM FM (Love Radio). When I started I was only a high school student. It was the only FM station here, so it was the only station listened to. I also remember that I would be invited by the barangays to emcee, like Ms. Piapi or Ms. whatever, with no fee. So maybe these little things that you do in the past will probably help you sometime in the future.
Q: As a young politician, what challenges did you encounter?
A: The first term was indeed much of a challenge. I was part of the opposition. I was the only lady councilor. Most of my proposed ordinances were killed on first reading. Some were killed on second reading. Some on third reading. Among the 15, I think, ordinances that I proposed, only four passed during my first term. And then, of course, you have the discrimination issue…you feel that if you’re the only woman councilor. Men will always say that gender is not an issue. They always ask why do I always sponsor an ordinance on women? Why don’t I include the men in the ordinance? Why should women be treated special? So, it’s still difficult.
Q: How did you overcome those challenges?
A: It took a long time to overcome. But I had several people who served as my anchor, who lifted my spirit: Primarily my husband, who always tells me that even if it is not a popular decision, if it is the decision you think is right, then you can stand by it. I learned to accept that my role in the Council might not probably be to pass ordinances but simply to be the voice of the people, to be a concerned and vigilant opposition who would speak against certain decisions that do not favor the people and who will stand up for people’s rights and welfare.
Q: What is your priority as a legislator?
A: My priority is women, legislation on women and children. Good governance and probably raising the level of the Council to a more intelligent body.
Q: What has been your greatest contribution in the City Council so far?
A: My greatest contribution would be opening the eyes of the mayor and my fellow councilors to certain issues, to certain angles of certain issues they may not see but that I see because I’m in the opposition. Secondly, my being a city councilor has raised the regard of men for women, meaning to say, it has leveled the playing field for women in politics, although I’m a minority. And thirdly, it also shows that it is possible to win in an election now without having to buy votes.
Q: Currently you are proposing an ordinance entitled eServices Ordinance of Dumaguete. Can you explain what it is about?
A: The ordinance creates the eServices Council which seeks to promote the growing demand for information technology and services in Dumaguete. I’m sure you are aware of the coming in of several call centers that would like to venture in Dumaguete City. The ordinance would provide a venue for the City to look into the acceptability of which ventures, how they would benefit Dumaguete, as well as creating a council to review the activities in the call centers so that we can expand employment opportunities at the same time that the universities can tailor their programs parallel to these opportunities. (Note: the ordinance was passed by a unanimous vote of the City Council in October 2005.)
Q: Do you plan to run for higher office?
A: Not in the near future. I’m leaving for my Masters in Law.
Q: How did you meet your husband and what was your first impression of him?
A: We met in the Student Government. He was Graduate School representative and I was the representative of the College of Business Administration. He was somebody who appeared to be know-it-all, who insisted on his convictions and always stood by what he believed was right. I hated him. (Laughs)
A: He always had different views from mine and he seemed to purposely do it. You know, to challenge me, and I could not understand him.
Q: Describe your first date.
A: (Laughs) Our first date? I couldn’t remember because I think we were together in the SURE party for like eight years. Throughout my college and law school years we were elders of the SURE party and I was his campaign manager when he ran for president. So it simply metamorphosed, I should say, into a more serious relationship.
Q: Being a mother of two kids, how has it changed your life?
A: A lot. The decision I now make have to consider my kids and my husband. Certain opportunities I let pass because I don’t want to be away from home too much. There are times when I shorten my working hours or I choose my clients so I can spend more time with the babies. Challenges…most of the family finances go to expenditure for medicine. My kids are hemophiliacs, so we learn to balance whatever resources we have for the kids. When I was single, I would go shopping for my own, now I’d go shopping for them first.
Q: Are you a hands-on mother, or do you have yayas to take care of your children?
A: I have yayas because I work, but I try my best to be there when I have the time. I’m both: I’m a hands-on mother because I leave for several hours only; I have yayas because my babies are very sensitive and they need extra care.
Q: How do you manage your time?
A: As they say, if you want something taken care of, you go to a busy person. It is simply time management and knowing which aspect of your life you value most.
Q: What is the best part of being a mother?
A: When you are able to transfer God’s power to procreate, to see what kind of children you can then procreate, to participate in the molding of future citizens of the world and to hear your children call you mom.
Q: What do you do during free time?
A: I have so much free time. My free time I spend with my kids and when they are asleep, I spend it with my husband. I love reading more than watching television. I also love surfing the net for new information. I love watching movies. My husband and I love to go around to while and time away and to talk. It is important for us to have time together.
Q: What was the highest point in your student life?
A: Probably when I became TOSP (Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines 1995). Admittedly, it is the highest award that can be given to any Filipino student. So for me, it was the apex of everything that I did as a student to be recognized as such.
Q: How did you balance being president of the SG and your studies?
A: I enjoyed my SG days as if it were not a burden. I made it a point, you know, I just told myself I wanted to enjoy. I’m an ordinary person. I do not see myself as very intelligent or very gifted. I think I just know how to use the talents God has given me. I made it a point to develop myself holistically, the way the Silliman education provides us. I took a course where I could enjoy myself (Political Science) and excel. And the SG was somewhat a home for me. It wasn’t difficult as I recall because when you are young, you know, you’re vibrant and you have all the energy. You don’t get tired just like now. We would go home at 2 o’clock in the morning and we would go to class in the morning. It was fun! I remember it as one of the best periods of my life.
Q: Favorite word?
Q: Latest movie that made you cry?
A: I remember just one, Summer Spring. But it was a long time ago. I can’t remember crying in any other movie now.
Q: Most unforgettable journey?
A: Oh! Paris!
Q: If love had a name, what would it be?
A: If love had a name what would it be? JOJO!
Q: Greatest gift from God?
A: Free will
Q: If God gave you the power to solve the problems in our country today, what would you solve first?
Q: If God would give you one more talent, what would you want to have?
A: Singing! (Laughs) I know how to dance, so singing!
Q: If I opened your heart right now, what would I see inside?
A: My twins!
Q: Favorite book?
A: The Greatest Salesman in the World
Q: Rank the following (1-highest, 3-lowest): sex, love, money
A: 1. love, 2. money, 3. sex (laughs)
Q: If sex is food, what would it be?
A: Oh! Blueberry cheese cake (laughs)
Q: How would you want to be remembered?
A: I’d like to be remembered as a committed public servant, a wonderful mother and a fulfilling partner in life.
Q: As a young achiever, what is your message to the youth?
A: I think that young people should enjoy as much as they can. Do well in their studies so that whatever opportunities come their way will be met with success. As much as they believe in what they can do, they should believe in the Supreme Being that is higher than all of us. And they should be role models of the future.
[Published in the digital sillimanian]