The Philippine Star


- By James Michael Lafferty

Iknew Darlene when I was the GM of Procter & Gamble and she served as P&G’s corporate lawyer. She was headed to Singapore in 2010 for a lucrative and secure career, when she chose to work for the administra­tion of President Aquino and Vice President Binay.

As the president and CEO of Pag-IBIG Fund, Darlene — a lawyer by profession, graduating salutatori­an at the UP College of Law and before that, summa cum laude with a BA in philosophy, also from UP after just 3.5 years — had the unenviable task of rehabilita­ting the Fund’s image that was marred by the Globe Asiatique controvers­y. Not only did she rise to the challenge, Darlene was able to steer the Fund firmly into becoming the ISO-certified, P380 billion, multi-awarded company it is today, by implementi­ng reforms that have resulted in much-improved collection efficiency, the prudent use of the latest technology, and better products and services that redound to the benefit of the Fund’s 15 million members. And she did all these while cultivatin­g a corporate culture that emphasizes profession­alism, transparen­cy, accountabi­lity and integrity that are now being emulated and followed by her 5,000 employees

That Darlene has become a shining example of how a public servant ought to be was in full display when she spoke truth to power in the Senate hearings where she was called as a resource person to shed light on alleged irregulari­ties in Pag-IBIG. Darlene, armed only with the truth and the comforting thought that the institutio­n she heads has nothing to hide and strictly follows the law, bravely faced (and withstood) hours of intense grilling by senators. Her answers were articulate­d respectful­ly, always fact- and law-based, and never evasive, earning admiration and praise from those who watched her. Indeed, Darlene exhibited utmost grace and restraint under pressure, and this, coupled with her palpable brilliance and disarming sense of humor, worked to acquit Pag-IBIG of all allegation­s of wrongdoing.

Above all this public persona, I need to speak of one other thing, and the most important of all. And that is character.

Darlene quite simply is the best of humanity. Character is measured in tough times, when we have a choice and we do the right thing regardless. Darlene has demonstrat­ed character and honor beyond compare.

Like any icon, everybody loved Samboy Lim when he was a great player. But you find out who you have by your side when the glory years are gone and when times are tough. And when Samboy collapsed from cardiac failure last year, he found out who he could count on.

The endless therapy. The medical bills. The sobering prognosis of ongoing, longterm care. And the one person who took the lead in his medical care? An ex-wife. Who didn’t have to do anything, but driven by honor and a shared life, stepped up and assumed the mantle of leadership.

Darlene Berberabe is a gem. The best of the best. And if there is one thing I am certain of, Samboy Lim would wholeheart­edly agree.

DARLENE BERBERABE: When I was a kid, I wanted to become a lawyer. My father was a frustrated lawyer and he passed his interest in becoming a lawyer onto three out of his five children.

But now my biggest dream is travel and to see the world with my daughter, family and friends. I believe that being aware of different cultures opens the mind to difference­s, makes us more tolerant, and gives us insights as to how we can make our own community better for more people.

My childhood heroes were my father and mother. My dad became the mayor of Batangas City despite his humble beginnings and lack of strong academic credential­s. He hurdled adversitie­s in life and retained his sense of humor and positive outlook on life. My mom was a medical doctor who chose a career that was not common in her time and community. She had a strong personalit­y and she was the one who instilled the value of education and excellence among her children. Also my Ate Gigi who I idolized as someone who always knows the right thing to say, who is so funny, strong-willed and sensitive.

And now my idols are still my family, my siblings. They are the best people I know, honest, loving, funny, caring, supportive, interestin­g. We are the same in many ways and at the same time different but we blend together just perfectly.

I wish I could have met President Cory Aquino; I wish I could meet Manny Pacquiao, Lea Salonga in person and tell him/her thank you for putting the Philippine­s on the world map through their particular fields, and for giving the Filipino a good name.

For me, a beautiful person is one who has a generous heart, has a positive outlook on life, who is sensitive to the feelings of others, who exerts effort in taking care of himself, who endeavors to find significan­t ways to contribute to make the world a better place.

What gets me teary-eyed is when I remember my father (he passed away in 2004); when I think of my ex-husband Samboy’s current medical condition and why this happened to him; when I watch sad movies or ads that tell stories of how parents love their children.

What makes me happiest is knowing that my work significan­tly and positively touches more people; seeing my daughter evolve into a beautiful human being and achieve her dreams; being with my siblings and daughter who are my forever “barkada”); exercising six times a week; baking and cooking for loved ones.

Some people think of me as someone who has figured out much in life but actually I am very fluid and flexible about what to do in life, just focusing on the idea that whatever I do, I must become a better person than yesterday, and that I should be able to touch more lives.

The experience that changed my life was being a mother to Jamie Christine. It has taught me the meaning of unconditio­nal love, responsibi­lity, happiness, and has made me enjoy life more each day. The second is when I left law school, disappoint­ed myself and my family, then steered myself to recover by pursuing my master’s in philosophy, and then went back to finish law school after five years. It taught me an important lesson: that one has to realize his power to make things happen for himself, to recover from mistakes, to accept faults graciously, to find and maximize your strengths, and to be happy doing all these things. Life is short, pursue what you want, make things happen, do not settle for less than what you deserve, be aware of the limited time that we have, and find your role in the society.

What gets me teary-eyed is when I think of my ex-husband Samboy’s current medical condition and why this happened to him.

 ??  ??
 ?? Photo by EDRIC CHEN ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines