Due to its booming economy, rich history and culture, and captivating landscapes, the island group of Visayas continuously impresses local and international personalities from various industries. For instance, Region VI (Western Visayas, composed of Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras, and Iloilo) is home to the world-renowned Boracay beach and famous festivals, like Dinagyang, Masskara, and Ati-Atihan. On the other hand, Region VII (Central Visayas, composed of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor) is the gateway for foreign and domestic tourism.
These features are only some of what makes the two Visayan regions worth visiting and empowering. Fortunately, they have competent lady legislators representing them in the House of Representatives to voice their needs and wants for a more secure and progressive future.
HON. JANE T. CASTRO
(Capiz, Second District)
After serving as the Representative of Capiz’s Second District, Castro successfully returned to the position for the 19th Congress. It shows how the people trusted her brand of public service as it positively impacted her community throughout the years.
Castro is a seasoned and wise public servant. She actively led her constituents in developing and preserving Capiz’s heritage. The lawmaker also embraces change in the modern world, allowing her to connect more with Filipinos.
In the 19th Congress, she pushed for several acts, including encouraging corporate social responsibility, establishing an aquaculture feed mill in a barangay in Panay, Capiz, and providing for developing sustainable cities and communities in the Philippines.
HON. MA. LUCILLE L. NAVA, M.D.
(Guimaras, Lone District)
Since the pandemic struck two years ago, people began to appreciate the relevance of having someone knowledgeable about medicine representing the community. Fortunately, Nava already established herself as well-versed in politics and health. As an example of a modern woman, she proves she can have a flourishing career and a happy home.
Even though she’s in her last term as a legislator, Nava remains dedicated to providing a better life for her constituents. Her recent goal is to have better infrastructure in her district to improve the public’s quality of living, tourism, and economy.
Nava has principally authored bills that advocate education, health and environmental protection. These include the conversion of Guimaras State College into Guimaras State University, the upgrading of Dr. Catalino Gallego Nava Provincial Hospital to a Level II hospital, the declaration of Taklong Marine Reserve to be protected as a Natural Park, and the Permanent Validity of Certificates of Live Birth, Death and Marriage.
HON. JANETTE L. GARIN
(Iloilo, First District)
Doc Nanay, as she is endearingly called by her constituents, has always prioritized legislation and projects that empower the people, going beyond the boundaries of the First District of Iloilo. Her deep understanding of the plight of women, children, the elderly, and the less privileged drives her to ensure that public welfare comes first. Employing her background in public health and medicine, she ushered the enactment of laws such as the Cheaper Medicines Act, Reproductive Health Law, and Magna Carta of Women.
Garin’s brand of service is a perfect mixture of head, heart, and hands. She launched several livelihood projects in her district, providing earnest ways for Ilonggo families to have additional income despite the pandemic.
She was chosen as one of the Top 100 Inspiring People of the World in 2011 by Women Deliver New York and was conferred with the Order of Lakandula, the highest honor given by the Philippine President, citing the important contributions she has made to Public Health.
In the 19th Congress, Garin’s principally authored bills include strengthening the technical, vocational, and livelihood curriculum for senior high school students, providing for early voting by qualified senior citizens, persons with disabilities, lawyers, and human resources, and an act instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino seafarers.
Her Waray blood mixed with her Ilonggo heart and mind empowered her to be an example of a strong woman leader from Western Visayas.
HON. JULIENNE “JAM” BARONDA
(Iloilo City, Lone District)
Locals from Iloilo City know that Baronda always considers their welfare across all industries, such as health, culture and arts, safety and security, and education. She’s the first female House Member in Iloilo, allowing her to set an example for women who want to become a trailblazer for nation-building like her.
Baronda always keeps herself busy as a public servant. If she’s not outside to greet her constituents and show them something new, she’s always deep in thought to inspire innovative ideas to improve her people’s lives.
In Congress, Baronda pushes several bills, including granting additional benefits to Filipino centenarians, recognizing octogenarians and nonagenarians, creating a special economic zone at the free port in Iloilo, and establishing the Iloilo City Geriatric Medical Center.
HON. JULIET MARIE DE LEON FERRER
(Negros Occidental, Fourth District)
As a lawyer and ex-officio Judicial and Bar Council member, Ferrer exercises her knowledge of Philippine law by prioritizing justice. She appropriately uses her platforms to ensure Filipinos receive fair treatment when they fight for what they believe is right. She’s also the Chairperson for the 19th Congress’s Committee on Justice.
Ferrer acts confidently, which she also brings to the House of Representatives. Locals from the Fourth District of Negros Occidental know they have the congresswoman to turn to when they need her the most. She also advocates for her province’s economic benefit and women’s and children’s welfare.
Some of her authored bills include reinstituting absolute divorce as an alternative mode for the dissolution of marriage, establishing the Negros Island Region, and founding the Negros Occidental Heart, Lung, and Kidney Center.
HON. MERCEDES ALVAREZ
(Negros Occidental, Sixth District)
Even though being a lawmaker is a challenging position to be in, Alvarez doesn’t let it keep her from being positive. She always finds new ways to share happiness with her fellow Filipinos. After all, being happy with oneself is also an ideal way to show enthusiasm for one’s job and encourage others to do the same.
The lady legislator is a staunch advocate of sustainable tourism, especially for the sites in her province. Her dedication allows Filipinos to see the beauty around them—if they know where to look.
Her authored bills in the 19th Congress include the establishment of dialysis clinics in all national, regional, provincial, and strategic district hospitals, strengthening mental health services of state universities and colleges, and fortifying the particular program in creative arts for junior and senior high school. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Committee on Local Government and a Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Appropriations. She was also a Deputy Speaker during the 17th Congress. Alvarez also furthers her passion for public service through her position as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Philippine Army Reserve Command and holds a Master‘s Degree in National Security Administration.
HON. EMMARIE “LOLYPOP” M. OUANO-DIZON
(Mandaue City, Lone District)
In this 19th Congress, she filed House Bill No. 2373, otherwise known as the “Dialysis Center Act,” seeking to establish facilities that would provide quality renal health services for Filipinos. It will also establish health facilities at the national, regional, and provincial levels that will give free dialysis to indigent Filipinos.
HON. KRISTINE ALEXIE TUTOR
(Bohol, Third District)
When Tutor won the elections for Representative of the Third District of Bohol in 2019, she became the first lady legislator from her constituency and the second from Bohol. Despite being young, she bested experienced solons in the bid for the position to prove that age or gender isn’t a factor that defines her competency as a public servant.
In November 2020, she launched several notable projects in her district. These included a patient transport vehicle (PTV) service for residents of the Third District. It became possible under the Oplan Tabang program, which provides free transportation services and access to the province’s medical facilities for indigent patients, PWD, and senior citizens.
She also passed bills in the 19th Congress, including requiring the registration of subscriber identity module cards, upgrading salary scales of public dentists, and increasing the monthly social pension of senior citizens, to name a few.
HON. RACHEL MARGUERITE DEL MAR
(Cebu City, First District)
Del Mar, who also goes by the moniker ”Cutie”, leads the proud region of Cebu and its First District. She upholds a brand of excellence in her duties as a House Member. No matter how big or small, Del Mar offers whatever she can to her constituents. It’s this level of commitment that pushes the people she leads to trust her.
The lawmaker often goes around her district to show how active she is in nation-building. She focuses on almost all aspects to secure her region’s prosperity, including health, safety, education, and more.
In Congress, her contributions benefit the people from her district and Filipinos nationwide. Some examples include creating the Mega Cebu Development Authority, strengthening the people’s right to information, and regulating the operations of motorcycles-for-hire.
HON. JOCELYN SY LIMKAICHONG
(Negros Oriental, First District)
As a legislator of her caliber, Limkaichong doesn’t let anything get past her. She continues to address her constituents’ concerns, including health, agriculture, education, rural development, and tourism. She serves her public passionately, as evident in their smiles whenever she meets them on the field.
Limkaichong also recognizes the youth’s power in nation-building. Her projects also empower the younger generation as she teaches them the values of the things she advocates. She also finds ways to provide women with livelihoods as they work toward better lives.
The lawmaker even advocates for sustainable tourism, evident in the bills she pushed in the 19th Congress to recognize several key destinations in the country. She also pushed for instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, among others.
HON. JANICE SALIMBANGON
(Cebu, Fourth District)
Due to Cebu’s location as an economic and tourism hub, Salimbangon has to lead with bravery, strength, and grace—which she does. She often keeps herself busy by going around her district to see where she could help. Despite the responsibilities, Salimbangon always shows up with a smile to show her unwavering passion for public service.
She now focuses on establishing infrastructure projects, including multi-purpose buildings and more. She also advocates the welfare of women and children, agriculture, education, and others through her various activities.
In the meantime, her contributions to the 19th Congress include an act imposing an excise tax on plastic bags, an act creating the Philippine centers for disease prevention and control, and an act providing for the enabling environment to foster the growth of public-private partnerships for infrastructure and other development projects.