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Down to earth

By: Jullie Y. Daza

AS chairman of two Senate committees, food and agriculture and the environment, Senator Cynthia Villar practically holds the world in her hands.

Food, the environment (in transcendent terms, the planet), climate and climate change – around these down-to-earth themes humanity thrives and survives, or perishes by choice and chance. It may be early in the day, but when she sat down with Bulong Pulungan, the question had to be asked, “Are you or Manny planning on a run for City Hall in 2019?”

Senator Cynthia, like her husband, the former Senate president and presidential candidate, has been denying the rumors. When I bumped into Manny at the whimsically designed Evia Lifestyle Center, he said, “Not true.” Last Tuesday, Cynthia’s account was much more detailed, that it was purely a coincidence that her husband recently bought an old house in Tondo, it was not his aim to establish residency as a Manileño. On the Villars’ Christmas gift-giving in the Baseco compound, where half of 10,000 families have no toilets, she sighed, “But we do that every year!”

Push came to shove, I would go further and suggest that Malacañang, not City Hall, be Cynthia’s goal – if the Philippines were ready for another lady president. Packed into that slight, petite frame is a dynamo of energy – mental, physical, legislative, entrepreneurial, find-a-way-practical, put together like a well-coordinated ensemble – that takes her everywhere doing everything she sets out to do with enthusiasm and that awfully overused word, passion. (I haven’t heard her using that word on herself, thank you.) 

Listen to her argue why “closing” (reclaiming) Manila Bay will send floods rising to 8 meters; why coconut farmers should switch to a new variety of nuts with a yield of 150 a day instead of 40; why we’ll run out of food unless we feed and educate our farmers; why the Las Piñas-Parañaque wetland park will be the next big thing in tourism with 84 species of birds in the air, cruises up and down the river, and restaurants, a DENR hub, amenities on the ground.

This park is unique and it’s ours by right, in the middle of the urban jungle.