For the past three decades, Senator Loren Legarda has dedicated her work to serve the Filipino people, primarily by promoting the sustainable and equitable use of our natural resources; advancing programs on building community resilience; advocating for social justice, human rights, peace and cultural diversity; and initiating measures for quality and accessible education, decent employment and livelihood opportunities.
A three-term Senator, Legarda is the only female who topped the Senate race twice, with more than 15 million and 18.4 million votes in 1998 and 2007, respectively. She is the only woman to become Senate majority leader.
Loren has authored and sponsored landmark laws such as: the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (RA 9994); the Barangay Kabuhayan Act (RA 9509); the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (RA 9501); the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act (RA 10000); the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act (RA 9262); the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710); the Anti-Child Labor Law (RA 9231); the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208) and its expanded version (RA 10364); the Philippine Ear Research Institute Act (RA 9245); the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009 (RA 9709); the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Act of 2009 (RA 9711); the Philippine Tropical Fabric Law (RA 9242); the Eid’ul Fitr Holiday Law (RA 9177); the Tourism Act of 2009 (RA 9593); the Clean Air Act (RA 8749); the Environmental Awareness Education Act (RA 9512); the Renewable Energy Act (RA 9513); the Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003); the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121); the Climate Change Act (RA 9729) and its amendatory law (RA 10174), which provides for the creation of the People’s Survival Fund, the Kasambahay Law (RA 10361), the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (RA 10533) and the Universal Healthcare Act (RA 10606), among many vital pieces of legislation.
Game-changer for Asia
Amid the increasing risks of a warming world and a changing climate emerges Senator Legarda, a woman development leader from the Philippines.
She is a game-changer for Asia with a compelling vision of a safer and greener world for all.
Senator Legarda advocates for quality human living harmonious with nature by seeking the path for green growth and sustainable development for nations, and challenging world leaders to save our home planet and preserve humankind now.
As the Philippines’ foremost advocate of green development, Senator Legarda worked for the enactment of laws on environmental governance like the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, the Climate Change Act and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act.
At her own initiative, Senator Legarda has spearheaded an information and education campaign on the science of climate change, its impact on our everyday lives and how Filipinos can avert and adapt to the changing climate. These short films include “Ulan sa Tag-Araw: Isang Dokyu-drama Ukol sa Pagbabago ng Klima” (Rains in the Summer: A Documentary Drama on Climate Change), children’s animation movie “Ligtas Likas”, “Buhos” (Downpour), “Philippine Marine Biodiversity”, and “Antique: Coral Restoration Program”.
Senator Legarda collaborated with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in the documentary “Now is the Time”, which calls on leaders and decision-makers to strive for disaster-resilient development.
Through the greening program she founded, Luntiang Pilipinas (Green Philippines), which has planted two million trees in more than 500 hectares across the Philippines, Senator Legarda continues to enjoin the participation of stakeholders in pursuing this environmental advocacy.
For her contribution in protecting the environment and pushing for climate change adaptation policies, the University of the Philippines (UP) chose Senator Loren Legarda as its 2013 Distinguished Alumna for Environmental Protection and Climate Change Adaptation.
The world recognizes the inspiring leadership of Senator Legarda in the global campaign for good environmental governance. In 2000, the World Economic Forum held in Davos named her as one of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow.
Similarly, the United Nations has also acknowledged Senator Loren Legarda twice. In the year 2001, the United Nations Environment Programme conferred on her the title of UNEP Laureate and included her in the Global 500 Roll of Honor.
In 2008, the UNISDR appointed her as its Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaption for Asia and the Pacific during the 3rd Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in December 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Along with her appointment as regional champion is the mission to convey an important message to world leaders.
A couple of months before her appointment as champion, in a seeming test of her parliamentary leadership, Senator Loren Legarda was asked by UNISDR to steer a meeting of parliamentarians in Manila on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Leading parliamentarians from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America came to the meeting in October 2008.
Through her able leadership, Loren successfully steered the meeting into a consensus dubbed as the Manila Call for Action by Parliamentarians which called on parliamentarians of the world to make disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation a national priority and a key consideration in development planning.
Senator Legarda, in her first official country mission as the Asia-Pacific Regional Champion in May 2009, addressed the Bhutan National Sensitization Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction, encouraging delegates to incorporate disaster risk reduction as an integral part of their development concept of Gross National Happiness.
At the Second Session of the Global Platform on Disaster Reduction in Geneva in June 2009, Senator Legarda challenged world leaders with a call for a new brand of politics and governance – the kind that shepherds proactive laws and policies to address disaster risks. She reiterated this challenge at the 2009 Forum on the Human Impact of Climate Change and at the parliamentary meeting of the climate change conference in Copenhagen.
In July 2009, Senator Legarda led a UNISDR delegation that sealed an agreement between Maldives and UNISDR to define a comprehensive disaster risk reduction strategy for the island nation, and find means for the UN and other partners to help the country implement this strategy.
In November 2010, Senator Legarda convened the Consultative Meeting for Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction: An Instrument for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals towards a consensus to undertake concrete actions embodied in the Manila Call for Action 2010.
Senator Legarda, with the UNISDR, spearheaded international dialogues in Paris, Beijing, Geneva, Copenhagen and Hanoi. She is a member of the Global Advisory Group of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Senator Legarda’s journey on the international level, the prominent role she plays in the Asia-Pacific region, and her advocacy among world leaders and citizens of the Philippines and the region, are recounted in a book entitled Redefining Development: The Living Advocacy of Senator Loren Legarda, as she challenges everyone to promote responsible leadership, good governance and sustainable living.
In the realm of foreign relations, Senator Legarda, who was Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the 15th Congress, sponsored the approval of 16 international agreements, deepening the Philippines’ bilateral relations with various countries and promoting the welfare of Filipinos in the country and abroad. These agreements are the RP-Japan Agreement on Technical Cooperation; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture; the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention, Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts; the Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management to Establish the Office of the WorldFish Center in the Philippines; the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the Philippines and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; the MLAT between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China; the Consular Agreement with the People’s Republic of China; the Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain; the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement Between the Philippines and Australia; the International Labour Organization Convention 189 (Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers); the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006; the Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Philippine Government and the French Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income; two (2) treaties on the Avoidance of Double Taxation – the Philippines – Kuwait Tax Treaty and the Philippines- Qatar Tax Treaty and the Agreement between the Philippine Government and the UNESCO to establish the Southeast Asian Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA CLLSD) in the country.
On the occasion of the 2015 Paris Climate Summit (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC) on 30 November 2015, Senator Legarda was appointed by the UNISDR as Global Champion for Resilience, with the distinguished role of providing leadership to build the resilience of nations and communities from disasters.
The French Government also recognized Senator Legarda’s commitment to the fight against climate change and to the promotion of culture and heritage. She was named Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre national de la légion d’Honneur (National Order of the French Legion of Honor) for her invaluable contribution in strengthening the bilateral ties between Philippines and France.
Senator Legarda has also contributed to peace efforts. She played a crucial role in the safe and expeditious release of military and police officers and men who were held captive by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and journalists who were held captive in Sulu.
For her outstanding work for the cause of Muslims, she was bestowed the title of Bai a labi (Honorary Muslim Princess) by the Marawi Sultanate league.
Voice of the Indigenous Peoples
Fervently advocating for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and initiating efforts to liberate them from various forms of discrimination, Senator Legarda has become the voice of Filipinos who continue to embrace their cultural roots and heritage.
Her love for tropical fabrics and native products, and her visits to indigenous communities in different parts of the country inspired Loren to initially set-up cultural exhibits that showcased the exceptional skills and world-class products of IPs, and in 2011, in her capacity as Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, successfully organized regional assemblies—in Baguio City for Luzon IPs, in Iloilo City for Visayas IPs, and in Tagum City, Davao del Norte for Mindanao IPs—and the First National Indigenous Cultural Summit that served as avenues for dialogue with local and national policy-makers as well as international institutions.
Senator Legarda supported the development of cultural villages of the Ata-Talaingod, Mandaya, B’laan, and Bagobo Tagabawa in various activities of their Schools of Living Traditions. She supported the establishment of the country’s first permanent textile galleries called the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles at the National Museum in order to celebrate indigenous artistry and revitalize our weaving traditions.
In October 2012, she launched the Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines with the hope of solving one of the greatest threats to Filipino indigenous artistry – extinction brought about by apathy. The exhibition was a highlight of the Manila FAME Design and Lifestyle Event 2012 and showcased the rich and colourful heritage of Schools of Living Tradition.
As a sign of gratitude for advancing IP concerns, the cultural communities of Mindanao adopted Senator Legarda as “Bae Matumpis,” which means “The one who takes care”.
The Panay-Bukidnon from Visayas declared Senator Legarda as a “daughter of Panay-Bukidnon” and gave her the name “Cuyong Adlaw Dulpa-an Labaw sa Kadunggan”, which translates to “shining sun rising in power”.
Senator Legarda was also named by the Cordillera Indigenous Elected Women Leaders’ League as“Tukwifi” which means “Bright Star”.
Women and Children’s Rights Champion
Senator Legarda places special interest in protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of women, youth, and children. Her legislative efforts resulted in the passage of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, Magna Carta of Women, Anti-Child Labor Law, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and its expanded version, the Expanded Anti- Trafficking in Persons Act.
Apart from her professional work, Loren has taken it upon herself to personally help women and children who have become victims of unfortunate circumstances, like Joseph Boseto and Rodel Morcozo who were both child miners in Camarines Norte. Rodel would search for gold and handle mercury-based chemicals with bare hands, while Joseph used to dive to 30 feet in a narrowly-dug hole filled with murky water with only a pair of goggles to protect his eyes, cotton balls to protect his ears from air pressure, and a tube connected to a compressor as his oxygen source.
Loren helped them escape from the dangerous world of mining by supporting their education—the same assistance she provided to Melinda de Vera, who once lived in a wooden cart and helped her mother sell candies in the streets of Paco, Manila.
Joseph, Rodel, and Melinda are only a few of the many individuals who were freed from child labor and given the opportunity to secure their right to education with the support of Senator Legarda. This opportunity, Loren continues to share with others through her foundations.
Loren has instituted foundations that would focus on delivering positive results on her various advocacies. She established the Libro ni Loren Foundation, Inc. to help improve the literacy level in the country’s poorest provinces. The foundation supports the education of indigent but deserving youth.
She also founded the Bessie Legarda Memorial Foundation, Inc. to provide medical assistance to indigent breast cancer victims and serve as support group to their families. Likewise, she organized the Livelihood Opportunities to Raise Entrepreneurship Nationwide (LOREN) which provides capital for women entrepreneurs.
Top Caliber Journalist
Prior to becoming a public official, Loren was well known as the award-winning anchor and producer of two of the Philippines’ most popular and respected news programs.
As a journalist, Loren earned prestigious awards such as the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) from the Philippine Jaycees (1992), The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Award (1995), and the Benigno Aquino Award for Journalism (1995) for her sterling record as a journalist for more than two decades, among more than 30 awards.
Passion for Excellence
Loren graduated valedictorian in elementary school and completed her secondary schooling with honors at the Assumption Convent. She obtained a degree in broadcast communications cum laudefrom the University of the Philippines.
While working as a broadcast journalist, Loren pursued her post-graduate studies at the National Defense College of the Philippines where she obtained a degree in National Security Administration and graduated at the top of her class. Loren is a reserve officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Legarda is a lifetime member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, an international organization that promotes academic excellence and encourages its members to be of service to others.
Family of Public Servants
She was born to a family of newsmen, educators, physicians and public servants. Her paternal great grandfather Potenciano Cabrera was the first Mayor of San Pablo City, Laguna while her maternal great granduncle Vicente Gella was a Governor of Antique. Her grandfather, Jose P. Bautista, was a pillar of Philippine journalism.
Loren was born in Malabon and was raised by an Ilocana yaya whom she fondly calls nanay. Her father Antonio Cabrera Legarda is from San Pablo City, Laguna and her mother Bessie Gella Bautista is from Pandan, Antique. She is a loving and devoted mother to her two sons.