Darlene Berberabe

I knew 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 be fore 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 be coming the ISO-certified, P380 billion, multi-awarded company it is to day, 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 be come 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 with stood) 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. In deed, Darlene exhibited utmost grace and restraint under pressure, and this, coupled with her palpable brilliance and dis arming sense of humor, worked to acquit PAG-IBIG of all allegations of wrong doing. 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, every body loved Sam boy Lim when he was a great player. But you and out who you have by your side when the glory years are gone and when times are tough. And when Sam boy collapsed from cardiac failure last year, he found out who he could count on. The endless therapy. The medical bills. The sobering prognosis of on going, long term care. And the one per son 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, Sam boy 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 in sights as to how we can make our own community better for more people.

My child hood 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 out look 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 in stilled the value of education and excellence among her children. Also my Ate Gigi who I idolized as some one 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 out look 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 Sam boy’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 for ever “barkada” exercising six times a week baking and cooking for loved ones. Some people think of me as some one 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 what ever I do, I must be come 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 my self and my family, then steered my self 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.