APCOM HERO Awards 2022’s honourees list

By November 15, 2022 December 2nd, 2022 Newsroom, Regional, What We Do

Shivananda Khan Award
for Extraordinary Achievement

Senator Risa Hontiveros

(The Philippines)

1. Tell us about yourself

I believe in the value of following one’s bliss: choose what you love most, be excellent at it, let it be your service, and in that way be happy. (It is the advice I always give young ones as well). Our happiness should always be shared.

I am inspired by music, the arts, and of course, my close circle of family and friends.  I think these inform the work I do as well, as I believe it is everyone’s right to follow their bliss. That is only possible when everyone is equal economically, socially and politically. I try to leverage that space for that to be true and possible for every person.  

I am a mother of four good-hearted people. During my off time, I love to spend time with them the most. Board games and scuba diving are always a family favorite! 

2. Tell us about your work

I have been a life-long advocate for health and women and children’s rights. I am currently on my second term at the Senate, where I serve as the Chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality. I make it a point to bring the agenda of advocates and labor groups to the floor. My office’s goal is to always turn the heads of institutions to take a hard look at the peripheries, where sectors such as the LGBTQIA+ community have been pushed. As a Senator, I really do believe that my role is to represent and give a voice to these basic sectors. It is why I agreed to run for senator in the first place when my party, Akbayan, was asked to run a member in the opposition slate in 2010.

3. What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?

My life’s greatest achievements is raising my four children as a solo mother after I was widowed. As a parent, there’s a sadness you must carry on your own, especially with four children looking up to you. I had to navigate life as mother and widow, homemaker and breadwinner, while as a Representative. Through this time, our electricity was cut off so many times because I was late to pay the bill. It was not easy.

Now, my 3 older children are working adults and my youngest is on her way to becoming a nurse. They have turned out to be good and intelligent young people. I am so proud of them.

4. What do you find most challenging about your work?

During this second term as Senator, I am trying to make the most out of it. There are still many advocacies that we’ve been trying to fight for since I was a young advocate that we want to pass while I am still at the Senate. But aside from this, the most challenging really is trying to help broaden and strengthen the opposition. The political environment has been stacked against us in the last 6 years. The landscape still remains treacherous; but my hope is steadfast. 

5. What do you do to recharge your battery?

I recharge by going back to my original inspirations: my circle of intimate others, my pride in being a Filipino, nature, our arts & cultures, my faith and spirituality. 

I try to keep a holistic outlook on life, focusing on the quality of my relationships, the health of my mind and body, my time for reflection and Nature. These not only energize me, but give me the space for rest. 

(I also try to do yoga every weekend morning to help me keep grounded and healthy).

6. What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

My vulnerability really is that I am emotional. It is in my nature to be deeply empathic, and so I feel emotions and the emotions of others as well quite deeply. I do my best to overcome it by recognizing that emotions are like water that flows into and out of me like a wave.

7. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 is still with us, what hopeful message would you like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific?

Let’s learn to live with COVID-19 by taking care of each other: observing the health protocols, strengthening our universal healthcare systems, and practicing the solidarity that is a common culture among us Asian & Pacific peoples.

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