We, at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), are just fortunate we have the invaluable support of the First Lady Marie Louise “Liza” Araneta-Marcos in our task of lending a helping hand to our destitute fellow Filipinos.
During our relief and rehabilitation operations following super typhoon Paeng which prompted the declaration of the state of calamity in at least three regions, Madam Liza led a group of friends and volunteers who donated cash, food packs and other items to the calamity victims through the DSWD.
The First Lady’s group repacked canned goods, rice, instant noodles, bread, multivitamins, toiletries, slippers, and rubber shoes and coursed them through the DSWD.
Least known to most of us, Madam Liza had been quietly involved in charity and volunteer work long before her husband then Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos ran for Vice President in 2016.
It was a part of the former practicing lawyer and a wealthy scion’s commitment to social responsibility work.
Now, as First Lady to the most popular Philippine President ever elected, she has the capability and influence to help a greater number of people, but she would rather do so in the background.
She has shied away from photo ops and media coverage of her civic work and prefers to do so save for obligatory ceremonial pictorials.
A member of her staff confided to me, “Ma’am Liza is not used to the limelight and never intended to do an epal. In her public service activities, she finds no need for public attention as she never intends to upstage the work of the DSWD and that of the President.”
The First Lady chooses to do charity work behind the scenes as she does not do it “for show,” neither for the mainstream media nor the social media.
I have personally witnessed Madam Liza’s soft heart for the orphaned and ill-stricken children, particularly those abandoned youngsters at DSWD-supervised orphanages and shelters for abused women and children.
She just could not help shedding tears upon hearing the personal experiences of residents at a Muntinlupa City care-giving facility called the Elsie Gaches Village.
The First Lady vowed to raise funds for the renovation and expansion of the village, which houses about 700 residents including the newly born and up to 60 years old who suffer from autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and Down Syndrome.
She also promised to support the hiring of additional social workers and caregivers at the facility.
Back in October, I went with the First Couple who chose to mark President BBM’s 65th birthday at the White Cross Orphanage in San Juan City established in 1936 by Victoria Lopez de Araneta.
Christmas came early to nearly 100 young orphans when PBBM and Madam Liza distributed gift toys and Jollibee snacks to them that day, a truly unforgettable experience with the First Couple.
I watched when PBBM gathered several children in a huddle. “Ano ang mga kailangan n’yo dito, sabihin nyo sa akin, hwag kayong mahihiya,” he smilingly told the kids.
As the government works to uplift the quality of life in the country, it is just reassuring to have an able President and a First Lady who both genuinely care about the plight of the poor, and disadvantaged sectors of our society.