By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
Malabon Mayor Antolin “Len Len” Oreta III paid tribute in an essay to his mother and former Senator Tessie “TAO” Aquino-Oreta, who passed away on Thursday night (May 14).
In a 17-paragraph essay posted on his Facebook page on Friday, Oreta recounted his mother’s life before she became a member of the Senate during the 11th Congress.
“She took up literature and history at Assumption Convent and received her international studies degree in Ciudad Ducal, Avila, Spain,” Oreta wrote in Filipino, “She became a reserve lieutenant colonel of the Philippine Air Force after getting a master’s degree in national security administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines.”
“Before becoming a senator, she had served as congresswoman for three consecutive terms, from 1987 to 1998, representing the lone district of Malabon-Navotas,” he added. “She also became an Assistant Majority Floor Leader for two times and [was] the first female lawmaker to be given such position.”
According to Oreta, his mother had since focused on issues concerning education, women, youth, jobs and opportunities, food and health, and the development of public facilities both in Malabon and other parts of the country.
In support of her advocacies, Aquino-Oreta filed some 280 bills during her stint in the Congress, with 79 being passed into law. In the Senate, she authored and co-authored some 197 Senate Bills and resolutions.
Oreta said among her most significant bills that were passed into law include: Republic Act (RA) No. 8980, the Early Childhood Care and Development Act; RA 8972, Solo Parent Act; RA 9053, Philippine Landscape Architecture Act; RA 8976, Philippine Micronutrient Fortification Program; RA 9003, Solid Waste Management Act; RA 8749, Clean Air Act; RA 8976 or Food Fortification Act; RA 8792, E-Commerce Act; RA 9105, Art Authentication Act; RA 9036 Philippine Science High School System Act; and R.A 9155, Governance of Basic Education Act.
In 1999, an initiative called Project TAO was launched to push for the Teachers’ Advancement for Optimum Well-being, Oreta said.
“This was a nationwide survey of employment status, working conditions, and welfare benefits of public school teachers — the most comprehensive study in the history of the Philippine education,” Oreta wrote, noting that its database was turned over to the Department of Education Culture and Sports to be kept updated.
Oreta also said his mother was among those who pushed in 2000 for the issuance of pay slips of public school teachers, who previously did not know about their salary deductions “because they did not have basic documents to base on.”
Oreta also shared his mother’s remarkable words, including: “Education is the key to the improvement of the quality of life of Filipinos.”
The city mayor said Aquino-Oreta’s achievements and contributions will forever remain in the minds and hearts, not only of Malabon residents, but also of the Filipino people.
“We will be forever grateful to be loved and cared [for] by a strong woman like you. Malabon will miss you, Mom. I will always miss you,” he said.