Woman of strength, commitment, tenacity


By Goddes Hope Oliveros Libiran

Goddes Hope Oliveros Libiran

Every new year is a chance to start over, to set forth a new beginning.

But for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) family, this wasn’t the case as 2023 began with a bittersweet farewell to one of its pillars: Budget Preparation and Execution Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda.

After 40 years of public service, four decades of pouring out her passion for service, hard work, and loyalty to DBM, Usec. Tina retired.

Suddenly, there was a sense of devoidness at her desk which was cleared of her things.

Usec. Tina was a comforting presence in the office where she spent endless hours laboring over paper work to ensure deadlines were met.

But she projected a certain lightheartedness that was interjected by gentle laughter.

On Jan. 4, 2023, the DBM family held a simple, heartfelt ceremony in recognition for a job exceedingly done well by a woman of unparalleled strength, unwavering commitment, and sheer tenacity.

Usec. Tina was a brilliant leader whom I am privileged to have met, and learned more about, when I joined DBM in mid-2022. Though gifted with a disarming smile, she was also known for her strictness as a leader – a trait seen by all the Philippine presidents she served.


Her journey at DBM began in 1982 as budget analyst. And then she moved up to assistant division chief, division chief, director, undersecretary, and, remarkably, DBM-OIC at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As someone also in government service, I have experienced firsthand the challenges, pressures and demands of leadership. I went through emotional highs and lows from challenges that tested my strength in unimaginable ways. Usec. Tina had her own share of adversities as indefatigable driving force and virtual face of DBM.

Her expertise was budget preparation and execution, which led her to handle various local and foreign-assisted projects. She served as DBM spokesperson at the Congressional hearings. She was also pivotal in executing budget reforms.

In 1991, Usec. Tina was named Outstanding Assistant Division Chief and continued to achieve milestones for the department.

But everyone at DBM was taken aback when she was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer.

Not one to back off a fight, Usec. Tina reported for work with her usual dogged determination, ensuring her team she was attending to her deliverables. She diligently attended the Congress hearings, and showed up at work every day.

There was a time I messaged her, “Usec. Tina, pagaling po kayo. Pahinga po muna. Tsaka na work. Health first. I’ll pray for you po.”

She gave an inspiring reply: “Thank you. Prayers, actually, strengthen me. I am fourth stage, you know, pero ‘di halata. My life is in God’s hands and I take each day as a gift from Him. Grateful to still be alive and do the work I love.”

Despite her trials and tribulations, Usec. Tina’s wry sense of humor somehow lightened the mood at the office.

Here’s a funny anecdote, when she spoke at her farewell party: “I decided to retire when I knew that I couldn’t give of myself the same way I demanded from you. Because that was how I pride myself. Hindi ako magde-demand sa inyo nang hindi ko kayang ibigay. Kaya kung pa-morningan kayo, pa-morningan din ako. Kung sardinas ang kinakain niyo, mag-sardinas kayo. Hindi ako kakain ng sardinas!”
“Kidding aside, I always made sure I was there when the going was tough. It was a choice because I love my job.”

Her zest and discipline for work, she said, was a product of having good mentors: “Pag oras ng trabaho, ‘pag DBM ka nag-umpisa, kahit ano pa ‘yang ginagawa mo, kahit nag-party ka sa bahay, kahit birthday ng nanay mo, 'pag sinabi ng boss mo na ‘stay,’ wala kang tanong. Why did we do that? Because our bosses were the same.”

She added, “It wasn't work anymore. It was my life. My choice. So, I chose DBM above all else. Was I wrong? I don’t think so. Because 40 years have gone by. There were bad moments, but there were certainly far more good moments.”

Some say that loyalty is now a rare, endangered human value. But Usec. Tina showed that one can be faithful not just to every administration she represented for the past 40 years — but more importantly, to the Filipino people she committed herself to serve. That was the core reason she stayed for so long at DBM: to serve the country and carry the torch of excellence and integrity.
Thank you, and Godspeed, Ma’am Tina!

(Goddes Hope Oliveros Libiran is the current undersecretary and supervising senior official of the Media Affairs and Community Relations Office (MACRO) and Internal Audit Service (IAS) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). During the Duterte administration, she was the assistant secretary for Communications and Commuter Affairs of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).)