DADDY’S GIRL. The first time I saw Darlene’s election materials when she first run for Congress, I can’t help but snicker. There she was, Daddy’s favorite little girl, shove under the glaring klieg lights of politics looking pitifully unprepared for things to come. Her hair was tied tightly in a bun to make her look more mature. She did try to project an image to match her illustrious and well-known parents but she can’t seem to get out of their shadows. Darlene was not as eloquent as her father. She does not have the grace of her mother either. But she has that fire in her eyes and the staying power. And she has what her parents doesn’t have right now–charming youthfulness and fascinating stamina.
LEARNING THE ROPES. I can’t remember when she started getting rid of the bun and just letting her hair down. But by doing so, Darlene became more relaxed and self-assured. In Congress, she was everybody’s baby. Her parents’ contemporaries were more than willing to assist the neophyte Representative from South Cotabato. Her smile was disarming which most people say seals votes for her pet bills. She started to learn the ropes of the trade. She arm-twisted–she cajoled–she won everyone’s heart. She was finally becoming her own woman. Darlene was on her way.
RESOLUTE TENACITY. I don’t agree with some of her politics. She has, at several times, taken the road less traveled – often getting the ire of even her most ardent supporters. I remember the time when she fought for the impeachment of Chief Justice Davide. “How could she?” I asked myself. “Why can’t she?” was the answer I gave myself. Of course, Darlene can be charming at best but she has this resolute tenacity to speak her mind – unbending, unwavering, steadfast and purposeful. Darlene was on overdrive.
KICKING GMA IN THE SHINS. Shameful, shameful, that GMA. How could she even think about pulling a fast one on us–on Darlene? GMA must have thought that her inaanak won’t join the bandwagon. There she was, our Mighty Darlene explaining her vote to impeach her godmother. That single act alone earned her a place in Congress history. Way to go, Darlene. Your star is shining brighter than ever.
DOTING MOM. LOVING WIFE. With all the political stuff going around her, does she ever have time for family? She remains foremost a doting mom to her son Avi, 10 and daughter Anika, 7. Both are in grade school and Darlene makes it point that she gets to bond with them. Husband Benjie has remained supportive and still prefers to stay reclusive from the peering eyes of the media. Her family keeps her grounded. She maybe be a Congresswoman but in the Custodio abode, she’s wife and mommy, plain and simple.
WHAT’S NEXT? She’s on her third and final term as Representative. Her advocacy for women and children was the core of her political career. If you thought that all she did was to make life miserable for GMA, think again! AdWA’s favorite has actually authored more than one hundred house bills. Her bill on Juvenile Justice was passed unanimously by the Filipino Congress, is a response to criticisms of the conditions under which young offenders were being held in prisons. Darlene’s claim to fame might be her charming youthfulness but this is one lady who’s got the spunk to stand up to anyone who’s in her way. That, I think, is reason enough for her to look beyond the halls of Congress. Darlene has finally arrived.