It was not easy working for and with Sen. Loren Legarda, public servant par excellence, but I am fortunate that I did. To some, she was like Meryl Streep in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, and yes, there are similarities, but she has a heart of gold. She is not just a woman of substance, but works with purpose, too. Her love of country, dedication to public service, and fidelity to family are the things that will always bind us until the end.
Despite the sleepless nights spent working under her office, I look back on those days with great satisfaction and fulfillment. I’m thankful for the opportunity of working for and with her, and grateful for the privilege of learning directly from her.
While others quit because of one reason or another, I am glad that I never gave up on her. I am proud that I did not refuse her. I left to work overseas to pursue new opportunities for my career advancement, with her permission, but I never really left. My spirit stayed with her.
Sen. Loren Legarda, or SLL as we call her, molded me to follow her example, challenged me to rise above everything and inspired me to become what I am capable of becoming. For me, that is mentoring at its finest.
A leader extraordinaire, Sen. Legarda’s brand of public service is principled, positive, instructive, and sharp—a rarity nowadays.
Here I share some of the enduring values and lessons that I’ve learned from her.
1 Have a “can do” attitude. As a public servant who broke numerous glass ceilings, she stood as a guide and example for other women in government. She urged us to be pro-active and outspoken. She told us: “Do not tell me that it cannot be done, it can be done, of course!” No excuses.
2 Nothing beats hard work. Hard work is necessary for every endeavor. She puts premium on hard work and advised us to not let our emotions get the best of us or get in the way of our work.
3 Work hard as an individual, work well as a team. Being serious, resourceful, and dedicated are the qualities she required from every one of her staff. We had to work according to process and be guided by our goals and objectives. Feedback is a must.
4 Coordinate. Collaborate. Cooperate. Multi-tasking is an ordinary occurrence in her office. Everyone must work, side-by-side, to ensure the quick and efficient delivery of services and execution of orders. Everything must be done without delay.
5 Dress appropriately. Be professional at all times, in words, in deeds, and in appearance. Respect the occasion by dressing appropriately. It is a sign of a cultured person.
6 Be loyal. For loyalty must not be decided by opportunity, but by fidelity to both the cause and the person.
7 Don’t be naive. Study. Observe. Listen. Learn. Age should not be used as an excuse for ignorance.
8 Respect Deadlines. Time is gold and the three-day rule to reply is very important. It is mandatory to carry a small notebook, so that nothing is overlooked, and you won’t miss commitments and deadlines. — MARYJANE SALOMON
* MaryJane Salomon worked with Senator Loren Legarda as Legislative Staff Officer, Legal Staff Officer and Political Staff Officer.