MANILA, Philippines – Have recent events taken a toll on Senator Grace Poe?
The neophyte senator broke into tears as she talked about adoption and her life as a foundling at the 13th Philippine Global Consultation on Child Welfare on Tuesday, September 2. The event was themed “Adoption: A lifelong journey, commitment.”
The senator's voice cracked when she paid homage to her adoptive parents, movie stars Susan Roces and Fernando Poe Jr.
“My advocacy of adoption is therefore a homage to them, and my love letter, returning a love that cannot even begin –” Poe said, pausing for about 10 seconds as she tried to stop her tears.
She continued in between tears, “to equal the love that they had poured on this foundling from the start, which left no doubt in my mind that I was unquestionably, unconditionally, and truly their daughter.”
At that point, Poe could no longer hold back her tears. She lauded the “altruism and love of people who did not think of themselves” but of the “defenseless, helpless child.”
"Ang pagiging magulang ay di lamang dahil niluwal o pinanganak mo sila, ang pagiging magulang ay pagmamahal, oras, at sakripisyo sa anak (Being a parent doesn't only mean you gave birth to them; being a parent means love, timen and sacrifice for your child)," Poe said.
Poe said she became emotional because she was in the presence of people who shared the same advocacies.
“Pag meron naman akong pinaglalaban sa Senado, di ka naman masyado emosyonal, pero kasama yung ibang mga nag-adopt ng bata, mas nararamdaman mo yung nararamdaman nila,” she told reporters after the event.
(If I'm fighting for something in the Senate, you don't get too emotional. But when you're with other people who adopted, you can emphatize more with what they're feeling.)
Special protection for foundlings
Unlike many other abandoned children, Poe said she is “fortunate” to have been adopted by parents that really took care of her.
“This is the stuff of movies, you might say, and in an instance of cinematic foreshadowing that proved to be true, I did end up being adopted by two movie stars,” the senator said.
Poe earlier filed Senate Bill 2892, an Act Strengthening the System of Birth Registration of Children in Need of Special Protection (CNSP) including foundlings.
“My ultimate goal is that no Filipino should give up a child out of economic hardships. Who knows that might have been my story too?” Poe said.
Poe ended her speech by urging the government to “respect and honor the same love” between adoptive parents and children.
The presidential poll front runner is facing two disqualification cases – one before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the other before the Commission on Elections – on the basis of her alleged questionable citizenship.
Complainant Rizalito David earlier said Poe misled the public when she indicated in her Certificate of Candidacy that she is “born to” Roces and FPJ. David also claimed she is not a natural born Filipino citizen because she is a foundling. (READ: FULL TEXT: Grace Poe's response to disqualification case before the SET)
Poe, who was found in a church in Iloilo in 1968, had repeatedly cried foul over this allegation, describing it as a “form of bullying.” (READ: In Iloilo, Grace Poe finds new clues to real parents)
While she admitted she and her family, including her mother, are affected by the challenge, she insisted she would not give up the fight.
“Maraming mga bata di matukoy sino talaga magulang. Ibig sabihin ba wala silang bansa? Kaya kung isusuko ko ito, marahil magkakaroon pa ng mas maraming pagkakataon na hindi mabibigyan ng oportunidad ang isang bata na manilbihan sa govbyerno kahit man sa pribadong pagkakataon dahil lamang di matukoy kung siya'y Pilipino o hindi,” Poe said.
(Many children do not know their parents. Does that mean they are stateless? If I give up on this, there might be more instances when these children would not be given the opportunity to serve the government or even private companies just because it could not be determined if they are Filipinos or not.) – Rappler.com