|Grace Poe delivering a privilege speech on the floor of the Senate in May 2014, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Hello Garci scandal|
|Senator of the Philippines|
June 30, 2013
|Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board|
October 10, 2010 – October 2, 2012
|Preceded by||Ma. Consoliza P. Laguardia|
|Succeeded by||Eugenio H. Villareal|
|Born||Mary Grace Sonora Poe
September 3, 1968
Iloilo City, Philippines
|Spouse(s)||Teodoro Daniel Misael "Neil" V. Llamanzares|
|Children||One son, two daughters|
|Alma mater||University of the Philippines Manila
Boston College (B.A.)
Mary Grace Sonora Poe Llamanzares (born September 3, 1968), commonly known as Grace Poe-Llamanzares or Grace Poe, is a Filipino politician who served as chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) from 2010 to 2012. Born in Iloilo but abandoned by her biological mother at birth, she was adopted by National Artist Fernando Poe, Jr. and his wife Susan Roces. Controversy surrounds regarding her real birth parents, she is said to be the daughter of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos from an affair with former movie star Rosemarie Sonora, sister of Susan Roces, her adopted mother.
Educated in the Philippines and the United States, where she was a graduate of Boston College, Poe spent much of her adult life in the United States before returning to the Philippines after her father, who ran in a disputed presidential election in 2004, died later that year.
Following her father's death, Poe permanently returned to the Philippines, where she started getting involved in politics. In particular, she began attracting national attention for pursuing her father's fight for closure over the results of the election, which he believed he rightfully won, and campaigned against further electoral fraud. In 2010, she was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), where she advocated for a progressive agency that would promote a culture of intelligent media viewership, while at the same time supporting the further development of the country's film and television industries.
In 2012, Poe launched her candidacy for a seat in the Senate, running in the 2013 senatorial election as an independent affiliated with the Team PNoy coalition of President Aquino. Although initially faring poorly at the start of the campaign season, she unexpectedly won a seat in the election with the most votes of any single candidate.
Early life and career
Mary Grace Poe was born on September 3, 1968 in Iloilo City. Her biological parents are unknown and she was found abandoned as a baby, by a woman named Chayong also known as "Sayong", at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, the main church of the city. When the infant was discovered, the parish priest named her "Grace", because the priest believed that her discovery was through the grace of God. Although the church issued an announcement in the hopes that her biological mother would claim her, no one did, and she was taken in by Chayong and her family. Later on, she was passed on to Tessie Valencia, the unmarried daughter of a wealthy landowner from Bacolod, Negros Occidental, who was friends with Chayong.
Valencia was also friends with Fernando Poe, Jr. and Jesusa Sonora (Susan Roces), who were newly married at the time. In particular, Valencia was a big fan of Roces, and she frequently made trips between Bacolod and Manila in order to visit her, bringing the baby along. The couple took her in after Valencia decided that the baby would be better off growing up with both parents in the Philippines, rather than raising her as a single parent in the United States, where she was moving to. Chayong originally was hesitant in letting Poe and Roces adopt the baby because she was not familiar with them, having entrusted the baby to Valencia, but was convinced by Jaime Sin, then serving as Archbishop of Jaro, to let the couple adopt her. Poe was later legally adopted by the couple after further efforts to search for her biological parents failed, and attended Saint Paul College Makati for her elementary education.
Poe grew up in the shadow of her parents, with her father starring in several action films throughout the 1970s, and her mother also being regarded as an accomplished actress in her own right. She grew up watching her father from the sets of his movies—even playing minor roles in some of them, such as the daughter of Paquito Diaz's character in Durugin si Totoy Bato (Crush Totoy Bato), and as a street child in Dugo ng Bayan (Blood of the Nation). Although she contemplated becoming an actress throughout her childhood, her father wished that she finish her studies first before entering the entertainment industry. Ultimately, Poe did not enter show business: in an interview with People Asia, she recalls that "even if I aspired to be in showbiz, I felt physically (inadequate) being compared to both of them," referring to her parents.
In 1982, Poe transferred to Assumption College San Lorenzo for high school, where she competed in a number of oratorical contests and was captain of the school's debating team in her senior year. By the time she graduated from Assumption in 1986, she decided instead to pursue a career in public service in order to set a different career path for herself, as well as to avoid being compared to her parents.
Following high school, Poe entered the University of the Philippines Manila (UP), where she majored in development studies. While at UP, she served in the student council as a class representative for the two years she was there. She later decided to continue her undergraduate studies abroad both to experience and prove her independence, and as a form of silent rebellion in order to avoid the possibility of shaming her parents. She transferred to Boston College, where she graduated with a degree in political science in 1991. While at Boston College, she co-founded the school's Filipino Cultural Club and served as an intern for the campaign of William Weld in the 1990 Massachusetts gubernatorial election.
After graduating, Poe continued to reside in the United States, with she and her family living a quiet life in Fairfax, Virginia. In 1995, she was hired by the Montessori School of Cedar Lane, a local school where she worked for three years as a preschool teacher. She then served as a procurement liaison with the United States Geological Survey in 1998, where she worked for a year. In 2001, she was hired as a product manager with CSC Scientific, a local company specializing in the production of scientific equipment, where she stayed until 2004.
Return to the Philippines and political involvement
In 2003, Fernando Poe, Jr. announced that he was entering politics, running for President of the Philippines in the upcoming election under the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) against then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Poe returned to the Philippines to help him campaign, but returned to the United States afterward. However, as Fernando Poe, Jr. was rushed to the hospital after a stroke later that year, she immediately returned to the Philippines, only to arrive after her father died on December 14, 2004.
Following her father's death, Poe and her family decided to permanently return to the Philippines in order to be with her widowed mother. In 2005, she was made Vice President and Treasurer of her father's film production company, FPJ Productions, and was put in charge of maintaining the company's archive of over 200 films, reportedly one of the best in the Philippines in terms of the number of films preserved. At the same time, she began getting involved in politics herself, particularly after allegations arose that her father's loss was caused by electoral fraud committed by the Arroyo administration. In the 2010 general election, Poe served as a convenor of Kontra Daya, a poll watchdog organized to prevent electoral fraud, and spoke publicly about wanting to prevent further cheating in the elections like the way her father was allegedly cheated in 2004. She also became honorary chairperson of the FPJ for President Movement (FPJPM), the group which was organized to pressure her father to run in 2004, continuing the movement's social relief programs for the less fortunate.
Chairwoman of the MTRCB
On October 10, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III appointed Poe to serve as chairwoman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), succeeding outgoing chairwoman Ma. Consoliza Laguardia, who was appointed to the position in 2003. The appointment came as a surprise to Poe, having learned of her appointment while vacationing with her mother in California two days before the formal announcement was made. She was sworn in on October 21, 2010 at the Malacañang Palace, and was later reappointed by President Aquino for another term on October 23, 2011. She continued to serve until October 2, 2012, when she filed her candidacy for senator.
Poe has advocated for a "progressive" MTRCB which would enable the television and film industries to help the Philippine economy, with her tenure being marked by an emphasis on diplomacy. At the beginning of her term, Poe instigated the implementation of a new ratings system for television programs, which she said was "designed to empower parents to exercise caution and vigilance with the viewing habits of their children". This was complemented by the implementation of a new ratings system for movies—a system which hews closely to the new television ratings system—at the end of her term. The MTRCB under Poe's tenure also implemented policies and programs to promote "intelligent viewing", such as promulgating the implementing rules and regulations for the Children's Television Act of 1997 some fifteen years after its passage, and enforcing restrictions on the type of viewing material that can be shown on public buses. Despite this thrust, Poe has spoken out against restrictions on freedom of expression, preferring self-regulation to censorship.
The MTRCB under Poe's tenure has also encouraged the creation of new cinematic output through the reduction of review fees despite cuts to its budget, and has promoted the welfare of child and female actors.
Senatorial bid and the 2013 election
Although Poe was rumored to be running for an elective position as early as 2010, it was not confirmed that she would stand for election until October 1, 2012, when President Aquino announced that she was selected by the administration Team PNoy coalition as a member of their senatorial slate. Poe filed her certificate of candidacy the next day on October 2, 2012. Although running under the banner of the Team PNoy coalition, Poe is officially running as an independent. Poe is also a guest candidate of the left-leaning Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan. Until February 21, 2013, Poe was, along with Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, one of three common guest candidates of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
Analysts have noted the rapid rise of Poe in national election surveys, which community organizer Harvey Keh attributed to popular sympathy for her father, fueled in part by high public trust in the Poe name. Prior to the start of the election season, Poe was ranked twenty-eighth in a preliminary survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in mid-2012, before the start of the filing period. Immediately after filing her candidacy, Poe initially ranked fifteenth in the first survey of the election, published by StratPOLLS. While she has ranked as low as twentieth in a survey published by SWS later in the year, she entered the top 12 in January 2013, where she has stayed since then. In the last survey issued by Pulse Asia in April, she was ranked third.
While Poe herself has admitted that her biggest strength in the campaign is her surname, she has also conceded that it would be insufficient for her to be elected simply on that alone, emphasizing that her platform is just as important as her name in getting her elected to the Senate. She has also dismissed claims that her candidacy is her family's revenge against her father's loss in 2004, saying that all she wants to do is serve should she be elected to the Senate.
Platform and political positions
Poe is running in the election on an eleven-point platform focused on poverty alleviation, youth opportunity and electoral reform, promising to continue the legacy of her father. Specific policies she has advocated in the course of her campaign include the reintroduction of the national elementary school lunch program first introduced during the Marcos administration, the installation of closed-circuit television cameras in government offices, and stricter penalties against child pornography, continuing her earlier advocacy during her time at the MTRCB. In addition, she has also advocated against Internet censorship.
A day after the election, Poe became a senator-elect when the results from the PCOS machines. She was officially proclaimed a senator by the COMELEC board on May 2013, along with fellow Team PNoy candidates Chiz Escudero, Sonny Angara, Alan Cayetano, and Loren Legarda as well United Nationlist Alliance cadidate Nancy Binay (the latter of whom did not attend, instead opting to send her lawyer to represent her).
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She is widely speculated to be a potential presidential or vice presidential candidate in the 2016 Philippine elections (and thus seen as the closest competitor to Vice President Jejomar Binay's own presidential aspirations) with possible running mates such as Rep. Leni Robredo and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Family and personal life
Poe has two half-siblings born from her father: Ronian, born to actress Ana Marin; and Lourdes Virginia (Lovi), born to model Rowena Moran. Although she did not grow up with her half-siblings, even admitting that she met Lovi for the first time only after their father died, she has known of them while growing up, and they respect each other despite not being close to one another.
Poe is as an avid reader: she has read all the books of David Baldacci, who she describes as her favorite author, but she has also read books from a wide variety of genres and authors. She is also, owing to her childhood and her stint at the MTRCB, an avid film aficionado, watching all kinds of movies but with a particular affinity for action films, conspiracy movies, movies starring her father, and movies with happy endings. Poe is a tennis player and also has a black belt in taekwondo, having competed in tournaments while in high school.
In her senior year of high school, Poe met Teodoro Misael "Neil" Llamanzares at a tennis court in Manila that she frequented. The two started dating thereafter, and they married five years later on July 27, 1991, immediately after Poe graduated from Boston College at the age of 22. The marriage however was against the wishes of her father, who wanted her to have a career first before marrying someone. Nine months later, on April 16, 1992, Poe gave birth to her only son, Brian , and later gave birth to two daughters: Hanna in 1998, and Nikka in 2004.
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