As Martin turns 56, Romualdezes donate P500,000 to Mindanao earthquake victims

Mara Cepeda

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As Martin turns 56, Romualdezes donate P500,000 to Mindanao earthquake victims
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez throws a big birthday party attended by prominent personalities in Philippine politics and business

To mark his 56th birthday, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and his wife, Tingog Sinirangan Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez, donated P500,000 to the victims of the recent earthquakes that struck parts of Mindanao.

The Romualdezes announced the initial donation under Tingog Sinirangan during Martin’s big birthday bash at the posh Conrad Manila hotel in Pasay City on on Thursday, November 14.

“We’re spending our weekend to give to our less fortunate brothers who have been victims of the recent earthquake. This is just the start of many initiatives that we would like to do under Tingog Sinirangan,” said Romualdez.

“We would like to give this token, a small amount which would be the start of many, many efforts. Just as you have begun, we shall continue and we shall not forget the plight of our brothers and sisters victimized by these national disasters,” he added.  

The couple handed the cheque to Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez, who represents the 2nd District of South Cotabato; and Dumper Philippines Taxi Drivers Association, Inc Representative Claudine Bautista.

In late October, a series of strong earthquakes rocked parts of Mindanao, killing at least 6 people, injuring hundreds, and displacing over 8,000 residents. (READ: FAST FACTS: The destructive earthquakes that hit Mindanao)

The House of Representatives, through the intiative of Deputy Speaker and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, launched this month its own fund-raising activity for relief and rehabilitation efforts in Mindanao. 

Big birthday bash

Some 350 guests, mostly composed of prominent figures in Philippine politics and business, attended the event.

Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and husband Mike Arroyo, graft convict and former Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos, and Romualdez’s mother, Juliette Gomez Romualdez, shared a VIP table.

VIP TABLE. Romualdez poses for a photo with ex-president and House speaker Gloria Arroyo and husband Mike Arroyo, ex-Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos, and Romualdez's mother, Juliette Gomez Romualdez. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

Seated t another VIP table were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and wife Kathryna, and former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad.  

Tessie Sy Coson, vice chairperson of the SM Investments Corporation, also attended Romualdez’s party.

The other guests were mostly past and present Cabinet members as well as lawmakers. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was not able to attend, but he sent a video of his birthday greeting to Romualdez, which was played during the program. 

In her message to her “favorite nephew,” Marcos assured Romualdez of her full support for his political career.

“And I’m very happy now that Martin is Majority Floor Leader and he can be sure that he has all my support and love. To you, Martin, happy, happy birthday! We all love you,” said the wife of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Romualdez later spoke to thank his guests and made special mention of Arroyo, whom he once again thanked for being his mentor. (READ: Romualdez thanks mentor GMA ‘for making me become what I am today) 

“My first boss in public office was [former] president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the speaker, the past Speaker of the House of Representatives who taught me the work ethic and the…intricacies of governance,” said Romualdez, whose brief speech made Arroyo smile.

“I credit you [for] teaching all of the things that I know and you made me who I am today and the industry that some of the congressmen have alluded to. And perhaps my also receding hairline and graying of the hair was because of the work ethic that you instilled in all of us in the 14th Congress,” the birthday celebrant joked. 

Given his strong personal relationships with legislators, Romualdez had been a strong contender in the speakership race in July. But he gave way to Cayetano after President Rodrigo Duterte endorsed a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Romualdez served his first 3 terms as Leyte congressman from 2007 to 2016. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.