Meaningful Life: Emmeline Aglipay-Villar on Leaving Public Service, Self-Care, and Helping Those in Need - Lifestyle Asia

Apart from her outreach activities, the former DOJ undersecretary looks forward to pursuing other dreams.

Emmeline Aglipay-Villar finds herself in the most precarious circumstances for a hardworking woman like herself: a vacation.

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Usually occupied with documents, laws, and jurisprudence during her nearly four-year tenure as undersecretary at the Department of Justice (DOJ), she finally closes that door.

Dress, RAJO LAUREL, @rajolaurel; bangles, CARTIER; ring, RIQUEZA

But even in the transition from public office to private life, Villar wastes not even a second. Em, as she is more popularly known, concludes this chapter to welcome one that was long in coming.

She now frees her schedule to make time for all of her personal causes. That is, to spend time with her beloved family and to realize her humanitarian advocacies.

Thank you, next

Even so, Em looks back to the legacy she leaves behind at the DOJ. Over the course of her stay, she was able to see her coworkers and even herself mature professionally.

“It was a good end to the whole journey. I was very happy but at the same time sad, because I will miss all the people I worked with. But I’m happy to be leaving the DOJ a better department… I can say that I’m leaving these offices under me better than when I came in,” Em tells Lifestyle Asia.

She was overwhelmed by the “outpouring of appreciation” by officemates, colleagues, and even nongovernmental organizations upon her exit.

Set, VINA ROMERO, @vina.romero; bangle, choker, and ring, RIQUEZA

“I didn’t expect it, because I’m a very strict boss. But was happy to know that I was appreciated by the people I work with,” Em thanks.

In return, she also recognized her staff, whom she mentored to maintain best practices. Their collective efforts ensured that department operations met only the highest standards.

“A lot of the people who work under me said they were able to grow and improve themselves during the time that I was undersecretary. As a leader, that’s one of the things that makes me most proud, when I’m able to inspire others and help them grow,” Em elates.

Life after the DOJ was only “a different kind of hectic.” Work-from-home turned to work on-the-go as Em campaigned for her husband, Mark Villar, as senator.

During this period, the couple went in and out of provinces nationwide to meet voters.

Dress, IVAR ASERON; jewelry, LOVE ROCKS JEWERY, @loverocksjewelry

“I’m very proud to campaign for my husband. He’s such an easy person to campaign for, because he’s done so much as a legislator and as Department of Public Works Secretary. He’s not one to boast about his accomplishments, but then we’re able to see what he’s done and even use the infrastructure. So I’m glad that a lot of people appreciated the work that he’s done and this is reflected through their support for him in the election,” Em reflects.

The campaign’s success would manifest in Mark’s victory, and with that ended Em’s participation.

She explained that’s as far as she’ll go in terms of her husband’s legislative advocacy, since they both prefer independence in their respective careers. Nonetheless, they share common interests, including the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs).

“As to whether I’m going to be part of his work at the Senate, I just let my husband do his own work. I don’t really take part in his work or play an active role in his work, whether he was still in Congress before or when he became Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways, or even now that he’s going to be a senator. I’m here to help him in a supportive way, but I don’t plan to play an active role in his work in the Senate,” Em clarifies.

Stronger

By the end of the elections, it had been around half a year since she survived sepsis. The near encounter with death only made her fight harder for everything she stood to live for.

“2022 has been relatively better. It’s been manageable I think. That’s how Lupus is, I guess. You just have to manage the symptoms that come along, and try to live well. Not too much stress, eating healthfully, living a balanced lifestyle, exercise as much as I can—but not too much. Everything in moderation,” Em details.

With one eye always keeping her health in check, she focuses the rest of her attention on the opportune chapter ahead.

“Now that the campaign has ended, the elections are over, it’s been very relaxing. It’s the first time in a long time that I’m not worrying about anything,” Em reveals.

Even in her previous vacations, she admitted that work was always at the back of her mind.

Set, VINA ROMERO, @vina.romero

This is her first real breather since she hasn’t accepted any new work yet.

“I’m just enjoying my time with my family without having to worry about anything, which is a very welcome change. And it hasn’t happened in so long, so I’m very happy about that,” Em celebrates.

Notwithstanding, she never pressed pause on any of her outreach initiatives.

These include activities with her fellow “Lupus warriors.” Together with her parents, Edgar and Mawie Aglipay, Em joined a Zumba class with peers at the Hope For Lupus Foundation.

“We just celebrated World Lupus Day last May 10. So the entire month of May, we’ve had several activities for Hope For Lupus and other Lupus patients. We had wellness activities for our members. It’s the first time that we’ve had face-to-face activities since the pandemic. It was appreciated by everyone, we missed each other so much,” Em cheers.

Dress, MARK BUMGARNER, @markbumgarner; jewelry, JMA JEWELRY, @jmajewelry

Happier than ever

With the free time, Em can now fully rest and recover from ailments brought by her condition.

She’s also had the allowance to finally entertain her long-term dreams like teaching at her alma mater, the University of the Philippines. Though she’s not sure if or when she would be able to do so.

Another option she’s considering is helping out in the family business.

“I am open to whatever God has planned for me, because in the past I made a lot of plans, but most of the time, I take a different route, because an opportunity opens or something comes that I didn’t expect… Like the DOJ. I’m open to whatever it is that comes along,” Em opens.

Most importantly, having no job at the moment allows her to “work” on her life priorities.

Dress, Gladi Echavarre, @glademirechavarre; jewelry, JMA JEWELRY, @jmajewelry

“Since I have no employment, it’s been relatively slower than before. I could now focus on family, taking care of myself, taking care of my husband and my daughter. And I’m happy to be able to do that,” Em concludes.

Photos KIERAN PUNAY of STUDIO 100
Sittings Editor DONG RONQUILLO
Creative Direction PAOLO TORIO
Art Director MARC YELLOW
Styling CATH SOBREVEGA
Assisted by GAIL ONG, Krizia Sembrano, and Siri Verano
Makeup MAYESA DELOS SANTOS
Hair MERLYN PADAGAS
Videographer JOSE RAMIREZ of STUDIO 100
Shoot Coordination MAE TALAID and MJ ALMERO

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