The Audacity of Abby
In this no holds barred interview, Makati City Mayor
Abby Binay opens up about the hard choices she had
to make, the “blessing and curse” that come with her
last name, the tough lessons she had to learn about
family and politics, and how those experiences drive
her view of the future
BY LAKAMBINI BAUTISTA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAR CONCENGCO
Makati City Mayor Mar-Len Abigail “Abby” Binay could very well be any writer’s dream interviewee. For one, she’s raw and real. She has no pretensions and is unafraid to show her true colors. She says what’s on her mind—revealing her resoluteness, her passion, and her smarts. Unguarded moments show her softer side, as she chitchats with her staff and pokes fun at herself glamming up for a magazine shoot, and then proceeding straight to her duties as a mayor. “Pwede kaya akong mag-house-to-house ng naka-makeup? ‘Nag-prepare po ako para sa inyo. Nagpa-makeup talaga ako’,” she tells the people in the room, as if addressing the people of Makati. “`Yun nga lang, baka bukas `di na nila ako makilala! (But they might not recognize me tomorrow),” she says laughing. She explains to this writer that she has a daily flesh-pressing
schedule in the barangays, to endorse the team she’s running with in the forthcoming elections.
After serving three terms as congressman and one term as mayor, one can see that Mayor Abby has grown accustomed to being in the public eye. She surmises that years of studying in UP Los Baños, where she finished BS Human Ecology, Major in Human Settlements Planning, and in Ateneo Law School, where she took up Law, served her well. Studying in those two schools exposed her to a wide spectrum of
personalities and persuasions. She can be masa or alta, depending on who she’s talking to.
Mayor Abby practically grew up in politics. She was 11 years old when her father, Jejomar Binay, started working as a human rights lawyer and was very active during the era of Martial Law. Public service became a normal part of their life when the patriarch won the mayoralty post in Makati and served from 1988 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010. Her mother, Dr. Elenita Binay, served as city chief from 1998 to 2001. Suffice it to say, politics had been a usual part of the discourse in the Binay household. Mayor Abby is second in a brood of five.
Despite the early exposure, Mayor Abby admits that it was only belatedly in life that she decided to enter politics. “I didn’t really see myself in politics,” she tells this writer. “Even my dad didn’t see me in politics. It was only in 2005 when I’ve decided that I wanted to run for public office,” she says. Her first foray into politics was in 2007, when she won as Representative of the 2nd District of Makati ; she served for two more terms after that.
The then-lady legislator was planning to retire from politics after her nine-year tenure, but fate had other plans. The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal and perpetual disqualification of her brother, then-Mayor Junjun Binay, in connection with the administrative case he was facing over
the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall Building II. “We had to rethink whether it was a good idea to make him run, because he can get disqualified during the reign,” Mayor Abby recalls. So
in 2016, it was agreed that she will run for mayor. And she prevailed over Romulo “Kid”
Peña Jr. in the elections.