Meet our featured “Babai”
Agnes Vicenta Salayo Torres-Devanadera, a respected lawyer, public servant, and leader, has over 30 years of experience in various government agencies. She made history as the WOMAN of many FIRSTS:
- First woman Mayor of Sampaloc, Quezon
- First woman President of the Quezon Mayor’s League
- First woman National President of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines
- First woman Lawyer from Quezon Province to be admitted to the New York Bar, United States of America
- First woman Government Corporate Counsel
- First woman Solicitor General
- First woman to be a full-fledged Secretary of Justice
- First woman President and Chief Executive Oﬃcer (CEO) of the Clark Development Corporation
In all the oﬃces she has held, she has passionately displayed excellence and dedication in public service. During her stint as the Solicitor General of the Philippines, she handled high-proﬁle cases and landmark decisions that impacted the country’s legal system.
As Chief of the CDC, Devanadera oversees the development of the Clark Freeport Zone. Despite the pandemic, she has led the expansion of the zone, attracting investments, promoting sustainability, and creating job opportunities. Recently, she launched the Heightened Readiness campaign, which aims to enhance the four pillars of the expanding economic hub -namely electricity cost, water supply, mass transportation, and connectivity strength.
Devanadera shared her perspectives and experiences regarding her journey and her devotion to her ﬁeld. Here are some key takeaways from our interview with he
How did you start your journey as one of the most successful female lawyers in the country?
I was born and raised in Sampaloc, Quezon, where my father’s career in business and politics gave me my first taste of the working world. As the eldest of ten siblings, I learned to be responsible from an early age. After studying accountancy in college, I worked briefly before pursuing a law degree at Ateneo. My first job was in litigation.
Eventually, I returned to my home province to become its mayor under the Corazon Aquino administration, and went on to become the first female national president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines during the administration of then President Fidel Ramos. During the Arroyo administration, I served as the Undersecretary for legal and legislative affairs at the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), then as Government Corporate Counsel, then as Solicitor General, and finally as Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
I also served as the Chairperson and CEO of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) under the Duterte administration.
And now under the Marcos Jr. administration, I am serving as President and CEO of Clark Development Corporation.
What are the most memorable parts of your journey?
I value the most my decade-long tenure as the Mayor of Sampaloc, Quezon, where I had the opportunity to engage with the community and truly listen to their concerns. Through the system and strategy of community organizing and community development, I was able to help break the backbone of insurgency that had plagued the area for some time.
How do you play and relax for you to live out a bold lifestyle?
Dance is my preferred form of play and recreation, and I often incorporate it into my daily routine alongside work. As Mayor, I organized public dance activities in the town’s plaza or covered court. In one “Paskuhan ng Bayan” event, we even danced from dusk until almost dawn! These days, I cherish spending my time with my granddaughters, who bring me immeasurable joy.
Who are the women who inspire you and why?
I have always admired my Mom for her serenity and for her having a very “stable” strength in character. I have my maternal grandmother who I also admire for being a reasonable disciplinarian.
I had an aunt named Tia Fely Torres, whom I always admired for her professional appearance and her signature red lipstick. Tia Fely was also a lawyer with a strong personality that commanded respect.
What message would you like to share with other women who would also like to succeed in life?
To the women of this generation, I encourage you to find your unique role, whether it aligns with traditional gender roles or breaks away from them. Pursue it with a burning passion, and always remember that whatever you do, it should be in service to others. Embrace your individuality, learn how to reinvent yourself, and use your talents and strengths to make a difference in the world.
"Embrace your individuality, learn how to reinvent yourself, and use your talents and strengths to make a difference in the world."
Chief, Clark Development Corporation
May the tales of exemplary women like Agnes Devanadera motivate all of us to take courageous steps, lead bold lives, and persistently follow our passions with perseverance and determination.