MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is one very busy Cabinet member, and with good reasons.
With the many cases she needs to look into, from corruption (the most recent one concerning the military) to massacres (Vizconde and Maguindanao massacres) to unfortunate events such as the Manila bus hostage-taking, it is a given that de Lima barely has time to have a life.
Oh but she does! With the little time she has for herself, she finds time to do things she likes doing on weekends, such as dancing.
Dancing and playing with dogs
Yes, the lady of the justice does ballroom dancing. "Oh yes I do (love to dance). My tita, Lilia de Lima, is a ballroomer, and she was the one who introduced me (to dancing). (I do) ballroom, all sorts of dance. Chacha, tango, swing--name it," she revealed on "Headstart" on ANC on Wednesday.
She also makes time to play with her dogs, all 8 of them, Labradors in chocolate brown and black.
Asked why she likes Labradors more than fierce German Shepherds, de Lima said, "They are both pet dogs, therefore they can be sweet, and guard dogs, and therefore they can be mean. It depends on who they're dealing with.
Weekends also find her shopping, though it's not mall shopping, which she only gets to do twice or thrice a year due to her work load.
"Part of my therapy is to go to the wet market and grocery every weekend. Many people would easily recognize me even without make-up and halos duster lang ang suot. It's heartwarming actually when they recognize me and they say, 'We are always praying for you. Keep it up'," she said.
Driving north and south
The secretary also said that to escape stress, she drives.
"I enjoy driving. I go to the north and south...When I go driving, I escape from my security. So it's a security risk. So palagi akong pinapagalitan," she said.
She has a driver's license and she applies for it personally, she said.
"I like the speed. It would momentarily keep my mind off all the stress," de Lima said.
And her favorite music while driving is soft rock, the likes of "River of Tears" by Eric Clapton.
A viewer asked what she did on Valentine's Day earlier this week and de Lima said she left the office at 7:30 p.m. and just went straight home.
"Well, I have security. And that's another thing. Now that I have security, I have no privacy," she said.
She's single as her previous marriage has been "judicially annulled", and no, she's not seeing anyone. "I have no time," she confessed.
"Right now, my partners are my 8 dogs, and my grandchildren," she added.
She's not open to dating, saying, "No. Not at the moment. Not at this time. Not with all these work."
But she agreed with host Karen Davila that she's too young to be single. "Oh yes. I know that. It will come if it comes."
No blind dates for this lady, please, however. "It is out of my character," she said.
To the question what she would want in a man: someone rich but ugly or good-looking but poor, as what the Social Weather Stations asked some Filipinos last year for a survey, de Lima said, "Those are not the standards. It's the attitude."
And neither is intelligence. Her ideal man does not have to be so smart or too smart.
"Who would you choose, someone like Brad Pitt or (ANC anchor) Boyet Sison?" asked Davila.
"Can I go now?" de Lima replied, laughing.