Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

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I can never forget the first time I saw Tacloban — thousands of cadavers lay in debris, the streets smelled of death and decay, and in several barangays, not a single house survived. Students who were just studying for their exams woke up the next day with nothing but their shirts. One had to choose between saving his girlfriend and her one-year-old niece. Despite the devastation, however, residents affected by Typhoon Yolanda were already rebuilding only a few weeks after. One of them told me — “Isa ka adlaw, tatlo nalang kami. Waay na ang akung duha ka anak. Masubo pero kailangan mag-ubra. Wala man kami sarigan. (One day, there were only three members of my family left. Two of my children died. I’m sad but I have to work. We couldn’t depend on anyone else)”.

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo (born February 7, 1991) is a Filipino government official, academic, columnist, and author, currently serving as the Undersecretary for Public Affairs and Foreign Relations in the Department of Information and Communications Technology since November 2022. Notably, she is the youngest to hold this prestigious post. Before her current role, she the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs within the same department.

Spanning eight years in government, Lamentillo also served as the chairperson of the Build, Build, Build Committee of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Lamentillo's commitment to national security is evidenced by her roles as an officer in the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) with the rank of Auxiliary Commodore (one-star general), a reservist in the Philippine Army Reserve Force with the rank of First Lieutenant, and an adopted member of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Class of 2006, Bagsay Lahi. She is also a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) following the completion of its VIP Protection Executive Training (VIPPET) in 2023.

She maintains a bi-weekly column in the Op-Ed section of Manila Bulletin and Balita.

See also her book:
Night Owl (2021)





67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 8, 2023)


Philippine Intervention during the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA (March 8, 2023) · Full video of Speech in ‘'The Philippine Daily Inquirer

  • While there are barriers that need to be addressed, the Philippines already has the advantage. The Philippines still leads among Asian countries in terms of closing the gender gap, based on the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, where we placed 19th in the global rankings.
  • Bridging the digital gender divide is crucial to achieving gender equality and promoting economic growth. Through policies, programs, and initiatives that prioritize digital inclusion and gender equality, the Philippine government is committed to ensuring that no one is left behind, that every individual, regardless of gender, has access to and can fully participate in the digital economy



The need for a modernized, efficient railway system (June 24, 2022)

  • Prior to World War II, our rail transportation spanned 1,100 kilometers. The Philippine National Railways (PNR) used to run from La Union to Bicol, linking the north and south provinces of Luzon. In 2016, however, we only had about 77 kilometers of rail routes left. What was left would oftentimes be a bane rather than a boon due to frequent technical glitches and other service interruptions. As Asian megacities were developing their rail systems, ours was on the decline



Night Owl: A Nationbuilder’s Manual (December 10, 2021)

  • Filipinos have built many cities, expressways, subways, railways, and airports elsewhere in the world as OFWs. The pandemic gave us the best talent pool one could ever ask for. Build, Build, Build gave OFWs an opportunity to serve their country if they wanted to. Although we couldn’t match the salaries they received abroad, many stayed to ensure that Filipinos would get to use infrastructure that they only saw in photos before. We are on the right track. The Philippines can be a trillion-dollar economy.
    • p.1, To the 6.5 million Build, Build, Build team
  • Many will try to discredit the accomplishments of 6.5 million construction workers. They will say that what we have completed is not enough, that there could have been many things that we could have done still, or that we never really worked at all. Allow me to say — if you are reading this, and you’re part of the Build, Build, Build team - without you, we wouldn’t have been able to build 29,264 kilometers of roads, 5,950 bridges, 11,340 flood control projects, 222 evacuation centers, 150,149 classrooms, 214 airport projects, and 451 seaport projects. Philippines is in a much better place because of your skill, work, and sacrifices.
    • p.1, To the 6.5 million Build, Build, Build team
  • About five years ago, on our first day of office — Build, Build, Build Czar Mark Villar and I were talking — “What can we do to make the Philippines a better place?” His answer was simple —roads to the most rural areas so that children can go to school without risking their lives, bridges to connect farmers and fishermen to their markets and infrastructure that would open up opportunities in the countryside and allow Filipinos to dream and aspire for a better future.
    • p.1, To the 6.5 million Build, Build, Build team
  • What is Build, Build, Build? It is a revolution of Filipinos who want the next generation to see a better Philippines.
    • p.2, To the 6.5 million Build, Build, Build team'
  • People would often ask - what is Build, Build, Build? it Is a springboard, a chance to turn a dream of connecting Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao into a reality. It means connecting 81 provinces, 146 cities, and 1,489 municipalities.”
    • p. 80, 10 things to know about the plan to connect Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao
  • This is the first time in Philippine history that expressways operated by different concessionaires — as in this case, San Miguel Corporation and Metro Pacific — will interconnect. 

And who are the biggest victors of this arrangement? The Filipino people.”
    • p. 111, To dream the impossible dream: Connecting NLEX to SLEX in 30 minutes
  • Back in 2016, no one knew what Build, Build, Build meant or what it stood for. Critics had very little expectation of the team. They wagered against our success, not knowing that when they did, they gambled against the future of their country. They were certain that the infrastructure projects would never materialize — that blueprints would remain as drawings. They didn’t expect 6.5 million Filipinos to stand and work behind it.
    • p. 142, 10 Build, Build, Build projects in Cordillera Administrative Region
  • Before the six-month closure of Boracay, coliform bacteria in Bolabog reached as high as one million most probable number (MPN) per 100 mililiter (ml). The streets were so narrow and cars could not pass through. Pedestrians competed with pedicabs and tricycles for whatever little space was left on the street. There were no sidewalks. Establishments encroached on the shoreline, with some sections left with barely any sand.Six months later, water quality had significantly improved — with a recorded value of only 19 to 20 MPN/100 ml. This is even lower than the acceptable threshold of 100 MPN/100 ml for swimming areas and 200 MPN/100 ml for areas of non- contact sport.
    • p.212, Boracay: A case of political will
  • In one of our visits, I met a fourth-year high school student, who was three months shy from graduation. Before Yolanda hit, he was studying for his exams with his girlfriend. It was supposed to be the last Christmas they would be dependent on their allowances. They dreamed of traveling together after college. It was going to be their first time. They never had money to spare before. But in three months, they thought, everything would be all right. They only had to wait a few more months. After all, they had already waited for four years. What he didn’t expect was the fact that the storm [Typhoon Haiyan] would be so strong he would have to choose between saving his girlfriend and her one-year-old niece. For months, he would stare longingly at the sea, at the exact same spot he found his girlfriend, with a piece of galvanized iron that was used for roofing pierced through her stomach. It was a relief that one of the first projects we started under DPWH Secretary Mark Villar was the Leyte Tide Embankment, a storm surge protection structure that would serve as the first line of defense for residents of Tacloban, Palo, and Tanauan in Leyte should another typhoon hit the region.
    • p. 226, 10 Build, Build, Build Projects in Eastern Visayas
  • The United Nations has often defined culture as being created, contested, and recreated within the social praxis of diverse groups in economic, social, and political arenas. There is no point to segregation — to further an invisible line dividing Christians and Muslims. Just as men need to stand up for women in gender rights, Catholics must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters for sustainable peace. We must be the first to oppose whenever Muslims are branded and discriminated against. As the old Chinese proverb say — Just as a fence has to be built with pegs, an able person needs the help of three others.
    • p. 232, Surpassing the invisible line
  • If you are in any way part of Build, Build, Build, be strong and steadfast. The truth will not change only because alternate realities are repeated, or that facts are often ignored. The attacks will be more vicious and it will be at a rate that we have never seen before. Do not be disheartened. There is work to be done still. While we are already able to complete 29,264 kilometers of roads, 15,134 kilometers are still ongoing. While we have already built 5,950 bridges, we still have 1,859 bridges to build.
    • p.238, 10 Build, Build, Build projects in Zamboanga Peninsula
  • In the Philippines, there wasn’t much political support or policy or infrastructure that would address the needs of cyclists and pedestrians. It was almost impossible — and to a certain extent unsafe — to walk or cycle alongside national highways. Fortunately, the vision for Philippine infrastructure is fast changing. With the issuance of DPWH Department Order 88, all projects that involve new road and bridge construction will include in their design the provision of bicycle facilities, if feasible.
    • pp. 283 - 285, Bike lanes to the future
  • Soon, the Philippines will be a cycling country.
    • p. 285, Bike lanes to the future
  • We must come to the table knowing that there is no barangay, city, province, government, or country that can solve the COVID-19 crisis alone. More than ever, human collectivism is key. We have prepared for wars even before they happened. Maybe this time, we ought to work together, collectively and purposively, regardless of race, ethnicity, political affiliation, and religion, in finding a solution to a threat that has shaken our very definition of civilization.
    • p.313, The need for physical (not social) distancing
  • Love is choosing someone every day, even when you are disenchanted and disappointed, even when the rest of the world offers brief, short-lived, and uncomplicated romances, even when the easier option is to simply let go.” - Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo , Night Owl: A Nationbuilder’s Manual 2nd Edition
    • p.327, My father taught me waiting for 21 years was worth it
  • Cinderella, Snow White, or Red Riding Hood wasn’t our role models. We were taught from a very young age that girls need not be saved, that they could be heroes, protagonists of their own stories. Girls are not inferior to men, not in this generation or the ones before it.”
    • - p. 328, My mom told me not to believe in Cinderella
  • At the onset, critics pointed out that Boracay beach closure seemed to be a drastic move, an isolated strategy. But the statement was nothing but a myth. When I visited Florida as part of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), I learned that beach closures were part of a standard operating procedure relevant to Algal Bloom Monitoring. Recently, it closed Jupiter Beaches on Palm Beach County, Hobe Sound Beach, and Bathtub Beach in Martin County.In Rhode Island, the moment the concentration of Enterocci bacteria in beach water exceeds 60 colony-forming units per 100 mililiters, they issue a temporary closure. In 2018 alone, there were at least 40 beach closures in Rhode Island. - Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo , Night Owl: A Nationbuilder’s Manual 2nd Edition
    • p. 212, Boracay: A case of political will
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