After a sterling performance at the House of Representatives, the next logical step for Darlene Antonino-Custodio is to seek a senatorial position. But no, she does not want more of the same. After her congressional stint, she wants to lead Gensan as its Mayor.
Darlene replaced her mother, Lualhati, as Representative of South Cotabato District 1. Now she wants to test her mettle at the helm once held by her Dad, Adelbert. No political dynasty here as both her parents are no longer politically active.
It is easy for Darlene's political opponents to dismiss her as a political lightweight because of her no-frills approach to her position and constituents. Her simplicity in presenting herself (top and jeans garb, minimum or no makeup, speaking in the vernacular) has beguiled those facing her in the political arena. Her relative youthfulness and being petite intimidate her older and taller nemeses. Darlene makes sure one knows where her heart and passions lie in the first few minutes of conversations with her. Indeed, she is our WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) gal.
When she faced Manny Pacquiao in the last elections, she remained undaunted by the cockiness and machismo of the latter. Her constituents voted her back for another term and she "knocked out" the boxing champ in the polls. She had risen to the challenge, proved her worth and earned her place in the illustrious history of the House of Representatives.
One may fault her for not having the glamor of her Mom or the business savvy of her Dad, but never her audacity in blazing trails never before passed by her parents. She is accessible and her charisma with the common tao is so evident that you only need to see her in action as she goes around the SocSarGen area. She is not afraid to make hard decisions - decisions that affect her political career, her family.
There is no doubt that Darlene may surpass the accomplishments of her Dad as Mayor of Gensan, if she's given the chance to serve as the local executive. Her fervor in giving direction to the growth of Gensan blazes like hot embers in her eyes. Definitely, she will be leading with a roadmap guided by her vision for the city she loves.