First Lady, a fine lady


From January 2001 til June 30, 2022, the Philippines did not have a first lady, that is a woman legally married to a male president of the republic.  From 1898 til June 30, 2022, there was no first lady who was a lawyer.

For the first time in 22 years, the country has a first lady.  And for the first time in 124 years, that first lady is a lawyer.

Meet Atty. Marie Louise Cacho Araneta Marcos, LAM for short, our – the First Lady, wife of Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., the 17th Philippine president. 

LAM comes into Malacañang, the presidential palace, walking under a huge shadow, that of Madam Imelda Romualdez Marcos, mother of the incumbent president.  Imelda, the Iron Butterfly, was the longest serving First Lady, from Dec. 30, 1965 to Feb. 25, 1986, a total of 20 years and 58 days.

LAM is casting her own shadow away from the prism of the inimitable Imelda.  And what a First Lady Madam Liza is.

In the website,, LAM describes herself simply as “a lawyer, professor, devoted wife, and a mother of three sons”. 

I am not sure about the ascending or descending order of such multiple roles, but law, teaching, being the wife of the most powerful person in the land, and mother to three good-looking absolutely desirable sons, make for a formidable mix, enough to create a niche and a legacy for their practitioner many Filipinos will remember for a long time, if not forever.

LAM comes from a family that is the closest to a mix of business and political royalty in the Philippines. She is a trophy wife. A power woman.

LAM was born in Manila on Aug. 21, 1959, to Manuel “Manolet” Ledesma Araneta Jr. and Milagros Azaola Cacho.  She is the fifth of eight children, the fourth of six girls.  As a teener, LAM exuded beauty, with the innocence and aura of a princess and an heiress.

Manolet  was born on Dec. 8, 1926 in Iloilo City but grew up in Bago, Negro Occidental.  He was often referred to a “twinkle toes” because he would prance around the basketball court whenever there was a tournament.  He was a member of the 1948 London Summer Olympics for basketball.

LAM’s mom, Milagros, was born on Jan. 16, 1930 in Manila.  She is the daughter of Jesus Cacho and Rosario Barlow Azaola.  “Both her parents are connected politically,” notes LAM’s biodata.

An Araneta

Her father is the first cousin of Judy Araneta-Roxas, wife of the late Senator Gerardo Roxas — the son of President Manuel Roxas.  Her mother’s youngest sister, Rosario Cacho, was married to Pedro Cojuangco, the eldest brother of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.

Liza was educated at Ateneo QC — a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 1981, and law, in 1985.    In 1989, Liza enrolled in post-graduate classes in Criminal Procedure at New York University.

Liza first met President Bongbong Marcos, her future husband, in New York City while she was studying and working there as a lawyer in 1988.  They got married at the San Francesco Convent in Fiesole, Italy on April 17, 1993.

BBM and LAM have three sons, one every year in three years: Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” (born March 7, 1994), Joseph Simon (born Nov. 25,1995) and William Vincent “Vinny” (born on May 17, 1997).

A law professor

LAM has been teaching law for 28 years, since 1996, at various times, in six premier and notable law schools—Central West Visayas University in Iloilo City, Mariano Marcos State University in Ilocos Norte, St. Louis University Baguio, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Northwestern University Ilocos Norte, and Far Eastern University, Manila.

She taught a huge range of subjects: Administrative Law, Alternative Dispute Resolutions, Constitutional Law I, Constitutional Law II, Criminal Law I, Criminal Law II, Criminal Law Review, Criminal Procedure, Election Law & Law on Public Officers, Evidence, Intellectual Property, Legal Ethics, Natural Resources & Environmental Law, Practice Court 1, Remedial Law Review, Special Proceedings, Transportation and Trial Technique.

An organization person

Judging from her track record, LAM is incredibly impressive as an organization person.  She can charm and put together talents and harness them for a singular purpose or objective.  

Managing a politician like BBM alone is a Herculean task.  Add rearing three tall and good-looking sons, teaching, and running a law firm –at the same time, and you see the strength and will power of LAM.  Being the First Lady thus is just a walk in Malacañang Park.  You should visit the Palace and its grounds.  They are a sight to behold and an experience.

Yet, during BBM’s political life, LAM managed to keep a low profile.  Until the 2022 presidential elections.

Extraordinary skills

Her biodata relates: Liza decided to publicly support her husband’s campaign, and remained focused amid the noise brought about by the campaign.  Her extraordinary skills in organization and logistics management were crucial in the presidential bid of her husband.

She was a significant voice of reason in the campaign of then presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos. 

Working with a deserving candidate and a committed team of enthusiastic campaign volunteers, Liza and her team helped Bongbong Marcos win the May 2022 presidential elections by an overwhelming majority of 58.77% or more than 31.6 million votes.

BBM was elected the largest mandate ever given a popularly elected president.

In no time, President Marcos Jr. became one of the world’s most popular leaders.

In 2023, BBM was the world’s second most popular leader, with an approval rating of 68% (Pulse Asia), and disapproval of 9%.  The first placer, Narendra Modi of India had an approval rating of 77% and disapproval of 17%.

Now, what about conflict with the Dutertes? “Bring it on, honey,” LAM shrugs, “there is such a thing as karma!”.