Duterte matriarch dies at 95
DAVAO CITY, Philippines–Soledad Roa Duterte, the mother of Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and grandmother of Mayor Sara Duterte, passed away at 3 a.m. Saturday. She was 95.
Duterte, fondly called “Nanay Soleng” among the people of Davao, spent her life as a teacher and as wife of former Governor Vicente Duterte of the undivided Davao, which extended to Cateel, Davao Oriental, to Don Marcelino town in Davao del Sur. She used to be involved in various civic projects in the city.
Before her death, she actively oversaw the Soledad Duterte Foundation, which carried out livelihood and skills training to indigenous communities in Marahan, near the boundary area of Bukidnon province.
Duterte said his mother died at the Davao Doctors’ Hospital, where the family immediately arranged for a Mass and her cremation.
“She wanted a private burial, she had asked us. She did not want a ceremony, so we just followed what she wanted. That was her last wish,” the vice mayor said, apologizing before TV viewers for the swift turn of events.
Nanay Soleng was at the forefront of the Yellow Friday Movement of Davao, which helped fan the February EDSA Revolution that pushed former President Cory Aquino to power. She was at first reluctant to let her son enter politics, saying “one politician in the family is enough,” but eventually gave way to his decision.
Gabriela Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan remembers Nanay Soleng as the moving force during the early years of women’s organizing in Davao, which dated back to the martial law years.
“She was already a woman activist long before the term was coined,” Ilagan said.
“She showed us through example how to be committed and be strong in the face of adversities. Davao was heavily militarized, we had no resources, we had our own families to raise, we were still learning the ropes in alliance work; and there she was, a teacher, a fund-raiser, an organizer, an inspirational model and a friend, not to mention, ‘inahan sa kanunay nga panabang (mother of perpetual help),” Ilagan added.
Nanay Soleng had been in the hospital for months for age-related illnesses prior to her death.