MARIA GEORGINA P. DE VENECIA, also known as Manay Gina, was born in Manila on February 15. She is married to Jose de Venecia Jr, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th Congress. She has four children: Carissa, Philip, Christopher and KC.
Gina has roots in both the worlds of politics and showbusiness. Her father was the famous star-builder of Sampaguita Pictures, the late “Doc Perez’ of Bulacan, while her mother, the former Azucena Vera-Perez of Albay, is currently the president of Sampaguita Pictures and Vera-Perez Pictures. Her maternal grandfather Jose Vera was once the Governor of Albay, Senator of the Philippines, and Judge of the Lower Court of Manila.
She finished high school at the Assumption Convent, and acquired a degree in Business Administration in Pace College, New York.Immediately after graduation, she served as Vice President and Comptroller of Sampaguita Pictures, VP Enterprises and Jose Vera Corporation.
In 1992 she became the President and Chairperson of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. (CSFI). Her first two terms as CSFI president is defined by her landmark achievement in championing the cause of abused women with the establishment of the nine-building The Haven for Women in Alabang. It was inaugurated in September 30, 1995, and immediately followed by the construction of the 15 Regional Centers for Women, nationwide.
On February 15, 1997, Mrs. de Venecia also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with then DILG Secretary Robert Barbers that paved the way for the setting-up of Women’s and Children’s Desk in every police station in the country.
The plight of battered women whose lives were transformed by The Haven for Women, served as inspiration for her radio program “Pira-pirasong Pangarap,” launched in June 1996. The following year, its TV version made its debut on GMA 7. After seven years, the program was re-launched as Nagmamahal, Manay Gina in the tri-media: DZBB, Balita and GMA 7. Today, “Nagmamahal, Manay Gina continues to chronicle true-to-life stories of everyday heroes on DZBB. She also maintains advice columns in Balita and Tempo publications.
For all her achievements, Mrs. de Venecia has received numerous recognitions, including:
In 2001, she was conferred by the Mindanao State University a Doctorate Degree in Humanities, for championing the cause of the disadvantaged.
She also lends her name to noble causes, as Chairperson of the 2002 Apolinario Mabini Awards that honor the achievements of the disabled; and the 2002 Aliw Awards that give recognitions to outstanding artists.
Mrs. de Venecia returned as President and Chairperson of CSFI in 2001. Once again, her inspired leadership has become the rallying spirit of the congressional spouses to develop the Phase 2 of The Haven for Women.
Her third term as CSFI presient is defined by the establishment of The 8-building The Haven for Children in Muntinlupa City, for the rehabilitation of streetchildren, ages 7 to 13. It was inaugurated in January 15, 2004.
In line with this new advocacy, she also launched "Bituing Pangarap ng mga Batang Sampaguita" on November 25, 2004 in partnership with the DSWD, which is aimed at saving the sampaguita vendors off the dangers of the streets.
A tragedy that took her youngest child, KC on December 16, 2004 moved Mrs. de Venecia to establish the INA Foundation. Its mission is to provide psycho–social support to grieving mothers who lost their child, to help them move on from a place of grief to a place of hope. INA Healing Center was opened on December 16, 2004 in commemoration of KC’s 2nd anniversary at the DSWD Compound, Batasan Hills, Quezon City.
In 2007, The Haven for Women reached its completion with the addition of the KC de Venecia Recreational Center. From its original nine buildings, The Haven for Women, through the years was transformed into a 16-building complex with state-of-the-art facilities making it as the most complete rehabilitation facility in the country. From the time it was opened in 1995, The Haven for Women has successfully rehabilitated more than 17, 000 abused women. Many of them are victims of rape, incest, forced prostitution, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and rejection.
It was also in 2006, when she brought her campaign to save the abandoned children to a national scale by finishing three Regional Centers for Children in Dagupan City, Tarlac City and Solana, Cagayan. In February of 2007, the fourth Regional Center for Children will start its construction in Agusan del Sur.
In recognition of her exemplary ability to help-with-dispatch in times of calamitiy, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed her as Consultant to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) on December 5, 2006.
On February 15, 2007, Mrs. de Venecia took oath as President of the Assumption High School ’66 and College ’70 Foundation. Her first project is the two-storey building that serves as a Day-Care Center and Multi-Purpose Hall for the residents and some 800 pre-school children of Barangay Don Bosco in Paranaque City.
During the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 7, 2007, Mrs. de Venecia received the prestigious Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award from the International Centennial Feminist Association of the Philippines and the Rotary Club of Manila 101.
For the past 16 years in public service, Gina de Venecia has shown that she is a true ‘Champion of the Abused’, and ‘Protector of Women and Children’.