Lala Sotto-Antonio, public servant

Local government politics is challenging. I now realize that was one of the many reasons why my parents were hesitant at first.

illustration by glenzkie tolo

Diorella Maria “Lala” Sotto-Antonio grew up with exposure to public service and showbiz — fields that are closely-tied with the organization she would eventually head.

Growing up in a home abundant with love amidst a tight-knit family, the daughter of former Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd and actress Helen Gamboa finished Bachelor of Arts major in Consular Diplomatic Affairs degree from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.


These very halls of the institution taught her independence. Initially a shy person, she was amazed at the variety of organizations she could actively serve. These, in conjunction with her Spanish language studies at the Instituto Cervantes, expanded her college social life and set off the discovery of the person she hoped to be.


“Although I grew up seeing my parents in government, the college environment encouraged me to set up my own foundation. Honestly speaking, that is where my political career began,” she confessed. It took the encouragement of her professors, classmates and friends to establish the KASAMA Foundation, which now currently has 10,000 members.

“The whole experience opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a public servant. Having witnessed the hardships and experiences I went through and reading the recommendations from the college faculty, my parents, who initially did not approve of me running for Quezon City Councilor, finally allowed me to run for public office.


She soon bloomed into the confident lady who has now become the chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board or MTRCB.

When stressed, the new appointee prays and spends time with family. “I have learned the art of not thinking about stress — of shutting off stressors in my mind. What is important is what God thinks and not what others think.”

Three Generations (from left) Former senate president Tito Sotto, Marciano Antonio, Lala Sotto-Antonio, Helena Antonio, Helen Gamboa-Sotto, and Mike Antonio.

On the side, she still continues to aid her constituents in Quezon City. “Whenever they need me, they know where to reach me. I am still here.”
Let go through her journey across the decades:


During my time as a Councilor for Quezon City from 2001 to 2021, I learned to be sensitive and understanding to the requirements of who were in need. I learned leadership skills, to include the formulation and creation of policies that I felt would benefit the majority. Drafting and nurturing ordinances and resolutions have become my main interest.

Local government politics is challenging. I now realize that was one of the many reasons why my parents were hesitant at first.

The main challenge is defending the measures I wanted to pass in front of the City Council composed of 35 councilors. They questioned you. They may go against you. I had to be prepared for any and all queries.

Another aspect is to live up to the demands of your constituents, most especially your valuable time. As a City Councilor, your physical presence is not only appreciated, but also desired 24/7.

On the new MTRCB post:
The MTRCB Chairman post came as a pleasant surprise to me. I am ready to take the role. I am thankful to the Lord for this blessing. I also thank the President for this opportunity he has given me.

Hawk Eyes The MTRCB head at the organization’s Monitoring and Inspection Unit. | photograph courtesy
of Lala Sotto-Antonio

On plans as MTRCB head:
My plans, first and foremost, is to ensure that family members, especially children, will have a safe viewing experience, protected from unwanted content. I encourage our local producers to create films and even television networks to come up with programs that focus on core Filipino family values — to encourage them to uphold the rich history and culture of our country.

On most important
public servant trait:

God-fearing. Another trait is to be disciplined. Be a good example to your employees, your staff and your constituents. And lastly, be firm. Whatever you decide or whatever you choose, you have to remain steadfast because there will always be an opposition or objection to whatever you stand for.


On traits leaders of today should possess:

The leaders of today should possess respect. I think this is what people are missing today. And this is not just for political leaders. I am also referring to the youth of today. Parang masyado silang nabigyan ng avenue to be too outspoken na nakakalimutan na nilang magpakita ng paggalang sa kapwa, especially on social media. They are free to bash and say anything they want, but they do not even understand how hurtful it can be and how it can affect the mental health of a person.


On admired leaders:

Globally, it was Queen Elizabeth II. I admire her because she was God fearing and was committed with her choices. She valued her family so much. Locally, I think it would be natural for me to say it is none other than my father, of course.

On advice to world leaders:

My advice would be for them to be strong and to remain deeply rooted to their spiritual convictions.

On advice to aspiring public servants:

Pray. Keep your eyes on the goal. Public service is my passion, so I believe that public service should not come from selfish ambition, but rather from the heart.

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