Who I Am

Though not from a strictly political family, Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez nevertheless led a public life of sorts, with one side of the family in the resort business, and the other deeply entrenched in work with labor groups, her grandfather being Atty. Democrito Mendoza, a key figure in ALU-TUCP (Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines). As such, despite her generally reserved demeanor, the young Yedda treated being around people as second nature. At her core, however, she has always been a shy person with a natural predilection towards servitude. In her family’s resort, she chose to not work the counters but instead spent time at the kitchen, cooking; when labor personalities swarmed their house, she was happy to entertain but maintained a wordless wallpaper stance. Though she would eventually bag the Binibining Pilipinas-International crown and, later on, be an active partner in husband Congressman Martin Romualdez’s work in the First District of Leyte, her beginnings were more low-key. The former Ms. Kittilstvedt, whose roots can be traced from Ormoc, Cebu, and Agusan del Norte (where the American-Norwegian part of her bloodline, whose business was in farming and logging, resided), enjoyed her hours of solitude at sea, swimming and engaging in water sports. While in school, she kept a low profile but managed to make good friends each step of the way: Assumption College in Antipolo and St. Theresa’s College in Cebu during high school, then later at the Cebu Doctors’ College, where she took Nursing, the board for which she passed in 1996. Simplicity was a recurring trait of Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, who fondly remembers being around people from all walks of life, eating at roadside carinderias in the province, and generally shying away from the limelight, no matter how much it hounded her.
Despite being married into one of the country’s more prominent political clans, Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez started out not being used to being in the public eye. As it was, her original goal in life was to be a nurse, having completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Cebu Doctors’ College, and passing the board exam thereafter. The fact that her sisters all took up nursing was a major factor in her chosen path, but her mother turned out to be the biggest influence in her life, as she encouraged Yedda to finish her schooling, and be more confident and independent. Using her natural beauty to her advantage, she started modeling at an early age, first for such designers as Pitoy Moreno and Rene Salud, and then for commercials for major brands. “It’s really how I built my confidence,” she shares. More importantly, she was able to make a living for herself through modelling, as well as through a brief stint as a store manager of a popular clothing outlet in Cebu. “I felt independent, and I was able to make decisions on my own,” she continues. This phase of her life reached its climax when she joined the Binibining Pilipinas pageant in 1996 and won the Binibining Pilipinas-International title, but not long after she met Martin Romualdez, the man she would soon settle down with.

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Forming a family with Martin changed the course of Yedda’s life completely, as she is now a doting, full-time mom to three intelligent, loving children. “It really, really makes me happy,” she says of being a mother and wife, and while she was initially happy watching her husband from the sidelines as he implemented various projects to benefit his constituents (and the rest of the country), her maternal intuition has motivated her into carrying out various programs and activities of her own, especially for the youth and the women of Tacloban City and the rest of Leyte’s First District. She regularly donates school books to the children of Tacloban, and after Typhoon Yolanda hit, brought a number of them to Enchanted Kingdom for a day of enjoyment and relaxation. The aftermath of Yolanda and its effect on Leyte affected her profoundly, and she subsequently kick-started a number of livelihood programs for women (Kababaihan Program), for kids (Young Movers’ Reach Out Program), and other projects to help make the lives of post-Yolanda Taclobanons more improved and sustainable. “Education, women, and children are the things I want to focus on,” she says. While Yedda Kittilstvedt-Romualdez may not have pursued becoming a nurse, her being a mother has emboldened her to do great things for her community. “I feel that being a nurturing mom—because I love to take care of things, make sure everything is fine for my children and other people—can be helpful,” she says.

Gallery

Recent Public Engagements

In the last two years since Supertyphoon Yolanda hit Leyte and its neighboring areas, Yedda Romualdez has been performing her civic duty as the wife of Leyte (1st District) Rep. Martin Romualdez and as a concerned citizen of the district. In these photos, we see her turning over loans (in cooperation with Invictus Microfinance, Inc. and the international non-profit relief organization IEDA Relief) to residents of Tacloban and Alang-Alang, Leyte for their respective livelihood programs, as well as spending time with Leyte’s barangay officials (in Manila as part of their Lakbay Aral program, and in Cebu as part of the Orientation on Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Management). She was also present at the turnover ceremony of the rehabilitated Tacloban City Hospital by the SM Foundation.

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