“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald.
Those words by the legendary First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz must resonate strongly with Louisa Borja Muna. Like most of those blessed with the gift of song, she has a passion for it that cannot be diminished. “For me, singing is not for financial gain, it’s really a great stress relief. So, I still do it every Friday night,” Muna explained.
Music has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Muna hails from a musical family that included her main influence, her late father David Borja. “My dad was more or less my biggest inspiration, but not just because of the music aspect, but also his ability to manage everything in his life,” she said.
The family’s musical roots date back to the 1960’s when their popular local band, “The Radiants,” was first formed. It was pretty much a given that Muna and her sister Lynn would grow up to be singers for the group. The band has been a regular on the Guam party and fiesta circuit for many years. “For me, it’s just getting out there and letting all your emotions out through your performance, whether it be happy or sad, and let the audience feel what you’re trying to portray. So for me it’s that connection to the audience,” she said.
It was only fitting then that the idea to run for political office was first pitched to Muna during one of her singing performances. In fact it was fellow first-time Senator Wil Castro who did the recruiting. “There was one night we were playing at Night Shift, and he came in and he saw the connection to the audience. He said, ‘They have a trust in you, that whatever you do you’re gonna take care of them,’” she recalled Castro telling her.
Muna said running for office “wasn’t something I ever really thought about,” and besides, she had just been promoted to program manager at the local radio station where she was a long-time popular deejay.
But months later she was finally convinced to give politics a shot. She believed her experience on the radio helped with her campaigning. “I think it made me more comfortable with the mike, and I could speak in front of people without getting too nervous. When you’re in radio, the more outspoken or crazy you are, the better you are at your job. Being a senator is a little different; you’ve got to be careful with what you say, and not offend anybody,” she explained.
There was another life-changing event that preceded her run for the legislature. Her mom Gloria was diagnosed with cancer, which led Muna to come up with the idea for a local television show that focused on people who were battling the disease. “It was my mom and her situation, and our situation, that made me go and think of the idea. I brought it to the producers and asked them, ‘What do you think of this?’ So when we started working on it, it was then that I realized what a big deal it is here on Guam,” she narrated.
One of the priorities of her new job as senator will be to support cancer outreach and education. “Our rates of cancer are very, very high. I believe that our focus should be on healthcare. Our people need outreach education and more affordable opportunities for better health care that will improve their quality of life.”
Her focus would be on prevention. “My first bill will be the Cancer Prevention Act of 2017. It will fund outreach, education and make prevention medications more accessible to working families. I hear of people who didn’t even do things that are supposed to lead to cancer, who got cancer. We have to be very aware of it,” Muna explained.
The mother of a 16-year-old high school student and a 21-year-old recent college graduate is suddenly coming to terms with her new role. “I’m now noticing that the people I come in contact with are happy that I’m representing them. I think people see me as the representative of the common man and woman. I’ve walked in their shoes, and they’ve actually watched me grow up. I think people are comfortable in knowing that I’m there to represent them. So, yeah, I think I’m approachable, very much so,” Muna expressed.
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