Roman has been mocked and abused on the campaign trail in recent weeks but, after living as a woman for more than two decades, she refuses to be cowed.  ‘My life has not been a secret,’ Roman told AFP in a rare interview after a day of campaigning in Bataan, a rural province just north of Manila where her mother has served as congresswoman for nine years and the family holds immense political sway.

‘I grew up here. People know me. (Gender) only becomes an issue when you try to keep it a secret. It’s nothing bad. I never hurt anyone in the process. I’m so happy so why should I be ashamed?’ Roman said she grew up being teased by classmates but her late father, a powerful politician, taught her to be confident. She speaks three European languages, holds two master’s degrees and worked in Spain as senior editor of the Spanish News Agency, before returning four years ago to care for her ailing father. READ MORE