VP Leni Robredo: ‘Remember, you were made for these times’ | Inquirer Lifestyle
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Robredo to Batch 2020: Stay on the side of courage and be hopeful for better days.

VP Leni Robredo: ‘Remember, you were made for these times’

‘Look outward. Move forward. Dream not only for yourselves, but for the last, the least and the lost’

Our series of commencement speeches for Batch 2020 continues with one from Vice President Leni Robredo.

Robredo and the compassionate and efficient way her office has responded to the pandemic have been a much-needed source of hope in these tumultuous times.

The Office of the Vice President has been working closely with the private sector to raise over P60 million, which they have used to purchase personal protective equipment for front-liners in over 1,000 institutions and distribute food and care packages to hospitals, road checkpoints and communities in need.

They have also dedicated funds for testing kits, set up temporary housing for health workers through The Oasis Project, launched a free shuttle service for front-liners and introduced a community mart project to provide livelihood for vendors and tricycle drivers as the pandemic continues.

Robredo’s office is also working with the nongovernmental organization Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership on a donation drive that will gather gadgets for teachers and students who will need them for distance learning in the coming school year.

In her message to this year’s graduates, Robredo writes about the importance of looking beyond ourselves and asking the question: “How can I make the world a better place for others?” —Pam Pastor

No ready-made answers

Robredo to Batch 2020: Stay on the side of courage and be hopeful for better days.

Dearest Class of 2020,

Congratulations to you and to your proud parents for making it this far!

I know this is not how you imagined your graduation to be—no applause, no IG-worthy photos, no parties, no big speeches. Many of you must feel robbed as we are all stuck in our homes, forced to deal with all that is happening from a distance.

The pandemic has brought our lives to a halt like nothing else could, compelling us to imagine our world anew. How do we navigate through the uncertainties posed by our time?

The simple truth is that there are no ready-made answers for this question. None of us have gone through this before. No one is really 100-percent ready for what comes next.

What I can say, however, is that I myself have gone through periods of uncertainty. And my experiences have taught me to be at peace with the act of stepping into the unknown, by anchoring myself on two things: looking outward and moving forward.

Look beyond ourselves

In times of crisis, many will feel the urge to think only of oneself, to flounder, and to retreat in our small corners of comfort.

When the fateful plane crash took the life of my husband, Jesse, it turned my whole world and those of my children upside down.

But the way the nation grieved with us and the impact of the legacy Jesse left behind plucked me out of the shadows. I realized that there are things greater than ourselves and that there are causes that will always be worth fighting for, no matter the risk.

I learned that shrinking back into our bubbles, allowing fear and grief to paralyze us, only leads to deeper despair. We need to look beyond ourselves and expand our circles of empathy—whom we will help, whom we will serve, whom we will live for. We need to ask the hard, important questions: How can I make the world a better place for others? How do I make sure that I will leave this world better than when I found it? Where am I most needed now?

Many of you have big dreams. Some of you want to be doctors and scientists, lawyers and accountants, engineers and architects, teachers and journalists, among many others. There is no reason to put your dreams on hold. In fact, you are called to pursue these dreams with even deeper resolve—to dream not only for yourselves and for your families, but for the last, the least and the lost.

Move forward

Amid difficulty, what keeps me going is seeing that each small task, each effort to help someone goes a long way. That every food pack eases a bit of the burden on families who have lost their incomes. That every protective equipment set makes a medical front-liner feel safer. That every palengke delivery made means that a market vendor and tricycle driver earn enough to put food on the table.

This is how we can move forward.

Forward, by regaining anchorage on small, real things with real outcomes, taking one step after another as we strive to reach our goals. Forward, knowing that doing something for someone else can be a spiritual salve for the crisis that we face. Forward, knowing that we are called to do everything we can for the good of others, especially those that need help the most.

Looking outward and moving forward­—this is how we can bravely face this new world. With passion and purpose. With grit and resolve. With compassion and with courage.

Dear graduates, no matter what the future holds, stay on the side of courage and be hopeful for better days.

When the path seems too difficult, remember that you were made for these times—to pave a new way forward for our nation, and for the rest of humanity.

Congratulations, Class of 2020! —Vice President Leni Robredo

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