Ever since Leni Robredo pulled off that vice-presidential win in 2016, my husband, Vergel, and I have been keeping an eye on her.
She registered an almost “zero awareness” among voters when the campaign began—meaning, nearly no one knew her.
There must be something providential about her, and we’re progressively being proven right. Indeed, for all the attempts to disparage and marginalize her, no leader deserves more to be called that than she does.
Still her bashers won’t stop. From their own concoctions, they portray her as weak, unfit, and unable to stand up to the pressures of leadership. Apparently, they are insecure about how their own president may compare, and they have every reason.
Leni has been proving herself, without necessarily trying, such that the insecurity appears to have infected the President himself. No sooner had she accepted his offer that she help in his war on drugs than he fired her: she had been discovering everything wrong with the war, and he realized he had been foolish to have made her the offer presuming she would refuse it and hoping to make some public relations mileage out of that presumed refusal.
Now, he has left her out of the government fight against the coronavirus pandemic, but she reveals, by her own successful initiatives, the government’s confusion and ineptitude. The main difference seems to lie with sensibleness and other natural abilities and a sense of compassion.
Leni continues to not only prove strong leadership qualities but surpass expectations. Her limited resources, mostly built from private donations, go incredibly further than might be expected. Reliability, transparency and the absence of political favors are precisely the virtues that inspire trust among donors.
Her office is hugely credited with supplying front-liners with protection gear, transportation and dwellings, and with a continuing feeding program for the poor. Anticipating the need, Leni has started sourcing gadgets for public school children who would have to study online.
Upon hearing a call from Cebu for a reinforcement of medical personnel amid a coronavirus spike, she appealed for volunteers and got them. She sent them but not before she had secured for them a dorm to stay in and a shuttle to take them to work and back.
Purity of purpose
I’m a Leni watcher but I cannot keep up with her. She is, if not a step ahead, spot on. Leni, we tend to forget, is all of an economist, lawyer, public administrator and social activist.
My husband himself thinks he has seen enough. “She has good instincts, and should trust them,” he says. He attributes it to “purity of purpose—a total lack of personal agenda.”
But neither is she one to shirk from what she is called upon to do, if I may add. We’ve all seen what happens when she puts her mind to a cause.
Indeed, I see Leni as destiny’s child, with a mission she cannot escape. She thought she would be an active wife-partner to the charismatic Jesse Robredo, PNoy’s interior secretary. His political star was on the rise when on his way home, on Aug. 18, 2012, from Mactan to Naga, his plane, a piper PA Seneca with four people on board, crashed in the waters of Masbate. One survived, but it wasn’t Leni’s Jesse.
Investigations blamed engine trouble or, possibly, pilot’s error. Plane crashes inspire a sense of destiny, of karmic fate, not only for the victims but also those they leave behind. And Leni’s ending up as vice president, and to a Duterte, can only be taken in that sense.
Guided by intuitions
Fate didn’t hand the role to her on a silver platter either. She didn’t just sit in one corner and pray. No, this woman guided by her intuitions, had worked for every vote that went into her victory.
She assessed what she possessed, what she lacked, and from there began to strategize and seize the fated opportunity, again despite limited resources, to reach out to people who had never heard of her. To her audiences, Jesse’s widow found out that the best way for people to know her was to share her life’s story, which, interestingly seems far from finished.
Watching Leni, I see a woman who intuitively puts order in everything she undertakes. She puts a system in place before proceeding anywhere. That’s why she makes difficult tasks seem easy.
Whenever I hear my husband ask aloud, “How can we fix the institutions that this administration will have destroyed by the time its term is over? Where would the next leader even begin?”
These are extremely hard questions which give us an idea of what awaits, if not us, the next generation. Indeed, the nation will need economic and moral reconstruction, on top of the challenges of what the “new normal” may yet impose on our lives.
Leni’s open letter to graduates of 2020 (which I read in Pam Pastor’s Inquirer ToBeYou series on commencement speeches, July 4) may as well have been addressed to us all—she herself has put it into practice:
“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.
“… When the path seems too difficult, remember that you were made for these times.”