Three years after her husband, former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jessie Robredo died from a plane crash, Leni found herself running for the second highest position in the land—the vice presidency—in the 2016 elections.
When she announced her polticial plans on October 5, Leni quoted a line from the historical epic Heneral Luna: “Bayan o sarili?”
More than ever, this is her driving force to further serve the country.
RELUCTANT CANDIDATE. Becoming a congresswoman must have been farthest thing from Leni's mind when she was mourning her husband’s death three years ago.
All she wanted was to see Jessie one last time.
But destiny called. People urged her to run for congresswoman.
On October 5, 2012—exactly three years before her announcement as vice presidential candidate—she decided to formalize her bid to run as representative of Camarines Sur's third district.
That was the time Leni had a vivid dream of her late husband.
She recalls seeing herself and Jessie standing side-by-side, brushing their teeth together—a comforting ritual for the couple of 25 years.
“Parang dini-dismiss niya ako na, ‘Alam mo na ‘yan,’” Leni told Good Housekeeping.
She added, “Sa akin, very comforting, kasi parang it was a message na kaya.”
As it turned out, “kaya” was an understatement, as the values Leni instilled in her constituents sparked hope that the country can change once the people realize their important role in helping government.
“Dati, pag governance, they only see themselves as beneficiaries. That’s why they’re very critical of government.
“Pero now, because I treat them not as beneficiaries but partners, they already see themselves as part of government.
“They have become very collaborative. Doon nagsa-start yung empowerment, e,” Leni says.
Read more about Leni’s journey to politics in the November issue of Good Housekeeping, now available at local bookstores.