Leni Robredo: Why she chose to run for vice president

May 27, 2016
<p>Leni Robredo on her constituents: "Because I treat them not as beneficiaries but as partners, they see themselves as part of government."</p>

Leni Robredo ends the very tight race for vice president with 14,418,817 votes or just 263,473 votes apart from Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who got 14,155,344 votes.

It was a remarkable twist of fate for the Bicolana who initially trailed behind in the pre-election surveys.

It was a sweet victory for the administration's second choice for the VP post.

She was a reluctant candidate, and did not readily accept Liberal Party's offer to become Mar Roxas's running mate.

But what changed her mind?

LENI, THE CONGRESSWOMAN. In the November 2015 issue of Good Housekeeping, the former Camarines Sur Representative recalled her first political campaign experience in Naga.

"Nung nagkakampanya pa lang ako, wala akong pera e so pupunta ako sa isang lugar na wala akong dalang kahit ano, laway lang.

"Kahit merianda wala. Sila pa ang magpapa-merienda."

Her opponents had all the resources to win the people's votes, but 102,694 Bicolanos placed their faith on the widow/mother/ laywer/NGO worker. 

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This made Leni think that people were determined to find change.

"Wala akong pera, pero pinanalo 'ko nang malaki. Ang gustong sabihin, sa mga tao, merong mga bagay na mas nagma-matter more than pera.

"Malaking bagay yun, kasi kahit hindi na ako yung nandun, yung criteria nila sa pagpili, iba na."

As their elected congresswoman, Leni's rationale for every project was simple: it needed to be developmental.

From creating a dike to protect small fishing communities from natural disasters to building satellite high schools for teens in remote areas to repairing a bridge to allow children to get to school—these helped build a strong foundation for change.

But when asked which project made her proud, Leni answered: "I'm proud that my constituents look at governance differently now.

"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 as partners, they see themselves as part of government.

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"They have become very collaborative. Dun nagsa-start yung empowerment, e."

This gave Leni hope: perhaps the rest of the country is seeking for change.

CALL TO SERVE. Before making her official announcement on October 5, 2015, Leni had no intentions of playing in the big leagues.

Despite what people might have thought, Leni was actually pressured by the people close to her to reject the vice-presidential offer.

"Sa akin, mas malakas yung pressure to say no kasi yung mga influential sa buhay ko, lahat nagsasabing no.

"Pamilya ko, pamilya ng asawa ko, yung mga constituents ko sa Naga, lahat ayaw, kasi parati nilang sinasabi, 'Huwag mo kaming iiwanan.'"

Her daughters Aika, 27, Tricia, 21, and Jillian, 15, strongly opposed the idea, but the thought of their late father Jessie Robredo changed the family's perspective on the matter.

In the end, the Robredos would always respond to the call to serve.

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Leni said, "Siguro dahil asawa nga ako ng asawa ko, yung call to service talaga malakas. Kung hindi siya asawa ko, iba siguro yung thought process.

"I felt in my heart na this is something I have to do. Hindi ba ako handang magsakripisyo? I will be in a position where I can really make a difference."

Once her candidacy was made official, her daughters fully supported her.

Aika resigned from her job to be her mother's helping hand, and Tricia opted for a leave of absence from medical school (but Leni preferred that she wouldn't).

Fast foward to today, Leni and her daughters finally heard the final buzzer: over 14 million of Filipinos had placed their faith on Leni, who is poised to spark change on a national scale.

Although she has little political experience compared to her vice-presidential opponents, her husband's legacy had more than prepared her and their daughters for the new, potential battle that is yet to come.

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<p>Leni Robredo on her constituents: "Because I treat them not as beneficiaries but as partners, they see themselves as part of government."</p>
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