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Message at the Christian Life Community Thanksgiving Mass

10 July 2016

VP Leni: Magandang magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Binibiro ko si Abang pagdating. Alam ninyo po sa dami ng ginagawa ko, nalalaman ko ang gagawin ko sa umaga lang. Umaga of the same day. Kanina, alam ko na pupunta ako ng Ateneo, pero noong una hindi ko talaga alam for what.

Sumusunod lang ako sa sinasabi ng office, although before naman they accept any invitation, they run it through me. Kaya lang, kaya lang ano naman, I forgot about it already until this morning. Mayroon sa aking ibinigay na briefers, nakita ko may 10 o’clock sa Ateneo. So nasa sasakyan ako, binabasa ko, nakalagay doon mag i-introduce sa akin si Abang.

Sabi ko, “Pambihira naman itong si Abang, magkasama kami kahapon wala man lang sinabi na magkikita pala kami bukas.”

Hanggang 8 o’clock kagabi magkasama kami, kasi he is the chief-of-staff of the one who will succeed me as representative of the 3rd district.

Ah nandiyan, medyo inorient ko sila ng mga ginagawa sa distrito, in Congress; they were in the office last night. Nag-umpisa ang aming schedule at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but I went to Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte yesterday, ah the other day until yesterday.

Dapat ang flight namin was at 9 o’clock in the morning. Nakaalis kami doon I think 2 o’clock in the afternoon. So iyong lahat ng schedule for the day na-move nang na-move. Iyong 2 o’clock naging 7’oclock yata, pero they still waited for me.

Anyway, tinitingnan ko, what is expected of me today aside from the Mass. Nandoon na to speak briefly and i-kuwento sa inyo iyong aking journey to the Vice Presidency.

Maraming friends na nandito. Ayan si Abang at si Melyn nandito, si Lani nandito, Pauleen, Lori and family, si Carm nandito, si Ditsy nandito, maraming mga kaibigan na siguro sawang-sawa nang pakinggan iyong aking kwento.

Pero anyway, marami naman iyong I think I’m meeting for the first time. Iyong 1%, 1% ako noong October 2015. Pero before the 1%,I was nowhere, and I was nothing.

Kapag sinabi kong nothing, parating binabalik tanaw iyong naging buhay. I think you have heard the story over and over again, that I was born and raised in Naga.

Doon ako nag-aral. I attended Sta. Isabel; it’s the only Catholic all girls school in Naga. Doon ako nag-grade school, doon ako nag-high school.

So nag-college ako sa UP, pero even when I was in UP, ano pa rin, parang sheltered pa rin ang up bringing, nadala iyong buhay sa probinsya. Araw-araw nagsisimba, nag-reremind iyong nanay ko araw-araw, nagsimba ka na ba?

Ayun, never akong sumali sa sorority, never na ganoon. Parang very provincial pa rin. But the plan was, because I’m the eldest in the family, the plan was, susunod ako sa yapak ng aking tatay.

Hindi ko plano, pero plano ng magulang ko para sa akin. And ganoon naman ang upbringing namin. Parang we were raised to accept the fact that parents know what’s best for us.

So my dad has been a long time lawyer and judge in the province, so I was sort of expected to follow his footsteps. So ayun, I took up economics in College with the expectation that I will go straight to law school.

Pero, parang, historical events happened. During that period of time that I was in UP, during my 2nd year, pinatay si Ninoy. That was my political awakening. Pagkatapos na mamatay si Ninoy, I became active in street demonstrations.

Pero these were demonstrations na ano lang, iyong mga safe. Nasa school lang, etc. etc., I think the only time I went out of school was iyong EDSA, and when Cory was running for President.

Pero, parang because EDSA happened, after I graduated, there was a burning desire to join government. Parang iyong sa akin, graduation speaker namin si Cory, she was someone I idolized at that time; until now naman.

Pero I asked permission from my Dad, “Puwede bang hindi muna ako mag-law school? Gusto ko lang mag-try ng gobyerno.”

Iyong una, siyempre they were hesitant, but eventually… hesitant sila kasi baka daw kapag nag-earn na daw ako, baka tamarin na ako na mag-abugado. Pero anyway, they allowed me to. I was hoping to… I was expected pala, to look for a job in government dito sa Manila because this is where I would go to law school.

Pero after graduation, I went home to Naga for what was supposed to be my summer break. Pag-uwi ko sa Naga, iyong usual na nangyayari sa probinsya na kapag nag-uuwian, may mga kaklase sa high school, nagkikita-kita. So during one of those high school reunions, nagkita-kita kami noong iba kong mga kaklase, who also graduated economics but from UPLB; ako kasi Diliman.

Nagkukwento sila, mayroon na silang trabaho and it was a government agency doon din. So nagkukwento sila, “Iyong aming boss ay bago din, ano din, product of EDSA revolution etc. etc., naghahanap pa ng mga economics graduates.”

So biglang lightbulb moment for me, nagpaalam ako sa tatay ko na, puwede ba akong mag-try? Iyong tatay ko masaya. Kasi kung magtatrabaho ka lang naman, mas ok na nandito ka sa Naga because they didn’t have me for four years. Kasi nag-dorm ako sa UP. So nag-apply ako. Iyon na iyong change talaga ng aking buhay, kasi iyong boss doon iyong asawa ko.

Siya pala iyong kinukwento ng mga kaibigan ko. They were putting such high words on him: na mahusay, very idealistic, etc. etc., I think he was 27 or 28 at that time.

Noong i-ninterview ako, siya ang nag-interview sa akin sa first interview. Mayroon akong recommendation from a politician. Kasi parang, parang iyon ang kalakaran dati, hindi ba? Parang hindi ka matatanggap kung wala ka…

And I learned that the boss was the nephew of the Governor. And the Governor was a friend of my dad’s. So, sinabihan ko iyong daddy ko, “Puwede kayang humingi ako ng recommendation?”

Sabi ng daddy ko, “Sige, sabihan ko. Pero ikaw iyong pumunta.”

I went to the house of the Governor, I was given a recommendation so parang confident ako na matatanggap kasi may recommendation. But during the interview, inibabaw ko doon sa application letter ko iyong recommendation, ‘yun iyong unang nakita ng asawa ko.

It was a hand-written note. Appararently it was supposed to be very valuable. Kasi kung hindi ka masyadong kilala, iyong naka-template lang na sulat na type-written. Pero ang sa akin, hand-written note.

Iyong tanong kaagad ng asawa ko, “What’s this?”

Ako noon mayabang pa. “Iyong recommendation letter, Sir.”

Noong sinabi niya sa akin, “What is this for?”

Tapos ang sunod niya yatang sabi, “Don’t you know that this is a different time?”

Para akong binuhusan ng malamig na tubig. Sabi ko, nako ito pala ang hindi sa akin nakaka… ito pala ang makakasira sa akin. But anyway, to cut the long story short, natapos iyong interview, sabi niya sa akin, the position I’m applying for has just been filled up.

So mukhang hindi ako matatanggap, umuwi ako. Sabi ko sa tatay ko mukhang hindi ako matatanggap. Sabi naman ng tatay ko, ano yan, baka divine providence, ang message niyan mag-lalaw school ka na.

But a few days after, I was still in Naga for the break, I received another phone call from the office. Ang sabi sa akin, would I be willing to undergo another interview? So I went again. Noong pumunta ako doon, ang sabi, iyong ina-applyan ko wala na but there’s another position I might be interested in, but that position requires writing skills.

So, kung ok sa akin. So sabi ko naman, ok. Palagay ko may decent writing skills naman ako. Tinanong ko, sinabi nang asawa ko na to write an essay.

Sabi ko, “As in now?”

Sabi niya, “Yes, now.” Doon sa kaniyang opisina.

Sabi ko, “What about?”

Anything daw. Anything under the sun. Sabi ko, mahirap yata ito. And I wrote about the role of Cory Aquino in the EDSA revolution. Kasi at that time, parang mayroon na siyang, hindi ba parang sinasabi noon na hindi naman si Cory ang dahilan ng EDSA, iyong mga generals na nag-defect, etc. etc.

So I wrote about the role of Cory Aquino. Iyon pala iyong nakapapasok sa akin. Mukhang bumilib sa sinulat ko. And a few days after the second interview, I was hired. So nag-start na ako. But it was a whirlwind romance.

Ito pa iyong trivia, my first day of work was August 18, 1986. That was the day of the crash. The crash happened exactly 26 years after. So, mamaya ikukwento ko, grabe iyong mga coincidences sa mga dates sa buhay namin.

But anyway, my first day of work was August 18, 1986. Before, I think September or October I was already going out with the Boss. And he wanted to ask for my hand in marriage already [by] December.

Sinabi ko sa Tatay ko na pupunta na raw dito si Jesse para mamanhikan, nagalit iyong Tatay ko. Sabi niya, nagkakakilala palang kayo, mamamanhikan na?

Because Jesse was more than 7 years older than I was. So to make the long story short, hindi pumayag ang Tatay ko.

Sabi niya, “Hindi ko iyan haharapin.” Sinabi ko sa asawa ko.

Iyon kasi the following year, 1987 was the first Congressional elections. Bale elections iyon, May 1987 elections iyon ng senators and congressmen. And my husband was already active; actively helping candidates during the election.

Ang sabi niya sa akin, “Basta kapag tapos ng eleksyon, kahit ayaw niya, mamamanhikan na ako.”

So namanhikan; naalala ko pa iyong pamamanhikan, kasi parang sinabi ng tatay ko, hinarap siya. Pero noong sinabi na namin na gusto na naming mag-asawa, sabi ng tatay ko, “Hindi pa puwedeng mag-asawa ang anak ko, kasi mag-lalaw school pa iyan.”

So kinumbinsi niya ang tatay ko na kahit mag-asawa na kami, he will make sure that I will still become a lawyer.

Tapos noong tinanong na ng tatay ko na “Kailan iyong balak ninyo?”

So iniisip siguro nila end of the year, or next year. Sabi ng asawa ko, mayroon na po kaming date. Na hindi ko alam.

Ano kasi Chinese ang kanilang family. Parang pina-feng-shui na noong relatives niya based on our birthdays. Sabi niya sa June. Eh ano na iyon, April yata iyon.

Sabi ng Nanay ko, “June? June 1987?”

Sabi ng asawa ko, “Opo. 1987.”

Ang bilis naman yata. Parang iyong mother-in-law ko yata ang nagsabi, “Kasi, Kumpare, iyong susunod na ok na petsa parang November pa. Ayaw na maghintay ni Jesse.”

So to make the long story short, June, less than a year after we first met, we were already married.

Ayun, noong pagkakasal namin pina-aral ako ng law. I think you know my story already. I had a hard time because a few months after the marriage, he already, after the wedding I mean, he already decided to run for Mayor. Ang election noon was January of 1988.

Tumakbo na, so parang ang bilis. Ang bilis ng mga pangyayari. I was a very young wife, tumakbo na siya, nag-aaral ako ng law, after a year we already had our first born, I was a young mother, I was the first lady of Naga. Parang sabay-sabay and I was working full time.

Kasi when we became engaged, nag-resign na ako sa work kasi very unethical that I was engaged to the Boss. I looked for another work.

Wala naman masyadong available pa na work doon sa amin, so nag-decide ako to teach economics at a local university.

So nagtuturo, I was working full time as a college professor during the day, I was going to law school at night.  Basta nahirapan ako.

Many times I planned on quitting law school already. But my husband wouldn’t hear of it. Sabi niya mapapatay ako ng tatay mo.

So we made many compromises. When it’s election year I would file for a leave of absence. When I would give birth, I would file for a leave of absence.

Because when I became a lawyer we already had 2 children. Tapos, paunti-unti, kasi hindi ko kayang mag-full time kasi I was working.

In other words, after a long time, natapos rin. After a long time, I became a lawyer. But when I did pass the bar, I was already sure what kind of lawyer I wanted to be. And that was public service lawyering.

Pero the only public service lawyering I knew of then was the Public Attorney’s office.

So right after passing the bar, I applied as a Public Attorney and I was taken in. So nagtrabaho ako sa Public Attorney’s Office.

It was a very good experience; I was having the time of my life. Pero nagkaroon din ng mga problema kasi, alam ninyo naman iyong trabaho ng PAO diba? Nagdedepensa ang mga PAO lawyers ng mga akusado na walang pambayad ng abugado.

At that time, iyong jueteng, grabe sa amin. And my husband really launched a very active drive against jueteng. Iyong mga pulis nanghuhuli nang nanghuhuli, noong mga nagpapataya.

Ang problema, iyong nagpapataya na pinapahuli ng asawa ko, sa akin na-aassign. I was defending people na napapahuli niya. So kinakantiyawan kami. Iyong asawa ko parating sinasabi sa akin “Pambihira naman.”

Iyong mga tao kinakantiyawan kami, pinapahuli ng Mayor, pinapalabas naman ng asawa. The situation became ridiculous. So I decided to quit.

Iyong asawa ko actually was convincing me not to. Sabi niya trabaho iyan eh, maiintindihan naman. Pero nag-resign ako. Tamang tama na pag-resign ko, patapos na rin ang 3rd term niya, 1998. Patapos na ang 3rd term of office niya and then he didn’t want to run for Congress, kasi sabi niya hindi ako bagay doon, executive lang ako.

And people were asking me to take over. Ganoon naman iyong mga supporters eh. Pero sinabi ko sa asawa ko, ikaw lang ang pulitiko, over my dead body, hindi ako magpupulitiko. That was then.

Hindi naman niya ako napilit; ang asawa ko actually was open to the idea. Kasi ang dami niya pang gustong gawin sa Naga na hindi niya pa natatapos. But when I said no, he respected my decision.

Right after that, parang pinagtagpi-tagpi. Kasi nakakuha siya ng scholarship sa Harvard, to take up his Masters. And the scholarship was generous. It allowed him to take his family with him, kasi iyong living expenses was included in the scholarship.

So pumunta kami. Dalawa pa lang ang anak namin noon. We lived in Boston for a little over a year. Pagbalik namin, my husband joined an NGO. The NGO was called COPE.

Hindi ko alam kung naalala ni Abang iyong COPE. It was an NGO for informal settlers. Housing. So iyon ang NGO. Kaya nga sabi ko sa inyo, connecting the dots tayo dito.

Kaya ko kinukwento lahat, kasi all the dots are interconnected. So it was a housing NGO. Palagay ko doon sumali ang asawa ko, kasi when he became Mayor for the first time, we had huge problems with regards to informal settlers.

So he became very active with that. In fact, a lot of our urban poor programs became internationally acclaimed. So housing siya.

In 2001, he decided to run for Mayor again. Pero noong pagbalik namin sa Pilipinas, I decided not to join PAO anymore. I found an NGO based in Ateneo. Ang office namin nandiyan sa Hoffner Building.

The NGO is called Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal: SALIGAN. Nabalitaan ko iyong NGO na iyon. Parang perfect siya kasi, based siya sa Ateneo pero may dalawa siyang provincial branches.

One branch was in Naga, the other branch was in Davao. So I joined the Naga branch. Ano siya, iba siya. Hindi siya traditional lawyering. Because when I was in PAO it was a traditional lawyering.

Pero ito, alternative lawyering. Ano ang pagkakaiba nang dalawa? Iyong traditional lawyering kasi, ang traditional lawyers is parang, you’re taught na “that is the law, you have to follow the law.”

Pero ang alternative lawyering, it’s giving the law an entirely new dimension. If the law is an instrument of justice, then follow the law. But sometimes, ang law mismo ang nagiging instrument of injustice.

So what we do is to encourage sectors to actively work for the amendment of the law, or repeal of them, or to advocate for the passage of new laws. So iyon, kaya ito connecting the dots na naman kasi hindi ko naman alam na mag-cocongressman ako in the future, diba?

Pero that time, we did a lot of legal writing. Kami nag-dadraft ng mga batas, pine-peddle namin sa mga legislators. Ang dami sa amin na hindi pumapansin, kasi we were a small group. We were a small group of lawyers. Iyon ang trabaho namin.

We were working very very close with the basic sectors. Farmers, fisher folk, urban poor, indigenous people, women and children, laborers. Kaya nakikita ako ni Abang sa labor arbiter. Kasi kapag labor laws, ang dinedepensahan namin ay mga laborers. Kapag urban poor, hindi kami puwede sa mga land owners, puwede lang kami sa informal settlers.

Basta parati kami doon sa marginalized. Pero ngayon, ang ginagawa namin were not only cases. Ginagawa namin, we were popularizing laws, we were translating them.

Iyong mga batas na tungkol sa mga sektor, tina-translate namin into the dialect. Bikol dialect. And then we would go down to the sectors, teach them the law, and make sure that they use the law to further their causes.

So iyong pagiging abugado ko, I was with SALIGAN for 10 years, talagang babad sa sektor. Doon sa mga naka-attend na ng aking mga talks, kinukwento ko iyong mga pinagdadaanan.

Pupunta kami sa communities for days, para sa paralegal training. Ito alam ito ni Ditsy, kasi ang asawa niya ay ka-officemate ko. Iyon, pupunta ka sa fisher folk community, wala ka namang matutulugan na bahay, matutulog ka sa bangka. Yung mga ganoon.

Naalala ko, when I was 6 months pregnant with Jillian, iyong bunso kong anak, nag-community work ako sa isang fishing community sa Camarines Sur. Walang tulugan, buntis ako, mag-stay kami doon ng 4 nights.

So iyong mga mangingisda naman, were very apologetic. Iyong isang bangka talagang nilagyan nila ng maraming fishnets kasi ang bangka diba may parang benches siya. Para hindi ako lumubog doon sa mga benches, talagang they really made an effort to fill them up with fishnets para ok ang tulog ko. Masarap ang tulog ko, but they would wake me up 1:30-2:00 in the morning kasi papalaot na sila.

Iyong mga ganoon. Babad kami sa mga farming communities. Sa mga farming communities, if you stayed the night, alam ninyo iyong mga temporary huts in the middle of rice fields, na mayroon lang bubong pero walang walls? Alam niyo iyon, iyong where they spend, doon sila kumakain ng lunch, iyon yung mga tinutulugan namin.

May mga baon lang kaming “Off” lotion. Pero ganoon iyong naging buhay ko for 10 years, and my husband has been very very supportive.

Mayor siya noon eh. Pero kapag may community work ako, he would make it the point, to be with the children. So that has been our life. I would be out, siguro mga 10 days every month to do community work with the most far flung barangays. My husband would stay home with the children.

Umiba na naman iyong buhay namin noong na-appoint na siya sa DILG. Kasi noong na-appoint na siya sa DILG, that meant that he would be staying in Manila most of the time, already.

Iyong dalawa kong panganay na anak, nasa Manila na rin. Magkakasama silang mag-aama. Naiwan ako sa Naga at saka iyong bunso. And I had to quit SALIGAN kasi I couldn’t do community work anymore, kasi no one will be left for Jillian.

Wala na si Jesse, nasa Manila na siya. So I resigned; I became a practicing lawyer, but I was still doing a lot of volunteer work for SALIGAN. But mostly labor, labor and women cases na lang kasi it won’t require community work na malalayo.

Pero parang iyon kasi preparatory na iyon [sa] pagkamatay niya. Looking back. Kasi never kaming tumira na magkahiwalay. Nagkahiwalay lang kami in 2 years noong naging DILG Secretary siya. He would only be home during the weekends.

Tapos, and then the plane crash happened 2 years after. 2012. Parang, siguro, to say that our lives were turned upside down would be such an understatement.

We had to re-arrange our lives. Noong namatay siya, nag-decide ako, mag-aapply na ako para maging judge. Kasi iyong tatay ko, judge. Nakita ko well compensated. Kahit retired na iyong tatay ko, he’s still getting [a pension].

Iyong pension niya, monthly pension niya was the same amount that the active judges were getting every month. So sabi ko, kahit single parent ako, mabubuhay ko na iyong mga anak ko. So I applied.

May shortlist na. Nasa shortlist na ako in 3 courts. Pinapili na ako nang aking priorities na courts.

Then nag-away-away na iyong mga pulitiko sa amin.

Before my husband died, nakapagpili na ang party ng mga local candidates. And iyong boss ngayon ni Abang, na bago naming Congressman, was the candidate that my husband chose to run for Congressman of our district. So siya na. Pero namatay ang asawa ko.

Namatay ang asawa ko 2 months before the filing of certificates of candidacy. Because iyong filing was October. Noong namatay ang asawa ko parang naging headless iyong LP sa amin.

Marami nang nag-ambisyon na iba, despite the fact na nag-decide na sila as a group kung sino ang mga kandidato. Iyong si Gabby, would be running against a Villafuerte. Iyong matagal nang political family sa amin.

Mayroon kaming kakampi, tumakbo rin, inunahan si Gabby. So, nagkaroon kami ng problema because if 2 of them would be running, we won’t be able to successfully fight the political dynasty.

So ako naman, as a matter of principle I was telling Gabby, we did everything. What he did was beyond our control. Tumuloy ka. As a matter of principle because that was what we talked about. I’ll help you every step of the way.

But as it is, si Gabby nag-withraw last minute. And when he withdrew, last day of filing, that was October 5, 2012, I was.. sorry ah kasi ito La Salle, galing akong Manila, October 4 to grace a La Salle event.

They were naming their school of government from De La Salle University School of Governance to Jesse Robredo School of Government. So I went October 4.

Ang plano noong local party namin, the following day, October 5 which was the last day, it was a Friday, magfa-file iyong aming local candidates, sasamahan ko. Kasi parang ako iyong unifying force.

Sasamahan ko, magfa-file sa COMELEC. But before the filing, mayroon muna kaming presscon, para to formally announce who our candidates would be.

Nag-bus ako noong gabi. Nasiraan iyong bus na sinakyan ko. Nasiraan siya sa Tiaong. So instead of arriving Naga at 7, the press conference was at 8 in the morning, dumating ako alas-dyis ng umaga.

I thought, they would be waiting for me. I-dedelay ng 2 hours iyong presscon. Apparently they didn’t. They went ahead with the press conference, pero iba na iyong tono sa press conference. Nag presscon without me, inannounce na ni Gabby that he was withdrawing his candidacy, and he was asking the people to rally behind him and convince me to run instead.

So I arrived 10 o’clock, I didn’t know what was happening. I was taking a quick shower. While I was taking a quick shower, kasi nagmamadali ako at late na ako, narinig ko maraming voices sa baba.

So ang imagination ko naman, siguro iyong kalaban namin, parang pine-prevent ako na to go through with the presscon. Apparently iyong mga nag-march papunta doon, iyon iyong galing na sa presscon. And they would be convincing me na to run.

Siyempre I was taken aback. Pero parang, you know it was one of the moments na hindi ka na nag-iisip. You just think that it was something that you had to do.

Ewan ko siguro alam iyon ni Father. May mga dumadating talagang moments na walang explanation, walang anything, but you feel in your heart that you have to do it.

I called up my children who were in Manila, I was with them the night before, I had dinner with them, there was never any talk that there was a possibility that I would run.

Nag-iyakan ang mga anak ko. They felt betrayed. Sabi nila, “Mama magkakasama tayo kagabi wala ka namang sinabi.” Sabi ko, “Hindi ko naman alam eh.”

Tapos when I told them, “I don’t have a choice.” Sabi ko sa mga anak ko I don’t have a choice, eh ako I always raise my children to become highly empowered ladies.

Ang sagot nila, “What do you mean you don’t have a choice? The choice is yours.”

Wala akong maisagot. Parang ang naisagot ko lang yata, “You will understand me if you’re here.” Basta in other words, I told the crowd who were there. Come back for me at 4 o’clock and I will have a decision. Sabi nila it can’t be 4 o’clock. We will come back at 2 o’clock because 4 o’clock would be too late.

Parang alam ko na in my heart that “oo.” Ang mga sagot ko na lang sa kanila, “Pero wala akong COC eh.”

“Mayroon na kaming finill-up for you. Pipirmahan mo na lang.”

Sabi ko, “Wala akong picture eh.”

Tapos sabi nila, “Mayroon na kaming picture.” Tapos nakita ko, I had a 2×2 picture posted, 1.5 by 1.5 yata, nakapose, naka-itim ako.

And I remember wala akong picture na I was using black. I was in mourning then. I wore black for a year. Sabi ko “Saan galing itong picture na ito?”

Sabi nila, “Nakahanap kami doon sa studio na ID picture mong luma na nakapink ka, pinapalitan namin iyong kulay ng damit mo.”

Anyway, they came back for me. 4 o’clock we were already in COMELEC.

Hindi pa napipirmahan, wala pang thumbmark or anything basta nandoon na kami, mag-fafile na ako. Ayun, iyong mga anak ko ok na sila. Parang natanggap na nila na they didn’t have a choice. Iyon na, naging kandidato, no money, no anything, pero God really provides.

Nanalo ako. Walang wala talaga. Alam ito ni Abang, how difficult my fight was. Pero, grabe iyong sa amin, grabe ang bilihan ng boto.

Iyong sa akin, ano na lang, parang, you know ever since my husband died, para sa akin ano na lang, tanggap na lang nang tanggap. Dati I was, between Jesse and me, Jesse was the impulsive one. I was the one who would always stabilize him.

Ako iyong strategies; lahat planado; organized. Pero after he died, parang, I threw all my cares sa bintana. Parang, whatever comes, that’s the will of God. Iyan iyong sa akin.

So to make the long story short, nanalo; naging congressman, etc., but I was telling Gabby. “Gabby you have to be with me in all my advocacies already, kasi 1 term lang ako dito.”

Sabi ko “I’m only a stand-in candidate, I will get my life back after 3 years.”

So sa akin, si Gabby would accompany me. Gabby is the new Congressman. He would accompany me. He was already very active doing district work. Kasi I was preparing for, retirement from Politics. I knew that I was there only on a temporary basis.

And then alam ninyo na ang nangyari. Hindi pa nga tapos ang 3 years, mayroon na naman bagong hamon. And iyong bagong hamon was definitely more difficult than the first.

I thought at first na it was a joke. And then when I realized it was serious already, I had to talk to my children. And my children were violently opposed.

Talagang iyon ang most difficult. I think after the death of my husband, the most difficult thing we had to go through was deciding whether to take on the challenge or not.

Pero again, iyong deep in your heart, you just felt that, parang it defies all logic. But you knew that you had to do it. Napaka-imposible, iyong mga kalaban mo Marcos, Escudero, very very well established names in politics. Sino naman ako? Wala akong kaalam-alam sa pulitika. Ang sa akin I go by instincts.

Ang sinasabi ni Abang, iyong sabi lang sa amin may sanib. Ako iyon eh. May sanib. Kasi I became a very different person already. In the sense na, ano ako. Parang Jesse’s death changed me. Iyon nga, hindi na ako eh. Parang sanib niya na. Kasi who am I now was Jesse before eh, not me.

Kaya iyon. Iyon, naging kandidato na, doon na nag-umpisa iyong 1%. Parang walang kalaban-laban, but people like you, na wala naman akong pag-asa, already put your stakes on me, diba?

Parang kakaunti naman ang naniniwala. Iyong mga pulitiko halos walang gustong kumampi sa akin, kasi wala naman nga akong pag-asang manalo. Kahit mga party mates, maraming ambivalent. Ambivalent is the tamest adjective already. Basta iyon. Anyway hindi ko na ikukwento iyong eleksyon kasi alam niyo na iyon.

When I won. Ano na ito, parang ang sa akin, ayun nga, iyong sabi ko when you look back you know that all the dots are connected to each other. Parang may connection lahat.

I was proclaimed the day of Jesse’s birthday. Tapos I don’t know if anyone of you is a Facebook friend, but I just posted this morning, iyong another trivia, I was offered a cabinet post, July 7. Ayan, Jesse was also offered a DILG post July 7 of 2010.

Kaya iyon ang sanib. Iyon ang sanib. Parang when people ask me, nagpaparamdam ba sa iyo si Jesse? Sabi ko, ay hay nako, kapag nagsabi ako ng “oo” again, it’s the understatement of the year kapag nagsabi ako na nagpaparamdam.

But you know I was given a Housing post. The housing was Jesse’s biggest advocacy, iyong mga ganun.

Kaya this morning, nagpapasalamat ako sa inyo, for giving me the chance to be here personally to thank you.

Not only for being my prayer warriors, pero for contributing so much of your time, your energy, your resources. Pero I’m also here to make another plea, to continue being my prayer warriors. Because the next 6 years will be difficult.

Parang parati ko itong sinasabi sa mga kasama ko, sa mga anak ko na, iyong Jesse’s death changed me. Kasi dati, ano ako, ayaw kong lumabas sa comfort zone, gusto ko kung saan ako sigurado doon ako.

Pero now, parang my life is all uncertainty already. Pero somehow, parang alam ko rin na everything is for a reason. Puwedeng hindi mo muna alam ang dahilan. Paminsan tatanungin mo “Bakit ba ako naging congressman?” Ngayon, “Bakit ba ako naging Vice President?”

Hindi ko rin alam, pero sigurado ako may dahilan. Parang I’ve learned how to compartmentalize everything. Iyon ang kuwento ko sa mga anak ko, so that they will not be affected by negativity.

Parang, you only have so much eh. You just choose your battles. Parating everyday is a fight between good and evil. Everyday is a fight between positive and negative. You can’t dwell on the negatives, kasi hindi ka naman makaka-move forward.

Maraming kahirapan, but when there’s an opportunity to serve, kahit pa ibababa mo ang lahat ng pride, kailangan mo iyon gawin. Kasi not everyone is given this opportunity.

Maraming mga unsolicited advice na pumapasok. Sometimes you get affected, sometimes you are thankful. Most of the times you are thankful. Pero I go by my instinct always.

Kasi tingin ko naman iyong instincts, iyon ang will of the Lord eh. Iyon ang guidance. Parati lang pinagdadasal na, parang malaman mo kung ano ang dapat mong gawin. Iyon ang journey.

Pero ang pinaka-lesson doon: lahat naman tayo may purpose eh. Nasa atin na lang iyon kung papaano natin i-gagrab ang chance na magawa natin kung ano ang purpose natin.

The former me would have been more prudent, more guarded, mas pasigurado parati. Pero hindi kasi iyon ang hinihingi ng pagkakataon. Ang hinihingi ng pagkakataon, you really have to be brave enough to take risks.

Pero always guided by the thought that you only have the very best of intentions. Always guided by the thought that nothing will be thrown at you that you are not prepared to do. Always guided by the thought that there is always a reason why things happen.

So that’s why pupunta na ako doon sa iniwan kong hanging na statement: Kaya kailangan ko pa rin kayo.
Kailangan ko pa rin kayo kasi iyon iyong… sa inyo manggagaling ang instinct na iyon. Sa mga dasal niyo manggagaling iyong papaano ko malalaman kung alin ang tama at hindi.

You might have seen how unconventional the offer to join the Cabinet was. Pero again, parang sa akin, iyong during that phone call, it was a brief phone call, parang noong binaba ko ang telepono, parang binalikan ko iyong each and every word that was exchanged between us. And I just said na, the offer, parang ano siya, parang full circle for both Jesse and me.

Kasi, Jesse’s number 1 advocacy was housing.

Ako naman, when I was in SALIGAN, I was defending so many urban poor communities. And now I’m being given this one chance.

Marami din nag-ooppose, marami din ano, pero diba? Parang, you will only tell yourself na kung hindi ito para sa akin, siguro hindi naman dapat ginawa ang offer. Because I was prepared not to have any Cabinet post.

In fact, I was preparing already for a life, the next 6 years na ang gagawin ko lang is advocacy work with the private sector. But now I was given this chance.

When we were trying to come up, last na ito. Sabi niyo brief lang pero napahaba na. Kinuwento ko na iyong… Kasi when were talking about what would be the core advocacies of the Office of the Vice President, I was telling my staff, I wanted to do so many things, but I was telling my staff, let’s be practical.

We can’t spread ourselves too thinly because we have to depend a lot on private partnerships. So we identified 5. Hunger and food security, rural development, universal health care, empowerment at saka ano pa iyong isa? Education. Iyon.

Papaano ang housing? Sabi nila. Sabi ko, huwag na tayong mag-ambisyon doon. Huwag na tayong mag-ambisyon sa Housing kasi we’ll never be able to do anything without government pag dating sa housing.

And then, this offer came. So iyon na ang gap, diba? Who would have thought naman? Who would have thought na parang iyong kulang doon sa advocacy ng OVP was housing, and then I was given the Housing portfolio so really, gifts come in the most mysterious ways.

Pero iyon, I couldn’t read what you wrote. Mahahalata na tuloy iyong edad ko. Because I left my reading glasses at home. Pero I think I would be given a copy of everything that you wrote.

You can write through that 1 by 1 pero I would want to… my office now is headed by Geo Anne, my very beautiful spokesperson.

Geoanne is head of my advocacy team. She was with DSWD. She was Sec. Dinky’s chief of staff before. Ano naman ito, we’re planning to do a lot of advocacy work with the marginalized sectors. And whatever you wrote there, we will try to incorporate in what we are doing now.

But I am so honoured that you took it upon yourselves to offer whatever help you can. Sabi ko nga, I’ve been looking across… I see many familiar people, I see many people who have been in this fight for a long time already in your private capacity.

So I know that from the people this morning, it’s a wealth of possibilities for partnerships. Iyong mga Ramon Magsaysay people are here, Ateneo people are here, Fr. Ben left already but he said he wants to partner with us. Noong una daw naisip niya lang makikipag-partner sa feeding program, pero dahil nasa Housing na daw ako, nasa board daw siya ng Gawad Kalinga. So talagang every corner is really a possibility.

Kaya thank you very much. This will not be the end. This will just be the start of our partnership together.

Gusto ko lang sabihin sa ating choir ngayon, iyong asawa ko kumpleto ng inyong CD. Iyong  CD ninyo, although, hindi ko naman alam kung kumpleto talaga, pero iyong mga CD ninyo, iyon ang mga nasa sasakyan niya.

Ano ito, parang iyon nga, pinagtagpi lahat. Since I won’t be able to read that, maybe I can request somebody to update me on the summary of everything that you had written. Pero parang very encouraging, pasasalamat at pagtugon.

Kaya maraming salamat ulit sa inyong lahat.

Comments(8)

  • Mercedita De leon
    July 10, 2016, 5:10 am  Reply

    Meant To be by God Inatervention. Good people is always guided. We will continously pray for you madam Vice president leni Robledo

  • Sr. Mary anne evidente, dc
    July 10, 2016, 9:40 am  Reply

    When God chooses his servant-leader, he does not choose the qualified; god quAlifies those whom he chooses. … Vp leni, the dots of your life are being connected by god because you are his agent For the upliftment of the marginalIzed and needy. In God’s good time, his plan for you Will be realized. We will help and support you in every way we can… Your advocacy is ours too.

    • MGm
      July 11, 2016, 2:29 pm

      Great dear Sr.Mary AnnE….’always dc in heart & Soul ….see you more often @ PH, my dearest home :)…shared that With VP Leni ,’ am also DC ‘ and she responded fry positively , you can see the ‘light on her aura ‘ in our brIef Chat, after the event yestErday…god bless!- marie-cor 😇🤗👍💝

  • Sr. Haydee R. Perez, dc
    July 10, 2016, 9:58 am  Reply

    I really believe the saying ” where your heart is there you put love in it” my hope and prayer for everything to be done smoothly dear VP – not only the homeless are happy, but all the Filipino people, continue to become His image and likeness, i know your advocacy will give more happiness to the less privilege – you are most loved and god will be at your side all the time –

  • sr. remedios r. centeno, d.c.
    July 11, 2016, 2:27 am  Reply

    VP Leni, after listening to you in several occasions, after learning of your decisions, I told myself that the Holy spirit must be guiding you. I understand now that I am right in my guess. god sees your sincerity, your complete honesty, simplicity, humility and charity. and like you, i also believe that there is a purpose for everything that happens in our life. god love & bless you always

  • D'gard
    July 11, 2016, 3:02 pm  Reply

    made no mistake, what i see come 2022 this woman will be our next president. and i see a big possibility earlier than 2022. who knows ? only god knows.

    • Dyan
      July 12, 2016, 6:48 pm

      i also think so d’gard. i know that she doesn’t want to be president, she said she has no ambition to be one. but of course, we know her history. i think that come 2022, her instinct will propel her to another mano-a-mano with bongbong marcos, and this time for presidency. May the best woman win again.

  • amelia Felix
    July 30, 2016, 9:22 am  Reply

    If God calls, Listen To Him.

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