CHERIE QUEROL MORENO: Leni Robredo — Endure, empower and inspire

To this day, the Philippines can claim to a fundamental but monumental accomplishment over the United States in having elected not one but two and potentially three women presidents.  If the final count is fraud-free, according to her supporters, incumbent Vice President Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo, a front-runner in the ongoing presidential race, will join the company of Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on May 9, 2022.

Robredo rose to political prominence in the passing of her husband Jesse Robredo, Local Governments Secretary and former Naga City Mayor, who died in a plane crash on the job in 2012.  An advocate for the marginalized like her husband, the mother of three daughters took on her husband’s mantle in 2013, when she won the seat to represent the Third District of Camarines Sur.

In Congress, she authored the bills improving infrastructure, organizing youth engagement in nation-building, promoting fiscal accountability, increasing funding for high schools, decriminalizing premature marriage and reforming election service requirement for teachers.

In 2016 she ran for Vice President and defeated Duterte’s running mate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.  While apparently shut out from the presidential circle, she continued her programs to fight poverty, women’s empowerment, education, health care, housing and rural development, and housing.

Robredo echoes the courage and conviction of Cory Aquino, who was swept into office after the assassination of her husband Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr.  She poured her education and experience as economist, lawyer, her husband’s partner in good governance and champion for social justice.

The Liberal Party bet chose pink as campaign color, her followers self-identifying as “Kakam-pink,” portmanteau of Tag-lish “fellow pro-pink.”  Their grassroots efforts have made ”lugaw” or porridge cool as it was in the 1980s, when it was the best cure for hungover folks of privileged as it was the only meal for their compatriots in need.

Robredo portrays humility and grace, wisdom and resolve. She is the new Gabriela Silang, woman warrior for this millennium, a role model to recognize this week of 2022 International  Women’s Day.

Following is the message she issued March 8, International Women’s Day:

Times of crisis have always brought out the best in women. Whether as mothers, as professionals, as public servants, or while juggling multiple roles, women have stood as beacons of strength, direction, and hope in the face of numerous challenges. During the pandemic, women leaders stepped up, acted decisively, and provided some of the surest leadership amid this unprecedented crisis.

That women can stand as exemplars of courage, competence, and command should no longer be a matter of debate, but a truth borne from experience. But every day, women like us are still expected to prove ourselves, and for no other reason than we are women.

This day is both a reminder and a call to keep telling our stories as women: The way we can bring people together to rally behind a common good; the way we fight for our loved ones with the same passion and rigor when we fight for our careers and our dreams; the way we endure, and in enduring, empower and inspire others.

I stand with every woman, and with allies of all genders, in celebrating International Women’s Day.