To Give and Not to Count the Cost

“The vice president makes difficult tasks seem easy.”

“To Give and Not to Count the Cost” is Part 1 of the coffee table book which comprises a collection of published and unpublished articles compiled by Professor Ed Garcia.

In this chapter, we find articles by various authors, such as “Leave it to Leni” by Chit Roces-Santos of the Philippine Daly Inquirer, July 12, 2020; “Tatak Leni: Mahusay, Matino, Magayon” by Doods M. Santos, friend who took part in Leni’s 2013 campaign for congress in Camarines Sur, Business World, May 6, 2013; “Leni’s Improbable Win: From 1% to VP” by Bam Aquino, Leni’s campaign manager in the 2016 elections for Vice President; “Two vignettes on the Vice President” by Undersecretary Philip Dy; and various other articles and literary pieces.

In the short article “Leave it to Leni,” the author, an avowed Leni watcher, recounts how she and her husband saw their respect for Leni grow over the years, observing how the Vice President was able to surmount odds through sheer grit, strength of character and sincerity as a public servant. According to the author, ever since Leni Robredo pulled off the vice presidential win in 2016, she and her husband Vergel have been keeping an eye on her.

The author noted that Leni registered an almost-zero awareness among voters when the campaign began; despite this, she ended up as Vice President of the Republic. For the author, there must be something providential about Leni, and were progressively being proven right. Indeed, says the author, for all the attempts to disparage and marginalize her, nobody deserves to be called “leader” more than she does.

In another section, the author asserts that Leni has proven herself without necessarily trying. She continues not only to prove her strong leadership qualities but also to 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. Already anticipating the need, Leni has started sourcing gadgets for public school children who would have to study online.

The author admits: I am 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 rolled into one.”

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, adds the author. She assessed what she possessed, what she lacked, and from there began to strategize and seize the opportunity, to reach out to the people who had never heard of her, the author further writes.

Watching Leni, the author muses, she sees 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.

Another contributor is Political Science Professor Ed Garcia who wrote a piece in the 2016 presidential campaign. Here is how he remembers Leni:

“Her late husband, Jesse Robredo, served as the Mayor of Naga City, transforming the city and the lives of his constituents in the process. He was designated Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government until the plane crash killed him on August 18, 2012.”

The author observes that Leni shares her late husband’s simple lifestyle and brand of serving local people at all times that inspired a huge following. Bringing herself closer to the people was a key lesson that Leni learned in the footsteps of Jesse’s “tsinelas brand of leadership.” She drew her strength from people and thus practiced the art of listening first. Her style has always been participative, inclusive, and always accessible to the people from all walks of life.

In the years accompanying the more vulnerable in society, this veteran in people’s power had gained valuable experience in understanding the needs of the people. She also has an insider’s view on crafting processes that involve the people in the decisions that affect their lives. Leni had learned to navigate a “journey with maps.” For three years, she worked quietly and well in the halls of Congress. When Leni finally made her decision to run in tandem with Manuel “Mar” Roxas who ran for president, people knew that Leni provided an alternative option. She was a grassroots worker who had integrity, honesty, and humility. She was dedicated, determined and steadfast. Leni Robredo was indeed the “real deal,” the author concludes.

I have personally known VP Robredo for more than a decade, her husband Jesse for even more than that. They have both given immensely to this country and at great cost, in the case of Jesse his life included, which they did not count. I thank them for that—and their daughters and families too.

Visit this website to access the article.

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