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    Open forum with Vice President Leni Robredo at the Annual Homeroom Leadership Training of St. Paul College

    Office of the Vice President

    20 July 2017

    “SUIT UP: Be Brave and Take Action,” Annual Homeroom Leadership Training St. Paul College, Pasig City, 19 July 2017

    STUDENT 1: Hello. My name is Paula Calingasan from Grade 8.

    VP LENI: Hi, Paula.

    STUDENT 1: My question is: How difficult is it to live up to being a role model nowadays, and how do you handle it?

    VP LENI: First of all, I think every one of us should always aspire to be a role model. Meaning to say, in everything that we do—kahit walang nanonood—we must always act as if the whole world is watching. Iyon iyong maggagabay sa atin. When we know that people are watching, there’s a natural tendency for us to put our best foot forward. Gusto ko lang sabihin, kahit walang nanonood, dapat iyong mindset natin, parating ganoon.

    But you know, it is a difficult time… I’m saying this on a personal basis: It is a difficult time to be vice president, because there has been— We have seen in the recent past, we have seen an erosion of values.

    And there is always a struggle between what is right and what is popular. Dapat sana pareho iyon, ‘di ba? Dapat sana what makes it popular is because it is right. Pero nowadays, parang magkahiwalay na path iyon. And that is the difficulty. You are always at crossroads—do you want to be right, or do you want to be popular?

    Iyong sa akin, it should not be difficult if you are determined to be right rather than be popular. When I say that, it is difficult and challenging in the sense that if you decide to be right rather than be popular, you also have to be ready for all the criticisms. You have to be ready to be unpopular. You have to be ready to take everything.

    And for me, it is not at all a burden because you know you’re doing the right thing. And that should be the same for you. Being student leaders, you will be confronted by the same crossroads—to be right or to be popular. And it will always be, not only to your best interest, but to the best interest of everyone, if you choose to be right rather than to be popular.

    STUDENT 1: Thank you! (applause)

    STUDENT 2: Good afternoon po. I’m Julia from Grade 11. I would like to ask: What do you think is the number one challenge of being a student leader, and how can we improve on it?

    VP LENI: Ako, the same. I think the challenge— Maybe we differ in the scale, but the challenge is the same. The challenge is… You know, most of you here are student leaders and we all know that as leaders, we have to make very difficult decisions. And those very difficult decision are not always popular.

    It is always a choice between being liked and being respected. Sometimes, when you choose to be respected than be liked, you will have to undergo struggles first. When you make difficult decisions, you may be unpopular, but later on, you will be respected because people know that you chose the more difficult but right path.

    I think what makes it more difficult for students is the fact that your constituents are also your friends. ‘Di ba? Your constituents are also your friends. And it’s always difficult to impose your authority over friends.

    Pero again, I think the metrics is the same. Do you prefer to be right, or do you prefer to be popular?

    STUDENT 2: Thank you! (applause)

    STUDENT 3: Good afternoon! I’m Bea Rodriguez from Grade 12, and my question is: As women, how can we overcome the patriarchy in society and empower ourselves to be better leaders and role models?

    VP LENI: First of all, we need to define women empowerment, because sometimes there is a misconception that women empowerment equates to our struggle to be more powerful than men. It is not.

    Women empowerment is merely our struggle to be regarded as equals of men. When we say to be regarded as equals of men, we always must appreciate what men can do and what women can’t, and what women can do and what men can’t. Because if you do appreciate that, we respect that… We understand that we have roles to play—in society, in our own families, in our schools, in the workplace.

    When men and women work well together, when they treat each other with much respect, iyon iyong pinakamaganda. Pero kung naglalaban-laban iyong mga lalaki at mga babae in the name of women empowerment, that is not correct at all.

    Just to give you a very personal experience, my husband was mayor for six terms. All in all, almost 20 years. And in all those years, I was content with being in the background—to be a wife, to be a mother—and that gave me utmost fulfillment.

    Did I feel that my husband was more powerful than I was? Not at all. We were just playing the roles that were given to us. I was there to support him, I was there to respect him, and I felt that with my experiences outside of his politics, I was able to contribute very much to how he viewed things.

    After my husband died, it was my turn to step up. And I did. But I never regarded it as my husband being more powerful than I am.

    But I get your point that this is a different world now. There is so much misogyny going around, and the question is, if you’re at the receiving end of misogynistic attacks, what do you do? Do you keep quiet, or do you fight back? And by fighting back, hindi ka naman makikipag-away, but you assert your rights.

    Ngayon, so many people opt to be quiet, kasi kapag lumalaban, sina-swarm. I think you know what I mean. Most of you are in social media, and when you say some things that are not… When you say some things that others take very personally, people swarm at you. I have been at the receiving end of so much of that.

    Pero iyong tanong, do you keep fighting, o hihinto ka na lang para hindi ka nila awayin? That is always the question. And you know, when all of us would opt to be quiet, patuloy na mangyayari ito.

    Marami ngayong nagtatanong, what has become of us? If before, we could not tolerate certain things, ngayon parang there is so much that we tolerate already. Bakit nangyayari iyon?

    I do not know if you read a particular article na nangyayari iyon kasi pinapayagan nating mangyari. And you know, that is, I think, where we should decide. If these things happen, what do we do? Would we opt to take the safer route, or do we fight for what we think is right?

    Kung ako tatanungin, even if— Again, even if it is unpopular, we always fight for what we think is right.

    STUDENT 3: Thank you! (applause)

    EMCEE: Thank you for the inspirational talk, Vice President Leni Robredo!

    – 30 –

    Posted in Transcripts on Jul 20, 2017