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Tricia and Aika Robredo on VP Leni’s ‘quiet strength’ as a mother and a politician, and being 'genuinely unaffected' by trolls

By Brooke Villanueva Published Mar 16, 2022 8:01 pm Updated Mar 16, 2022 8:34 pm

Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo is no stranger to politics, but this time, as she vies for the highest position of the State in the May 2022 polls, it feels completely different yet thrilling for her family.

“Parang naaalala ko po noong hindi pa nagdedesisyon si mama na tatakbo siya, yung fear naming magkakapatid, baka kami-kami nalang yung natitira,” her daughter Tricia told Boy Abunda in a sit-down interview with her eldest sibling Aika.

That fear only subsided when they finally kicked off her campaign in their hometown Bicol last Feb. 8. “Hindi namin inaasahan na ganun karami pa rin yung lalabas talaga, yung maghihintay para makita lang siya,” she recalled. 

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A post shared by Leni Robredo (@bise_leni)

“Ngayon po, parang yung fear namin, wala kaming makinarya. For me, kita namin yung mga tao na yung gumagalaw talaga para kay mama na walang inaasahan din naman na kapalit o bayad sa kanila,” she said. “Masaya po na nararamdaman namin yung energy ng mga taong nagkukusa talaga na tumulong po sa kampanya.”

It’s exactly the same feeling for Aika, who has long been at the forefront of her political campaigns. When Leni ran for Vice President in 2016, their main goal was just to introduce their mother to a bigger audience.

“Ngayon naman, medyo baliktad in the sense na kami yung naghahabol sa mga invitations na ‘Oh, may volunteer group sa ganito, baka pwede niyong bisitahin.’ So ngayon, parang na-o-overwhelm kami in a good way na dati kami yung ginagawa ng mga lakad, ngayon, kami yung minemake sure na mapuntahan namin as much as possible,” she shared. 

'The right thing to do'

When Leni announced her run for the presidency on Oct. 7, she shared that her daughters were against it at first—just as they were when she ran for vice president in 2016. “Nung kumandidato ako para VP, kontrang-kontra na sila. Yung usapan namin noon ay last na yun,” said the presidential candidate during that time. 

“Nung lumabas na yung pangalan ko na posibleng maging pangulo, parating pinapaalala ng mga anak ko na ‘Mama, may promise ka ha, na last na yun.’ So struggle siya,” she recalled, adding that they eventually supported her decision because they knew it’s “the right thing to do.”

“Parang alam namin na dun na yun patungo. Baka yun na talaga yung destiny or kailangan niyang gawin in the end,” Aika mused. 

Beyond being a Robredo, the siblings said their own respective careers also impressed on them the need for the country to have a strong leader.

“Kung tatanggalin mo yung daughter factor, even kami, yung sagot namin is siya talaga yung best person for the job and na-experience namin. Ako po nagwowork, I’m doing development work. Si Tricia, doctor. Even dun sa different disciplines namin, nararamdaman namin yung impact, yung importance of having good governance on a national scale kasi pati yung mga ginagawa namin may effect din yung ganun,” said Aika. 

On Leni being 'genuinely unaffected'

Despite her political career, Leni has still been involved in her daughters’ day-to-day lives.

“Kahit alam namin na madaming demands yung trabaho niya, hindi siya nagkulang sa pagiging ina sa amin. I never felt na I had to compete for her attention. Kung meron akong swimming competition, nandun siya. Kung merong math competition si ate tas si Jillian nandun din siya, at sa lahat ng ginagawa namin, alam niya kung ano yun, hinahayaan niya kaming magsucceed on our own but she’s always there,” Tricia said. 

Aika, for her part, gave credit to her mother's "quiet strength."

“I think it takes a lot of strength to restrain yourself. I think it takes a lot of strength to choose your battles and kailangan kalmado ka sa gitna ng storm,” said Aika.

The siblings likewise credited their mother's exacting standards, noting that one of her biggest pet peeves is sloppy work. “Halimbawa, kapag may pinagawa siya sayo, ‘Ayusin mo yung dining area,’ kapag umupo siya, sasabihin niya, ‘Kung hindi mo lang naman gagawin nang maayos, sana ako nalang gumawa.’ ... Mataas yung standards niya, I would say,” Aika said. 

Her "quiet strength," for her daughters, has also made her immune to online bashing to which she has regularly been subjected to.

“Lugi yung trolls sa kanya kasi hindi talaga siya naaapektuhan,” Aika shared with a laugh, referring to Leni as “genuinely unaffected.”

“Hindi siya nagpapatinag talaga sa kung anong mga sinasabi,” Tricia added.

“Dead set, focused talaga siya sa trabaho,” Aika said.

On why Leni should be the next president of the Philippines 

On why their mother should be the next president, Robredo's daughter believes her track record and accomplishments "speak for itself."

“Yung mga programa niya po talaga, lahat naman po ginagawa niya just to ensure na everyone lives the life na decent and something that they deserve. Tas makikita po natin, pinaghihirapan niya talaga. She spends a lot of hours consulting with people, studying how best to go about a certain problem,” Tricia said.

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A post shared by Tricia Robredo (@jpgrobredo)

Aika said that Leni’s experiences—from being a law student, to a public attorney’s office lawyer, to a politician—have well-prepared her for the biggest role in her life.

“Yung mga kausap niya sa laylayan, parang yun yung dahan-dahan na sila naman yung bigyan natin ng pansin. Sa tingin ko, yung lifetime of preparation niya na unintentional at hindi deliberate, tingin ko walang substitute yun sa readiness niya to take on a bigger role kung siya yung mabigyan ng chance na manalo sa May,” said Aika. 

Tricia strongly believes in her mom’s core because for her, it’s something that can’t be learned. “Yun yung parang something talaga na deep inside you and nakikita ko naman na pure siya and well-meaning.” 

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A post shared by Leni Robredo (@bise_leni)

Aika said that beyond her mother's track record, she also has it in her to help bring out the best in people.

“I think yung important, leadership trait niya, she inspires other people to act as well kasi tingin ko yun lang yung only way din para malampasan natin yung napakaraming problema na haharapin natin,” she said.

“Kung mainspire niya yung napakaraming groups, napakaraming tao to come together and work together, tingin ko yun yung best fighting chance din nating lahat.”