Why Leni?

‘In the beginning, I didn’t like her but I decided to find out more about her.’

By Angelo Maristela

Less than three months and the Filipino people will decide the fate of the country for the next six years. Though thousands of miles away, I am very much connected and updated with what’s going on in my native land. Maybe even more than those who are there. I watch local Philippine news every day, from different sources and different times. I read a lot of news articles, both legit and fake news alike. But of course, I do a lot of reading, watching, and research for facts, which is the core of my profession.

This admirable woman below is my choice. She’s tough, strong, and has a heart for people. And I know that whatever merits I enumerate about her, will likely not change people’s minds about their candidates. That is ok. In our heart of hearts, we all know that. If you’ll be enlightened, that’s even better. The beauty of democracy is that on every election day, we get the power to choose for ourselves, that even just for a day, rich or poor, educated or a fool, we are all equal.

I’m not about to dig dirt or to throw insults at other candidates. If I become harsh and speak ugly about someone, then I become one of the problems. Some people these days seem to forget the essence of the word “respect”. This word seems to be missing for the past few years now. In my lifetime, I have never seen politics this ugly, dividing friends and family just because of personal choices. In a debate, you may win over your opponent, but you may lose their heart. I don’t want that to happen. I would rather retain friendship and relationship, so I will aim to conquer with love. I am here to let you know why I am choosing this candidate.

These past few years made me ask, aren’t we tired of complaining and blame-shifting, or even finding the right tree to bark on? Is it okay for us to be submerged and to keep on sinking rather than growing or even flying high? I say it’s not just the person who’s seated that is to blame, but us, the voters, who decide to elect those we complained about as unworthy, and who seemingly work only to satisfy themselves. Remember, we have the power to choose. Didn’t we choose them? Then, upon their failure, sadly, we reap the consequences as a whole nation.

I believe that the changes that we have been longing for should start within ourselves. Let’s start by picking the candidate wisely and carefully. Not by influence or by emotions, but with critical and fair judgment. I know I should start looking for someone with a good and clean record. Someone who also has a good family background. We know the family is the smallest unit of government. If one has issues within their own family, I wonder how would that translate to running a bigger unit, which is a country.

People close to me, some friends and family, really liked Leni Robredo, even from the beginning. Though I respect their views, I couldn’t relate then. To be honest, my mind was clouded. That time, I didn’t like her, though I didn’t dislike her either. I just didn’t have any interest in her. I didn’t spare any time to know more about her. Why? Sadly, because of personal bias.

Although I was born and raised in Manila, I lived and studied in Davao for several years. If you’re from Davao, it’s impossible not to be very familiar with, and look up to, the Dutertes. I was one of the 16 million people who were jubilant when he decided to run for President and won. I am aware of what he did for Davao. Let’s be fair to the man, regardless of the negative reports about him, he shaped Davao really well. So in my mind, I was thinking if he has done it to Davao, he could do the same to the country. Therefore, he was my President. As such, those in the opposing party were not my favorite people. That included Leni. That was wrong.

With the rampant bickering and hating from opposing parties, when the words “dilawan” and “DDS” came to be amongst the most popular words in my Facebook feed, my curiosity about her on why people love her grew. I decided to find out more about her. And I am glad I gave myself a chance to be more open and remove any bias. The more I learned about her and what she does, my admiration for her grew. I listened to her interviews and studied her background. Leni is a very positive person. Despite the derogatory words and constant barrage of bashings hurled at her from the other side, she smiles as if she’s always having the most beautiful day. it’s enough to also brighten yours. I have seen and followed what she’s done and continue doing for the people. During the pandemic, she is hands-on and personally extends help to the public. She has converted part of her home and office into huge storage of relief goods. One popular showbiz vlogger went to interview her, and during the interview, they did a tour of where and how the relief operations were executed.

Whichever candidate you choose, please ask yourself why and also why not him/her. Then do a check and balance.

– What’s their educational background? Will it be beneficial in running a country?

– What has he/she done so far for the people? Make a list. If they haven’t done anything substantial yet, what makes you think they will do something when elected?

– What can this person do? And based on what record or background?

– What kind of a leader do you think this person will be, based on personal merits? Will he/she be respectable, dependable, tough but compassionate, trustworthy, fair, honest, and transparent?

The author

I am confident Leni Gerona Robredo will be. Her record is clean and she’s an advocate of these. I would even say, God-fearing, but I don’t wanna judge who is and who’s not. Let’s reserve that between that person and God. Once again, she’s my personal choice. You have yours. You either agree with me or have an opposing view. If it’s the latter, then I respect it, hopefully, you do the same.

Angelo Maristela is a multi-awarded and international visual artist whose paintings can be found in private collections in Qatar, Italy, the Philippines, and the U.S.  His latest art mural is currently at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square, a 28 ft x 8 ft painting titled “One Habitat,” dedicated to the Philippine Eagle Pamana that was shot dead after she was released into the wild. As an artist he would like to contribute to the preservation of Philippine culture.

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