MANILA, Philippines — Amid the bashing from her critics, Vice President Leni Robredo said she finds comfort and hope in the travails and triumphs of the ordinary folk she has met in the one year since assuming office.
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. We need more of it to counter the negativity in this era of post-truth, fake news, trolls, and alternative facts,” Robredo said at the launch of Istorya ng Pag-asa at Siliman University in Dumaguete City.
“Ngayon nga po, kapag nagbubukas tayo ng social media, parang lahat na lang nag-aaway-away. Number one pong biktima diyan, ako. Kaya lang, ‘di ba dapat hindi tayo nagpapaapekto, dahil hindi naman totoo ang sinasabi? Huwag tayong magpapa-okray, ‘di ba? Kaya happy lang tayo; happy tayo dito (Today, whenever we open social media, it seems everyone is fighting. The number one victim is me. But, isn’t it we shouldn’t be affected because what is said isn’t true? We shouldn’t be rattled, right? So let’s just be happy; we’re happy here),” she said.
Robredo suggested Filipinos turn their attention to the stories of ordinary folk who did not lose hope and became extraordinary.
“Kailangan nating ibalik sa ating mga mamamayan ang pag-asa, ang dignidad na baka nawala na dahil natabunan na ng masasamang balita (We need to restore hope in our people, the dignity they may have lost under the deluge of bad news). We need hope to nourish our sense of dignity as a nation, to build our people’s trust in liberty and freedom, and to fight for truth in an age of lies,” she said.
“Kapag kakalaban po ng mga trolls, huwag tayong papatol na parang pareho din natin sila. Kasi hindi lang doon mahihinto, at baka dati mabuti tayo, naging masama na rin tayo. Palitan natin ng magagandang kuwento (When battling trolls, let us not be like them. Because it will not end there and, where once we were good, we too become bad. Let us change the narrative with wonderful stories),” she added.
Istorya ng Pag-asa is a program that seeks to change the narrative of the national conversation. “It’s time to disprove that only bad and controversial news sells,” the Vice President said.
“We want to bring extraordinary stories of ordinary people to different parts of our country, to every school and government office, to every mall, airport or office. We want our people to know that they, too, can be a source of hope,” she said.
Robredo gave a few examples of stories she had come across in her first year in office:
- Nanay Lorna, a sari-sari storeowner in Quezon City where she sells turon and banana cue. A widowed mother, she singlehandedly raised her four children. One of her children is now a lawyer, one is a teacher, one is a nurse, and the last one is an Intramed student at the University of the Philippines.
- Mike O., an overseas Filipino worker who was living in San Diego for some time. Despite having work there, Mike dreamt of returning to the Philippines to establish his business. He now owns a beach resort in Pagudpod and a restaurant in Laoag.
- Alexander, the dancing traffic enforcer at Eastwood, Quezon City. When his girlfriend left him, dancing became his way to overcome melancholy. Eventually, he learned to mix his dancing skills with his job in directing traffic.
- Rizal Quio, the eighth of eleven children of a farmer, stopped schooling for five years after elementary. During those five years, he helped his parents in the farm. He went to high school at 18, became active in various extracurricular activities and graduated first honorable mention. Knowing his parents could not afford to send him to college, he sought a scholarship and found one at Siliman University. Last March, he graduated with a degree in Business Administration, Major in Management. He is now currently working at the Silliman University Medical Center as a billing clerk.
- Gilbert, also a Siliman scholar, worked hard to get the scholarship. His father died when he was in high school, his mother worked as a housemaid. He has graduated and is now training in a government office.