by BCBP Editor

Reflection by Annie Salvador, BCBP BaguioLENI
on VP Leni Robredo’s Sharing during the BCBP’s National Grand Breakfast, August 13,2016, SMX, MOA

The 13th of August brought the BCBP to its 36th Breakfast Anniversary. It also brought the nation’s Vice President to the day’s Grand Breakfast and Thanksgiving. Leaving the venue, I heard a brother ask, “Was she given the sharing format?” Indeed, I myself was thinking how alike her testimony was to a BCBP breakfast sharing. I had an even more interesting observation: She never once mentioned Jesus’ name, yet, how Christian it was.

There are so many angles from which a discussion-slash-reflection may be launched following the Vice President’s address to the Brotherhood. She didn’t really speak of a renewal experience, but our 3C’s track of conversion, commitment and commissioning seems apt. Alternatively, we have a fourth C: Caring, and that was a thread clearly spun through everything she said. It’s likewise tempting to focus on the balance of work, family and service, or the right use of influence, or serving God through our marriage… What took me longest, therefore, was to find my “spin.”

St. Columba, Abbot of Iona, who lived in Ireland in the 6th century, wrote a hymn which reads in part:
Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear when thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
than if a host should round me stand…
My life I yield to thy decree,
And bow to thy control
In peaceful calm, for from thine arm
No power can wrest my soul.
Could earthly omens e’er appal
A man that heeds the heavenly call?
From St. Columba’s Affirmation

Having dispensed with her prepared manuscript, the Vice President began from the most obvious arena, that of the personal, lived in relationships of the intimate kind. To be a good daughter, wife and mother, simply stated. This is actually anything but simple in practical terms, but her narratives of dedication showed us how it can be done.

The young Maria Leonora studied well and followed parental guidance, down to her pursuit of Law even as a married woman. Of her years as a wife, she allowed us to conjure images soft and tenderly held. It was the easiest thing to conclude that the Robredo-Gerona union was a meeting of minds as well as of hearts. Every shared experience brimmed with respect and regard between two people beheld and beloved by each other. It was a shared life that they filled with much, and as their precious daughters joined the family, she just rolled up her sleeves and juggled better.

leni robredo daughtersNot to be starry-eyed here: there are no perfect parents, spouses nor offspring, yet as we glean from her vignettes, she chose to honor the good in her nearest and dearest. She focused on making them important. Whenever faced with choices, the woman Maria Leonora elected to put her family ahead.

As we continued to listen to her story, this attitude as regards others expanded in widening spheres. Where does a person get the motivation to look beyond self and what’s immediate; to take time and trouble to turn toward fellowmen–strangers or otherwise – and look after them in their need? What inspires one to settle for the sufficient; to gather excess and even substance and offer it to those who have nothing, that they may have a bit? How is one impelled toward joy at sharing a plate of little, modestly offered, or spending the night cushioned by nets in a tethered banca, even if one is nudged awake at dawn that the fisher folk may start their work? Where are the roots of compassion, of peace-making, of justice-seeking to be found? Are these things we are born with? Do we learn these through our elders’ upbringing? Is there something in our social institutions that rubs off on us and gives us these?

She said that Ninoy’s assassination in 1983 proved to be her political awakening. It could very well have been her spiritual awakening as well, a visitation from the Lord, who at that moment asked the person Maria Leonora, “Do you love me?” I say this because, as her life story unfolded, one can quite clearly realize that she said “Yes.” It is also easy to see that in whatever followed, be it blessing or opportunity or tribulation, the Lord was constantly saying to her, “Tend my sheep,” and in the life she attested to, again and again and again, how palpable is Leni Robredo’s obedience to our Lord’s bidding.

leni robredo inaugurationShe could have practiced her profession in the pursuit of fame or riches, but chose instead to offer it, with no fanfare, on the altar of community service. She politely declined the ease and comfort that the First Ladyship of Naga would have brought her, and ventured instead toward the fringes of her social world. It would have been easy, when tragedy struck her widowed, to choose bitterness, but she grieved quietly and serenely, submitting her pain to God. Thrust into the public’s crosshairs, she spent time, not for attention, but for respectful family consultation and prayerful deliberation, before tendering her fiat to the call of national government–twice.

She said she believed that if God allowed her to be in a particular situation, then it must be because God wanted her to move therein. She said she would use whatever was given her to do the most good for the most of her countrymen.She said it was faith that had constantly seen her through.

Author M. Scott Peck wrote, “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”To tend the Lord’s sheep, after all, is to love. Isn’t this the call for each of us?

VP Leni’s “Yes” was her expression of faith, the kind that moved her to love. It was loud and clear on the 13th of August. It was loud and clear all her life. It remains loud and clear these days, as she performs the duties of her office, gracious and smiling, and faces the challenges of her time with characteristic dignity and courage. With our prayers joined to hers, it may one day be loud enough and clear enough to move mountains.

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