On Women’s Month, Robredo reflects on late mother’s femininity and toughness
MANILA, Philippines – It is said that regardless of a person’s educational attainment and social status, one is never safe from your mother’s scrutinizing eyes.
It seems that being a country’s second-highest official is not an exception.
In a forum for this year’s Women’s Month on Thursday, Vice President Leni Robredo remembered how her late mother Salvacion Gerona, a teacher, would constantly remind her of the importance of grooming and punctuality.
“Even when I was already Vice President, my mom would watch my interviews and she would text me: ‘Bakit nagpapa-interview ka nang hindi ka man lang nagsuklay?’ ‘At hindi ka man lang nagpulbo’,” Robredo said in the SPARK! Philippines #Women2020 Summit held at Taguig City.
But despite these reminders, Robredo said that she thought highly of her mom, whom she regarded as her inspiration and her hero. She also noted how her mother appeared to be ahead of her time, being a mixture of toughness and femininity.
Robredo said that her mother veered away from the idea that being a woman is just merely looking like a woman, as she valued independence and empowerment. She also told the audience how her mother, a retired English professor at that, would still insist to drive manual transmission cars at 82 years old.
“In this, she was ahead of her time. She valued her independence — something that she would teach us growing up: to never stop working even after we get married, to be able to hold our own and never depend on our partners for support,” the Vice President relayed.
“I guess she really loved doing things herself: she drove a stick shift until she was 82; tended a beautiful garden at home; started painting at the age of 65; and was active in the church until she became seriously ill,” she said.
Robredo’s mother passed away last February 22, nearly a month after being admitted to a hospital in Naga City, Camarines Sur. She was the wife of Naga Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Nicomedes Gerona Sr., who died in October 2013.
READ: Vice President Robredo’s mother passes away at 83
The month of March is regarded in the Philippines as the National Women’s Month — an offshoot of the International Women’s Day celebrated every March 8. This year’s theme is about several facets of gender equality like in the workplace, in political rights, and in the household.
According to the Commission on Human Rights, the issue of gender inequality is still a pressing concern even in this modern age, as women still face discrimination — with no less than Robredo herself attesting that she was on the receiving end of malicious insults.
READ: For Women’s Month in 2020, gender equality still a pressing concern for CHR
READ: Robredo: My being a woman has paved way for malicious criticisms
Robredo called on women to empower other women, saying that there is still a lot that needs to be done despite the massive improvements that the world has seen.
“Our direction, and the fruits of our labor, become more evident as more of us rise to the challenge. The mission is to move the struggle forward—to work more expansively, more quickly, more intensely, to cast more pebbles that can create more ripples of genuine social change across generations,” she explained.
“Empower one woman — and she herself will raise others with her. This is our vision: Women rising together, pulling together up, chipping away at barriers together. Changing conversations, sparking new fires of hope and courage and resolve within each other, and freeing each other in every aspect possible,” she added.
Edited by MUF
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.