The Mother Show at Magic 89.9
Hosts: Riki Flores-Reyes, Delamar Arias, Cerah Hernandez-Co
On-air 29 March 2019
RIKI FLORES-REYES: It’s 9:16 a.m. Welcome to The Mother Show. My name is Riki!
DELAMAR ARIAS: My name is Delamar.
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: I’m Cerah. [laughter]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: She’s joining us all the way until 12 noon. Cerah—you might have heard of her before from RX so she’s going to be joining us. We would like to introduce our first special guest.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Oh my gosh. Does it get any more special than this?
RIKI FLORES-REYES: I don’t know! I mean— [laughter] So she’s a mom of three girls.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Wow.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: And she works for the Office of the Vice President as the Vice President! [laughter] VP Leni Robredo is here with us today.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Oh my goodness. [applause]
VP LENI: Hi, everyone! I’m glad to be here so thank you for inviting me over. [laughs]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Awww, really! [claps]
DELAMAR ARIAS: May kilig sa boses ni Riki!
RIKI FLORES-REYES: But there’s no time for that. It’s 9:17 on the clock and we know that you’re a very busy woman. I know. [chuckles]
DELAMAR ARIAS: So it’s—so obviously, we have the Vice President here but let us assure everybody that this is The Mother Show.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Yes, The Mother Show!
DELAMAR ARIAS: And so what we would like to know are the stuff about our VP Leni and how she is as a mother.
VP LENI: Nako. [laughs]
DELAMAR ARIAS: Because, I mean, your spot is so different. You’re the Vice President and you have these children. Of course, when you’re raising them, you weren’t the Vice President yet.
VP LENI: I wasn’t yet.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Yeah.
VP LENI: I became a mother when I was just 23 [years old] so I was a very young mother. And at that time, I didn’t really know how it was to be a mother. So, parang guinea pig iyong sa eldest. Pero I was [a] tiger mom.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Tiger mom!
VP LENI: I was so tutok. My girls are six years apart. So I guess it helped—it helped because I was able to give a, parang, extra time to each and every one of them. Pero I was so into all the things that they were doing. Iyong mga anak ko kasi they were swimmers. So they had, parang, every day would be difficult for them because they would go to—aside from school—they would go to piano lessons, violin lessons, and then swim training.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Grabe, tiger mom! [laughter]
VP LENI: So what I would do—Oo! Pero I was working full-time. I was working full-time. I was a practicing lawyer pero because we lived in the province, everything was easy in the sense that everywhere that we wanted to go was five minutes away. So it was possible that I would see them at lunch. I would pick them up at school. I didn’t have a driver. So ako lahat. I would bring them to school, attend my court hearings, go to my law office—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Oh my god!
VP LENI: —and then pick them up for lunch. And then when I pick them up for lunch, while they are having their lunch, tinitingnan ko lahat ng notebooks if I would have to buy… if I would have to buy materials for their projects, if they would need researches, if they have an exam that’s coming. And alam niyo, ako iyong gumagawa ng mga reviewers. Everything is color-coded. Halimbawa—
DELAMAR ARIAS: Tiger mom!
VP LENI: Oo, sobra. Sobra, as in. After school I would pick them up. Naalala ko, iyong service ko before was a Starex tapos later on I changed it to an Innova pero punong-puno iyon. Punong-puno iyon ng swimming equipment, musical instruments, merienda—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Puwera lang iyong piano. Hindi madali iyong piano. [laughter]
VP LENI: Puwera lang iyong piano.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Merienda, you make the merienda?
VP LENI: No, I don’t have time for it. Usually, we buy it from somewhere or ginagawa sa bahay.
DELAMAR ARIAS: VP Leni, sorry, you said each child was six years apart. Was that planned in—
VP LENI: No, no. It wasn’t. I had difficulty conceiving sa second child ko. I thought na isa na lang. Tapos when I gave birth to my second child, I thought doon na iyong stop kasi I had difficulty conceiving nga. So parang miracle baby na siya. And then we were gifted with a third child.
DELAMAR ARIAS: But, all girls! [laughter]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Tell us about your girls.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Personality of each one of them.
VP LENI: Iba-iba. Iba-iba. Even if, parang the kind of mothering is the same, parang they have personalities of their own. Halimbawa iyong eldest, talagang eldest iyong ugali niya—very responsible, very stable—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: She’s calm, ano.
VP LENI: —very calm. Ano iyon, lahat. Iyong second naman iba din. Iyong second mas emotional—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: That’s so true! [laughs]
VP LENI: Compassionate, mas people-person. Tapos iyong third naman, bunso, parang siya mas outgoing. Actually, iyong third was the easiest. Parang I had difficulty with the first two. Pero iyong third, siguro dahil hindi ko na masyadong pinapansin. [laughter]
DELAMAR ARIAS: Mas relaxed, ‘di ba. And you said you were so tutok with the first but once you have a second and third child, you learn to let go.
VP LENI: Oo, kasi with the first, parang all the milestones, parang I was collecting all—
DELAMAR ARIAS: Ngipin, buhok— [laughter]
VP LENI: Tapos iyong second parang half na lang tapos iyong third, wala na. [laughs]
DELAMAR ARIAS: Oh no!
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Pinaka-kaunting pictures daw iyong mga latter ones, right.
VP LENI: Pinaka-kaunting pictures.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Or iyong gitna. Kasi sa family namin iyong panganay at saka bunso, iyon iyong maraming pictures. Iyong sa gitna, parang hindi.
VP LENI: Ako, baliktad. Parang iyong bunso iyong— Kasi ang biro nga ng mga sisters sa bunso, “hindi ka na naasikaso.” Kasi with Aika, my eldest, parang she knows all the Disney movies, all the Disney songs, parang alam niya lahat. Iyong second, Barney na lang iyong alam. Iniiwan ko na lang siya sa— [laughter] Tapos iyong third, wala na. Iyong third, gusto nang mag-artista kasi ang napapanood na niya iyong mga TV show, mga variety shows. So iba-iba. [laughs]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: It’s so different talaga.
VP LENI: Pero I think, it’s the… parang if you will ask me which role is the most fulfilling for me, talagang motherhood.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Why do you say that? Because most mothers will say that but when you ask them why, the reasons are very interesting.
VP LENI: Ano kasi, parang, you know, parang you’re responsible for this human being. Tapos it’s that one time in your life when you love somebody more than yourself. ‘Di ba parang everything is geared toward the, parang, welfare of the child.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: That’s right.
VP LENI: Tapos sa akin, grabe iyong—I have to prepare for court hearings, I would have to interview clients. Pero kapag may mga exam iyong mga anak ko, inuuna ko iyong exam nila para— Hindi na lang ako matutulog para mag-prepare for my hearings pero uunahin ko lahat na para sa exams nila. Parang, you know thosethings.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Did you—is the reason why you’re like that—did you, parang, did you drift away from them at some point in… or like from the start that was just how it was?
VP LENI: No, from the very start I was very tutok. Siguro, one of the things that, parang pushed me into it kasi my mom is a teacher eh. My mom is a teacher tapos she wasn’t hands-on as far as we were concerned. Parang we went to the school where she teaches so we go to school together pero she teaches until the evening. Uuwi na kami ng 5 p.m., susunduin lang ulit siya ng, alam niyo iyon, nagte-teach siya ng grade school, high school, and college.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Where was this?
VP LENI: In Naga. In Naga.
DELAMAR ARIAS: I see.
VP LENI: We went to a Catholic all-girls school. That’s also where my mom taught during our growing up years. So noong ako na, parang iyong style of mothering and parenting ko was baliktad. Parang iyong mom ko was so relaxed. [laughs] Parang she didn’t know what we were—parang she was always there but she didn’t have time to make tutok to whatever it was that we were doing.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Do you think that your kind of mothering was, you know, in a way a reaction to what you wish you had?
VP LENI: Siguro. Siguro subconsciously it was like that. Although I never had bouts of, you know, regrets that my mom wasn’t there enough because she was there. Pero ano lang siya, halimbawa, we would go to piano lessons, we had sports, etcetera. Pero parang my parents were the kind who would just bring us and pick us up. Pero ako, I was there all throughout, all the— Kasi iyong swimming nila they would go out of school 5 o’clock and then they would swim na. I would bring them to the pool and they would swim for three hours each day. And the whole three hours, I would be there.
DELAMAR ARIAS: What did you do?
VP LENI: Habang nagbabantay ako, nag-a-outline ako ng lessons nila. Kasi they would go home 9 o’clock na. So they would be too tired from swim practice. So babasahin na lang nila what I did. Tapos, sobra—[chuckles]—parang, kaya I don’t know if you’ve read—you’re all moms naman—pero I don’t know if you’ve read iyong Battle Hymn of the Tiger [Mother]. Parang when I was reading it—you should read it—when I was reading it, parang ang isip ko noon, “Parang ako ito, ah.” [chuckles]
DELAMAR ARIAS: Yeah, so fierce, very hands on.
VP LENI: Parang I wasn’t so strict with the children like, ‘di ba some moms, bawal mag-TV, bawal mag-school dance? Ako, I wasn’t like that. They were allowed to do what they wanted to do. Pero parang I was… parang I was beside them all throughout.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Very hands-on.
VP LENI: Very, very hands-on. Super. [chuckles]
DELAMAR ARIAS: I think it’s also that they’re already going to school, the lessons, and the swimming that’s why I think you felt like, “O, sige, if you want to do TV for a while, go ahead.” Because—
VP LENI: Pero sa akin, I was so cool about a lot of things. I wasn’t—parang I didn’t have a lot of rules.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Parang that’s ano ha, kasi most tiger moms are—
VP LENI: Ako, no. I’m not like that. Pero like if they go to piano lessons, I would be outside the piano school waiting for them all throughout. Pero I wasn’t the one who would tell them, “O, you practice for an hour each day.” Ako, I’m not like that.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Oh, wow.
VP LENI: Pero I was there all the time. Para sa akin, my mantra before was quality time can only happen if you give quantity time.
HOSTS: That’s right!
RIKI FLORES-REYES: That’s our takeaway for today.
VP LENI: Pero parang ano kasi, it’s difficult to be a mom in Manila. Kasi everywhere is parang it would take you too long to go from one place to another. Parang in the province, it’s not like that.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And then the people are different in the province. Kasi parang it’s a lot more laidback.
VP LENI: Less stress kasi.
DELAMAR ARIAS: That’s what it is.
VP LENI: So people are more laidback. Kaya ano din, I think it was also nice that I had the privilege of raising my girls sa province. We—the older two only went to Manila for college. Iyong bunso lang, because my husband died already. So we decided to be with the two older ates.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And you moved the whole family.
VP LENI: Oo, so—she was first year high school so eksakto. So the youngest, parang she studied here already for high school.
DELAMAR ARIAS: What did you late husband think of you as a mother? Because inasmuch as—when women get into motherhood, you change your zone eh. But there’s also like, it’s also nice to see what your husband thinks of you because when you met, you weren’t a mom and then you became a mom and you’re like this woman?
VP LENI: At saka I was a child-woman. [laughs] Parang—
DELAMAR ARIAS: Child-woman! [laughter] Aren’t we all?
VP LENI: Parang ang biro ko sa kaniya, cradle snatcher because he was 7 years older than I am pero—we got married when I was 22. And it was a whirlwind romance. He was my first boss.
VP LENI: Kaya ano—pero my husband, when he talks about mothers, ako iyong parati niyang example.
VP LENI: Because alam niya na sobrang tutok. Pero I was also lucky that my husband was also hands-on. Parang I didn’t have to do the parenting myself. Kasi even if he was a politician already at that time, all my children were born while their dad was mayor already. Pero even then, he made sure that when the kids go home, he’s there already. So buti na lang swimmers iyong mga anak ko. So—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Medyo late. Medyo late umuwi.
VP LENI: Oo. So while my kids are in their swimming practice, it’s when my husband would visit the wake of dead constituents, or attend things. Pero his policy for all of us was we eat all meals together.
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: That’s nice.
VP LENI: Pero it’s only possible in the province. So ang rule niya, kahit nasaan tayo basta breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we eat together. And we sleep in the same room until now. All of us. [laughs]
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: Awwww. Wow!
VP LENI: All of us. Until now, my eldest is already 31.
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: Awwww.
VP LENI: And she still sleeps in our room.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Oh my god.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: I know!
VP LENI: Parang… it’s kind of weird pero it’s, we’re so used to it. Parang even when they were grown up already, when I transferred to Manila kasi, it’s not like ang room namin in the province, it was big eh. Pero here, because we live in a condo, so very small iyong room. So at first, we tried na they would be in their room kasi may room naman sila. Pero in the middle of the night, parang ako iyong hindi sanay. I would wake up and then check on them. May mga kumot pa ba? Maayos pa ba? So until it got too tiring, better na sa amin na lang. And they like sleeping in our room.
DELAMAR ARIAS: How are you as a mother of a teenager?
VP LENI: Ano kasi, I never had problems with my kids eh. All of them—siguro mana sa amin—hindi sila mahilig lumabas. In fact—
DELAMAR ARIAS: Bakit hindi nila ginawa iyon? [laughs] Paano po iyon? [laughter]
VP LENI: Hindi sila mahilig lumabas eh. Parang, parang iyong mga labas nila with us. Siguro kasi ganoon din kaming mag-asawa. Parang kami, office at saka house. So siguro, my kids grew up na iyong example nila is like that. So they—parang until now, sabi ko nga, my eldest is 31, parang okay na na in a week lumabas siya na once. And it’s very seldom. Lalabas siya mga one or two hours. Sabi niya nga, iyong biro daw sa kaniya lola parati kasi 9 o’clock, she’s sleepy already.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Inaantok na. [laughter]
VP LENI: So hindi—I never had problems with them.
DELAMAR ARIAS: This is so funny because you said your eldest, VP Leni, is 31.
VP LENI: Yes.
DELAMAR ARIAS: So you have 31 years of experience under your—
VP LENI: Oo, oo.
DELAMAR ARIAS: How—what is the greatest lesson that motherhood has taught you, as you’re a Vice President?
VP LENI: Oh.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Because you are like, you know, quote-unquote, sort of a “Mother of the Nation,” right?
VP LENI: Pero ano siguro, siguro it’s not just one lesson. Iyong number one, you really have to invest in time. Parang there’s no magic formula. Parang you reap what you sow. Ano talaga iyon, there are no shortcuts. I always tell my kids that no free lunch, no shortcuts, you have to work for everything that you want. Iyon siguro iyong number one.
Number two, parang iyong being a mother, parang ‘di ba, parang iyon iyong selfless love? Parang you don’t mind the sacrifice? You don’t mind the sleepless nights? You don’t mind the, parang the effort you pour into it kasi you see the benefits. Parang you don’t count. Iyon siguro. Parang it’s, parang leading is like motherhood also eh. Parang if there is a misstep, parating may repercussions kaagad.
Pero iyong sa akin, iyong time, parang, I think it would too much to ask for, specially mothers who live in Manila. Pero iyong time talaga, I think, I was able to avoid many problems because I really invested in time with them.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And by the time you were in Manila, where there were so many distractions, they were already, kumbaga, naka-imbak ka na ng ano eh, ng bonding.
VP LENI: Kaya I remember when Aika, the eldest, was here. Sa Ateneo siya nag-aral eh so she had to stay in the dorm because we did not have a house in Manila. And then siguro, one month into being a dormer, she was asking me, “Ma, what is my curfew?” So I was teling her, “You don’t have a curfew. Just make sure”—takot kasi ako sa taxi eh so sinasabi ko, “Just make sure na huwag kang sasakay ng taxi mag-isa.” So sabi ko, “Kung sasakay ka, kung kailangan mag-isa, kailangan tumawag ka na sa akin pagsakay mo pa lang ng taxi.” And then years after she would tell me, “Alam mo, among my friends, among the dormers, ako lang iyong walang curfew.”
VP LENI: Parang she was so surprised na we trusted them too much. Pero iyong sa akin, hindi ako uptight about it. Parang I felt like napalaki mo naman nang maayos and they would be responsible. So ayon, kahit walang curfew, ayaw lumabas.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Paano po iyon?
VP LENI: Si Tricia, iyong second, iyong kilala ni Riki, si Tricia, parang siya mas malala pa sa ate niya. [laughs]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Grabe iyong malala. Uy, Tricia! [laughs]
VP LENI: Kasi she seldom goes out. And when she was here, she was in college already, my husband was still alive, every time she would go out on a Friday night, which is very, very rare, as in siguro once every three months, my husband would call me, ecstatic, “Uy, iyong anak mo lumabas. May mga kaibigan naman pala!” [laughter]
DELAMAR ARIAS: Baliktad pala. Ang cute!
VP LENI: Kasi sobrang napaka—hindi naman anti-social kasi maraming friends, pero we were more used to having friends over. Marami kami. Sobrang liit ng condo namin. Iyong anak ko kasi iyong bunso, nasa Philippine Science siya, which was pretty near. So kahit sobrang liit ng bahay namin, ang daming kaklase na sa amin gumagawa ng projects, nagsa-study group, kasi iyong anak ko, ayaw makitulog sa iba. So she would just invite friends over so iyong living room namin may mga nakahiga, iyong dining namin kasi sobrang liit ng unit namin. Pero because we’re, siguro we live nearest the school, so they were so used to tambayan, which worked well.
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: I know your daughters referred to you as a cool tiger mom. So was there ever a time—because you were so present in their lives and you’re always very hands on—was there ever a time where they kind of resented it in a way or parang they felt a little, or parang did you feel na, “Maybe I’ll step back a bit.” Kasi that’s the—
VP LENI: Ako, I never felt that. Ano lang, parang I wasn’t the type who would lecture them. Hindi ako ganoon eh. Parang para sa akin, mas effective iyong nakikita kaysa sa sinasabi. Pero ang parating sinasabi ng mga anak ko, kapag hindi na ako umiimik, that’s the time that they are afraid. Kasi iyong sa akin, kapag galit ako, I don’t, parang I don’t verbalize my anger eh.
DELAMAR ARIAS: But they know?
VP LENI: They know. Parati silang nagkuwe-kuwento, sometimes they would write and when they would say, “When my mom starts being quiet, that’s the time when we should be afraid.”
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: Grabe.
VP LENI: Mas ganoon. Pero siguro because we were together almost all the time, parang walang tantiyahan. Kasi until now, we’re together.
DELAMAR ARIAS: You know each other like the back of your hand. How will you be when—because you have three daughters and at some point, guys are calling. [laughs] They’re going to be calling, they’re going to be knocking on the door.
VP LENI: Oo naman. Iyong sa amin, I never had problems. Iyong boyfriend, pinapakilala sa amin. Actually, I’m so cool about it. Wala akong—iyong sa akin, parang I’m so, sobrang trusting ako sa mga anak ko na I feel like because their example was their dad who was a very good husband and father, siguro naman siya iyong measure na they wouldn’t settle for anyone na malayo sa tatay nila. So iyong sa akin, siguro I’m also very fortunate na iyong mga relationships noong… at least noong dalawang panganay, maaayos—naging maaayos.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Pero kapag nag-asawa na sila hindi na sila matutulog sa same kuwarto! [laughter]
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: Or puwede rin! [laughter]
VP LENI: Actually, lahat sila ganoon na pinag-uusapan nila na, “Kapag mayroon na kaming mga families of our own, sisiguraduhin namin na mayroon kang room sa—“
DELAMAR ARIAS: Family room. [laughs]
VP LENI: “—may room ka sa bahay namin.” [chuckles]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Kailangan may compound. Ganoon ang mangyayari. I can see it now. [laughter] It’s 9:38, go ahead. Go ahead, VP.
VP LENI: Tingin ko, I think it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing that ganoon iyong nangyari. Siguro, I tried to overcompensate also because my husband was a politician. I remember when my husband was just planning to enter politics, iyong threat ko sa kaniya: “Iiwanan kita kapag pumasok ka.”
RIKI FLORES-REYES: And that’s exactly what I told my husband! Exactly what I told my husband!
VP LENI: Kaya nga, you know what I mean. [laughs] Sinabi ko sa asawa ko na, “Kapag pumasok ka, iiwanan kita.” So we had a lot of bargaining to do. Tapos sinasabi ng mga—tinatanong ako ng asawa ko, “What do you not like about politics?”
DELAMAR ARIAS: I was just about to say because a lot of—some women feel like it would be nice because if your husband is in a position of power, that extends to you. But you are a complete opposite. Where was the apprehension coming from?
VP LENI: Pero ako, I saw… I saw many sad examples kasi. I was telling my husband, without naming names of course, na sabi ko, my greatest fear is that my children will grow up with a sense of entitlement because I see that in many children of politicians. And my husband promised me, ang isa niyang promise, kasi in Naga, we live in an apartment—an apartment owned by their family—so there’s no space to entertain guests. So sinabi na ng asawa ko na, “Basta ang promise ko,” parang he will shield us from politics. So we lived a very normal life even if he was a mayor of almost 18 years. So at home, he’s not mayor. Parang at home, we don’t entertain. Parang he entertains all the constituents in his office. He goes to the office really early. At 7 o’clock in the morning he’s there already. So alam mo iyon, even when he was in politics, it’s not like he was different from other dads.
VP LENI: So when my kids were growing up, parang being mayor was like being a dad who was an engineer, was a—parang, it was a day job.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Iyon lang, alam ng mga kaibigan mo kung sino iyong tatay mo. [laughter]
VP LENI: They get embarrassed when my husband would go to their school kasi the attention that their dad gets. So they would always ask me, “Mama, ikaw na lang. ‘Wag na si Papa.”
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Eh paano ito ngayon? VP? [laughter]
VP LENI: Pero I think, kahit kasi they were shielded from it, parang they understand eh. They understand. Parang medyo shocked lang when I became VP. Kasi in the province, there’s also tapunan ng dumi. In the province, may tirahan din kasi local politics is also bad. Pero iyong problema sa probinsya—ay, iyong kagandahan sa probinsya—kahit may mangsira sa iyo, people would know the truth because they know you up close.
VP LENI: Iyon iyong difference ng pag-VP.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: National eh.
VP LENI: And age of social media. You’re a free target eh. And people, because they don’t know you personally, they would have the tendency to believe what they believe.
DELAMAR ARIAS: But also because of confirmation bias. They already made up their minds. So no matter what, ang pipiliin lang nilang paniwalaan, iyong ano na—
VP LENI: Totoo, totoo.
DELAMAR ARIAS: So this one, I guess, would be the biggest question because we’re all mothers, we’re all married, but just thinking of having to do it alone as a single parent is—I can’t even go through this question without crying—how did you do it?
VP LENI: Oo, sa akin, it’s bad enough. It’s bad enough to be a single mom. Kasi I remember, kasi ‘di ba my husband died in a very tragic way? And my kids, because they’re girls, ewan ko kung sino dito iyong may girls sa inyo—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Me. Pareho kaming dalawa. [Points to Delamar]
VP LENI: Iyong girls talaga very, very close to the dads. Parang they have a special bond, they have a special relationship. So when the plane crash happened, my first instinct was papaano iyong mga bata? So talagang ako, I did not cry in front of them. Kasi I felt like if I show weakness… Parang my girls will get strength from me. So iniisip ko they might not be able to survive the grief, parang, when they see me weak. So ako talaga, alam mo iyon, when you would cry inside the bathroom—
DELAMAR ARIAS: Yeah, and lock the door.
VP LENI: Pero kapag kaharap na sila and they would start crying, parating kong sinasabi, “Wala na tayong magagawa. Ayusin na lang natin kasi masa-sad si Papa kapag nakita niya tayo.” So ganiyan. Pero it’s bad enough.
Pero it got worse when I entered politics kasi I’m a widow eh. So siguro iyong widow, o siguro iyong separated o iyong single, easy target. Parang people can just throw mock at you.
DELAMAR ARIAS: I also think, like our society, no matter what we say, is still very, very sexist.
VP LENI: Totoo, totoo.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Like when you’re not spoken for, you don’t have a man next to you, people feel like, “Ah, kaya ko iyan eh.”
VP LENI: Oo, totoo, totoo. And it’s—I have to deal with a lot of that so—
DELAMAR ARIAS: We know. [laughs]
VP LENI: So iyong sa akin, siguro it helped that my kids know the truth. It helped that my kids see me as often as they would want to see me. So sa akin lang naman, ang interes ko, iyon nga, when you’re a mother, everything else parang pales in comparison. Ang parating una, iyong mga kids. Sa akin, kahit anong itapon mo sa akin, basta okay iyong mga anak ko, okay na ako.
DELAMAR ARIAS: That’s great. Actually, when you were saying the minute your husband died, your first thought was iyong mga anak. Because when you were saying na selfless, I mean, you were grieving you husband’s death but the thing on your mind was the kids!
VP LENI: Kasi I remember, ang pinaka-close sa dad, iyong pinaka-paborito, si Tricia, the second one. [laughter]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Aminado naman? [laughter]
VP LENI: Aminado naman. [laughs] Aminado ng lahat. So when the plane crash happened, natawagan na ako, tinawagan ko kaagad si Aika because both of them were here eh, in Manila. Tinawagan ko kaagad siya. Tinanong ko, “Nasaan ka?” It was a Saturday. Sabi niya, “Nasa Araneta Coliseum nanonood ng basketball.” Kasi my kids, alam niyo na iyon ni Riki, my kids are super basketball fans because of their dad. It was their bonding moment. Talagang basketball sila. So iyong panganay, nanonood. Naalala ko iyong game eh, Ateneo versus FEU. So sinabi ko, “Nasaan kapatid mo?”
DELAMAR ARIAS: Sino pong nanalo? [laughter]
VP LENI: [laughs] Hindi niya tinapos iyong game eh. Parang the game was just starting. Sabi ko, “Nasaan kapatid mo?” Sabi niya, nasa bahay. Nasa condo. Sabi ko, “May dala ka bang sasakyan?” Sabi niya, yes. Nagda-drive ka ba? Sabi ko, “Don’t drive. May kasama ka bang puwedeng mag-drive for you?” Sabi niya, yes. Sabi ko, “Pumunta ka na kaagad sa kapatid mo because I don’t want her to hear about it from other people.”
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: From someone else. Yeah.
VP LENI: So iyon, nag-rush na siya. Iyak nang iyak iyong anak ko. Naalala ko iyong sinasabi niya, “Hindi ito puwedeng mangyari.” Tapos, parang pinapagalitan ko pa siya, sabi ko, “Anak, wala na tayong magagawa. Asikasuhin mo na iyong kapatid mo.” So parang kabutihan noon kahit iyong panganay, talagang nag-step up kaagad. Siya na iyong nag-asikaso Tapos they took the bus that same night. Tinawagan ko na iyong kapatid ng asawa ko, sabi ko, “Samahan mo iyong mga bata sa bus.” So parang, I guess it’s not just me eh. Pero tayong mothers, parang mayroon tayong take-charge kind of, parang, instinct, na when needed, ano talaga… I think it’s… it’s because we’re mothers eh. Parang iyong instinct mo parati is to protect.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: To protect your young!
DELAMAR ARIAS: Even the very idea that you said, “Don’t drive.” Alam ko na iyong mother instinct eh. Kasi kapag nag-drive iyan, diyos ko!
VP LENI: Eh umiiyak pa.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Yeah, you don’t want that to happen on top of everything else that’s happened.
VP LENI: Oo, kasi naaalala ko iyong instruction ko sa kaniya, “Kung wala kang kasamang puwedeng mag-drive, iwan mo na lang iyong sasakyan mo sa Araneta.” Sabi niya, mayroon naman daw, iyong mga college classmates niya. Although she was already working at that time. So parang even my eldest, ganoon na rin in front of her sisters. Ano rin siya—
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Like you!
VP LENI: Ano na rin, I think, it’s a girl thing eh.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Ha! It’s a girl thing.
VP LENI: Parang a lot of women go through a lot of challenges pero talagang iyong nagte-take charge. And siguro, I would have to credit my mom also. Kasi I remember growing up, parang iyong mommy ko parating sinasabi na, “Kayo, mga babae kayo,”—I have a sister eh, a younger sister—“Siguraduhin niyo na kapag tumanda kayo may sarili kayong hanapbuhay. Huwag kayong magde-depend sa asawa.” Kasi parang it’s power eh. No matter how small your income will be as long as you have something of your own, parang okay ka na. Parang financial independence is empowerment. So parang my sister and I, parang we grew up with that kind of mentality, na you don’t depend on anyone. I think, for moms with daughters, importante iyon eh.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Raising a girl.
VP LENI: Parang we impart to them that, iyong independence is very important.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And I think what you learned from your mother flows through you and is no doubt getting passed on to your daughter—
VP LENI: Oo naman, oo naman.
DELAMAR ARIAS: —who, in turn, will probably have, you know, daughters of their own.
VP LENI: Kaya tingin ko naman, despite the tragedy, my daughters are okay. Of course, ano iyon eh, I don’t know if you lost anyone in the family already pero it’s—the pain doesn’t go away eh.
DELAMAR ARIAS: That’s so true.
VP LENI: It’s just there but you go on with your life.
DELAMAR ARIAS: You learn to breathe around it and to live around it, but it doesn’t go away. It’s just dull.
VP LENI: Siguro, siguro naha-heighten lang iyong pakiramdam when there are special occasions lang—birthdays, Christmas. So ako naman, I tried very hard to still maintain, parang, family traditions even if my husband is no longer there. So parang nandiyan pa rin siya.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Yeah, keeping his memory alive. It’s 9:49 a.m. If you’re just joining us, we have VP Leni Robredo on The Mother Show. [laughter] Cerah is our co-host. You have questions for Cerah—
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: They chill. [laughter]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: We have five minutes left with her because she has a full schedule.
DELAMAR ARIAS: I know.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: But the few minutes we have with her is so precious already though. But so just, you know, last few questions. Everybody knows that you need self-care, VP Leni, and I know VP is not exempt from that. What is your self-care routine if you wish to share? What do you do?
VP LENI: Ako kasi ano ako, parang I’m always, ang tawag ng mga anak ko, zen. [chuckles] So I’m cool all the time. Pero because my work also is physically demanding, parang I have developed the habit of sleeping inside the car in traffic. Pero when I go home, especially if it’s a very stressful day, iyong YouTube talaga and Netflix are my guilty pleasures. [laughs]
HOSTS: Oh! [laughter]
DELAMAR ARIAS: What’s the series that you love so much?
VP LENI: I have a lot pero ito iyong aking another revelation: I watch Koreanovelas. [laughs]
HOSTS: [screams] [laughs]
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: Kinilig ako! [laughs]
VP LENI: Pero ngayon, ina-alternate ko siya with more, parang with Western stuff. I like documentaries.
DELAMAR ARIAS: So what’s the last one you liked?
VP LENI: Iyong Koreanovela that I watched recently iyong “Romance is a Bonus Book.” [laughs] I don’t know if you—
CERAH HERNANDEZ-CO: Is it good?
VP LENI: It’s good but it’s not done yet. It shows every Saturday. So I watch that. So every time I watch a Western series or a documentary, I also like travel shows saka I do a lot of organizing.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Are you a Marie Kondo?
VP LENI: Not just Marie Kondo pero a lot of, you know, siguro because I don’t have a house of my own so it’s an aspiration, so I watch design shows. I watch that all the time. Tapos sabi ko nga, sabi ko kay Riki kanina, I subscribed to Andi’s channel, those things. So those are my guilty pleasures. I read—I read a lot. Pero when it’s stress—you would know that I am stressed kasi I watch Koreanovelas. [laughter] Kasi iyong Koreanovela, even if you’re writing something or editing a speech or—parang it’s just there, parang you would still understand the story. Parang it’s a no-brainer eh, parang it’s a feel-good thing always.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: All right. Last question that we have for VP Leni before we let her go, because you know, it’s election season. My husband, he’s about to get down and dirty—
VP LENI: It’s the first day today.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: It is his first day today. Do you have a… do you have a message that you would like to share to all of the listeners of The Mother Show? I mean, you know, as VP Leni Robredo, do you have anything you want to say?
VP LENI: Ako kasi, my husband and I were very conscious about not losing ourselves because of politics. Parang we argued a lot about it before he joined. So there was always a conscious effort not to enjoy the perks. Parang kami, sometimes even my staff find it weird already, parang paminsan sinasabi nila, “Ang dami namang drama nito kasi ang daming ayaw.” Pero it’s a conscious effort not to enjoy things. Kasi talagang kapag nasa posisyon, maraming privileges.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And you get used to it.
VP LENI: And ang takot ko na hahanapin ko na siya. Parang parati kong sinasabi na ayaw ko siyang i-enjoy kasi ayaw kong hindi na ako umaalis kasi I don’t want to miss the privileges anymore. So iyong sa akin, very conscious ako doon. Very conscious na even now. It’s more difficult now because people have a tendency to make things easier for you like when you go to the airport. Kaya ako, I always insist na magla-line, magpipila. Halimbawa kahit sa may convoy kami pero halimbawa sa convoy, inayawan ko iyong mga motorcycle… iyong mga motorcycle-riding policemen that will guide you through the traffic, iyong mga ganoon. Parang small things. Parang it’s so important that you maintain that kasi kapag paminsan iyong nalululong ka sa power, it’s difficult eh. Doon din nasisimulan iyong kapag tapos ka na, gusto mo iyong family member because ayaw mong maalis sa pamilya iyong privilege. Parang iyon iyong greatest fear ko in politics.
DELAMAR ARIAS: That year when you decided, was it State of the Nation? You took the stairs when everybody was going in front of—
VP LENI: No, that was when I was a member of the Congress. When I was in the House of Representatives, there’s a red carpet.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Yeah, you refused, ano?
VP LENI: Kasi parang ako, it’s embarrassing for me. Parang kaniya-kaniya naman siguro. It’s not like I’m judging other people pero para sa akin, parang embarrassing na ang nafi-feature iyong mga damit. So in my three years in Congress, I never passed through the red carpet. I always take the back stairs.
DELAMAR ARIAS: You were—people took a photo of you—
VP LENI: No, it was an employee of the House of Representatives who took a photo of me sa phone niya and then he posted it on Facebook. And it’s still embarrassing kasi siyempre iyong iba sasabihin drama. [laughs]
DELAMAR ARIAS: Yeah, what you were avoiding, [he took a photo of you] right in the middle of the stairs.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Social media!
VP LENI: Mayroong mga, siguro mga quirks. It’s—parang I’m not saying naman na people who are doing it are not good, pero may kaniya-kaniya siguro. Pero sa akin, my greatest fear is that. So iyong sa akin iyong kids ko, parang I’m trying as hard as I can to bring them out of politics. Parang, they helped during the campaign season. Halimbawa ngayon Aika is helping me out because I’m campaigning for Otso Diretso. She goes around the country also. Pero that’s about it.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Do you—are you okay with them—is there anybody of them showing signs that they want to enter politics?
VP LENI: Wala. In fact, a lot of people, kasi nag-term limit iyong mayor sa Naga, a lot of people have been encouraging my daughter to enter. Pero iyong anak ko mismo iyong ayaw. And ako, ayaw ko din. Sinasabi ko na I won’t prevent them if they would decide later on pero one at a time: habang nandito pa ako, bawal pa kayong pumasok. Para kapag pumasok sila, dahil sa sarili nila, not because of me.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And you take a backseat.
VP LENI: Oo, huwag na ako. Kung gusto niyang siya, siya na. Huwag na ako. Pero parang mahirap din kasing sabihin mo na hindi kasi they grew up in this world eh. Pero I will not be encouraging it. In fact, iyong mga career path, talagang sobrang layo sa politika. And I don’t—at this point—I don’t see anyone of them taking an interest in an elective position.
DELAMAR ARIAS: Okay, but that’s also what happened to you! [laughter]
VP LENI: Pero my story kasi is different kasi when my husband died, it was at the heels of an election. So dahil nag-away-away iyong mga grupo, napilitan ako. But I was… I was here only as—I was supposed to be a temporary thing only. I was supposed to end in 2016. And then the VP thing happened. Parang iyong sa akin, iyong VP thing, iyon na iyong fluke eh. Parang it should have not happened but it did. Parang there has been a lot of, parang intense feelings as far as my kids are concerned with the VP run. Pero iyong sa akin lang, nandito na tayo, pag-husayan na natin.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Wala na tayong magagawa. Wala na tayong magagawa, guys! [laughter]
VP LENI: Parang sinasabi noong mga anak ko na, “Ayan talaga, last na iyan.” Pero… pero iyong sa akin naman, even if it was difficult, especially iyong pag-congresswoman ko, parang it was still a blessing in the sense that I felt connected to my husband still. I was continuing the work that he was supposed to do. Pero it has to end at some point. Parang it’s not something that I’m looking at as a, parang, as my career until I retire. Hindi iyon.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Okay, it’s 9:58 a.m. We’ve exceeded the five-minute mark. [laughter] Last question, last question.
VP LENI: Okay.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Because you’re always with your entourage, VP—
VP LENI: Yes, yes.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: If there’s one place that you could escape to right now, just you and your three girls, where would you go?
VP LENI: Kami, parating house.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: House talaga!
VP LENI: House talaga. I don’t know eh. Parang sobrang sanctuary sa amin iyong bahay. My staff knows this. Talagang sa akin, I’m so happy when I’m at home, even my girls. We do travel. That’s our guilty pleasure. Pero kasi kami we have a travel fund eh. Mayroon kaming travel fund na hindi namin puwedeng pagkuhaan iyong savings. So kung ilan lang iyong nandoon sa travel fund, iyon lang iyong puwede naming gastusin.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Ay ang galing!
VP LENI: So where we will go would depend on how much is there. So parang nangyari, nagiging ano siya, nagiging alternate na somewhere far, tapos susunod somewhere near.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Depending talaga.
VP LENI: Parang that’s my promise to myself and my kids na it’s a tradition started by my husband when he was still alive, parang to make the kids travel.
DELAMAR ARIAS: And to travel together.
VP LENI: Travel together. We travel together all the time. And I encourage my kids. Kaya iyong mga kids ko, parating naghahanap ng seat sale eh. So it’s our guilty pleasure pero iyon lang, iyon lang iyong time away from it all.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Home talaga. In a small room. [laughter] Thank you so much, VP Leni, for coming by!
VP LENI: Thank you so much for having me!
DELAMAR ARIAS: And thank you for sharing who you are as a mother.
VP LENI: Yes, thank you! This is a real breather kasi every time I get interviewed, it’s always about my work or about politics and this is the only time that I can be myself.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Awww, thank you. Such a joy!
DELAMAR ARIAS: One of my friends is a huge supporter of yours and she’s crying. She’s a lawyer but she’s crying—[laughter]—because hindi niya ma-take eh!
VP LENI: Oh my god! [laughs] Thank you. Thank you!
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Thank you for the time. It’s so precious and—
VP LENI: Thank for the time. And congratulations to the work that you’re doing. Alam ko marami kayong fans.
HOSTS: [laughter] Thank you!
VP LENI: I get to listen to you from time to time when I’m in the car.
RIKI FLORES-REYES: We’re going to have you back when Andi’s back also so that—
VP LENI: Yes, yes! Tell Andi I’m a fan. [laughs]
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Oh wow! That would make her day. [laughter]
VP LENI: Thank you!
RIKI FLORES-REYES: Thank you so much!
VP LENI: Okay. Bye, everyone!
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