By Leni Robredo
Vice President of the Philippines
(This is excerpted from a speech delivered at the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats after the May 2016 elections.)
There are moments in our lives that shine brighter than others. Like when I met [my husband] Jesse. Or when I saw my children’s faces for the first time. Or when the plane crashed.
We are facing one of those moments once again.
This journey is not just about us. This is a chance to bring those at the fringes of society to prosperity — in a bigger, more powerful way.
This is a dream come true for someone like me who holds consultation meetings on train tracks, sleeps on boats, and rides single-motor version of tricycles called habal-habal to reach those we need to serve.
We are in this position because we cannot and will not turn our backs on the responsibility for inclusive growth and progress that matters. We will not waste this chance to lift our advocacy to higher levels. We accept this chance to serve with humility, gratitude, and a commitment to excellence.
The chosen direction of our President and our plans for the country have wide intersections and coverage on the singularity of this vision: Bringing real prosperity to our people, especially those that have been left behind.
Much has been done, but we continue to face more challenges. That is why we aim resolutely to face all obstacles, determined to eradicate them.
We will not allow anything to derail us in our goals and we are willing to work with all to bring our plans to fruition.
The only way for all of us to realize our vision for our nation is to work together. During these times when there seem to be significant divisions and conflict on the worlds, the challenge is to come together, celebrate our commonalities and differences, and turn them all into strengths.
We must do right by the people, not only by our own people. Our loyalties must lie on those we are sworn to serve, even at the cost of personal interest.
This has always been the manner by which we have served, and it will remain that way for the rest of our lifetime.
The doors of the Office of the Vice Presidency are always open. Ours will be a listening office. We seek to unite the government and the private sector in a partnership for change, for those at the fringes of society who have vowed to serve.
Our plan is to create partnership between the government and the private sector toward real change.
Collaboration is today’s most important and powerful resource. In our world today, our most important work are the things we can do together.
If you recall, this is exactly the story of our journey together. When we started, very few believed that we had a sliver of a chance to win. But because of the contributions of each single individual — like Nanay Alberta who pawned her ring to help with the campaign, like the Sumilao farmers who walked again to Metro Manila, like the dad-and-son tandem we randomly witnessed fixing our destroyed posters — like each one of you who sacrificed so much to get us where we are now and believed when nobody believed.
When we stand for what we believe in, when we are ready to sacrifice our personal interests, we can make the impossible possible.
We can accomplish many things in the next six years. We invite all who have a passion for helping the poor, for fixing systems of the poor, for unlocking barriers that perpetuate the status quo in the poorest areas of our country, to come to our office.
We will streamline and bring all these efforts together so that we can extract the highest possible impact from each point of collaboration.
We have identified hunger and food security, universal health care, rural development, education, and people empowerment as our main priorities. In these areas, there is no time to lose because every day, there is real suffering on the ground. Our dream is to make headway on easing that suffering as soon as we can.
Join me. Together, let’s take another journey.
The transformation that we personally saw in our district as we literally wore our our slippers walking with people on the ground strengthens our resolve that this is the best way to bring about chance in our nation.
We hope as we bring the Office of the Vice Presidency to your barangay, you will feel the government is truly there for you, and when you feel that, you will be inspired to spark your own change as well.
When change begins in ourselves, the chance we want to see in our nation will truly happen. We have seen this in the farmers and fisherfolk we have helped, in each battered woman we tried to empower, in each indigenous person and barangay health worker.
Any groundswell begins from an individual’s resolve. If you want our country to leave behind the things that hold it down, we must start within. That will spark a real groundswell, a unity of effort that brings about strength.
Whatever chance we want to see in our nation must begin within ourselves. And when we do that together, nothing is impossible.
As Jesse used to say when he was alive: “What brings us together as a nation is far more powerful that what pulls us apart.”
During these times of conflict, unity is most important for our nation. We may come from different walks of life or different advocacies, but our dreams are the same: that each Filipino will live a dignified, prosperous life.