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CongW. Leni Robredo warmly met in San Francisco

By: Gabby V. Moraleda
UPAASF Board Member

The Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Consulate of San Francisco (CA) was packed. The guests came as far as Sacramento, 100 miles away. Several FilAm organizations were represented in a special evening with an extraordinary legislator Congresswoman Leni-Gerona Robredo. She was in San Francisco for the first leg of her trip to Canada. Accompanied by her 3 daughters Aika, Patricia, Jillian and mom Dr. Sally Gerona, CongW Robredo's SF itinerary included meeting Bicolano groups and the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of San Francisco (UPAASF).

Upon arrival, she was greeted by Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon, Consul Reggie Bernabe, Mrs. Mariza Bensurto, Ms. Jean Damasco, Ms. Letty Quizon and the consular staff. Inside the hall, she was warmly met by one of the biggest crowd assembled in the consular office in recent time. For a workday -- it was Monday, the room was filled with FilAms eager to get a glimpse of her.

For more than an hour, the audience was glued to her. Captivated by her presence, the place was filled by her aura, of simplicity and honesty. The guests were intently listening to every sentence she had to say. When she asked how long she can continue speaking, it elicited a response "Kahit matulog na kami rito."

She spoke interchangeably from a prepared speech and extemporaneously from her heart. A private person by nature, the Congresswoman narrated the circumstances that made her decide to run for public office and the challenges she had to undergo during the campaign. It was an uphill battle. Under-financed and running against a well entrenched and well-funded political family, she, through hard work and perseverance, was elected overwhelmingly as the representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur. Fervor triumphed over funds. It signaled the end of several decades of feudal politics and that genuine change is on the horizon.

In her speech, she emphasized the importance of overseas Filipinos. In her interview she said "The success of the future of the country also depends on Filipinos abroad." and "At no other time in our history would we need more Filipinos especially those whom outside to be supportive of our fight against corruption." Her call to action resonated well with the audience.

In a place that has stood still in time for so long, her district is slowly and steadily getting back what it deserves – better public service. She commented "We do not need public officials who have a great sense of entitlement." Wouldn't it be great if public servants follow her lead and, that her reform agenda -- transparency and good governance -- spill over to the rest of the country? She has indeed given a new face to what public service should be.

No one holds a crystal ball on what the future holds. If the attendance is any indicator, then we can conclude she has captured not only the mind and not only the heart but the soul of the Nation. We wish her nothing but the best.