MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party’s vice presidential bet, Camarines Sur Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, is so far the only female running for the second highest post in the country.
It is common knowledge that she got involved in politics only after the sudden death of her husband, former Naga City mayor and interior secretary Jesse Robredo, and that she defeated the matriarch of a political dynasty in 2013.
Here are 8 trivia, though, that you probably don’t know about Robredo:
1. She would have been an RTC judge. If she wasn’t thrust into politics in 2013, Robredo could have been a regional trial court judge. Before her husband’s death, she had been shortlisted to become presiding judge in any of 3 regional trial courts (RTCs) in the Bicol region.
She could have followed the footsteps of her father, Antonio Gerona Sr, who was an RTC judge in their home city of Naga. He died in October 2013.
Leni withdrew her nomination when husband Jesse died. She then applied as judge for any Quezon City regional trial court so she could be with her daughters, but her plans were interrupted when she had to run for Congress in the 3rd district of Camarines Sur.
2. She was an advocate lawyer. Prior to Jesse’s death, Leni was a practicing lawyer who focused on cases involving the marginalized sector.
She is connected with the Naga chapter of Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Pang Legal (Saligan), a national alternative lawyers’ group helping farmers.
She founded Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga, was the past president of the Naga City Council for Women, and a member of Federacion International de Abogados.
She also worked with the Public Attorney’s Office.
3. She maintains a simple lifestyle. The simple lifestyle she maintains has a few times been captured on photos and gone viral on social media.
There was her photo at a gasoline station along EDSA, carrying her two bags and waiting for a bus to Naga City. She explained that she had come from Taguig to deliver a speech, and decided to just wait for a bus there for a shorter trip, instead of going northward to the Cubao bus station.
Then there was her photo at the backdoor entrance to the plenary hall of the Batasang Pambansa during President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address in July 2015. She was trying to avoid the red carpet at the main entrance.
On both occasions, Robredo explained that she was only following the example set by her husband, who was known for his simplicity.
4. Roxas is a family friend, not just standard-bearer. Robredo’s link to Roxas extends beyond being his running mate in next year’s elections.
A CNN Philippines report said Roxas and Jesse worked closely together several times before, so that Leni used to joke that Roxas was Jesse’s second wife.
The report also mentioned that Roxas is godfather to Robredo’s youngest daughter Jillian.
5. She’s one of the poorest members of the House of Representatives. Based on her latest Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), Robredo had a net worth of P8.03 million in 2014, making her the 49th “poorest” member of the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, in her 2013 SALN – the first she filed – she declared a slightly higher net worth of P8.29 million.
6. She has a neck injury. A spot.ph report revealed that Robredo has a permanent neck injury due to a car accident years ago. “Most days she doesn’t feel any pain. But when it does come, she wears a neck brace,” the report said.
The report also mentioned that her husband “used to put her on a traction machine for about half an hour a day.”
7. Guess how she organizes her household. Robredo took piano lessons for sometime, but her daughters play better than she does. “She took lessons for 10 years, but never really got very far. She says her daughters are very good though, and she gets a high listening to them play classical pieces,” said the spot.ph report.
One thing that she does very well, though, is planning and organizing. “On her computer hard drive are multiple lists pertaining to her household: what’s in the pantry, what’s in the bodega (storage), what books and magazines are in her collection, catalogued photographs. Everything in her household is also labeled: the food closet, the medicine cabinet, school and office supplies, drawers, etc,” the report said.
She also does the planning and research for family outings.
8. Her love story. Before they became a couple, Jesse and Leni were officemates, with Jesse as her boss.
After graduating from the University of the Philippines in Diliman in 1986, Leni applied for a job at the Bicol River Basin Development Program (BRBDP), which was then headed by Jesse. Based on this Rappler article:
Leni’s first meeting with her boss-turned-husband was decidedly unromantic: she had brought a recommendation letter from Jesse’s politician-uncle, believing it would help her land the job – but Jesse was unimpressed, and told her that, that was no longer how things worked.
The encounter was telling of the late interior chief’s character; Leni would later describe him as being on the same wavelength with her, a man who wanted to find more meaning in life and serve his country.
You may want to read interesting trivia on other candidates that you might have missed: