By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Tuesday emphasized the importance of having the “ability to listen with empathy,” especially in public service.
Robredo, the highest-ranking woman in government, said people must continue valuing and practicing empathy amid the difficult times the country is facing.
“The Filipino touch is a touch of empathy, something that we desperately need these times,” she said.
The lady official noted that empathy is needed more than sympathy for social development.
“Empathy is much different from sympathy. Sympathy is an emotional response to what you hear; empathy is an active response to what you feel. It goes beyond just feeling pity; it explores the realm of responsibilities to the solutions to problems that are found,” she said.
“Empathy is the antidote to shallow engagements and shallow social isolation. Empathy is what moves us to action for and in behalf of others,” Robredo then continued.
The Vice President delivered her keynote speech during the advocacy forum, titled Understanding the Terrains of Social Development, held at the University of Sto. Tomas, Manila.
In her address to students and faculty members of the UST College of Nursing, she pointed out empathy is a “lost art” in society.
“Empathy is basic but it is something that can’t be taught and can’t be rushed. It can only be learned when we immerse ourselves in the difficulties being faced by the people we want to serve,” she said.
At the forum, Robredo also talked about the healthcare system, which she claimed is a “critical first step towards social empowerment.”
With this, she cited the urgent need to improve the country’s health services.
“Access to quality healthcare and services remain an elusive dream. Around six of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a health professional because of poverty,” she said.
“Our people will not be able to enjoy any of the freedoms that we work so hard for, if they suffer from illnesses that should have been easy to address,” Robredo said.