Robredo barnstorms in Catanduanes, Masbate before Holy Week ‘campaign break’

Before taking a campaign break for the Holy Week, Vice President Leni Robredo visited Catanduanes and Masbate provinces to campaign before her fellow Bicolanos as the country inches closer to the May 9 elections.

Vice President Leni Robredo shakes the hands of Catandunganons during the Leni-Kiko rally on Tuesday, April 12. (Photo from VPLR Media Bureau)

Robredo planned on taking a Holy Week break in her home province, but before she did, the lone female presidential candidate made sure to solidify Bicol region’s support.

Bicol has more than 3.9 million voters for the 2022 polls.

“Ngayon po, isang napakalaking pagkakataong mayroong isang Bikolanang tumatakbo at pwedeng maging presidente. Alam natin kung anong ibig sabihin niyan para sa Bikolandia (Now, it is such a huge opportunity to have a Bikolana run and can be a president. We know what that means for Bicolandia),” she told the crowd in her native dialect of Bikol during a campaign sortie on Tuesday, April 12.

“Kaya ang hinihingi ko sa inyo, pagtulungan natin. Dahil kapag nagkaroon ng Bikolana sa Malacañang, maraming masasagot na pangarap ng mga Bikolano (That’s why I am asking you, let us help each other. Because if there will be a Bikolana in Malacañang, a lot of the dreams of the Bikolano will be answered),” Robredo added.

She said that Catanduanes was barely visited by national officials so she will give it a much-needed attention if she wins in May.

Still, Robredo argued that her fellow Bicolanos should not only vote for her out of regionalistic tendencies.

“Pero ang akin lang po, ang akin lang, sana tutulungan niyo ako hindi lang dahil sa Bikolana ako, kundi pag-aralan niyo kung ano ba ang aking track record (But for me, for me, I hope you help me not only because I’m a Bikolana, but you studied what my track record is),” she said, arguing that she has been in Catanduanes whether it’s election season or not.

Sea of pink in Catanduanes (VPLR Media Bureau)

Even during the pandemic, Robredo sent out personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies, and medical assistance to Catanduanes. She also established three Community Learning Hubs that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) equipped with computers and volunteer-tutors.

The Vice President ended her two-day barnstorming of Bicol region in Masbate, a place close to her heart because it was where her husband, the late former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, died.

Jesse’s plane crashed off the coast of Masbate in August 2012. This led to the naming of a boulevard after him—the JM Robredo Boulevard—the same venue of Robredo’s political rally on Wednesday, April 13.

The boulevard, which is “very near” the crash site, is the only one named after the late secretary and six-term mayor of Naga City. Robredo said even in their hometown of Camarines Sur, no place was named after her husband.

“Ang connection ko sa inyo palaging parang pamilya. Bawat punta ko dito sa Masbate parang umuuwi ako ng bahay dahil alam ko dito binawian ng buhay ang aking asawa (My connection with you is always like family. Every visit here in Masbate, it feels like I’m coming home because I know this was where my husband lost his life),” she shared, turning a bit emotional.

But it was not all bad memories for the Vice President.

Robredo said she trained paralegal in Masbate province from 2005 to 2007, staying there sometimes for a week every month and experiencing brownouts and other calamities.

The electricity problem in Bicol region is one of the things that Robredo plans to focus on if she becomes president.

“Ang pinapangako ko sa inyo kapag ako naging pangulo unang-una natin asikasuhin (I promise to you that if I become president, it’s the very first we will fix),” she said.