Leni’s Magnificat moment
It’s the month of May, when many Filipino Catholic Marian devotees celebrate the life of Mary, mother of Jesus. Muslims, too, have great respect for her. But Mothers Day, which happened to fall on the eve of Election Day, came and went, almost lost in the election cacophony. My Marian thoughts a few paragraphs from here.
It’s game over for many contested posts, if we go by the unofficial election results that have come in. But as of this writing, the vice presidential candidates are still neck and neck, with top contenders Leni Robredo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late ousted dictator, jostling on the tally sheets.
Marcos Jr.’s purposeful rise and coming so close to the presidency has worried tens of thousands of survivor-victims of the Marcos dictatorship. On the other side, Leni’s own overnight rise from behind, beneath and below (where she dwelled in the start of the campaign) in the vice presidential race has amazed us all. After she said yes to the call to be the running mate of Mar Roxas, we saw how this reluctant candidate gave it her all.
To end that last sentence with “and never looked back” would not be quite apt for Leni because this grassroots lawyer, widow of the interior secretary and beloved mayor of Naga City Jesse Robredo, mother of three daughters, and congresswoman from Camarines Sur has not stopped looking back to where chapters in her life ended and began: the plane crash site in the sea where Jesse died in 2012.
Jesse had Leni who will continue to serve. And so as Leni’s steady and inexorable rise in the preelection surveys and in the postelection count unfolded before our eyes, some trolls that reside in the netherworld of social media would send cruel and vicious messages. As Leni recalled on GMA News’ “State of the Nation” hosted by Jessica Soho, someone had posted on Facebook: “Napaka-evil mo, sana ikaw na lang ’yung nasa eroplanong bumagsak, hindi ’yung asawa mo.” (You are so evil, I wish you were the one in the plane crash, not your husband.)
Huh? What about her is evil?
Leni said she was tempted to answer: “Hindi mo lang alam na nung bumagsak yung eroplano ng asawa ko, wini-wish ko na sana ako na lang ’yung nasa eroplanong ’yun.” (You have no idea that after my husband’s plane crashed, I would wish I were the one on that plane.)
You have no idea. Yes, loss and emotional pain could be so overwhelming that death would seem like a welcome balm. One has to go through some kind of dark night in life in order to understand that kind of sharp, searing pain from the depths. But, the poet-psalmist assures, “Joy comes in the morning.”
Call it comic relief or something out of the movies, but in Bocaue, Bulacan, two mayoral candidates who ended up in a tie had to settle for coin tossing—for cara y cruz, literally. Thank God for some rain in the form of laughter in this sweltering El Niño month.
Leni might yet be the answer to the prayer for divine intervention for which many Filipino voters had been desperately hoping. When the die was cast, and hope dimmed for those who had fears in their hearts about what’s on the road ahead, the image of steady Leni and what she stood for seemed to provide a ray of light. Having worked with those on the fringes of society, she vowed to personally and literally get them included in the government’s agenda.
Now that victory is nigh and when asked how she would see herself in a Duterte presidency, Leni did not flinch from her original option to be with the disenfranchised. If given a choice, she said, she would want to see herself in antipoverty programs, not a Cabinet position.
To Marcos Jr.’s unfounded tirade (he now sounds like his father stricken with paranoia during the dying days of his dictatorship) that Leni could be part of the Liberal Party’s so-called “Plan B” to topple presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte and install her as president, Leni just laughed.
“I have no presidential ambition,” she asserted. Clearly he has, she added in so many words.
On Leni’s part, it has all been affirmation after affirmation about the battles she took on after Jesse died. The reluctant candidate has made broad strides and accepted challenges with nary a tinge of personal ambition. And always, with gratefulness in her heart.
I think of Mary’s Magnificat, her cry of praise and gratitude to God who raised her up. The Magnificat is Mary’s longest spiel in the Bible where she says, “You have thrown down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly…” Surely many of us have had Magnificat moments in our lives. I think of Leni and I think of the Magnificat.
From nowhere, Leni has come this far. I pray she triumphs.
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After voting early in the morning of May 9 (I was among the first batch in my precinct) and going to the wake of a friend ( a women’s rights advocate in the Church sector), my friends and I had lunch at a Cubao restaurant with fiesta-like pahiyas decor used in Lucban, Quezon. Just across from it is Novotel where, it was falsely rumored, vote-counting machines were being stored for cheating purposes. No wonder we saw media vehicles coming. Dud! We focused on our fiesta fare.
Henceforth we will be associating the month of May with elections. But what is May without the Flores de Mayo and the Santacruzan? What’s life without the childhood memories of May, of blazing summers and sudden downpours, of food and fiestas, of beaches and rivers and flowers and songs?
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