Malilong: Unflabble, impressive

The lady continues to impress, I wrote in 2015. Campaigning in Bacolod, she declared that it was wrong to vote for her out of sympathy. It is better that you help me because we share the same beliefs and that together we can build better lives for everyone, she told them.Then vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo had lost her husband to a tragic plane crash just three years earlier and invoking his memory would have served her campaign well. Jesse Robredo was, after all, popular and well-loved, a distinction that was quite rare among the members of the Aquino Cabinet.She could have told her audience that only she could finish what her husband had started but was aborted by his death and people would have lapped her every word because they knew that the couple embraced the same idealism and brand of public service.Other politicians – those cursed with weak spine and a weaker moral fiber – would have grabbed at the same opportunity that Leni refused. They would have gladly played the part of a grieving family man to the hilt, made wives and children weep and husbands feeling sorry for themselves.But not Leni. There is no pretense, no hypocrisy about her. There is no insecurity about her either. She passed up on exploiting her husband’s death to gain political advantage, choosing instead to step out of his shadow, certain that she would pass the most rigorous scrutiny.Six years have passed since she told her audience in Bacolod to judge her on her own merits and she still impresses. The lady is unflappable. This year’s presidential campaign is unprecedented in terms of the slander that is peddled in social media, and almost always, she is at the receiving end.It is claimed, for example, that the Robredos are rich because one of Jesse’s brothers is a drug lord. This is obviously false otherwise President Rodrigo Duterte would have feasted on it to hit back at Leni who has been critical of the way his war on drugs was being prosecuted. Besides, Jesse’s brother is reportedly blind. But social media accounts identified with Bongbong Marcos continue carrying this and other lies.There is also that outlandish claim that Leni was once married to an NPA rebel. Even those with the minutest of brains could see through this lie but the fake news continues to be gleefully spread by BBM supporters.She has also been called “lutang” and “bobo” by people who probably did not even earn a college degree or would not have passed a licensure examination even if the examination committee generously raised the passing percentage to 99.9 percent.Lesser mortals would have lost their cool and responded in kind to the vilification of her and her loved ones. But not her; she’s made of sterner stuff, always telling her supporters to be calm and to be patient in the face of the continued aggravations.Meet Leni Robredo, economics graduate of the University of the Philippines, lawyer, mother of three successful daughters and nightmare of those who viciously tried to distract her and failed. Unflappable. Impressive.