TO COMBAT NEGATIVISM: Leni promotes inspiring stories
By Juan Escandor Jr. DAET, Camarines Norte --- Challenged by disinformation and misinformation and divisiveness hounding the social media, Vice President Leni Robredo continues to promote inspiring stories to counter the negativity permeating this generation. Through the Office of the Vice President (OVP), Robredo gathers stories of ordinary people who had managed to overcome great challenges and difficulties and emerged successful in their lives. She plans to publish books that tell the tales of these ordinary people who through hard work and determination achieved their dreams despite disabilities and poverty. Started last year, the project “Istorya ng Pag-asa” aims to change the national conversation. “We want to share the extraordinary stories of ordinary people and bring them to every school, mall, bus station and, ultimately, to every Filipino all over the world. Our aim is to inspire and empower Filipinos, especially in today’s atmosphere of fear and negativity,” Robredo said. She added that she would also want to encourage people that they, too, can be a source of hope for others. Addressing some 200 students and teachers here, Robredo told some of the stories they have sourced from the communities that give hope and inspiration. She narrated a story of an orphaned girl from Masbate who through sacrifice, hard work and determination became a judge in Albay province. Robredo met Ave in Albay who was orphaned at a very young age. She narrated that her teachers came to her side and was taken care of by them since she was the only child of her deceased parents. “Her teachers took turn caring for her until she felt embarrassed because she was depending so much on them. She decided to apply as house helper of one of the teachers and she was welcomed in her house,” she said. The teacher who became her foster mother would bring Ave along to the school where she was assigned to allow her student continue her studies. When Ave finished high school, she still wanted to study but her teacher told her she cannot help her anymore in her college education. Undeterred, Ave searched for schools with scholarship program until her relative told her that there was a scholarship offered at the Bicol Colleges in Daraga, Albay. She decided to travel from the island province to the mainland Bicol and reached Daraga late at night. With no one to turn to or relative to accommodate her in the night, Ave decided to sleep outside of the gate of the Bicol Colleges. The following morning, she waited at the Office of the Dean and she applied for a scholarship which was given to her. Although Ave was free from tuition, she still needed food allowance and place to live which prompted her to apply as janitor in the same school. She was janitor in the day and studied at night until she finished her college education. After graduating from college, Ave applied and was taken as court stenographer in one of the courts in Legazpi City. She was not satisfied of just being a court stenographer, so she decided to study law at night. When she finished her law course and passed the bar. After few years practicing her law profession she applied at the judiciary and became a judge. Robredo said the colorful and interesting life of Ave who was an orphan, became a house helper, worked as janitor, studied law and passed the bar and finally a judge is an example of the stories she promotes to inspire people and give them hope. She said the Istorya ng Pag-asa was an offshoot of Araw ng Pagbasa, Araw ng Pag-asa, an annual reading advocacy program that began in 2008 in the Third District of Quezon City. Robredo said she was invited in one of the occasions and derived the idea of launching the Istorya ng Pag-asa with consent of the people who conceptualized the idea. At present, the Istorya ng Pag-asa is a travelling photo gallery featuring different stories of hope by the Filipino people. It has reached Naga City, Quezon City, Cebu, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Dumaguete, Sorsogon, Legazpi and Camarines Norte.