[Nonfiction Wednesday] Kindness and Compassion: Leni Robredo’s Legacy

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading theme throughout the year, when we can.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Dancing Waters: The Story Of Leni Robredo (Adarna House)

Written by Yvette Fernandez Illustrated by Abi Goy
Published by: Adarna House, Inc. (2021) ISBN: 9789715088541 E-book provided by the publisher. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with a young Leni deeply fascinated with the dancing waters found in the center of Naga. Her father, a lawyer who eventually became a judge, would usually pick Leni and her siblings up from school and bring them to see the dancing waters while waiting to pick up their mother, a school teacher from work.

There was also a recognition that not all children have the same kind of privilege. This deep awareness of one’s social responsibility had been embedded in Leni Robredo as a young child, along with a spirit of serving one’s community. Her strong work ethic, love for learning and books, and wide-eyed awareness of inequalities around her made her decide to become a lawyer, community organizer, and human rights advocate.

She married a man who embodied all the values that her father once represented to her as a young child. I was pleased to see how the author did not dwell so much on the male figures in Leni’s life, without necessarily downplaying their influence and role in shaping who she became as a woman and a servant-leader.

I was especially pleased to see the many initiatives that Leni Robredo, currently serving as the Vice President of the country, had done to address the needs of medical frontliners during the pandemic. It was not mentioned in the book how she was stripped of budget and funding – and constantly belittled and mocked as a woman. The focus was more on Leni’s strength of will as she led with clear-eyed conviction, kindness and compassion.

In less than a week, the Philippine government will be holding its Presidential and Vice-Presidential election. I urge registered Filipino voters to critically examine the leaders they will be electing into office. I also urge Filipino parents living in the Philippines or overseas to find this book and hopefully purchase it, since 50% of the sales will be donated to the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) community learning hubs, initiatives that Leni Robredo had also launched “to support students, parents, and teachers amid the shift to distance/blended learning.”

It is very rare that someone of Leni’s fortitude, caliber, and vision is running to lead the entire country. She is not only a human rights lawyer and advocate, she is also an economist, and indefatigable in her service to the Filipino people.

To know more about Leni’s platform, here is an interview by Filipina journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Maria Ressa:


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 39 out of target 100

May 3, 2022 at 06:31AM Myra Garces-Bacsal