By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday urged young leaders to find the courage to speak their own words, aim for their greatest dreams, and focus their lives on helping others with “integrity, empathy, and compassion.”
Robredo attended the talk on mission and value-driven leadership forum at the Concordia College in Paco, Manila where she highlighted the qualities young leaders possess.
“Young leaders have a different way of changing the world,” she said during the forum which was part of the college’s 150th founding anniversary. “You do things better and faster and with more heart [and] you are more creative and definitely more fun,” she added.
During her talk, Robredo noted how the world nowadays “can seem cold and uncertain, scary and hopeless.” However, young people should never forget their teachers, parents, and others who helped “nurture our minds, hearts, and spirit, so that we can bring our own light into the world, filling it with courage, joy, and compassion.”
In her younger days, Robredo shared how shy she was so she would just be “be manning the curtains or writing scripts.” She “never imagined delivering speeches like this before a huge crowd and never in my wildest imagination did I dream of entering politics.”
Robredo also shared the years she spent as an alternative lawyer who would “translate laws and ordinances into the local dialect so that the poor and the voiceless will be in a better position to fight for their rights.” She noted that it is through this kind of lawyering where she learned that “selfless service was grounded on empathy and not just on sympathy.” This experience, she added, “allowed us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and look at the world through their eyes [and] moved us to go beyond our own comfort zones and find solutions to their most pressing problems.”
For Robredo, “great leaders are those that serve excellently because they are driven by purpose and empathy.” While young leaders have a different way of changing the world, they can be better versions of themselves if they “find the courage to speak your own words, aim for your greatest dreams, and focus your life on helping others with integrity, empathy, and compassion.”
“Life will always have sad and painful surprises,” Robredo told the students. While parents, teachers, and friends “cannot shield you completely from them,” she shared that: “Our load becomes infinitely easier and lighter when we carry the burden of others.” While this may defy logic, “the truth is, when we are focused on easing the suffering of others, we forget our own troubles and the brokenness of our hearts get healed.”
Robredo went on to share her personal experience on dealing with challenges. “I have often been on the receiving end of fake news, bullying, and harsh criticisms that sometimes make fun of my being a woman,” she said. “Fighting against something is vastly different from fighting for something [and] we find ourselves stronger and hopeful when we are fighting for those who are the least among us,” she added.
Everyone, Robredo said, is called to serve the people and this can be done in many unique ways. “We are where we are so that we can be equipped and molded to become leaders who are
driven by empathy and excellence, and rooted on integrity,” she said. She noted that one need not to be the President or the Vice President to “make a difference” or to help others.
Robredo the urged young people to “always choose to go where you are most needed [an] to remember the voiceless and the powerless.” She hoped that they will all be “inspired to serve our people with great passion and purpose” because “this is the only way we can truly bring light and hope in these dark and trying times.”
Meanwhile, Robredo also commended the Concordia College for having “always been a sanctuary” for young girls and boys “where students can develop not just academic skills, but also the character needed to bring light, courage, joy, and compassion into the world.”
Robredo shared that in her hometown in Naga, she went to Universidad de Sta. Isabel – which is a sister school of Concordia College. “I can also remember our regular visits to communities where we would have feeding programs, where we would take care of the poor, the old and the sickly, and serve those who needed help,” she recalled.
“What I love about this school is that your classrooms are not just places of learning for Math, Science or Language, but also places of learning about integrity, excellence, empathy, servant-leadership, and selfless service,” Robredo said. “These are values that are needed to develop great leaders, especially in these extraordinary times,” she ended.