Bicol’s ‘unpride’

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

I HAVE never liked regional stereotypes. They objectify people and turn them into predictable cultural zombies.

I hate stereotypes, more so if the one that you have to live with is one that turns your mother and sisters into she-devils. This is how Bicolanas have been stereotyped. In fact, there is one town in Albay province where men are stereotyped to be destined for the priesthood, while women are fated to be what is now termed as guest relations officers, or GROs.

I find it offensive when two Bicolanas have been seen as stereotypical of my mother who is everything that these two women are not, by millions of miles.

Leila de Lima. Leni Robredo. Two Bicolanas that we should in fact be proud of. One is a senator, only the second from our region, after Tecla San Andres-Ziga. The other is supposed to be the Vice President, a first. Leila is from Iriga City, and Leni has roots inSorsogon, but is now a resident of Naga City.


The Bicol region is the home of the most perfect-coned, active volcano. It has the smallest edible fish in the world, even as its social and natural landscapes have been honed and shaped by storms and volcanic eruptions to become home to a resilient people and a fertile land.

It is therefore unsettling that Bicol’s supposed pride, Leila and Leni, have found themselves in the eye of their own political storms.

Both are being hounded by political controversy, mostly by their own un-doings.

Leila de Lima, a confessed ex-mistress of a married man who happens to be her former driver-bodyguard, is now in the eye of an investigation in both houses of Congress. Her salacious relationship has become the canvas on which allegations of influence peddling and drug collections to finance her senatorial run are being painted. All the fingers of men tainted by accusations of involvement in the illegal drug trade are pointing to her.

Leni Robredo, the widow of a popular icon, is herself in the midst of a political storm. The legacy of good governance that her husband Jesse Robredoleft behind has been tainted by her perceived ineptness in handling the job given her by the President as Chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). For five months, she was perceived as a non-performer. She has spent more time traveling, posing for magazine covers, and contradicting the positions of the man for whom she should be acting as an alter ego. And for this, she was constructively dismissed by the President.

Leila and Leni are now being painted as victims by many, as women being bullied by flawed, lecherous, powerful men.

Male members of the House of Representatives are accused of turning Leila’s sexual proclivities into public perversions of the kind deserving an intensity equivalent to typhoon signal number 5. The President himself has been accused of acting inappropriately by making fun not only of Leila’s alleged sex video tapes, but even of Leni’s knees Leila retaliated by hauling the President to court on a petition designed to gag him from further exposing her secrets. Leni, on the other hand, reprimanded the President, saying his remarks were tasteless and his conduct unbecoming of a gentleman.

But these two women are far from the innocent victims that many would like to imagine them.

Leila de Lima is not a victim. Her theatrics and hysterics could not negate the fact that her having a relationship with her driver who was her subordinatecould be construed as sexual harassment. Furthermore, she simply does not have the prudence and delicadeza to inhibit from the Senate hearings where she is implicated as a party, and instead confronted witnesses in a shameless attempt toward self-exoneration.

Leni Robredo is not a victim either. She would like to paint herself as one, but her palpable self-serving posturing and tendency towards image-making, from having her photos taken while waiting for a bus, to making a big thing in taking that bus, to sharing a private text message to win sympathy, to having her digitally altered pictures gracing the cover of magazines,indict her as being all form and dramabut lacking in substance.

Bicolanos should have been proud of Leila and Leni. But many Bicolanos aren’t.

Maybe it is because these two are perceived, rightly or wrongly, to embody the worst of how our women have been stereotyped–ambitious, aggressive, lusting not only for power but for the pleasures of the flesh, opportunistic. This has led quite a few Bicolanas to express their discomfort at having these two women represent them.

If there is one final commonality between Leila and Leni that is just too embarrassing for any Bicolano, it is the fact that both are also respondents to electoral protests, with allegations that both may have benefited from electoral fraud. If proven, and both are removed from office, then it would be such a shame to bear for a region that has survived storms and volcanic eruptions.

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15 Comments

  1. makasupogon sa duwang babaing bikolanang ini.. kasusupgan an dara imbis na onra. hay.. dai na lamang na mas maray pang serbidor kan banwaan sa lado national.. trillanes, chiz. maski ngani dai nanggana si presidente sa bicol yaon man giraray sa pagtabang. sana maipatapos an international airport sa terminio nya.

  2. You should actually be writing about an elected president has unleashed murder on his own people. Murder is murder with no exceptions, those that order or support it are just as guilty. Germans loved their hitler, China loved Mao, Russians loved stalin none of which means that a president in modern day society has the right to sanction murder. Turning the camera at a senator with nothing more then hear say evidence or tossing rocks at the VP because she gets better copy they the dim wit president is not acceptable journalism. You sir are just a sell out of your own people and craft.

  3. I always believed these two women and the party they belong to are the embodiment of the Pinoy’s abysmal predisposition to hypocrisy and pretense. You can see it in the people who blindly support these two. Take Robredo for instance. Naga City is a backward city and nowhere near the “sister city of Singapore” as the bullshit tourism crap they say there. The Robredos did NOTHING to improve the city. About time these section of society get what’s coming to them. Good riddance.

  4. Another hatchet job on 2 women, Mr. Contreras. This follows your tasteless write up on the sister of a former President. For somebody who is supposed to teach critical thinking, you do tend to make unsupported comments. For example when you say that Bicolanos should be proud of Leila and Leni,” but many aren’t”, did you perchance do a survey to ascertain the accuracy of this statement?

  5. Fourtwenty Daytrader on

    Zabrayninanya!
    Mga mayong silbi ang mga Bikolanang ini!
    And Duterte has just inaugurated the Bicol International Airport.
    No politics. Just doing his job.
    Kaya kamong mga Bikolano na kontra Duterte, masupog man daw kamo!!!
    Mag isip nin tultol. Look at the Big picture!

  6. 2 self-righteous females always complaining, accusing and pointing a finger at Duterte every night on my TV, on my newspapers – I can’t stand them anymore.

  7. Yes I agree by millions of miles….
    that the two distinguished ladies are ahead to any woman you may know of.

    1. Who was that woman who ventured to go to Maguindanao and faced the people who were accused of a heinous crime?

    2. That woman who prevented a former president in slipping the country as she was being charge of plunder ?

    3. That woman who jailed one lady accused of running the DAF scams operations worth in billions ?

    4. That woman who confronted a mayor regarding EJK during his term ?

    5. And now that woman who is now at the center of political telenovelas as she struggles to confront the most powerful man in the country ?

    Can any other woman in the Philippines do what this woman called Leila D5 have done ? and still standing ?
    Yes a million miles none.

    How about the other Bicolana mentioned in this topic. Now the incumbent vice president of the Philippines, the only Bicolana that have achieved that position and who knows may even achieve the next position.. by no fault of hers.

    A woman simply performing her duties to her husband and daughters as her top priority. Was taken out of from her comfort zone to uncomfortable positions because of a tragic event that occurred to her family’s pillar of strength.
    It was not her who wanted that position in the first place. She came to that because the first woman that was offered chose to go the challenge of hoping to go to the top immediately.

    Indeed cheating must have happened as its always there since time in memorial but in her case You know it’s not her who can do that. She has no resources, logistics and expertise to make it happen. She was there now as vice president not by her choice but by destiny.

    And you said the Bicolanos and Bicolanas will be embarrassed if they are booted out of their positions ? A million miles not me.

    And is not that’s a good reason for all Bicolanos to be proud of these two single ladies now.. symbolizing the three great pride of the Bicolanos? To be majestic and volatile like Mayon, to be palatable like the tabios ? To be hot like the lada ?

    Yes its a shame to bear for a region that has survived storms and volcanic eruptions for some Bicolanos and Bicolanas to put thumbs down to these two great Bicolanas… still standing in spite of the mad accusations being thrown true or false. Yes a million miles of shame.

  8. Alexander Demetria on

    I very much agree with your article. Another senator from our region was Dominador Aytona. I hope and pray that LeilaD would just resign. This is out of respect to her dad and Aunt Lilia de Lima. Both served the government untainted….Many thanks Prof.!

  9. love the article prof. what I dont understand is how come even the other sectors of the church syphatize with delima given the fact she commited a grave sin already, which could destroy a family.

    Currently we have a working president but still a lot of yellow supporters can’t move on to give the guy a chance he hasn’t been in seat for a year but there are already plans of oust and destabilbilization. kawawa nman ang pilipinas.

    I am also anti duterte several months back.
    quiped with kalye remarks and undisciplined attitude prang tanod lng. pero he has principle and at least he is really working I can see that he loves the country lets give him a chance. buti pa america last election mraming bitter pero natutong umintindi.

  10. A.P. Contreras thank you, but it ain’t you, no? It ain’t the type of what you write? Tuloy na upped ang ante noong dalwa!

  11. This article reminds me of a very good friend I have, a young (much younger than me) Bicolana whom I have so much respect for being a strong and honorable woman. She disdains the two of them.