What’s Vice President Leni Robredo like when she’s at home? Believe it or not, she’s actually just like many of us. She watches Korean dramas, tends to her plants, shops online, all while squeezing in some office to-dos.
VP Leni took time out from her busy schedule and the ECQ preps of her office to make a surprise appearance Monday night on “Bawal Ma-stress Drilon,” Ces Drilon’s talk show on Kumu. A strictly “no-politics” conversation, the hour-long program gave viewers a glimpse of the rarely seen side of the country’s second highest official. She regaled viewers with her honest answers on the Kumu audience’s curious questions: what’s her favorite K drama series? What’s her last budol purchase online? What’s her favorite drink? Who’s her celebrity crush? Well, she’s always liked Piolo Pascual, she said, and John Lloyd Cruz but really mostly as actors.
Of course, she also talked about how she’s managed to cope with the changes brought on by Covid. “Pre-pandemic, hindi ako nakakauwi ng may liwanag pa,” she told Ces in her usual consoling, motherly tone. But since the Office of the Vice President now shuttles its employees from their respective homes to the OPV HQ as a health and safety protocol, she makes sure to leave the office by 5PM so they can all take the shuttle early.
This means the Vice President has to bring home a big chunk of her paperwork, which is something she doesn’t really mind doing. “Kasi sa opisina halos hindi ako makagawa ng paperwork kasi madaming kausap,” she said. She usually winds down at 1 or 2AM.
One of the good things brought on by the pandemic is that she now finds the time to cook for her children. Her daughters Aika and Tricia live with her in a small condo unit. “For the longest time, hindi ako nakakapagluto kasi I’d be busy shuttling the kids to school,” she said. During her stint in Congress, sessions usually ended late. This was also the case when she assumed the VP post pre-pandemic.
She and her two daughters would take turns cooking for each other these days. Around 6PM, they’d already be around the dinner table. By 7PM, VP Leni would be deep in her paperwork, with a YouTube show or a light K-Drama series playing in the background.
Topping her list of Korean drama series is the Park Shin-Hye and Kim Rae-Won starrer “Doctors.” She also liked the wildly popular “Crash Landing on You” and “Descendants of the Sun.”
She doesn’t really go for the serious dramas as that would mean she needs to keep focused on the subtitles and the screen. “Pa-glance glance lang ako [sa TV],” she said. While doing this, she might be sipping on a relaxing cup of salabat, her go-to drink. She was never into alcohol, partly because her husband, former Secretary of Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo, was allergic to alcoholic drinks.
Being able to attend mass daily is another good thing the pandemic has got her doing. Since it’s usually easily accessible online, she’d hear mass first thing in the morning while having a cup of black coffee. By 8AM or 9AM she’d already be in the office starting the daily grind.
The pandemic has also turned the Vice President into a plantita. At the balcony of their small condo, she tends to an herb garden, which is sometimes the source of her kitchen ingredients.
Since she enjoys her time in the kitchen, kitchen tools are often her “budol” purchases online. “Natuto lang ako mag online shopping nitong pandemic,” she said. Her last buy, which she’s happy to share, is a drain declogger that sells for P59. “Nung natry ko at sobrang effective, bumili pa ako ng tatlo,” she said. “Gusto ko sya kasi nawawala ang amoy sink.”
Asked about her favorite restaurants in Naga, the Bicolana said, “Walang isa. Ang daming masasarap. Kahit yung mga karinderya, madami kaming mga pinupuntahan.”
Highly recommended by VP Leni is the “kinalas,” a popular noodle dish in Naga which is served with scraped meat from pork or beef head, with a thick savory broth from cow’s or pig’s brains. This traditional Bicolano dish is served even in roadside karinderyas. “Every time we go home,” she said, “yun pa din ang sini-seek out namin na kainan.”
[Tomorrow: Her college memories and last memorable trip before Covid.]