Woke Filipino youth staying active in social work, Robredo says at Fil-Am event
New York — More than a year after rallying massive youth support for her presidential bid, former Vice President Leni Robredo said she now has a “huge army of volunteers” participating in community work.
In her first public address since stepping down last year, Robredo talked about how woke Filipino youth are becoming the face of bayanihan in the Philippines. She is the chair and president of Angat Pinas, the nonprofit she founded to continue advocacy work initiated by the Office of the Vice President (OVP) during her term.
More popularly known as Angat Buhay, the OVP social amelioration program provided education, health, disaster relief and rehabilitation, housing, nutrition, and food security assistance to the country’s poor.
“After my term ended in 2022, we decided to forge ahead even if I was not vice president anymore, for many reasons,” Robredo said at a Filipino American History Month (FAHM) commemoration event hosted by The Outstanding Filipino Awards (TOFA) recently.
“One such reason was that it has been a very successful program and we were able to help a lot of communities, but the other reason was during the campaign, the kind of energy that we were able to ignite, especially among the young people, we felt should be harnessed even after the elections.”
The move led to the addition of “community engagement” as an Angat Buhay pillar, which has been activated in different parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Huge army of volunteers for Leni Robredo
“Right now, we have a huge army of volunteers all over the country who are implementing all the programs of Angat Buhay and we feel like it is more fulfilling now, it is more empowering and we are very, very excited about it,” Robredo said.
The former vice president, who is the toast of TOFA this year as a Global Awardee for Courage of Conviction, proceeded to thank Filipino Americans for continuing to give back to the motherland despite the distance and everyday life struggles.
TOFA conferred President Biden Lifetime Achievement Awards at the FAHM event held at the Upper West Side’s Triad Theater. The awardees for the evening were Vic De Castro, who is considered the father of Filipino Day in Albany, New York; healthcare professionals Dr. Emmanuel and Meredith Malasig; real estate broker and Bona Tierra founder Corazon Rivera; serial entrepreneur Reagan John Rada; York Healthcare founders Mel and Lou Escobar; Resilient Care Physical Therapy founder Dr. Claire Morcilla; and Emmy Award-winning journalist Ernabel Demillo.
TOFA became a certifying organization for the Office of the President’s Volunteer Service Awards last year. These awards honor distinguished volunteers who positively impact communities across America and inspire others to follow suit.
“It is a huge thing to honor them because they provide inspiration for us all and events such as this for the FAHM is an opportunity for us to take stock of what has happened, of all the struggles that we have to go through, of our successes, of where we are now,” Robredo said.
“And that collective strength is what will drive us through the next years ahead, hoping that every inch of you is still willing to give back to our beloved country despite everything we have to go through.”
‘We can do it all, but not all at the same time’
Fil-Am community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis, who was the first keynote speaker at TOFA’s FAHM event, talked about the importance of choosing priorities at each stage of life.
“When I was trying to do it all—I had a hard-charging driven husband, Reginald Lewis, whose aim was to be the wealthiest Black man in America. I had two daughters studying elementary school and high school. I had a full-time job at immigration, and I wanted to be a real estate mogul trying to do it all,” said Lewis.
“And so what happened, I got sick with tuberculosis. So as I said, if you try to do it all, your body will give up as mine did or your marriage will break up or your children will be maladjusted or your job will be jeopardized. So that’s my message for everyone: We can do it all, but not all at the same time.”
Brendan Flores, national chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations or NaFFAA, who also serves as TOFA board chair this year, paid tribute to the indomitable Filipino spirit.
“The Filipino spirit has always been one of perseverance, dedication, and community,” Flores said. “Giving back is not just a noble endeavor, it is the backbone of our collective strength. And today, we celebrate the embodiment of that spirit in our honorees.”
“Your passion and commitment to serve are truly commendable and mirror the values deeply ingrained in our shared history,” he added.
TOFA’s FAHM commemoration featured captivating performances by Kinding Sindaw, the San Guillermo Choir and talented performers Cassey Arrobang, Marcus Oche, Ellis Young, Pongsky Tenioso, Berniece Bernabe, and Rasmin Diaz.