Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Race to Halalan2016: Leni Gerona Robredo

Leni Robredo (from Leni Robredo's FB page)
While her presidential partner lagged in surveys, this unassuming and, as attested by many, humble and honest lawmaker from Bicol slowly but surely went up in each conducted survey. As the 2016 election fever starts to die down and the presidency has become a clear and done deal, the post of Vice-President remains too close to call. Initially at the top of a six-way fight for the second highest position, Ilokano Senator Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr. has now slid down to number 2. And the number 1? Representative Maria Leonor Santo Tomas Gerona-Robredo, more popularly known as Leni Robredo. 

Jessie Robredo

Leni is the reluctant inheritor of her husband's popularity. Jessie Manalastas Robredo, Leni's husband, served as mayor of Naga City in Camarines Sur and won the people's admiration for his simplicity and honest running of the city. His achievements as mayor later earned him the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000. Though he was the longest serving mayor of the city of Naga, Robredo's political career was tormented by disqualification cases filed at the Comelec in the election years of 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007. The reason? That he was not a Filipino citizen, but rather Chinese (these cases were all dismissed, allowing Jessie Robredo to run and win in all elections).

Robredo's Chinese ancestor was just 3 generations removed; his great-grandfather, Lim Payco, arrived from Fujian, China, in the late nineteenth century with a son, Lim Teng. Lim Payco left his wife in China and remarried in the Philippines to Josefa de la Trinidad, who gave him an additional 4 children: Soledad, Jose, Juan, and Serafina. Lim Payco became Serafin Robredo while his first born became Juan Robredo, who later married a Chinese mestiza, Luisa Chan. One of their 6 children, Jose, was Jessie's father.

In 2010, Robredo was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as Interior and Local Government Secretary. Two years into his stint as DILG Secretary, Jessie Robredo died in a plane crash. His death was mourned by many as stories of his simplicity and leadership by example became known throughout the country. A year after his death, his supporters rallied around his widow to continue his political career.

Enter Leni Robredo and the Gerona Clan

Like her husband, Leni's roots are also in the Bicol region. However, hers go deeper than Jessie's. In fact, while Leni's career has been exemplary and a clear sign of her advocacy to help others, and while she was a reluctant candidate in the 2013 elections, her paternal ancestry can be traced to Spanish period gobernadorcillos and cabezas whose descendants later also served as leaders of the town of Bulan, Sorsogon, during the American period.

The Gerona family was considered one of the most prominent principalia families during the Spanish era, with three members of the family, Don Rafael, Don Calixto, and Don Rufino Gerona serving as gobernadorcillo since as early as 1852. The family's political prominence continued during the American period, with Rufino, Salvador, Pascual, and Federico Gerona elected as presidente municipal. As a previous article would tell anyone, though the principalia were of some importance during the Spanish period, having such ancestors was not enough to inflate a family's ego or turn them into oligarchs. In fact, the concept of a principalia was actually as a link of the common people to the Spanish government. 

Salvador Gerona, the son of Casimiro and Senona Gerona, had a brother, Julian, who took a different path in his career. He took up law and was admitted to the Philippine bar. He was one of the foremost BulaneƱos of his time, and was the first secretary to the First Philippine Assembly of 1907, although this appears to conflict with the fact that Julian Gerona, who was also a good friend of Apolinario Mabini, was exiled together with other revolutionaries to Guam in 1901. 

One of Julian's sons, Fernando P. Gerona, continued his father's legal profession and became a justice of the peace. The legal profession went another generation when Fernando's two sons and a daughter also became lawyers: Ronando,Fernando, Jr., and Leonor.

Another of Julian's sons, Melanio Gerona*, married to Leonor Nicomedes, had a son, Antonio Gerona, who later became an RTC judge. Leni Gerona-Robredo, who is also a lawyer, is the daughter of Judge Antonio N. Gerona and Salvacion Sto. Tomas.

Leni Robredo's Family Tree (click to enlarge)

VP Leni?

The country awaits the final outcome of the Vice-Presidential race. One thing is for sure: Leni Gerona Robredo just might be a better VP to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte than Senator Marcos will ever be. In a previous article in this blog, Ferdinand E. Marcos's psychohistory was discussed to illustrate how his thirst for power was shaped by the many environmental factors of his upbringing. Imagine what might happen to the country should Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. become vice-president, just a step away from the Presidency? If his upbringing included a total repudiation of the horrors of Martial Law, instead painting an altogether alternate version of history, then the country just might regress into anarchy.

Another good thing about Leni, she is also not a product of Imperial Manila. Her upbringing is of the province, so she definitely will complement Duterte's own provincial background (Duterte's all encompassing, inclusive type of leadership was one major factor that catapulted him to victory - those from the countrysides and from the provinces are tired of being left behind). In fact, in 2015, she was proud to say that among the 3 vice-presidential bets (Senators Gringo Honasan and Chiz Escudero also have roots to Bicol) she is the only one who grew up in the province. This insistence on clinging to her provincial background is a tell-tale sign of her affinity to and advocacy for those in the countrysides. 

While her career has been all about development planning, public defense, and empowerment of marginalized members of communities, she was thrust into the political arena after husband's death. And while not a politician (even later preferring to take the public bus when going home to her province rather than ride in one of the plush SUVs provided for congressmen), her political pedigree immediately worked to her advantage upon winning a congressional seat. She has been a strong proponent of the Freedom of Information Act, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and in tax reform. In other words, though a neophyte politician, she knows what needs to be done.

If she wins the VP post, would she be her own man (or better yet, woman) and give her full support to the new president and not allow her political party to dictate and influence her decisions? Like the electoral results for the vice-presidency, it may be too early to tell. But if her pedigree is any indication, she just might surprise everyone and be the best vice-president this country has yet to see!


*not 100% verified if this is Julian's son, anyone who can help connect Leni to Julian would be very much appreciated.


Escandor, Juan, Jr. "3 VP Aspirants Trace Roots to Sorsogon." Inquirer. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inc., 6 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/728209/3-vp-aspirants-trace-roots-to-sorsogon>.

Mella, Mylce. "Robredo on Bicolano VP Bets: Roots Lang, Hindi Lumaki Dito." ABS-CBN News. ABS-CBN Corporation, 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://news.abs-cbn.com/halalan2016/nation/regions/10/07/15/robredo-bicolano-vp-bets-roots-lang-hindi-lumaki-dito>.

"Julian Gerona." GENi. MyHeritage Ltd., 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 May 2016.

Gerona, Diane. Gerona Website: Gerona Family Tree. MyHeritage Ltd. Web. 18 May 2016.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Pastor and the President

Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy (Photo from the official FB
page of Pastor Quiboloy)
For many Dabawenyos, his smiling and open countenance and crisp, white outfit are common fixtures on cable TV. After all, he has one of the largest Christian churches in the Philippines which has its base in Davao City. His is a homegrown religious institution, a church that may not be as old as the Iglesia ni Cristo but is one that has become a global religious movement in the last 2 decades.

With the election of Mayor Rody Duterte as the next president of the Philippines, the country saw more and more of this man. His home was the first to be visited by the man destined to be the country's next leader as soon as partial and unofficial count of the votes showed the indisputable lead and inevitable victory of Duterte. He was one of the first people whom the mayor shared a meal with as more and more of the votes were counted. Indeed, throughout the campaign period, he was behind the good mayor up to the very end and supported him in every way possible.

The Appointed Son of God

He is Pastor Apollo Carreon Quibuloy, known to the rest of the world as the founder and leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. To his faithful flock, he is the Appointed Son of God, the "man who was chosen when the Father’s hand of appointment came upon his life, and he did not fail Him." His church's official website further states that "(God) gave Pastor Apollo the opportunity to become the Appointed Son of God by calling him. He heard the Father’s voice and he completed the course of enlightenment by revelations that the Father had supplied. Revelation 21:7 is now fulfilled in his life. He chose Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy and he did not disappoint the Father through his freedom of choice. He was able to overcome the serpent seed until his will is solidified in only obeying the Will of the Father. That is why Pastor Apollo’s message is coherent from the beginning to the end."

Family and Roots

(This is not a definitive genealogy of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. In fact, this is still in the works. I just wanted to make an introductory genealogical sketch of Pastor Quiboloy).

Partor Quiboloy is a shining example of what makes Davao City a melting pot of great people. Born to immigrant parents from Pampanga, he was the ninth and youngest child of the family and was the only one born in Davao City.

The family name of the good pastor was spelled as QUIBULUY and QUIBULOY back in Pampanga, although some already started using the current spelling -  QUIBOLOY - as early as the 1900s. The family originated from the barrios of Santa Catalina and Santa Teresa in Lubao, Pampanga. The earliest records (for now) on the Quiboloys of Pampanga are of Cayetano Quiboloy and wife Cecilia Manalili who had 9 children: Luis, Ines, Lazaro, Dionisio, Alfonso, Petra, Gaudencio, Tiburcio, and Romana, all of whom were married.

Dionisio Quiboloy, grandfather of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, was described as a man with "sound perception of purpose, lucid reasoning ability, and a strong, indomitable will". He married Anastasia Turla, a woman described as having "a sense of genuine love for others, self-possession, and a courage to defend the right." 

The baptismal record of Maria Carreon, the Pastor's mother
(photo from the LDS microfilm collection)

These amazing traits passed on to their children, all of whom were successful and renowned in their fields. One of their children, Jose, married Maria Carreon, also from Lubao, Pampanga whose family came from barrio San Antonio, daughter of Lucas Carreon and Adriana Quinto.

Pastor Quiboloy's father (first on top, first from left) and aunts and uncles
(from the Quiboloy FB page)

According to Marlen V. Ronquillo, Jose Quiboloy and Maria Carreon, the parents of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, were not unlettered peasant agitators like many others who were forcibly shipped to Mindanao. If Lubao had something close to a functioning intelligentsia then, the Quiboloys were part of it. They were educated. They were teachers and poets. And unlike most of Catholic Lubao, they were mainline Protestants, one of the few Methodist families in town, in fact. Jose Quiboloy felt disgusted that most of the land in Lubao was owned by a few families and he and his family left Lubao, Pampanga after deciding they had enough of the injustices of Pampanga. And so, they settled in Mindanao, which was always advertised by the government as the "Land of Promise".

Quiboloy Family Tree (click to englarge)

The Quibuloy family, like many migrant families before them, adopted Davao as their new home. Indeed, the Quiboloy family of Lubao, Pampanga has been blessed in Davao City. Pastor Apollo's father and his siblings were born in the same decade as President Diosdado Macapagal, another son of Lubao; now, less than a century since settling in Davao City, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a son of Lubao whose family adopted Davao as their new home, has not only proven to all that anyone can rise from poverty to become someone important; he has become one of the closest men to President-elect Duterte and will hopefully be able to counsel the President from time to time.

The Pastor and The President (from Pastor Quiboloy's FB page)

Lubao Baptismal Records

Ronquillo, Marlen V. "Pastor Quiboloy: A Migrant’s Story." Average JOM. 21 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 May 2016. <https://averagejom.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/pastor-quiboloy-a-migrant’s-story/>.

Cabalen. "The Life of Alejandro Turla Quiboloy of Lubao, Pampanga." FAMOUS LUBENIAN - ALEJANDRO T. QUIBOLOY. 18 Mar. 2007. Web. 17 May 2016. <http://aboutpampanga.blogspot.com/2007/03/life-of-alejandro-turla-quiboloy-of.html>.

"Quiboloy Family Tree." Acu Canita. 2010. Web. 17 May 2016. <https://acucanita.wordpress.com/quiboloy-family-tree/>.