Thinking Pinoy: "Frailties of Woman" Leni Robredo Version?

November 21, 2016

"Frailties of Woman" Leni Robredo Version?

Earlier this month, President Rody Duterte cracked a joke about Vice-president Leni Robredo’s knees, The president said Robredo has smooth knees: it had no calluses. As expected, Robredo, her supporters, and women’s rights groups denounced the president’s comments for what they perceive as mysoginy.

Let’s call this the “Le-Knee” incident.

Duterte’s Double Entendre

Now, everyone knows that the president is non-native Tagalog speaker. Aside from his linguistic quirks [TP: Media Guide], Duterte uses “Binisayang Tagalog”, which essentially is a word-for-word Tagalog translation of his native Cebuano, i.e. he thinks in Cebuano but he attempts to talk in Tagalog.

Duterte’s statement about Leni’s knees – that it had no calluses – was actually a double entendre, as the Cebuano for “knees with no calluses” is an idiom describing a lazy person, or someone who slacks in her job.
Duterte made those comments during the Typhoon Yolanda Commemoration Ceremony and three years after the Yolanda struck, the Liberal Party-led government, who managed the rehab efforts from 2013 to mid-2016, managed to complete only 10 percent of the housing projects [Inq].

Leni is the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council head. She’s also the highest-ranking politician of the Liberal Party. Thus, In short, Duterte’s seemingly sleazy comment actually turned out to be a gentle reprimand for Robredo.

Dapat pa yatang magpasalamat non si Leni dahil hindi siya garapalang hiniya for her incompetence.

But then, I never really expected northerners to fully appreciate what the old man meant. Adding his history of unleashing tasteless comments [TP: Rape Joke], I perfectly understand the opposition’s disinclination to extend to him the benefit of the doubt.

And so, Robredo retaliated.

Leni’s Le-Knees

Asked about the seeming impropriety of his Le-Knee statement, the President said in defense, “To break the ice, 'yun ang ginawa ko [that’s what I did]. So what's so special about the body of a woman or the knee of the woman na walang kalyo [without callus]? Ibig sabihin baka hindi nagsisimba. [Maybe she doesn't go to church.] [CNN]”

Duterte thinks the Le-Knee issue is trivial, but Leni thinks otherwise.

“Tasteless remarks and inappropriate advances against women should have no place in our society. We should expect that most of all from our leaders,” Robredo told [CNN], in retaliation to Duterte’s remarks about her knees.

Judging from Robredo’s statement, a light-hearted comment about her knees is enough for her to get riled up. That is, a joke about her knees were enough for modest, reserved, and shy vice-president to feel that her womanhood was violated.

But just like the embattled Senator Leila de Lima, I feel like Robredo lacks an important ingredient for believability: consistency.

Kasi kung peminista ka, dapat para sa kapakanan ng LAHAT ng kababaihan, hindi ikaw lang.

Misogynistic Feminism

We all know that Duterte accused Senator Leila de Lima of having links to the illegal drug trade through her supposedly illicit relationship with her driver-cum-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan [TP: Oohh Ronnie]. De Lima cried foul, saying that Duterte’s personal tirades violate her rights as a woman.

De Lima basically framed her dilemma as a crusade of women against misogyny.

The problem, however, is de Lima’s admission that she indeed had a sexual affair with Dayan, and that contrary to de Lima’s claim, Dayan was and is still legally married to his wife. De Lima hated the personal attacks, but she didn’t mind violating the poor wife’s rights as a woman and more importantly, as Dayan’s wife.

There’s lies the inconsistency. There’s no such thing as a misogynistic feminist and as it turns out, Robredo appears to be a misogynistic feminist too.

Comment vs Contact


Recall that Robredo said she was offended by the Le-Knee remark, saying that “inappropriate advances against women should have no place in our society.”

What I do not understand, however, is how Robredo couldn’t tolerate inappropriate comments when she can, in fact, tolerate inappropriate contact.

Note that I am not insinuating that Leni and Bolet have carnal relations. However, given the more stringent moral guidelines Leni loves to impose on politicians from rival parties, it is reasonable to expect that she follows the same.
Platonic enough?
The image above, taken two days before the elections, shows Quezon City Representative Jorge “Bolet” Banal with his arms wrapped around Robredo’s shoulders and his face leaning toward hers.

As to whether this shows a close-but-platonic friendship or an intimate relationship is subject to debate. Besides, I am generally liberal-progressive when it comes to these stuff, and I won’t really want to give this any color under normal circumstances. The operative word is “under normal circumstances”, because it’s Leni we’re talking about. We are talking about a woman who feels violated even with just a comment about her knees. That’s how demure she is.

Salita pa lang feeling violated na e, haplos pa kaya?

That is, how could Leni find a joke about knees anti-woman, but she finds physical contact with a married man okay?

A Happily Married Bolet Banal?

Banal, the owner of the arm and face in question, may actually be a married man.

Let me make this very clear: I do not give a shit about Leni's love life. But if she, as the vice president, acts like she's Our Lady of Naga, then we have a problem.

According to the Congressional Spouses Foundation (CSFI) roster of members, Banal is married to a certain Carmela C. Banal [CSFI]. Public databases suggest “C” stands for Cruz [Geni], which sounds just about right, as Banal owns Cruz-Banal Enterprises [ADMU].


The CSFI members’ roster does not show a date of publication. Note, however, that the roster mentions Violetta Reyes representing Marinduque Rep. Regina O. Reyes, who happens to have won as Congressman only once in 2013 (16th Congress) [ABS].

That is, Bolet Banal was still married as of June 30, 2013, i.e. when the 16th Congress commenced.

Leni, nakukumustahan man lang ba kayo ni Carmela?

No online records suggest that their marriage has been annulled at any point after that. However, a reliable source said the Banals remained married up to this day, with no hint of separation. The source is a friend of Bolet’s father whose name shall not be disclosed for security reasons.

Yes, it appears that Bolet already has a wife, yet he still does things like…

Is Leni a tad too close to this guy, or is he her hairdresser?


I do not really care about Leni’s personal life, but when she starts acting like some self-proclaimed moralist, she better be sure she practices what she preaches.
One big happy...wait di ba may asawa na yan?!
If Leni wants to ride the moral high horse, she better be sure that she stays on it. Unfortunately, that’s not happening right now with whatever’s going on between Leni and Bolet, her married “lifesaver”.

Seriously, Leni finds the Le-Knee comment offensive, but having a married man wrap his arms around her shoulders, lean his head toward hers, and caress her hair so casually... is totally fine with her? 



Leni, huwag hipokrita. Hindi kami tanga. [ThinkingPinoy]

UPDATE 26 Nov 2016: And despite this, you know how she likes being called?


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