If the national local elections are held today, no doubt, Rep. Florida ‘Rida’ Robes of San Jose del Monte City would still win. And that is not just the survey talking but the people attesting to the improved quality of life under her wings.
It was a gloomy afternoon but Rep. Rida or Ate Cong as she is fondly called by San Josenos (people of San Jose) came for an interview looking like a cool millennial in mini dress catching up with long time friends for lunch. Her haggard look as she constantly says all throughout the interview was subdued with her wit and humor.
“San Jose del Monte City is now a rising city so what I want to do is to empower my constituents,” Ate Cong started the convo.
Her projects on people empowerment are always directly under the Department of Labor (DOLE) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and now also working for the upliftment of the morale of the teachers.
Ate Cong believes with the Department of Education (DepEd) program and notices that the youth in her city almost always wanted to pursue a course on education. “We have a city of poor people that’s why I’m working hard to give the regular item to the teachers which mean getting benefits for them and receiving at least P23 thousand a month. I’m working closely to have skills foundation on manpower for my constituents. Good and happy teachers equate to good and smart students.”
She also wants to instill in the people’s mind that public school teachers are good and schools are of high-quality standards as to the private counterparts.
She also has a program on parenting for she wants to keep the traditional ‘po and opo’ to the youth as she notices that respect for the elders is being taken for granted by them. The newbie congresswoman boasts of her acceptable convention centers and daycare centers because she believes that a person to become successful must have good foundation. That foundation, says Ate Cong, should start at an early age in daycare centers.
“Almost 70% of my people are poor and much as they want to work, they always end up jobless for lack of educational attainment. So, I don’t want to let these things pass that’s why I created skills foundations for carpenter, mason, electrician, automotive mechanic and the likes to enhance their living condition,” says Ate Cong who’s serious on uplifting the lives of her kababayan.
Though, newbie as a congresswoman, Ate Cong is no stranger to politics. Her grandfather served as assistant to the minister of public highways under the Marcos administration and her mentor is none other than her husband Mayor Arthur Robes. As a wife of a politician, she’s used to meeting lots of underprivileged and hearing all their hardships. The predicament of the people opened Ate Cong’s eyes to run as a representative of their lone district and help people on a larger scope.
A mother of two kids aged 13 and 7, Ate Cong makes it a point to bond with her kids. She’s a hands-on mom and makes time to talk to them at home. “I live with my mother-in-law and it’s a plus factor. We live harmoniously in one roof and as long as you admit to yourself that there should only be one queen in the house, it’s no big deal,” Ate Cong says smiling and bowing her head suggesting a good relationship with her mother-in-law.
She’s proud of her biggest accomplishment to date on helping her people pay the lowest water lifeline rate of P200 under 10cubicmeter. “Malaking tulong and tipid ito sa mahihirap kong kababayan,” as she adds that a lot of projects for the poor are being lined up by the congresswoman to alleviate their condition. It’s hard but her will power to help is there and it’s more than enough.
Ate Cong who is a believer of the Almighty Father is also a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Pink Sisters in Quezon City. During her hard times, she prays the rosary and attends Mass to ease the burden. “Mahirap sa gobyerno kahit wala kang ginagawang masama madali kang sirain because of the technology (It’s hard working in the government. Even when you’re working your best, people still find it easy to destroy you because of the technology)
“We’re a victim already that’s why we’re very cautious this time. We now have reservations in dealing with people,” says Ate Cong without elaborating the controversies they got tangled with. “You can earn money if you’re hard working. You don’t have to deal with negative people.”
The congresswoman who’s also a gifted public relations practitioner believes in three things to be successful in life: live righteously with the Lord and doing good things to others; love because if you love other people, the Lord will give you more; let go and accept if people don’t want your service anymore.
She started from scratch as she defines her beginnings as a lowly employee at a fast food chain during her younger years. Her father used to say that she should start from the bottom to really feel what the simple people want in life. “I thank him from the bottom of my heart for knowing how to empathize with them.”
Now that she’s serving the people, Ate Cong considers herself successful in dealing with people but admits she needs to study more. She describes herself as a successful woman because she’s happy doing the right things for the people. “Whether you’re poor or rich as long as you’re happy, you’re already successful,” she adds.
“I’m happy in serving my people, hearing what they want in life but, when the time comes that you’re longer interested in serving the people, maybe that’s the time you quit and look for another road. On my part, as long as the people need me and I’m happy to help, my advocacy will go on. I don’t see myself turning back on them in the near future. There’s so much more work to offer,” the hardworking congresswoman stresses.