Opinion: Why Lorenzo Leviste’s Open Letter to His Mother Loren Legarda Is a Big Deal

I am posting this as I believe it is an important article. I can sympathize with Lorenzo Leviste as I can imagine, after a great deal of thought about the repercussions it would cause, I would probably do the same thing. Maybe not so publicly. But I would find it very hard to accept any close relative of mine would enthusiastically support the Marcos/Duterte ticket. Similarly, here in the US, if my parents or any of my siblings openly admitted to supporting Trump, or any of his fellow crooks, liars and enablers, I would find it extremely hard not to publicly denounce them.

What would you do?

By NICK AGUILA   |   23 hours ago

ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO

I am not a parent so I cannot presume to know what it feels like for a mother to be so publicly renounced by her offspring in the way Representative Loren Legarda was by Lorenzo Leviste. 

I am, however, a son, and it is through this perspective that I found myself contemplating the strong words Leviste had for his mother delivered lightning fast through the internet via Rappler on Wednesday. The story was widely circulated all over social media: I received it no less than four times through different private messaging groups and numerous contacts, and friends shared it on their own personal profiles throughout the day. Clearly Leviste’s open letter struck a chord with a vast swath of people; it found its way to people in different age groups and social and economic classes.

What exactly made it so compelling?

First, in Philippine society, our elders are almost always treated with reverence and respect. Most, if not all, Asian households defer to the experience and presumed wisdom of people more advanced in years, especially those related to us by blood. Recent portrayals in mass media like films and TV series aside, most of us would retreat and keep silent when a parent or grandparent starts on the inevitable lecture on anything from a messy room to what course to pick in college to a choice for a lifelong mate. Arguing with our elders, going against their wishes, or worse, outright criticizing them for their own actions—all of that is practically unheard of.

Which is why it was such a shock for many of us to read something written by a son to his mother that wasn’t just disapproving but downright forceful and almost venomous. 

“I have no choice but to publicly declare that I am absolutely disgusted by my mother and what she has decided to do,” Leviste wrote. “It sickens me and makes me want to die. I need everyone to know that Loren Legarda lost her son forever because of this.”

Second, it came from someone who is the progeny of a high-profile public figure but has, himself, never really been in the public eye. Legarda has two sons with ex-husband Tony Leviste, and while the younger of the two—Leandro—has been making great strides as a businessman involved with sustainable energy (his company just went public a few months ago), not much is known about his older brother other than the fact that he’s been living overseas pretty much since he became an adult (he’s in his early 30s now).

Also read: Who is Lorenzo Leviste?

It’s one thing to read something from a person known to voice out their opinions on various issues on social media, but quite another to hear it from someone who has never really been publicly vocal about, well, anything. And for the subject of said criticism to be such a well-known public figure—former newscaster for ABS-CBN, former senator, and current representative in the Lower House—guaranteed that the letter would be widely circulated and read.

In this country, attach a well-known name to almost anything and you’re sure to get eyeballs. Have that something turn out to be conflict and drama of the highest order and it’s the perfect recipe to get noticed.

Of course, the biggest reason why the open letter garnered so much attention was the message in the letter itself. Leviste couldn’t have been clearer: his mother’s choice to associate herself with a candidate he so clearly despised for a multitude of reasons was the reason he penned the essay in the first place. The burden of grief and anguish was so great that he chose to sever that most sacred of familial bonds—that of a mother and her child—in the name of honor and morality. For him, disappointment has a name and it is Loren Legarda.

In the extremely partisan political climate we’re in these days, a letter like that is a stick of dynamite thrown into the powder keg of public discourse.

One also has to consider the amount of time Leviste has had to process his feelings about the whole sordid issue. Filing of candidacies happened late last year and Legarda had aligned herself with the Marcos-Duterte faction soon after, which means her son has been stewing on these thoughts for at least a few months. He even said he’s had conversations with her about it. Clearly this wasn’t an unprovoked outburst, or a spur-of-the-moment call for attention meant to humiliate his mother. It wasn’t something the thirtysomething so casually and callously threw out into the world. The letter was clear, thoughtful, and deliberate.

And whether you or I agree with him or not is moot. The point is it’s out there and the people involved have to deal with the ramifications of their actions.

As a son, it’s certainly made me think about what it would take for my own mother to do something I deem to be so vile and heinous that I would choose to publicly disown her. I guess I never really thought of it that way, only because I’ve been so careful making sure it’s the other way around; I’m always conscious that I never—whether intentionally or accidentally—do anything that would embarrass her or cause her to disavow me in any way.

If anything, what Leviste has done is force us to look at our elders as peers and judge them the same way we would anybody else. Or, at the very least, he’s reminded us that our parents, or the seniors in our close familial circles, are fallible and deserve to be called out if the situation warrants it. Granted what Leviste has done is a bit on the extreme side, but at this point, it’s par for the course in what has already been a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting election season.

Leviste is an adult, and while it seems he’s made up his mind about the way he feels about his mother now, there’s always a chance he’ll wake up one day and ask himself if it was all worth it. And as for Legarda, we can’t think of a better reason for anyone to reassess their most important life decisions than with their own flesh-and-blood so harshly calling them out in public like that.

Only time will tell if mother and son can survive this unfortunate episode and they can repair their fractured relationship.

What would it take for you to call out your own parent in public?

By NICK AGUILA   |   23 hours ago

ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO

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I am not a parent so I cannot presume to know what it feels like for a mother to be so publicly renounced by her offspring in the way Representative Loren Legarda was by Lorenzo Leviste. 

I am, however, a son, and it is through this perspective that I found myself contemplating the strong words Leviste had for his mother delivered lightning fast through the internet via Rappler on Wednesday. The story was widely circulated all over social media: I received it no less than four times through different private messaging groups and numerous contacts, and friends shared it on their own personal profiles throughout the day. Clearly Leviste’s open letter struck a chord with a vast swath of people; it found its way to people in different age groups and social and economic classes.

What exactly made it so compelling?

First, in Philippine society, our elders are almost always treated with reverence and respect. Most, if not all, Asian households defer to the experience and presumed wisdom of people more advanced in years, especially those related to us by blood. Recent portrayals in mass media like films and TV series aside, most of us would retreat and keep silent when a parent or grandparent starts on the inevitable lecture on anything from a messy room to what course to pick in college to a choice for a lifelong mate. Arguing with our elders, going against their wishes, or worse, outright criticizing them for their own actions—all of that is practically unheard of.

Which is why it was such a shock for many of us to read something written by a son to his mother that wasn’t just disapproving but downright forceful and almost venomous. 

“I have no choice but to publicly declare that I am absolutely disgusted by my mother and what she has decided to do,” Leviste wrote. “It sickens me and makes me want to die. I need everyone to know that Loren Legarda lost her son forever because of this.”

Second, it came from someone who is the progeny of a high-profile public figure but has, himself, never really been in the public eye. Legarda has two sons with ex-husband Tony Leviste, and while the younger of the two—Leandro—has been making great strides as a businessman involved with sustainable energy (his company just went public a few months ago), not much is known about his older brother other than the fact that he’s been living overseas pretty much since he became an adult (he’s in his early 30s now).

Also read: Who is Lorenzo Leviste?

It’s one thing to read something from a person known to voice out their opinions on various issues on social media, but quite another to hear it from someone who has never really been publicly vocal about, well, anything. And for the subject of said criticism to be such a well-known public figure—former newscaster for ABS-CBN, former senator, and current representative in the Lower House—guaranteed that the letter would be widely circulated and read.

In this country, attach a well-known name to almost anything and you’re sure to get eyeballs. Have that something turn out to be conflict and drama of the highest order and it’s the perfect recipe to get noticed.

Of course, the biggest reason why the open letter garnered so much attention was the message in the letter itself. Leviste couldn’t have been clearer: his mother’s choice to associate herself with a candidate he so clearly despised for a multitude of reasons was the reason he penned the essay in the first place. The burden of grief and anguish was so great that he chose to sever that most sacred of familial bonds—that of a mother and her child—in the name of honor and morality. For him, disappointment has a name and it is Loren Legarda.

In the extremely partisan political climate we’re in these days, a letter like that is a stick of dynamite thrown into the powder keg of public discourse.

One also has to consider the amount of time Leviste has had to process his feelings about the whole sordid issue. Filing of candidacies happened late last year and Legarda had aligned herself with the Marcos-Duterte faction soon after, which means her son has been stewing on these thoughts for at least a few months. He even said he’s had conversations with her about it. Clearly this wasn’t an unprovoked outburst, or a spur-of-the-moment call for attention meant to humiliate his mother. It wasn’t something the thirtysomething so casually and callously threw out into the world. The letter was clear, thoughtful, and deliberate.

And whether you or I agree with him or not is moot. The point is it’s out there and the people involved have to deal with the ramifications of their actions.

As a son, it’s certainly made me think about what it would take for my own mother to do something I deem to be so vile and heinous that I would choose to publicly disown her. I guess I never really thought of it that way, only because I’ve been so careful making sure it’s the other way around; I’m always conscious that I never—whether intentionally or accidentally—do anything that would embarrass her or cause her to disavow me in any way.

If anything, what Leviste has done is force us to look at our elders as peers and judge them the same way we would anybody else. Or, at the very least, he’s reminded us that our parents, or the seniors in our close familial circles, are fallible and deserve to be called out if the situation warrants it. Granted what Leviste has done is a bit on the extreme side, but at this point, it’s par for the course in what has already been a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting election season.

Leviste is an adult, and while it seems he’s made up his mind about the way he feels about his mother now, there’s always a chance he’ll wake up one day and ask himself if it was all worth it. And as for Legarda, we can’t think of a better reason for anyone to reassess their most important life decisions than with their own flesh-and-blood so harshly calling them out in public like that.

Only time will tell if mother and son can survive this unfortunate episode and they can repair their fractured relationship.

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