Former vice president Leni Robredo shared her observations on some more developed countries’ quality of life following her travel for international engagement.
The Angat Buhay NGO chair previously went to Norway where she gave a talk about lessons on integrity and ethics in international collaborations at the University of Oslo (UiO).
She was joined by professor Rose Bernabe of UiO’s Center for Medical Ethics, deputy director general Alemseged Abdissa of the Armauer Hansen Research Institute, executive director Carel IJsselmuiden of The COHRED Group, and professor Anne Moen of the UiO’s Department of Public Health Science.
Robredo also said she was able to take part in a number of Filipino gatherings, where she was pleasantly surprised “to listen to their stories of how active they were during the campaign.”
After her speaking engagement, Robredo went on “short side trips” to the Nordic capitals with her eldest daughter where she marveled at Copenhagen’s walkability, how much it embraces biking as a mode of transport, and its convenient railway system.
READ: ‘One of the most beautiful cities’: Robredo lauds Copenhagen’s walkability
The former vice president then visited Finland’s Helsinki and Estonia’s Tallinn, where she was able to experience their quality of life and take notes of her observations.
While she could only get a “bird’s eye view” of Finland, Robredo said that she wanted to go back to further “learn about their governance, education and, essentially, how things work.”
The lawyer said that the country was the first in the world to offer women full political rights.
“It is now led by a woman Prime Minister, 36-year-old Sanna Marin. She leads a coalition of 5 [five] political parties, all led by women who are in their 30s. 12 of their 19 ministers are women. The Parliament is composed of 50% women,” Robredo said.
“I asked our tour guide about their young Prime Minister and what struck me among the things she said was that she is very accessible and lives a very normal life. In fact, she said people would see her on the street walking home from work,” she added.
Finland is ranked number two in the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, where women usually work full-time and have equal access to education and healthcare.
Robredo also cited that the country has a high ranking in terms of education.
Reports said that Finland consistently ranks high in the area of third-party international studies. Its teachers are also said to be “valued by Finnish society.”
The lawyer likewise said that Finnish people have “one of the highest incomes.”
As of 2023, the country is listed among the world’s high-income countries. It has a gross national income per capita of $53,660 (Atlas method, current US dollar).
Robredo also shared that Finland has “health care for everyone” and that “Finnish children are given state subsidy.”
The country has affordable public health services for its permanent residents. Employers also provide occupational health care to their workers.
Meanwhile, families with children are given tax-free “child benefits” by the Finish Social Security System which is intended to cover part of the expenses of a child.
The lawyer also took note of how Finland was “declared to have the cleanest air.”
The country has “good” air quality on average as of 2021, according to IQAir.
The Northern European country was initially not included in Robredo’s itinerary with her daughters.
However, when they learned that it was “just a short boat ride away from Helsinki,” they embarked on a trip to its capital where Robredo was able to learn more about its quality of life.
“Estonia only got its independence from Russia in the 1990s. It is impressive how fast they were able to chart their own course after the colonization,” she said.
The country is said to have very high government integrity, fair tax burden and government spending, high trade investment, and considerable financial freedom.
The lawyer also said that Estonia’s educational performance is “impressive,” with the country ranking high in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) despite students “spending shorter hours in school” and having no homework.
The PISA is an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that measures students’ abilities to apply their knowledge of reading and mathematics to solve life’s challenges.
“Been reading articles on how there were able to achieve this,” Robredo said.
Back when she was still a presidential candidate in the 2022 national elections, Robredo had promised to prioritize education and the youth, strengthen key industries and generate jobs, and provide Filipinos with social safety nets, among others.
She also had a five-point economy recovery plan to help the country recuperate from the economic losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robredo had likewise vowed to prioritize the country’s agricultural and fisheries development, as well as bridge the gap between the government and the business sector.
She, however, lost to rival President Ferdinand Marcos Jr who garnered over 31 million votes in the May 2022 elections.