CLAIM: Circulating photos showed Vice President Leni Robredo supposedly displaying an extravagant life by carrying luxury items during her family trip to New York City.
Photos came from Facebook pages of Filipinos who took pictures with Robredo and her daughters while in the Big Apple.
Some of these showed the vice president carrying a paper bag with the logo of Hermes and a handbag that is likened to one of the bag designs of Balenciaga.
They are being shared on Facebook, Twitter and even TikTok in the past few days.
Prompted by a certain Ernest Leigh who took a photo with the vice president in New York at Radio City Music Hall, online users claimed that she was shopping at the French luxury house Hermes in New York City.
One Facebook user also shared a photo of himself with Robredo as she was carrying these items.
The Facebook user’s post could no longer be accessed. Other online users, however, managed to screenshot it and share it online.
“Inaantok na ko, madam. Nice Balenciaga and Hermes,” the user said with the hashtag #Kakambings.
The hashtag has been used as an insult to Robredo’s supporters during the campaign season.
So this BBM nagpapicture kay VP tapos pinost sa FB para lang siraan at pagtawanan si VP pic.twitter.com/3AE3XUVADB
— Josh (@josiahquising) May 19, 2022
RATING: These claims are false.
The Hermes paper bag
Robredo shared on May 18 that there were two Filipino women who gave Jillian a graduation gift during their ride on the New York subway.
In her post, Robredo asked for the names of the gifters so she could thank them.
“Saw this entry on Facebook. I assume the pics were taken by the two young Filipinas we met at the subway station. We weren’t able to get your names so if you see this post, please send us your names in the comment section below so we can thank you properly for the grad gift you gave Jillian,” the vice president said.
Robredo also revealed there that the flowers she was carrying were given to her by other Filipinos who waited for her at the Radio City Music Hall.
Later, the two Filipinos whom she was looking for reached out to her. They were Maan Joy Gopez Manalang and Pau Palestroque who thanked Robredo via the quote-shares of her post.
Manalang even released a TikTok video that showed her giving Robredo the orange paper bag.
It could also be seen that a pink shirt was inside the paper bag.
@maanjoygopezmanal welcome to NYC my President @Leni Robredo CONGRATULATIONS @Jillian Robredo !!!!ANG SAYA!!!#pilipinaskongmahal🇵🇭 #kakampink #vicepresidentph #mother #NYU #newyorkuniversity #kulayrosasangbukas #pink #philippines #presidentphilippines🇵🇭 ♬ original sound – Maan Joy Gopez Manal
She also posted a photo of this shirt and the bag on Facebook on May 17.
In the comments section of one of Palestroque’s Facebook posts, Robredo later confirmed that the Hermes paper bag was a “gift.”
Palestroque made the post to express her disapproval of a fellow Filipino who stalked and took pictures of the Robredo family on the subway.
“For the record, he’s just a random Filipino we met while waiting for VP Leni Gerona Robredo,” she said.
To this, Robredo replied and said: “Pati yung regalo ni Maan na Hermes paper bag, naka-extra.”
The vice president added another comment wherein she mentioned Manalang’s name.
“Maan, thank you for the gift. Ayan, na special mention tuloy,” Robredo said with prayer emojis.
In a separate post, Manalang also reiterated that she was the one who gave Robredo the Hermes paper bag.
On Balenciaga bag
The other bag Robredo was carrying, on the other hand, cannot be confirmed if it was a dupe or an authentic designer bag.
It was also hard to identify if the bag was from Balenciaga.
Robredo herself also has no post confirming that she bought the bag perceived to be expensive.
Several Facebook users pointed this out in the comments of posts about it.
“Kung hindi regalo ‘yan, here are the most likely scenarios: 1. 2nd hand, 2. Bought with hard-earned money, 3. Replica/dupe,” one user said.
Why it matters
The posts with claims of Robredo’s supposed extravagance fueled further animosity between her critics—who believed she was carrying luxury items despite her reputation for simplicity—and supporters.
Her online critics are particularly circulating posts on Facebook groups claiming that her bag costs around $2,150 USD or P112,788.99. ($1 USD = PHP 52.24, based on Google’s currency exchange)
Robredo’s supporters are defending the vice president saying she can afford the bag if indeed it was bought from luxury brand Balenciaga.
Proof of receipt to the BBM trolls accusing VP Leni again of being elite and fake. The Hermes is a gift to her by a supporter!
Even if it’s not a gift, she can afford it ( plus it’s her OWN money, not the country’s ). But we all know she’s too prudent to buy such pic.twitter.com/wGi29NwIrp
— Kate🇵🇭💓GXveBS (@forgwenandblake) May 19, 2022
A vice president of the Philippines earns a salary of P325,807 a month.
In 2020, she also disclosed that her net worth rose from P3.5 million to P11.9 million after inheriting from her mother who passed away.
Prior to this, she incurred much debt due to expenses required to face Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s poll protest against her electoral victory in 2016 that was later junked.
It also should be noted that the Robredo family’s trip to the US was not for vacation purposes only.
They attended the much-anticipated graduation of the vice president’s youngest daughter, Jillian, who finished a double major in Economics and Mathematics from New York University.
The Robredo family left the Philippines on Sunday.
This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts.
Interaksyon is part of #FactsFirstPH, a multi-sectoral initiative promoting truth in public space and demanding accountability for falsehoods. For those interested to join the initiative, email [email protected]
Interaksyon is also a founding partner of Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippine elections. It is an initiative of academe, civil society groups and media to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.