These are the two campaign rallies I covered for presidential candidate Leni Robredo as accredited media. As early as October 7, 2021, I disclosed that I would be voting for her.
Viewing the photos and videos could not capture the feelings of hope and optimism from two mammoth rallies for presidential candidate Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan in Mandaue City, Cebu, and Pasay City. I covered both rallies in both backstage and the main stage. It isn’t even the size of the crowd that amazes me. Goosebumps ran up and down my arms when the chants of “Leni-Kiko” roared in the air. When combined with the lilting song of Nica del Rosario’s “Rosas,” I am moved to tears. I am sure many others felt the same way as they joined in with the singers. Verse 2, as translated into English, touches my heart.
“Don’t be afraid. You have a partner in this battle Let us wake up the nation together. ”
It feels good to witness many Filipinos fighting and longing for a good Philippines. Her words “we are here because of hope” struck a chord with many voters. Hearing 412,000 people cheer in unison gives me hope we could be united. Volunteerism has never been this way, not even in 1986. In every sense of the word, this is the people’s campaign. I’m seeing ordinary people mobilizing, even volunteering for the first time.
The theme “All out for Leni” on her birthday celebration describes the size of the audience, the number of endorsements and production numbers that afternoon. Going all out for Leni is not easy for celebrities who are bound by contractual obligations. Just to get on stage and endorse a candidate deserves appreciation. The endorsements were intersectoral and intergenerational, ranging from Andrea Brillantes for the Gen Z to Vice Ganda for the LGBTQIA+. #SwitchToLeni stories on Twitter appeared after Vice Ganda’s endorsement. “All out for Leni” also involves a house-to-house campaign because the most effective way to converse and debunk the lies is through person-to-person and a heart-to-heart talk.
No other campaign has achieved the same intensity as I witnessed, both online and offline. Enteng Romano summarizes the unstoppable momentum in a Facebook post as “ten times more intense and manifested in ways that defy traditional Philippine politics” as follows:
– Several songs composed (pro bono) for a candidate. Trina Belamide shares a Spotify playlist of “Leni Kiko 2022 songs” which encompasses 64 songs.
– Volunteer-organized rallies with funding independent from campaign headquarters or allies in local government units (LGUs).
– Record attendance in rallies without the help of transport from LGUs. Instead, supporters volunteered for carpool services.
– Creativity at its finest with murals all over and witty placards in rallies.
– Program segments in rallies that showcase the local culture.
– Endorsement by major professional organizations, sectoral groups, and major schools and universities.
– Endorsement by celebrities in the entertainment industry, including participation (pro bono) in the rallies.
– Heavy spending by supporters for collaterals and support for rallies and other events.
– Self-sufficient and volunteer-initiated house-to-house campaigns.
The highlight of these rallies are the thousands who walked tirelessly and converged at the rally site, enduring the heat, waiting for at least eight hours for Robredo to deliver her speech. Such devoted behavior is observed online through the ADDS Sentiment Analysis on Facebook. Looking at the seven days ending April 24, 2022, the social signals from YouTube, Reddit, forums, blogs, Twitter, podcasts et al., show that netizens prefer Robredo over Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Over the months, Robredo has kept a huge lead over the other presidential candidates on search entries and interest based on Google Trends. Romano said the way people respond to a candidate is an indicator of who will ultimately win because he witnessed it in the people’s response in the 2010 and 2016 national and local elections.
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In her closing speech in the Pasay rally, Robredo affirms the power of the people. “Ang kapangyarihan pong tunay, wala sa kamay naming mga politiko pero nasa kamay ng ordinaryong mamamayang Pilipino (The real power is not in the hands of our politicians but in the hands of the ordinary Filipino people).” Let’s show on May 9 that real power lies with the people.
You can view my video coverage, “All out for Leni,” at youtube.com/c/noemidado.
First published at Sunday Business & IT, May 1, 2022.