MANILA – Team PNoy senatorial candidate Grace Poe admits she is “extremely surprised” that she is topping the Senate race in just her first attempt at getting an elective post.
Speaking to ANC, Poe said that before the release of the initial vote count, she had been praying that God would put her “in a comfortable spot” in the Senate ranking since being in the 11th-12th place would be nerve-wracking.
She admitted she also had doubts if she would win after some pre-election surveys ranked her in the bottom half of the Senate top 12.
“The surveys dampen your spirits. I was like: ‘Oh my God, am I wasting, am I damaging the memory of my dad by using his name here and not even having a good showing?’” she asked.
Poe said that aside from her usual group of supporters, she also got a boost from Senators Francis Escudero and Sergio Osmeña who helped in her campaign.
She said Escudero helped by showing her how to do campaign sorties “and not acting like a tourist.”
“It is really Senator Chiz who helped me in this campaign. No denying. He was selfless, altruistic enough and he's a candidate also. Pero yung term na binitbit talaga ako kasi I was such a deadweight for him. Everywhere I go kasi bago,” she said.
As for Osmeña, she said the senator helped her to pare down her campaign expenses and craft her messaging in the TV ads. She said it was Osmeña who told her to remind people that she is the daughter of the late actor and defeated presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr.
“He's very scientific. (Osmeña said) people like you number 1 because you're the daughter of FPJ. There’s no denying that’s the reason. They like and love FPJ because he’s known to be ‘tapat’ and ‘tumutulong.’ These are the things you must be able to convey. First say you are FPJ’s daughter and that you will help them,” she said.
Poe said the messaging in her ads was important since it could reach millions of voters that she would have trouble reaching on her own. She said the ads also had a sequence: with an introduction, message and validation.
She said her husband also decided on the schedule of ad placements and agreed with the decision to drop the “Llamanzares” surname in the campaign.
Her father’s daughter
Poe said Filipino voters are “basically romantic even in their choices”, saying that many voted for candidates stand up for the poor.
She also said there is some truth to the assertion that she got many votes from Filipinos who thought her father was cheated in the 2004 presidential election.
“I think it is also a validation that they wanted to prove that, yes, FPJ won,” she said.
Poe said she will not be joining any political party soon despite being close to some people in both the Liberal Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
“I am more comfortable where I am. As long as I am able to go on with whatever I would like to advocate and I won’t be stifled by any particular party,” she said.
She also said she chose to join the Team PNoy senatorial ticket because she believes in the leadership of President Aquino for restoring trust in the country’s institutions.
She admitted she also sees some similarities between her situation and that of President Benigno Aquino III.
“He also had to uphold the memory of his parents who are larger than life. Him being compared to them is not exactly easy also but that is his biggest equity. In the same way, my dad’s memory and my mom’s reputation are my equities,” she said.
Joining the debates
Poe said she joined many of the senatorial debates to get her message across to more people. This is different from the example set by her father who shunned debates before the 2004 presidential election.
Poe said Osmeña advised her to join the debates.
“I was also getting a bit nervous because if there was a left field question, sometimes they can use that against you. But I said this is my responsibility to the people if I would like to earn their trust. How will I defend my stand if early on I don’t even show up for these debates? If let’s say in the Senate, will I just shy away from a discussion? I felt that was really my responsibility to them as a candidate. I needed to present myself a candidate under pressure,” she said.
Poe admitted that her father did not join debates because he was not verbose.
“My dad really was not a very verbose person but he is very deeply smart. He’s not very confrontational. He’s not into that but tama, gawa hindi salita yung tatay ko. He didn’t go to the debates but he also made clear what his platform was and he didn’t come out of nowhere. He was able to sustain a business and help a lot of employees on his own. He didn’t have parents who gave him a business to run or a position in government that he inherited. He was able to prove himself in the private sector,” she said.