MANILA - Emerald Avenue in Pasig City turned pink on Sunday as tens of thousands of supporters gathered in the biggest show of force yet for presidential candidate Leni Robredo and runningmate Kiko Pangilinan.
Various official and unofficial estimates placed Sunday's crowd at the PasigLaban rally at 80,000 to as high as 140,000.
"Malayo pa kami, ramdam na ramdam ko nang halos yumayanig ang sahig dahil sa inyong energy," Robredo told the crowd, which welcomed her by chanting her name.
(Even from afar we could feel the earth shaking from your pounding energy.)
As early as 10 in the morning, supporters of the Leni-Kiko tandem were already flocking to Emerald Avenue near Julia Vargas intersection, which was covered by a pink canopy.
Despite the heat, which went as high as 41 degrees Celsius in nearby Pasay City, the "kakamPINKs" sang along to music played over speakers scattered along the avenue while waiting for the main program proper. By 4 p.m., Pasig police estimated the crowd at 80,000 strong.
Giant billboards of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan were also brought in from the Bacolod Paglaum People's Rally to tower over the crowd at Emerald.
A team of 6 installers drove from Bacolod to Pasig via Roro to put up the billboards ahead of the rally.
The billboards are expected to follow Robredo as she tours more cities and provinces.
Aika Robredo, the vice president's eldest daughter, dubbed the billboard's transfer from one venue to another, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Tarps (tarpaulins)".
'LENI KA NA LANG'
As the program started, tens of thousands of people clad in varying shades of pink sang the Philippine National Anthem, ending it with a loud cheer.
Consistent with the previous rallies, the crowd came with different props, and waved their placards and different sources of pink lights when Noel Cabangon and Rivermaya performed.
Kapamilya star Robi Domingo hosted the rally alongside Julia Barreto, both of whom made their first appearances in support for Robredo.
Rally regulars Melai Cantiveros-Francisco and Jolina Magdangal-Escueta also shared the stage.
Itchyworms cheered the crowd with a revised version of their song "Akin Ka Na Lang," changing it to "Leni Ka Na Lang."
The sea of pink swayed when Ebe Dancel sang his hit "Bawat Daan".
Pangilinan, who was at the COMELEC Vice Presidential debates during the Pasig rally, made up for his absence with his nephew, Donny Pangilinan.
Fans of Donny and his loveteam with actress and singer Belle Mariano, called "DonBelle", have repeatedly asked Pangilinan through their placards to bring with him Donny in their rallies.
Donny was welcomed with loud cheers from the crowd.
Robredo wished Pangilinan good luck during her message.
"Senator Kiko, kung nagmomonitor ka po ngayon– sigurado kaming kayang-kaya mo 'yan; hindi matatawaran ang iyong karanasan, kakayahan, sipag, tapang, integridad, at sense of duty."
(Senator Kiko, if you are monitoring us right now, we know you can do it. Your experience, expertise, courage, integrity, and sense of duty will get you through.)
Robredo also thanked the crowd for their show of support and volunteerism in preparing for the Pasig rally.
"Lumilitaw ang ganitong sipag, ang ganitong passion, ang creativity, hindi lang po dahil sa kulay natin, hindi lang dahil sa amin ni Senator Kiko saka sa ating mga senatorial candidates ang ipinapakipaglalaban ninyo. Ang ipinaglalaban po natin dito: 'Yung kinabukasan ng mga anak at magiging anak ninyo," she said.
(This effort, passion, and creativity is borne not because of our color or who our candidates are. It is because of what we are fighting for: the future of our children.)
"Ang People's Campaign natin, naging krusada na talaga ito. Dito lang po sa Pasig, talagang full force kayo," she said.
(Our people's campaign has become a crusade. Here in Pasig you came full force.)
"Nakikita ko po 'yung mga pictures, nagpa-silkscreen ang mga volunteers natin dito. Nakiusap sa mga may-ari ng mga building para magsabit ng mga tarp," Robredo said, pertaining to the massive tarpaulins which arrived from Bacolod.
(I saw the pictures, volunteers who ahs to silkscreen their props, those who had to ask permission from building owners to hang tarpaulins.)
She also thanked volunteers who gave free food to supporters.
Taho vendors, fishball vendors, and several other groups of people offered food free of charge to fellow supporters in solidarity.
'KAYA BA NATING KUMATOK?'
In her speech, Robredo promised a better transportation system, noting that Metro Manila, particularly its business districts, including Pasig, suffer from heavy traffic.
"Dito po sa Pasig at Kamaynilaan: Maaasahang mass transport system. Imprastrakturang nakatutok sa pagpapadaloy ng tao, hindi lang ng mga sasakyan," she said.
(Here in Pasig and the whole of Manila, you can count on a reliable mass transport system that prioritizes people over cars.)
"Pabahay na malapit sa kabuhayan, malapit sa oportunidad, at pinaplano kasama ang mga titira dito," she added.
(Housing opportunities near livelihoods will also be made available.)
She also urged her supporters to help in persuading more people to join them in her campaign for hope and truth.
"Imbitahin po natin ang mga wala pa dito: Kahit napakarami na natin ngayong gabi, marami pa din ang hindi natin kasama. Gusto po natin sa kanilang sabihin, welcome na welcome po kayo dito," she said.
(Let us invite those who are not here yet. Event hough we are many, there are still those who are not among us. Let's tell them they are welcome here.)
"Kaya ba nating kumatok sa mga pintuan? Sa mga Zoom meetings natin o sa mga chat rooms, sa jeepney o sa mga Grab, sa tambayan o sa palengke, ibahagi natin ang ating mensahe; isadiwa ang pag-asa, pagkakaisa, at pagmamahal na pundasyon ng ating laban."
(Can we knock on doors? Talk about our campaign in Zoom and chat rooms? Talk to Grab drivers, jepney drivers, even in markets and other areas. Let's share our message od hope, unity, and love.)
"Nakakahatak ng pag-asa ang pag-asa; at tiyak na tiyak ko, may pag-asa sa puso ng bawat Pilipino," she added.
(Hope begets hope. And I know there is hope in the hearts of every FIlipino.)
Kapamilya Star Angel Locsin also joined the crowd, and met Robredo later, showing the vice president her placard, which declared she now bestows her titular role Darna's source of power to Robredo.
Folk-pop band Ben&Ben ended the night by making their first appearance at a Robredo rally, with a line-up of four of their songs including "Pagtingin", and " Araw-araw".
They also sang "Sabel" a song about being unafraid of letting your voice be heard, and "Kapangyarihan", which ends with the lyrics, "Katotohanan ang dapat na namumuno sa namumuno sa mamamayan."
(Truth should rule over those who rule.)
'MY HEART IS FULL'
In a Facebook post, Robredo thanked the thousands "who braved the heat, stood for hours, shouted, chanted, and sang with us yesterday."
"My heart is full💖💖 Thank you to the thousands who braved the heat, stood for hours, shouted, chanted, and sang with us yesterday. Thank you, most specially, to the PASIGLABAN Organizers (our Pasig volunteers) for all the sleepless nights, for going beyond all our expectations, and all the love you poured in," she said.
American singer Ariana Grande, an hour after the rally ended, posted videos on her Instagram stories showing the large crowd jumping up and down to her hit song "Break Free".
"I could not believe this was real. I love you more than words," Grande captioned the story.
Filipino-American social media personality Bretman Rock also posted in his Instagram stories his support for Robredo.
"This statement shook me to the core... My president is a WOMAN," Rock captioned the story, quoting Robredo's closing line in the COMELEC presidential debates, "The best man for the job is a woman."