CALOOCAN CITY - The grounds at the Notre Dame of Greater Manila school on Saturday turned into concert grounds for the CaMaNaVa rally of support for Vice President Leni Robredo’s candidacy.
Conceptualized and organized by supporters of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem, the CaMaNaVa rally was a treat for OPM fans, titled “Rock N’ Rosas”.
Supporters were in for a night of jamming to the performance-studded night headlined by 9-piece folk-pop band Ben&Ben.
Lead organizer Skeeter Labastilla-Turgut was in disbelief at the turnout as the main program kicked off.
“It’s so overwhelming, it’s like magic. I came from lack, but bakit ko minamaliit ang support kay Leni?” Labastilla-Turgut told ABS-CBN News.
(We were lacking, but you supporters of Leni provided.)
Five days earlier, Labastilla-Turgut volunteered to lead the event, despite having no funds and no performers.
But after she posted a call for donors and volunteers on social media, help began pouring in.
Cash donations as low as P20 to as high as P50,000 from strangers and fellow supporters came in through her GCash account.
Then, a whole roster of artists signed up to fill the event with song and dance performances.
Rally regulars Noel Cabangon, Kuh Ledesma, and The Company also volunteered to perform.
Labastilla-Turgut, a Makati resident, attended the massively successful Pasig rally last March 20 which gathered over 100,000 supporters in the streets of Ortigas Center.
She decided she wanted to replicate the event in Caloocan.
Despite living in a different city, Labastilla-Turgut has deep ties with Caloocan.
Her brother works at a Caloocan community-based rehabilitation and livelihood programs for victims of extra-judicial killings, and brought Labastilla-Turgut to volunteer in the area.
Kian Delos Santos in 2017 was killed in Caloocan, which painted a bloody picture of the administration’s war on drugs.
“Caloocan is top 5 most vote-rich city. [Bakit] di mo papansinin ang tunay na nasa laylayan?” Labastilla-Turgut said.
“I think ‘yun ang na-feel ni Leni, na pwede naman na hindi siya tumakbo. I just resonated with that: pwede naman natin na hindi gawin ‘to, but naniwala ako na may pag-asa ang Pilipinas,” she said, in tears.
“And in the little ways I do, I don’t wanna give up on Caloocan, and not just Caloocan, this is also Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela,” she added.
(I think that’s what Leni felt. She could afford not to run for presidency but she did. I can afford not to help arrange this, but I believe there’s still hope for the Philippines and I don’t want to give up on Caloocan and it’s neighboring cities Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.)
Just two days after Robredo gained the support of Partido Reporma in Davao Del Norte, Robredo was not expected to arrive at the rally.
Only Senator Kiko Pangilinan and Vice Presidential daughter Dr. Tricia Robredo were announced to arrive.
But by 8 in the evening, Robredo arrived at the Notre Dame of Greater Manila Open Grounds straight from previously confirmed commitments.
“Muntik na akong hindi makarating,” Rorbedo told the crowd.
“Pero kapag meant to be, the universe will conspire,” she added, to screams of the crowd.
Robredo thanked the volunteers who made the event happen, and she cut her speech short to participate in Earth Hour.
The CaMaNaVa Rock N’ Roses rally drew an estimated 20,000 attendees.