CATARMAN CITY - Vice President Leni Robredo’s supporters in Catarman City braved the sweltering heat, a sudden downpour, and trudged through a muddy field Monday afternoon to end the presidential candidate's first day campaigning through Samar.
Robredo called Samar the cousin of her home province Bicol, telling a delighted crowd she can understand their native tongue Waray.
But the two provinces share more than several words in their local languages, Robredo said.
“Ang kalagayan ng Samar hindi nalalayo sa kalagayan namin sa Bicol; pareho tayong laging binabagyo, parehong parang napag-iiwanan ng progreso,” Robredo said to the crowd in Catbalogan, one of the stops in the first day of her Samar tour.
(Samar does not differ much from Bicol; both provinces are often keme by storms, and both left behind in development.)
“Ang mapapangako ko sa inyo: gagawin ko ang lahat para walang naiiwan,” she declared.
(I can promise you: I will do everything I can so no one is left behind.)
This same promise is what 22-year-old Mira Glydl De Asis, a volunteer performer at the Catarman Grand People’s Rally, holds on to, spending months coordinating as the finance co-head for Northern Samat Youth for Leni volunteer group.
“I am doing this because I am fighting for my future,” De Asis told ABS-CBN News.
To her, Robredo’s campaign and their support for the presidential candidate is a mutual fight to carry each other forward.
“She started from 1 percent from her vice presidential bid. Feeling namin na habang nakikita niya na nag-e-effort kami na we are on her side, fighting for her, nabu-boost 'yung kanyang spirit to still fight even when she is fighting with multi-million machineries,” she said.
(If she sees that we keep carrying her through the campaign, her spirit to continue fighting will be boosted, despite who she's standing up against.)
De Asis and their group Catubig Youth For Leni spent a week preparing for a cultural dance number for Robredo’s grand rally in Catarman.
Is is their small contribution to keep the momentum of Robredo’s campaign going.
On her way to Catarman, Robredo noticed areas with no phone coverage and data.
"Maraming lugar walang signal! Ang hirap di ba? Mahirap sa estudyante, sa nagtatrabaho,” Robredo told the Catarman crowd, which expressed their agreement in a cheer.
“Ang isang ipapangako ko sa inyo, sisiguraduhin natin lahat gagawin natin para lahat ng lugar na walang signal magkakaroon na,” Robredo said.
(There are so many areas with no cell coverage! Isn't that hard? It's hard for students and for employees. I promise to make sure these areas will be connected to the internet.)
The Vice President, who gained the support of Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, Northern Samar Governor Edwin Onchuan, and Samar Vice Governor Angelica Gomez, also committed to ensure all areas in Samar will be connected to the electrical grid by maximizing its geothermal and hydro power resources.
Roads will be improved to spur the economic development across the province, she said.
“Papatapusin [natin] ang circumferential road na nagko-connect sa Las Navas, Matuginao, at Jipapad para 'yung tatlong probinsya ay konektado na,” Robredo said.
(Let's finish the circumferential road that connects Las Navas, Matuginao, and Jipapad.)
For De Asis, Robredo’s assurances give her hope for her future.
“Ever since namulat ako sa mundo (Since I became socially aware), I always had trust issues with our government, and I am already seeing clean governance with VP Leni, a government that is very accountable,” De Asis said.
“Sa local and national government, parang hindi mo na made-detach sa kanila 'yung pagiging corrupt at ‘trapo', that’s why I’m really fighting for VP Leni because she is not a traditional politician po,” she added.
(You can hardly detach local and national government officials from being "trapo" or traditional politicians who engage in corrupt activities. Which is why I fight for Vice President Leni Robredo, because she isn't one.)
“Singilin n’yo po ako (Hold me accountable),” Robredo told the crowd after declaring her plans for the province.
“‘Yung mga mas mahirap ang pinagdadaanan, dapat mas malaki ang tulong na binibigay,” she said.
(Those who need more, will be given more help.)
Robredo will continue her tour of Samar and Leyte on Tuesday.