PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan - Thousands of Vice President Leni Robredo's supporters gathered at this city's Baywalk Park for her campaign rally this week, boosting the sales of some businesses with the highest foot traffic that the area saw over 2 years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus restrictions had kept tourists away from the beachfront, leaving stores and food stalls with few customers. Puerto Princesa shifted to the lowest pandemic alert level last March, but only small groups had been visiting the Baywalk, said the local police.
On Wednesday, some 9,000 supporters of Robredo and her running-mate Sen. Francis Pangilinan flocked to the area for their "Palawan Grand People's Rally", organizers said.
"Ngayon na lang ulit nagkaroon ng ganito karaming tao dito, unlike before halos wala kaming benta dito, so big help din po 'yung rally ni Leni," said Maria Mercedes Ancheta, who has been a vendor at the Baywalk for 13 years.
(This is the first time this many people are back here again, unlike before when we had almost no sales, so Leni's rally was a big help.)
"Wala na rin po kasing mga program yung Baywalk, so wala na rin po 'yung pumapasyal," she added.
(Programs are not held as often here anymore, so not a lot of people come.)
Ancheta said she started selling snacks to Robredo's supporters some 9 hours ahead of the 6 p.m. rally.
About 2 hours before the event, rains drove Robredo and Pangilinan's mostly pink-clad supporters to restaurants along the Baywalk.
"Naging opportunity for us na ma-accommodate sila, at the same time maka-consume sila ng products na ino-offer namin," said Dave Mark Cancino, a restaurant supervisor.
(It was an opportunity for us to accommodate and serve them with our products.)
Robredo-Pangilinan supporters have coined the term "pink economy" to refer to a surge in economic activity in areas where the tandem's rallies are held. Supporters who call themselves "kakampinks" often spend time at food establishments before and after a rally.
In Robredo's Pasig sortie, which delivered her biggest crowd yet estimated at 80,000 to 130,000, attendees filled malls, restaurants, and other establishments until midnight, hours after the event ended.
"Malaking opportunity for us, especially sa staff namin na medyo matagal natengga dahil nga pandemic, since nawalan ng trabaho," Cancino said of the influx of Robredo supporters.
"But now little by little, humahakbang kami pasulong para makabawi sa mga nawala sa amin before," he added.
(It helped a lot, especially staff who lost jobs and shifts due to the pandemic. Little by little we are able to make up for what we lost in the past two years under the pandemic.)