BAUAN, Batangas - For the third time this campaign season, Vice President Leni Robredo barnstormed Batangas on Saturday as part of her tour of Calabarzon in the hopes of repeating her victory in the province in 2016.
"Napakalaki ng botong nakuha ko dito [noon] sa inyo kaya maraming, maraming salamat. Ang tanong ko kanina, kaya ba nating ulitin 'yun?" Robredo asked the crowd which screamed their assurance of another win.
Robredo bested former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in Batangas during the vice presidential race in 2016. She received over 514,000 votes, and the latter, more than 261,000. Marcos is also among this elections' presidential candidates.
Robredo's Batangas rally was attended by some 280,000 people according to local organizers.
She was presented with a balisong or butterfly knife known to originate from the province, a barong Tagalog, and a newly sprouted kapeng barako coffee plant, for which the province is popular.
She told Batangueños that she did not waste the trust they gave her six years ago.
"Ngayon pong bumabalik ako, mas malakas na 'yung loob ko. Malakas po 'yung loob ko dahil matitingnan ko po kayo mata sa mata, masasabi ko po sa inyo, hindi ko sinayang 'yung tiwala na binigay ninyo sa akin noong 2016," Robredo said.
The presidential bet reminded the crowd that she was there in all disasters in the province.
"Ako po, lahat na sakuna na nangyari dito sa Batangas, ako po personal na andito. Lahat na bagyong tumama, nandito po ang aming opisina. Noong lumindol, nandito po ang aming opisina. Noong pumutok 'yung bulkang Taal noong 2020, nandito po 'yung aming opisina," she said.
Batangas 2nd district representative Raneo "Ranie" Abu introduced Robredo to the crowd and gave his support.
"Ang kasabihan dito, 'Di bale nang mawalan ng yaman, basta 'wag ng yabang'. Pero ngayong gabing ito, hindi [lang] yabang ang dami ng mga Batangueño para kay Leni Robredo," Abu said, in reference to the large crowd that showed up in the early afternoon hours before the program began at the Catalina Lake Residences.
Robredo's rally was also attended by host city mayor Ryan Dolor. Mayor Larry Alvarez of the island town of Tingloy made it to the rally as well with his constituents.
Deputy Speaker and 6th District Batangas Representative Vilma Santos-Recto and her husband Senator Ralph Recto welcomed the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem to their home in Lipa.
Although, the couple did not make an appearance in Robredo's grand rally in Bauan.
Ralph's One Batangas has declared their support for presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, promising him 1 million votes from the Rectos' bailiwick.
Earlier in the day, 118 priests from the Archdiocese of Lipa declared their endorsement of Robredo and her running mate Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, against the "LeTi" or Robredo-Sotto tandem, posters of whom were hung in some areas.
Robredo was accompanied by her daughters Aika, Tricia, and Jillian onstage during Saturday night's rally, all of whom came from house-to-house campaigning.
Jillian went to Anilao, San Pascual, Rosario, and visited other areas in Bauan, while Tricia came all the way from Camiguin. Aika visited several barangays and a public market in Makati.
Robredo herself toured seven towns and cities before heading to the Bauan rally. She had a multi-sectoral assembly in Nasugbu, and a mini-rally in Lemery, and also visited Tuy, Taal, Santa Teresita, Lipa, and Batangas City.
"Hindi po kami nakukuntento na isang malaking rally lang, gaya nito, dahil may mga kababayan po tayo, lalo na 'yung nasa malalayong mga bayan, hindi makakapunta dito sa Bauan," Robredo said.
"Gusto po naming iparamdam sa inyo na ganito 'yung aasahan niyong pamahalaan namin ni Senator Kiko. Gobyerno 'yung lalapit sa inyo. Hindi kayo mahihirapan humingi ng tulong," she added.
Robredo is set to tour Cavite on Sunday to complete her camp's Calabarzon run as the last week of campaigning rolls in.
The national and local elections will be held on May 9.
- with report from Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News