Facing long odds, Robredo sees silver lining in campaign led by citizenry

Wena Cos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2022 04:29 AM | Updated as of May 10 2022 11:24 AM

People gather on Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City to show their support for Vice President Leni Robredo at her campaign rally on April 23, 2022. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News
People gather on Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City to show their support for Vice President Leni Robredo at her campaign rally on April 23, 2022. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MAGARAO, Camarines Sur (UPDATE) – As Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. stretches his lead in the presidential race, Leni Robredo put a spotlight on the message of hope that came out of her 90-day campaign. 

“May nasimulan tayong hindi pa kailanman nasasaksihan sa buong kasaysayan ng bansa: isang kampanyang pinamunuan ng taumbayan,” Robredo said. 

She recalled some of the things that characterized her rallies as she toured the country to woo voters: overflowing food and drink freely given in crowds, newly composed and produced videos and songs, artwork from supporters which find their way from the back of the crowd to the stage in pristine condition, and hundreds of supporters moving in sync to make way for volunteer medics tending to those in need. 

“Napakaraming sandali kung kailan pinuno ng hiwaga ang mga puso natin,” she said in a statement made in the early hours of May 10, Tuesday, from her home in Magarao. 

“Isinadiwa ninyo ang demokrasya, hindi lang sa pagboto, kundi sa pagmamahal sa kapwa Pilipino … Hindi kayang sukatin ng numero ang lalim ng pagmamahal ninyo,” she added.

As she spoke, her daughters sat quietly to her right, off-camera. Aika, Tricia, and Jillian led her house-to-house campaign, quickly replicated on a national-scale by volunteers for her campaign.

“Ginawa ko ang lahat ng makakaya; tinumbasan ninyo ito, minsan higit pa. Walang dadaig sa kapayapaang dala ng katotohanang ito,” Robredo said. 

She asked supporters to find solace in their efforts, many of whom funded their campaign activities out of pocket. She also asked them to stay together beyond the campaign. 

“Hindi pa tayo tapos. Nagsisimula pa lang tayo. May landas na nagbukas, at hindi ito sasara kasabay ng mga presinto; may kilusang isinilang, at hindi ito papanaw sa pagtatapos ng bilangan,” she said. 

Despite a polarized elections, Robredo, whose campaign banked heavily on the messaging of “radikal na pagmamahal (radical love),” said her supporters’ love should not create an even bigger divide. 

“‘Wag mapagod. Bukas at magpakailanman, magkakasama ang lahat ng Pilipino,” she said.

Hours after polling precincts began to close Monday night, Bicolanos gathered at the Naga City Quince Martires plaza and offered prayers to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia and El Divino Rostro, both religious icons venerated in the province and believed to be miraculous. 

As more people arrived to add their voice to the chorus reaching out for intervention, the crowd moved to the bigger Plaza Quezon nearby.

Supporters solemnly sang "Rosas," one the songs voluntarily written and produced for Robredo's campaign which turned itself into an anthem. The air was thick with melancholy as the group began another anthem, this time of "Bayan Ko" of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

"Pilipinas kong minumutya, pugad ng luha at dalita; aking adhika, makita kang sakdal laya," they sang, some with heads turned down to hide tears, casting long shadows from lit candles in their hands while others turned their faces to the heavens. 

Solemnity turned into defiance in waves that came and went, in between songs when Robredo's name was chanted, a cry that pierced through the peaceful Naga night.

A couple of hours after the prayer rally started, Robredo convened media in her home in Magarao to give a statement on the poll results. 

As her supporters continued in fervent prayer, supporters of her rival began trickling onto the streets in Manila, some to gather in front of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong. 

Other "BBM" supporters gathered at the EDSA People Power Revolution monument: the immortalization of the public cry and succeeding victory to bring down from power Bongbong's father, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., a mere 36 years ago.

As posts expressing disbelief, doubt, indignation, anger, and fading hope began pouring in on social media, Robredo assured her supporters she will not abandon her cause and remain by their side in uplifting the lives of the marginalized. 

Elections only happen every three years, but much can still be done in between, she said. 

Other supporters echoed Robredo, thanking fellow volunteers and commemorating their organized activities in the campaign that turned into a crusade.

“Maaaring hindi ngayon, maaaring hindi bukas o sa makalawa o sa susunod na taon, pero may liwanag pa ring nag-aabang basta't handa tayong magsikap na abutin ito,” she said.