MANILA (UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday thanked her supporters for their efforts in her campaign but also acknowledged their dismay over the 2022 election results results.
“Alam kong napakarami pang nagluluksa at nalulungkot. Totoo ang nararamdaman nyo at mahalagang maramdaman niyo ito,” Robredo said.
Robredo, who lost to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the presidential race, offered comfort to the crowd gathered at the Bellarmine field in Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.
“Nauunawaan ko ang pinagdaraanan ninyo. Nagbubuhol-buhol ang ating mga damdamin sa dibdib natin ngayon,” she said.
Robredo made sure her supporters were aware that she knew their sacrifices, and their efforts to speak to other candidates’ supporters, which came to no avail.
Halfway through her campaign, Robredo’s daughters led house-to-house activities, speaking directly and one-on-one with voters to sway their preference toward Robredo.
It was quickly replicated across the nation by supporters who organized activities together. Those who could not head out to the streets contributed their money to those who could through a mobile app launched by other supporters.
The painstaking activity to reach out to individual voters under the heat of the sun and through pouring rain in the last month of the campaign season hardly paid off, with Marcos Jr. getting over twice as many votes as Robredo.
“Siguro pakiramdam ng iba binalewala tayo, minsan nga tinatawanan pa,” Robredo said.
Maeden, Fatima, and Janelle made the trip to Quezon Ciry from Taguig with cash only enough for dare just to be part of what may be the last “kakampink” rally.
Maeden said he comes from a family of Marcos Jr. supporters and has resigned to the poll results.
“Sana na lang hindi siya (Marcos Jr.) maging tulad ng tatay niya,” he said.
Robredo in her message of thanks did not neglect to validate her supporters' feelings and urged them to seek out where their grief stems from.
“Babaran natin ang nararamdaman ngayon, damhin ang tibok ng puso. Ipaalala sa sarili na talagang ganito magmahal,” she said.
“Kung may nararamdaman tayong galit nag-uugat ito sa pag-ibig,” she continued.
Mimi, who attended 5 of Robredo’s rallies, stood to show her pop-up placard to fellow supporters at Ateneo for what she anticipates may be the last time she could do it.
"Maganda rin na natutuwa sila kasi alam naman natin ang mood,” she said it was also a chance for her to offer comfort through her art to fellow supporters.
Mimi and 14.8 million others who voted for Robredo now face 6 years under Bongbong Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., who in his 21 years of power suppressed freedom of expression, first by silencing and controlling press, and then enforcing strict bans and curfews for gatherings and protests.
“Baka last chance na, samantalahin na natin ang ating freedom of expression, at baka di na magka ganito kalaking event," Mimi added.
Robredo, whose grief was shared by her fellow Bicolanos when her late husband and former Naga City mayor and interior secretary Jesse Robredo passed in 2012, shared pearls of wisdom learned from the ordeal.
Robredo said the anguish caused by the results of the polls can spur forth something more productive.
“Ang natutunan ko sa ganitong [mga] pagkakataon ng paghihirap, ang paghihilom di darating habang nagkukulong o nagmumukmok,” Robredo said.
“Darating ang paghilom ‘pag nagsimulang itinuon muli ang sarili sa kapwa,” she told the crowd, which she repeatedly hushed to get their full and undivided attention.
Robredo announced in her speech that the Office of the Vice President’s Angat Buhay program will be turned into a non-government organization by July this year.
This is what Deans now looks forward to, having resigned from his job a day before Robredo’s thanksgiving event in Quezon City.
Deans carried with him a placard that declared that he resigned from his job because his “boss is an apologist.”
He said he felt uncomfortable having to work for a supporter and friend of Marcos Jr.’s family.
To him, his peace of mind was worth losing his job, especially now that he has better places he can direct his energies toward.
“Sana matuloy kasi nandito kami para tumulong,” he said, sharing his excitement over the Angat Buhay NGO.
Until July, he will turn to his family business to tide over their income.
“Ang hamon: panatilihing magkarugtong ang ating mga bisig, ang humakbang na magkakasama,” Robredo said.
The outgoing vice president also challenged her supporters anew: fight disinformation alongside her.
During her campaign, Robredo makes a point to visit the local clergy in an effort to seek their help to combat disinformation among their parishioners.
Devout Catholic Robredo, who has been targeted by disinformation online through her 6 years in office, believes that the church can help her champion truth.
But the wide network and religious influence of the Catholic church, which declared its support for Robredo in pockets and groups, were no match for what Robredo called a "decades-long project."
"Ninakaw nito ang katotohanan, kaya ninakaw din ang kasaysayan, pati na ang kinabukasan. Disimpormasyon ang isa sa pinakamalaki nating kalaban," she said.
But this was not to say the election results were a sham; Robredo even asked her supporters, some of whom still hold out hope for a win, to accept the poll count.
"Kailangang tanggapin natin ang pasya ng mayorya. Nakikiusap ako sa inyong makiisa sa akin dito," Robredo said.
A stark difference from this election's rematch opponent, her rival Marcos Jr., who requested for a recount of the 2016 votes alleging his victory as vice president. The recount only increased Robredo's votes instead of declaring him winner.
Marcos Jr.'s electoral protest was also junked in 2021, due to lack of evidence.
Shushing the crowd multiple times, the outgoing vice president herded her distracted supporters back toward the same direction.
"Itutuon ko ang enerhiya ko sa paglaban ng kasinungalingan– at hinihiling kong samahan ninyo ako dito.
"Kailangan nating maging isang kilusang magtatanggol ng katotohanan. Kailangan nating imulat ang mga nakakausap kung paano pinapalaganap ang kasinungalingan, kung bakit ito pinapaniwalaan, at kung sino ang nasa likod nito."
Robredo changed one of her campaign lines, marking the shift in direction that her campaign-turned-crusade will now take.
“Tara na, ituloy na natin ang laban para sa Pilipinas na ating pinapangarap.”