“This is the fight of our lives.”
The volunteer-driven campaign for Vice-President Leni Robredo’s presidential bid is nothing like anything we have seen in previous elections. Hers is truly a people’s campaign.
Filipinos know that the VP does not have the financial and even material resources to mount and sustain a national campaign. She is also without the organizational machinery enjoyed and used by the present administration. A lesser candidate would have balked and refused to face this seemingly insurmountable challenge. But Leni Robredo is made of sterner stuff.
When she said, “Lalaban ako, lalaban tayo” as she announced her decision to run for president, she galvanized people to action. VP Leni knew that despite the odds if the people are with her, the lack of resources and machinery is not without solutions. From day one, she was clear, this is not just her fight, this is the people’s fight.
The people saw hope to turn the country’s situation around with Robredo at the helm. They responded and continue to respond to fill the gap in all types of resources. The people understand how high the stakes are for this election. It can be said that for VP Leni personally, this may just be another election and if she loses, she will just have to go back to being a private citizen.
However, if the Filipino electorate makes the same mistake like they did in 2016, what we possibly will have is another six years similar to the Duterte regime. The country and the people cannot afford this anymore. The Philippines is in a precarious situation especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far afflicted 2.83 million and killed nearly 48,000 Filipinos. Poverty has worsened and has become widespread because of the loss of jobs and livelihood as businesses and enterprises continue to suffer. The economy is in a very bad shape. Worse, our territories in the West Philippine Sea remain occupied by China.
The grave mistake in 2016 must never happen again. This is the reason why people are working doubly hard for a Robredo presidency. This is no ordinary fight. This is the fight of our lives.
I have never seen a campaign where people willingly volunteer their time, talent, and resources freely. Artists and graphic designers come up with Leni and Kiko campaign material designs for free and post the same for anyone to use. Using available designs, people spend their own money to produce tarpaulins, stickers, comics, ballers, shirts, fans, bags, and other paraphernalia. They then distribute these for free.
Some pool financial resources on social media to be able to produce materials in bulk so prices are lower. What is amazing is that people who do not personally know each other respond, share resources, and work together on this campaign.
Some of the “fiercest” campaigners of VP Leni I know were former DDS. I asked a few why and they said, “Bumabawi dahil sa laki ng utang sa bayan.” Indeed, more and more are waking up.
People know that I am for VP Leni and many from different parts of the country have been asking for campaign paraphernalia. I crowd-sourced on Facebook and Twitter and several people responded and sent me a decent volume which, in turn, I sent to provinces. This truly is cooperation.
The campaign on social media rages. When #kakampinks realized that Tiktok is heavily dominated by supporters and trolls of the dictator’s son, not a few opened accounts, created and continue to create content, and are now campaigning strongly for Robredo using the platform.
Volunteers organize themselves on their own on a per-area basis. I have yet to find a group of volunteers that is directly organized by, or connected with the actual group of VP Leni. We have seen this in how the pink caravans are organized, the mushrooming of #LeniLugaw stalls organized by homeowners and neighborhood associations offering free lugaw to anyone and everyone who wants to eat the dish. Even ordinary people in communities have been organizing #LeniLugaw stalls for the benefit of their neighbors and friends.
Doctors have never been this invested in electoral campaigns. Perhaps this is because they have experienced firsthand how an inefficient and ineffective government can harm people’s health and even kill a lot of doctors. They are in the frontlines of fighting COVID-19, they lost too many from their rank, so they know fully well how bad governance can hurt the country.
Doctors come up with creative ways of campaigning from the subtle tactics to the most overt ones. They offer their services for free for VP Leni’s COVID-19-related projects. Many also produce Leni materials for distribution by others. I once, by chance, overheard part of the campaign meeting of doctors and the passion was palpable.
A group of lawyers is also involved in producing campaign materials. As part of their fundraising for the campaign, some are now selling pink Christmas lanterns. This way, they are able to support the small producers and raise some funds. Those small pink parol hanging from houses and trees may very well be from this initiative.
VP Leni said, “Mas radikal ang magmahal” as she admonished #Kakampinks to not fight against those belonging to other camps but do good to others. Robredo is not only leading a decent campaign for the presidency, she also inspires people to do good and be kind. Indeed, “mas radikal ang magmahal.”
The kind of campaign that VP Leni is running should scare her opponents. Instead of the candidate spending for the campaign, it is the people who are investing in a Robredo presidency. This campaign is from the people’s hearts and cannot be bought. This is the people’s campaign.
@bethangsioco on Twitter; Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook