MANILA, Philippines – Singer-songwriter Kakie Pangilinan has long been known for speaking her mind online about current events. And in the past few months, she’s taken things much further on the ground for Team Kakampink.
Her dad, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, served as Vice President Leni Robredo’s running mate for the 2022 national elections, and Kakie and her mom, actress-singer Sharon Cuneta, were with the tandem all across the Philippines for what’s become one of the most important volunteer movements in recent history.
Now that the dust is starting to settle on the elections, and results have not boded well for the Kakampinks, what has Kakie learned from all this, and what’s coming next?
Rappler entertainment editor Marguerite de Leon on Thursday, May 19, interviewed Kakie at the Rappler HQ to find out. Below are excerpts from their exchange, with responses edited for brevity.
RAPPLER: I guess the obvious first question would be, kumusta ka na, how are you? How is the family feeling?
KAKIE: Thankfully, on a personal level we’re all fine. We’re able to relax, smile, be together, watch movies, have dinner…and it’s also been a welcome rest, especially for dad, especially for mom also but lalo na dad. But, you know, at the same time, there’s that other part, there’s that part that’s Pinoy, that’s Filipino, and you can’t help but feel, sort of, dread? Or sort of, you know, there’s just this foreboding — I don’t even know how to describe it. But I’m sure people have felt the same. I’m sure everybody felt some version of it a bit because it’s like we’re on the precipice of really, really intense change. And, you know, I think that people think that we’re probably really heartbroken, and it’s not really that because, from the very beginning, we knew it was gonna be an uphill battle, so looking back, it was always processing that. It was always processing, like, kasi kilala namin ‘yung kalaban. It sort of prepared us for this. The outcome was always in the cards.
RAPPLER: The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for the Leni campaign, so what were your favorite memories?
KAKIE: The first thing that comes to mind is when we went to Legazpi. I went to Legazpi with Team Kiko. It was a whole — it was a crazy. First of all, my leg of the campaign was crazy because I went to 12 places in seven days.
And meeting all the volunteers, that was the most important part to me, because you see the passion of these people. I’ve lived through four [of my father’s campaigns]. This is the only one where it felt like we were not alone in this. It was weird! It was weird in the best way possible, it was.
RAPPLER: Was there anything new you learned about your mom and your dad during this whole thing? Like something you’d never expected you’d find out about them?
KAKIE: I think I’m very proud of my mom. She’s evolved a lot in the last year or so. You know, as a person, I think she’s found this strength in her that she didn’t think she had in a very strange way, because she’s always talked openly about how she doesn’t have a liking for politics, but this time around talagang iba eh. I don’t — I couldn’t, I couldn’t tell you what it was…. But my parents, this whole time, this is the first campaign I think that they’ve really been kapit to each other like this, and I told them, as long as the six of us are okay, we’ll be okay. And like, that’s what we’ve learned from this; it changed us forever, the entire family. But we couldn’t have — I don’t think any of us would be here right now if we didn’t have each other.
RAPPLER: Your mom actually confessed earlier that she and your dad didn’t see eye to eye on President Duterte. How did you feel about that when she publicly expressed that?
KAKIE: Well, she was being honest. We rarely talked about it because I think it’s a hard subject. But there were many dinner tables situations like that. But the thing about my parents is they are both completely their own people and also compeltely respectful of each other to that extent. Like, my mom would never try to control my dad and my dad would never try to control my mom…. Compromises were made because they’re both very, very clever people, intelligent people who just didn’t agree naturally on some things, which is very human and every house has that…. I think we’re all united in principle, but not necessarily in perspective.
RAPPLER: That’s a good way of putting it.
KAKIE: I don’t think that there’s a single Pinoy out there who voted because they thought that their candidate was, like, worse, you know? I think that they genuinely voted because they wanted the Philippines to just be better. And they know that we all have this fundamental belief that better is attainable. Otherwise, why do we fight for it? Like, what’s the use? And, you know, that’s respect. That’s just what that is, like, you respect that. All choices are always understandable. Not necessarily justifiable…. All of those things add up to a human being that can be understood…. I don’t think that anybody was born evil. I don’t think people are born wicked. That’s denying people the basic understanding that we are complex creatures, which is ridiculous. And I think that that’s why social media now is so dangerous, because we’ve developed these parasocial relationships with each other that reduce us to digital footprints, and that’s so unhealthy because people are not that simple. People are not that two-dimensional, you know? And it’s like — it could be argued we’re like 5D or 4D, ‘di ba? I think that’s the frustration now, because then it became a 2D election, you know.
RAPPLER: There’s also a huge number of celebrities supporting Leni. This was something that Filipinos had honestly never seen in the past elections, not at this scale. So why do you think so many big names from the entertainment industry came out with their political stance this time around?
KAKIE: COVID catalyzed this sort of dismantling of the illusion for a lot of people in privilege that everything was fine, na okay lang to stay silent, or that not everything has to be political. I do think that everything is political from any angle you look at it. I think that there was a certain healthy amount of pressure that encouraged people to inform themselves, especially people in positions of power, influence…. But I think that it’s so unhealthy that we’ve also quantified influence, because influence is a term and a concept that’s existed long before social media ever did, and everybody has their own sphere of influence, because it doesn’t matter how many followers I have – I can’t touch your loved ones the way that you can converse with your loved ones. I can’t breach that veil of intimacy that you can breach, which affects them more than a tweet of mine or a post of mine ever could, and that’s not quantifiable.
RAPPLER: Do you think entertainers will continue to be as outspoken given the new political climate?
KAKIE: I don’t think we should blame people who feel they cannot be after this, because outspokenness in these circumstances is a privilege. It is entirely a privilege as well to be able to navigate that, because I think, now more than ever, one can argue it’s unsafe, no? And I think it will continue. I hope to be proven wrong. I do…. I hope that nobody blames each other also for not being able to maybe overcome their own threshold or their own, how do I put it? Parang everybody has their own tolerance levels for that…. But at the same time, to people who are able to, more comfortably than others, I hope that they realize that now is the time, that to a certain extent it becomes a responsibility and a duty. I think that it becomes a responsibility to speak out about it, especially if you are in conditions that would warrant you safer than others, right?
RAPPLER: Let’s look to the future. What’s next for you? Can we expect new music inspired by the elections?
KAKIE: Actually, first, I had to postpone an album for like two years…. And then everything happened. First, Omicron happened, and I was so annoyed because I couldn’t record and I couldn’t do all these things, but obviously, that was just me being a little selfish…. I just want to get it done na. I just want to get it done, but now, I think also the time has afforded me to get better, to learn more, to be inspired by other things, and I don’t know, I’m excited for that. I really need an outlet right now. I really need that, and honestly, I kind of wanted to just bury myself in the studio for three weeks, but you know, things. I thought it was going to be, like after elections, I thought there was going to be a sort of, even just a week of pause. I thought that there would be a rest afforded, but no…. I haven’t been able to write in so long out of sheer anxiety and tension. It’s been weird. And now, I need to write everything, you know? It feels odd because it feels like I could write a memoir about this. (I’m not gonna do that.)
RAPPLER: How about the Kakampink movement itself? What’s next for it? Leni announced her NGO, so do you know anything about the next steps for that?
KAKIE: I don’t really, but I can give my two cents. I think that it would be right to capitalize on the momentum that is from there. I hear that a lot of Kakampinks are seeking grief counseling. I think that just goes to show, this was the first election, for a lot of people, where they were just as invested as us…. My dad believes in miracles, and my dad believes that in the end things will always find their way to where they’re supposed to be, to get where they’re supposed to be…. I just don’t want to let all those people down, because those were millions who believed in the Kakampink brand of better…. It’s a held breath, and I hope that when we exhale, people are safe, people are healthy, people are well, and people have their freedom. That’s all, really.
RAPPLER: What do you think is the secret to keeping this movement going?
Keep the hope. I don’t think anyone wants to have to rekindle their hope, which became sort of this stoked flame for so long. But I hope also that we can find other shapes for that hope and put it to good use apart from just daydreaming and pag-asa…. Also, right now I have to say this. There’s a lot of fake news that’s going around that’s being spread by both camps and that needs to stop. It’s really harmful. I think it’s also not great to make light of anything that happened during Martial Law, especially the atrocities and the injustices. It’s really, really harmful to make fun or make light of red-tagging when there are activists and students and people who get red-tagged for real every day. I wish that all those things could be avoided, and I wish that we could just move on to what’s the next step, right? And I’ll be there for whatever that is. I don’t want to leave. I don’t. I don’t want to leave. That’s me appealing to my dad. Dad, I don’t want to leave. I love you. Please, don’t send me away. That’s it. – Rappler.com