Can #Miriam2016 revive her 1992 magic and movement?
MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-year old Justin Michael Beneraba was not yet born when Senator Miriam Santiago first ran for president, but he feels the senator still has the fire to win the presidency.
The graduating student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has not met the senator yet. What convinced him to choose Santiago as his candidate was a viral video of the senator's fiery 1992 campaign speech posted on Facebook.
Beneraba believes the 70-year-old Santiago is the president the country never had.
“Nakaka-inspire. Mas nabuhayan po ako ng loob noong napanood ko. Authoritative po yung dating niya,” said Beneraba, who will vote for the first time in the 2016 elections.
(She’s inspiring. I was energized hearing her speech. She sounded authoritative.)
In 1992, Santiago first ran for president. As a fiesty judge and former immigration boss, Santiago captured the imagination of millions of Filipino youth, who packed auditoriums just to listen to her.
Santiago however narrowly lost to former defense secretary Fidel V. Ramos in the polls she claims was rigged.
She also lost her second presidential bid in 1998, which was won by now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. She would however staunchly defend him in his impeachment trial that was triggered by corruption allegations.
That support for Estrada caused Santiago's big loss in the senatorial election of 2001, which happened 4 months after his ouster.
Youth for #Miriam2016
When Santiago announced her third presidential bid on Tuesday, October 13, Beneraba immediately signed up with the senator’s campaign as a volunteer.
Waisting no time, he opened the Twitter account @YouthForMiriam for the cause he and a group of young volunteers seek to spark online and offline across the country – the Youth for #Miriam2016 Movement.
For Beneraba and his fellow volunteers, social media is a key platform in reigniting the youth vote for Santiago.
Through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, they hope to replicate Santiago's vibrant campaign in 1992, and amplify it to reach a broad range of young connected voters who want "concrete change,” Beneraba said.
On Wednesday, October 14, Santiago’s campaign launched an online volunteer sign-up drive that seeks to gather "spirited volunteers to help us bring about the change that this country deserves."
The Youth for #Miriam2016 Movement is supporting the campaign, initially targeting to recruit at least 10,000 volunteers and to form online and offline chapters across the country.
Social media rockstar
Santiago has a solid credential as a public official, having served in all branches of the government, but it is her social media rockstar status that makes her a more exciting candidate.
According to Beneraba, the feisty senator's crusade against corruption resonates with the youth’s clamor for change.
Young voters, many of whom are active social media users, comprise about 40% of the total voting population.
Shortly after Santiago announced her presidential bid Tuesday afternoon, the hashtag #Miriam2016 racked up almost 24 million impressions, according to Rappler's social listening tool Reach. (READ: #Miriam2016: Social media rockstar gives netizens hope)
Santiago's popularity on social media fueled by her witty pick-up lines and shareable quotes can instantly create a buzz for her presidential bid, but whether or not it will help catapult her to the presidency remains to be seen. – Rappler.com