UPLB students: ‘Miriam is the answer!’
LAGUNA, Philippines - Despite the searing heat, supporters of presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago trooped to the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on Wednesday, April 27 to express their support for the People's Reform Party’s standard-bearer.
"Kung ibang bansa nga nagtitiwala, umaasa kay Miriam, tayo pa kayang Pilipino?” said Carr Benedict David of Youth for Miriam. (If other countries trust Miriam, what more us Filipinos?)
David said voters should support the leader they think the Philippines deserves. According to him, Santiago is the only qualified presidential candidate since she is the only one who has experience working in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
"By the end of this forum, sana mas ma-engganyo yung iba na siya ang iboto kasi siya naman talaga yung pinaka-qualified," said Maricar Pua, a UPLB sophomore student. (By the end of this forum, we hope more people will be engaged and inspired to vote for her because she is the most qualified.)
Santiago arrived at Baker Hall in UPLB to loud cheers of “Si Miriam ang sagot!” (Miriam is the answer!)
The Forum was organized by Buklod-UPLB, a recognized student political organization.
UPLB also hosted other presidential candidates - Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte - in the past.
Santiago’s speech lasted less than 30 minutes, opening with her trademarks pickup lines and taking a swipe at the inaccuracy of surveys. (READ: Miriam Santiago in UPLB: 'Surveys are unreliable')
"Every time na mag survey sila dahil bayaran'tong mga 'to e. Bilangin mo nang bilangin, 'di bale dahil late ako ng kampanya at may sakit ako. Pero bakit sa lahat ng pamantasan sa bansa, saan ka man pumunta, lalo na sa UP campuses bakit palagi akong number one?” she added.
(Every time they conduct surveys, it’s paid. The numbers don’t match. It’s a given that I started late in my campaign and I am sick. But why is it that in almost every university in the Philippines, especially in UP campuses, I’m always number one?)
The former law professor topped March surveys held in 3 campuses of UP with 56.6% of 11,700 respondents from UP Diliman, Los Baños and Manila preferring her over other candidates.
The microphone failed to work during Santiago's speech, prompting her to ask rhetorically if she was being sabotaged.
“Ano iyan, sabotage? Nothing could stop me. Maghintay siya ng tapos ko. Hahamunin ko ng suntukan yan!” Santiago said. (What is this? Sabotage? Nothing could stop me. They should wait until I finish. I will challenge that person to a fist fight!)
(READ: Is it game over for Miriam?)
Speaking before an enthusiastic audience, Santiago praised UP students for being 'smart'.
“I am never happier than when I am in a UP campus!" said Santiago.
But some students were disappointed when the senator left early to go to her next appointment instead of answering questions from the audience.
"Nag-expect po kami na may Q and A since sabi forum, na may interview. Kasi medyo ang pangit nung sounds, so hindi rin maintindihan lalo na nung mga nasa likod at nasa taas. Since nasa taas kami, nag-expect kami na may open forum para mas maintindihan," Faysela Canlas, a UPLB student said.
(We expected a Q and A portion and an interview because they said it was a forum. The sound system was bad so it was difficult for us at the back and on the second level to hear what she said. An open forum would have helped clarify her points.)
JC Sollorano, another UPLB student pointed out that while Santiago has a great impact on the youth, many audience members did not hear her clearly.
"It's sad that we didn't understand what she said on many instances because of the bad sound system. Aside from this, we didn't have a chance to ask questions even for a while. It would have given her a chance to clarify her points and for students to have a critical discussion," Sollorano added.
"May iba't ibang events pa naman si Madam kung saan mas malaki yung chance natin na makapag-tanong sa kanya,” David said. (The senator has other events where we have bigger chances of asking her questions.)
Santiago has been trailing behind other presidential candidates in most surveys. In the most recent Pulse Asia survey released Tuesday, April 26, Santiago scored the lowest, with only 2% of registered voters said they will vote for her. (Check out the latest poll results in Rappler's Poll Monitor)
But for a large part of the crowd in UPLB, Santiago is on the top of their list. - With reports from Abigail Abigan/ Rappler.com
Karla Sambajon is a Rappler Mover.