Grace Poe tells Zamboanga: FPJ’s fight ‘not yet over’

Camille Elemia
Grace Poe tells Zamboanga: FPJ’s fight ‘not yet over’
The presidential bet campaigns in the city where her father won big in the 2004 presidential race: 'Ang dami niyang pangarap [para] sa Mindanao'

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – If there was an area where presidential bet Senator Grace Poe would not neglect mentioning her late father Fernando Poe Jr, it would be in Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay province, both considered strongholds of FPJ during the 2004 presidential elections.

As in past sorties, Poe on Friday, March 4, made sure her father’s name was mentioned to voters. Twelve years ago, FPJ won against then President Gloria Arroyo by a large margin in the city. FPJ, however, lost to Arroyo in the elecion widely believed to have been rigged.

Grace Poe told voters in the city that FPJ’s dream for Mindanao was cut short by his death. But that fight, she said, is not yet over, referring to her own victory as top senator in 2013 and her current presidential bid.

“Ang dami niyang pangarap sa Mindanao kaya lang bigla na lang naglaho nang siya’y namatay. Pero hindi pala ‘yun ang plano ng Diyos para sa ‘tin…. Hindi pa pala tapos ang laban, sabi ni FPJ,” Poe said in a speech at Langkawa Hotel.

(He had many dreams for Mindanao, but they got lost when he died. But it seems that’s not God’s plan for us. The fight is not yet over, as FPJ said.)

Poe thanked Zamboanga City for making her a senator and vowed to help them if she wins as president.

“Noong 2013, kayo naman, tinulungan ‘nyo ko manalo bilang senador, at ako’y taos-pusong nagpapasalamat,” she said. (In 2013, you helped me win as senator. and I am truly grateful)

Poe topped the senatorial race in the city with 144,058 votes. She also won as number 1 senator in Zamboanga Sibugay.

She vowed to prioritize Mindanao if she becomes president, reiterating she would give the island group 30% of the national budget or P1 trillion.

“Nasa harap din ninyo ngayon ang kung sakaling maging pangulo na poprotektahan at isusulong sa pagkakataong ito ang tulong na matagal nang ‘pinagkait sa Mindanao,” she said.

(Also in front of you now is someone who might become president, who will protect and push for the assistance that Mindanao has long been denied.)

Channelling Fernando Poe Jr

Poe recounted how Mindanao loved her father on and off the screen. She recalled how some people would swim just to save on transportation so they could watch FPJ’s movies in the city centers.

“Tuwing may pelikula, ang gagawin ‘tinatanong muna ng may-ari ng sinehan, ‘Teka muna, mamamatay ba si FPJ sa pelikulang ito?’ Kung ang sagot ay ‘hindi,’ papayagan nila pero kung ang sagot ay oo, wag na lang kasi binabaril ng mga tao ang screen,” Poe said, receiving applause from the crowd.

(Each time he had a movie, the owner of the cinema would ask, “Wait, is FPJ going to die in this film?” If the answer is “no,” they would allow it. Otherwise, they would not show the movie becauae people would be shooting at screen.)

Poe, who is facing the risk of disqualification over citizenship and residency issues, also defended herself from critics. She maintained she is a true blue Filipino as a foundling.

Quoting a line from her father’s movie, Poe addressed her critics: “Sa aking mga katunggali: sabi ni FPJ, “‘Wag ‘nyong sabihing marami kayong salapi, ‘wag ‘nyong sabihing marami kayong tauhan, pare-pareho lang tayo, isang…”

“Isang bala ka lang!” the audience finished her sentence.

(To my rivals: FPJ said, “Don’t tell me you have a lot of money, don’t tell me you have a lot of people, we’re all the same, you’ll meet your match…in a bullet.) 

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email