2022 Philippine Elections

Cracks in ‘Solid North’ as Leni-Kiko volunteers launch center in Ilocos Norte

John Michael Mugas
Cracks in ‘Solid North’ as Leni-Kiko volunteers launch center in Ilocos Norte

YOUTH MOVE. Most of the supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo at the opening of the Leni-Kiko volunteer center in Ilocos Norte on February 25 are young, first time voters.

ILOCOS NORTE LENI-KIKO VOLUNTEERS

At least 300 supporters of the Leni-Kiko tandem show up during the volunteer center's opening, which coincided with the 36th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines —Just a few meters away from Ilocos Norte’s seat of power, the provincial capitol, volunteers of Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo and her running mate Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan opened a center on Friday, February 25.

At least 300 supporters of the Leni-Kiko tandem showed up during the opening of the volunteer center, which coincided with the 36th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt, a sign of a growing homegrown “silent” movement against the return of the Marcoses in the Malacañang.

“The Pink Movement has reached Ilocos Norte,” and it will “only grow stronger in the months to come,” the Ilocos Norte Leni & Kiko Volunteers (IN LOVE) said in a statement.

The group said it was confident in its decision to support Robredo despite “risking ourselves to more abuse and mockery from those who call us traitors” in the bailiwick of presidential bet and son and namesake of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Zsazsa Raval, IN LOVE coordinator, expressed gladness in seeing volunteers show up and bare their enthusiasm to elect officials that “uphold good governance, honest, and dignified leadership.”

These “virtues or principles are portrayed by no other than Vice President Leni Robredo,” Raval said.

IN LOVE said that it was by “no accident” that the opening of the volunteer center fell on the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, which ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power.

It was 36 years ago when the Filipinos were given a chance to “rebuild our country with what was left over from the corruption of the Marcos regime,” the group said.

The volunteer center located at the heart of Ilocos Norte’s capital city of Laoag also provides an opportunity for Ilocano martial law victims and their relatives to share their stories to a younger audience, Raval said.

Ilocanos were not spared from the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship, stressed 77-year old Laoag resident Gertrudes Pedro Tejero.

Tejero recounted how her sister Purificacion A. Pedro died at the Bataan Provincial Hospital in 1977 after being tortured by soldiers of the Marcos dictatorship.

Pedro, a social worker who grew up in Ilocos Norte, worked for the Immaculate Conception Parish in Quezon City in 1970 after graduating from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. In 1975, she left her parish job and worked as a volunteer for an organization supporting the anti-Chico Dam movement in Northern Luzon.

Unknown to many young Ilocanos, her name is inscribed on the wall of remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani. She is also among the Filipino Catholics listed as a nominee to be named as “Servant of God.”

Tejero told Rappler that her family was not able to “completely heal” from the sufferings they endured in Ilocos Norte during the Martial Law years.

“We never talked about it, we were silenced,” she said.

It was only when Pedro was listed by Filipino Catholics years back as a nominee to be named as a “Servant of God” that Tejero and her family decided to shed off fear and express support for Robredo.

She described the vice president as the “best qualified” among the presidential candidates.

Noting that there was no organized movement for Robredo in Ilocos Norte when she ran as Vice President in 2016, Tejero said she was “impressed” by the number of young people who turned out during the opening of the center.

Supporters of presidential and vice presidential bets Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan in Ilocos Norte open a volunteer center in the capital city of Laoag on February 25. JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS.

The “time is now” for Ilocanos, especially for the younger ones, she said.

The volunteer-group urged voters to not “squander” this chance to elect officials who are “honest, compassionate, and with integrity” instead of “traditional politicians who come from entrenched political dynasties or TV personalities who have no experience in governance.”

Robredo, they said, is the best hope to allow us to “turn this ship around.”

The group said they were not pinning their hopes on Robredo solely on her traits as a woman of strength and courage, but because she “helps us recognize that there is strength and courage in us as well.”

“Do you not see, Ilocos Norte? The tiny crack in the heart of so-called Solid North is growing, and we will continue to chip away at it until that crack finally falls apart into a chasm for the light of truth to fill,” they said. – Rappler.com

John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.