MANILA, Philippines – The vendors in Quiapo, Senator Grace Poe surmised, were probably bewildered why her eyes were red from crying when she passed by them.
On Tuesday afternoon, March 8, her car was on its way to Quiapo church – specifically, it was about to take the overpass going to the cathedral in Manila – when the radio started airing the breaking news that the Supreme Court (SC) had ruled that she is qualified to run for president of the Philippines.
The news wrapped up just as she got off in front of the cathedral.
"Kahit tanungin 'nyo mga kasama ko sa sasakyan, tumigil 'yung balita pagdating ko mismo sa harap ng simbahan kung saan ako’y nagpupunta. Katatapos lang ng balita – nasabi nila habang papunta ko roon, katatapos lang noong dumating ako doon, kaya para bang, bumaba ka na, magpasalamat ka na," Poe told reporters during a chance interview.
(You can ask those who were with me in the car, the news broadcast finished exactly when I arrived in front of the church, which I always visit. The news just wrapped up – it started when I was on my way, then it finished just as I got there. It was like telling me, get off the car, say your prayer of thanks.)
She knew the vendors who regularly see her go to that cathedral must be wondering: "'Yung mga vendors doon na lagi 'kong nakikita, siguro nag-iisip, ‘Bakit namumugto mata into?'" (The vendors there that I always see must be wondering, "Why are her eyes puffy?")
The presidential candidate was in the area as she was part of a women's day rally of progressive groups nearby. Poe held her proclamation rally for her presidential bid in February at Plaza Miranda, also in Quiapo. It was the same square where the supporters of her late father, actor Fernando Poe Jr, held a rally in 2004 after the Supreme Court decided FPJ was qualified to run for president.
Poe was quick to point out how churches had become the backdrop to milestones in her life. She was abandoned as an infant in front of the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo; she received the good news that the disqualification cases against her in the presidential race had been dismissed while she was in front of Quiapo church.
"Tamang tama narinig ko sa radyo ang balita noong ako'y paakyat ng underpass papuntang Quiapo church. Sa lahat ng lugar na malalaman ko pa…" Poe said. (It was as if the time was appointed – I heard the news on radio just as we were taking the underpass going to Quiapo church. Of all the places where I'd receive the news…)
"Tingin ko naman sa umpisang ito magmula noong aking pagkatao kung saan ako natagpuan hanggang sa mga hamon na dumating sa aming buhay, sa aking tatay, sa aking mga pinagdaanan, pinaglalaban," she said. (I think every thing about me started like this – from being found, to facing the challenges that came to us, my father, enduring the struggles and the fight.)
She acknowledged that the petitioners against her could file a motion for reconsideration, but she said the fact that the High Court ruled in her favor was victory enough.
Poe said she would continue to campaign hard and communicate her platform well since there is no room for complacency in the campaign. She recognized, however, that the SC ruling would firm up the support of voters who used to have second thoughts about voting for her.
"Mas meron nang lakas ng loob na pumili at sumuporta ngayon na meron nang desisyon ang Korte Suprema," she said of voters. (They can be confident in choosing and supporting [me] now that the Supreme Court has decided.)
Poe said she was surprised that the SC en banc came out with a ruling on Tuesday, as many quarters were expecting a decision at a later time.
"I care about it, I care about running, I care about the privilege to serve. I'm not obsessed about the position, so I was ready [for any decision]. And I’m ready to accept whatever the decision would be. It was a pleasant surprise," she said. – with a report from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com