MANILA, Philippines – Even before presidential bet Grace Poe and running mate Francis Escudero could speak before a crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila, hundreds of attendees already left the event hosted by an organization of their senatorial candidate.
Kaagapay ng Manileño, a group of poll watchers for the elections, is an organization founded by outgoing Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.
Minutes after Moreno finished his speech on Sunday, March 27, the crowds inside the jam-packed coliseum became visibly thinner, as hundreds of Moreno supporters – all clad in white – continuously left the venue.
Not even the emcee's appeal to the supporters convinced them to stay and wait for the speeches of Poe, Escudero, and the other senatorial bets.
Asked about the incident, Moreno said it was not planned. He blamed the humid weather inside the coliseum for what happened.
"Mainit kasi kanina, talagang… Ala-una pa kasi (sila) nandirito, kulang 'yung fan 'nung PSC (Philippine Sports Commission). Talagang nahirapan kami, kahit kami sa entablado kanina kung makikita ninyo. But I'm really happy that mainit 'yung pagtanggap sa dalawa," he told reporters in a chance interview after the event.
(It was really hot inside. They were here as early as 1 pm. The Philippine Sports Commission has a shortage of fans inside. We really found it difficult, even us onstage, you could see it. But I'm really happy that the two were warmly welcomed here.)
Despite the supposed exodus, Poe and Escudero delivered their respective speeches to Manileños.
As in their other sorties, Poe said her father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr, loved the nation's capital so much that he shot most of his films in the city.
Poe also said Manila is "close to her heart," which is why she decided to launch her campaign in front of Quiapo Church.
"Ang aking ama ay bilib na bilib sa mga taga-Maynila. Ang mga pelikula niya katulad ng 'Tatak ng Tondo,' 'Iyo ang Tondo, Akin ang Cavite,' 'Agila ng Maynila' – lahat 'yan – 'Isla Puting Bato,' lahat 'yan ay tungkol sa mga Manileño, at ang inyong kagitingan at ang inyong pagmamahal sa kapwa," Poe said in her speech.
(My father admired Manileños. His movies like Tatak ng Tondo, Iyo ang Tondo, Akin ang Cavite, Agila ng Maynila – all of those – Isla Puting Bato, all of those movies were about Manileños and your bravery and love for others.)
Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is set to launch his reelection bid on Monday, March 28.
While there is nothing definite on his preferred presidential bet yet, rumors have it that he will endorse Poe, his godchild and the daughter of his best friend Fernando Poe Jr, over another friend, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Estrada and his allies remain mum on the matter. But the presence of his local allies at the event for Poe could give clues. After all, Moreno said all those present like Estrada's running mate Honey Lacuna, as well as congressional candidates Yul Servo, Robert Ortega Jr, and Benny Abante, are supporting the neophyte senator.
"It's the same people that will go tomorrow [to Estrada's proclamation rally] because they are from the same team. Yes, they are for Grace Poe, definitely. Their presence here is for Grace Poe," Moreno said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Lacuna, for her part, confirmed she is supporting Poe but only in her personal capacity. She maintained Estrada has not yet made his final decision.
"I'm concentrated on the local, we don't have any movement for the national level [yet]. We don't have any definite plans. I am for Grace Poe," Lacuna said. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com