As initial votes come in, somber yet hopeful mood at Otso Diretso HQ

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidate Erin Tañada was seated at the head of the table inside Otso Diretso's media center when the television showed the partial and official results of the race he hopes to win. 

At 6:23 pm on Monday, May 13, with less than 1% of precincts transmitting results, Tañada was at 25th place with only 14,624 votes. (READ: Can Otso Diretso do a repeat of Robredo’s 2016 victory?

He quietly watched as names of the leading candidates were read out loud by the TV announcer, Tañada's chin resting on his right palm. Beside him, his 24-year-old son Mito watched the news in silence as well.

Tañada was the only Otso Diretso candidate who went to Balay – the Liberal Party-turned-Otso Diretso headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City – on election night. (READ: 'Mahaba pa ang laban': Survey laggard Otso Diretso bets still positive)

"It's still too early," Tañada said. "Well, not yet even 1%. Wala pa eh. Come back to me at around maybe 10%, then pag-isipan natin kung ano'ng nangyayari. But at 0.3%, malayo pa 'yan! Confident pa rin kami."

(It's still too early. Well, not yet even 1%. That's nothing yet. Come back to me at around maybe 10%, then let's think about what would happen next. But at 0.3%, that's still too far! We're still confident.)

Otso Diretso's campaign staff in the room with him watched the developments on television in sullen silence. Outside the media center, less than 30 volunteers of Otso Diretso bet and former interior chief Mar Roxas were gathered in a larger room, murmuring to each other in their small groups as the news flashed on large screens.

FOR MAR. Volunteers for Otso Diretso bet Mar Roxas watch the news.

Otso Diretso youth volunteer Iñaqui Angelo Mangahas said the initial results are making him "very nervous and very scared."

"I think we cannot be discouraged by this. May mga votes pa na papasok and buong gabi naman tayong maghihintay. So sana magbago 'yung resulta," Mangahas said.

(I think we cannot be discouraged by this. There are votes that will still be coming in and we will stand by the whole night. So we're hoping the results will change.)

Despite the somber mood at Balay, Tañada said his fight for the rights of Filipino farmers and laborers would continue regardless of the final results of the senatorial race.  

"Para sa atin, hindi naman nagtatapos dito sa halalan. As a matter of fact, kailangan ipagpatuloy pa rin 'yung pinag-uusapan na issues dahil hindi naman sinasagot 'yung issues na pinag-uusapan namin. Say for example, 'yung usapin sa farmers, 'yung patuloy na kahirapan, bagsak ang presyo ng bilihan ng palay, sa usapin ng coconut farmers," said Tañada. 

(For us, the battle doesn't end with the elections. As a matter of fact, we still need to continue talking about the issues we're pushing for because they're still not being addressed. Say for example, the plight of farmers, the continuing poverty, the low prices of palay, the issue of coconut farmers.)

'THE FIGHT CONTINUES.' Iu00f1aqui Angelo Mangahas is one of the youth volunteers for Otso Diretso.

Mangahas thinks the same, saying the fight is not yet over even for young volunteers like him. 

"We can look into what worked, what didn't work. Pero at the same time, you know, we build on the networks that we have, 'yung mga friends na nakilala namin, 'yung mga volunteers na ipagpatuloy 'yung laban. Continue na i-engage sila at dalhin natin 'yung laban sa ibang paraan," he said.

(We can look into what worked, what didn't work. But at the same time, you know, we build on the networks we have, the friends we met here, the volunteers to continue the fight. We have to continue engaging with them, and continue the fight in different ways.) –

Follow Rappler's full coverage of the 2019 Philippine elections here.

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.