2022 PH Elections - News

Celebrate diversity, ‘Wonder Woman’ Robredo tells supporters in Negros Occidental

Inday Espina-Varona, Mara Cepeda

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Celebrate diversity,  ‘Wonder Woman’ Robredo tells supporters in Negros Occidental

HOPE. Vice President Leni Robredo and supporters in Sagay, Negros Occidental, on March 11, 2022.

Ronnie Baldonado/Rappler

In Sagay City, Vice President Leni Robredo tells her supporters to embrace the differences among the many groups backing her candidacy: 'Kahit nagkakaiba-iba, tayo ay nagkakaisa'

SAGAY CITY, Philippines – Vice President and opposition presidential candidate Leni Robredo hailed Negrenses’ intense grassroots campaign for her presidential run and told a cheering crowd of thousands here that their next meeting could just be at a victory party. 

But Robredo, dubbed “Wonder Woman” by Negros Occidental 2nd District Representative Leo Rafael Cueva, also urged supporters to get out of their comfort zones. 

The campaign, she said, needs to convince the undecided to back presidential and vice presidential bets “with no taint of corruption.”

The head of her campaign team in Negros Occidental, former governor Rafael Coscolluela ,said they have spent the last few months – even at the height of the pandemic – training urban, middle class youth and professionals to become grassroots organizers. 

The churches of Negros, with their long history of activism, are among Robredo’s strongest supporters. 

While technically, they do not endorse candidates, the clergy and the religious tackle themes and issues that make it hard to avoid political discussion. (WATCH: ‘Church cannot be neutral about good or evil’ – Archbishop Villegas)

Many religious groups also believe spiritual and secular action must blend to improve people’s lives. 

At the new St. Joseph Parish church, packed from doors to the, the clergy were effusive in their praise as they prayed over Robredo and her running mate, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. 

She was called “the winner in the eyes of God,” with a prayer for discernment among the people. 

Leni Robredo in Sagay City
BLESSING. The Robredo-Pangilinan tandem at the new St Joseph Parish Church packed with supporters.
No barriers

Despite a grave threat hurled against Robredo by a Facebook user, she did not change her campaign style, which involved direct engagement with the people – personally hearing their stories, leaning forward, and patting people’s backs.

While her security were on alert, there was no paranaoia, and no brusque pushing away of admirers. 

It took her at least 15 minutes to navigate the few meters between the stage and the exit gate because of a mob of admirers wanting to chat with her or take photographs.

Several priests called her the voice people on the margins of society sorely need.  

At the Sagay rally, Robredo told followers to embrace the differences among the many groups backing her candidacy.

Kahit nagkakaiba-iba, tayo ay nagkakaisa (We are united despite our differences),” Robredo said. 

The campaign fervor, she added, is not so much because people love her but because they recognize that the May 2022 elections is a fight for the future of their families and the nation. 

Leni Robredo in Sagay City
PACKED. A drone shot of the crowd at the Sagay City raly. Photo by Ronnie Baldonado

“Papatunayan natin sa lahat na ang kapangyarihan, nasa kamay ng ordinaryong Negrense!.. ‘Pag bumalik tayo sa susunod, baka victory party na,” she said as a roar filled the soggy, open field off the Sagay City hall.

(We will prove to everyone that power rests in the hands of the orginary Negrense!… The next time we’re around, it may be for a victory party.)

In Ilonggo, Representative Cueva told Negrenses: “She doesn’t stay in offices. She goes around the whole country. She’s a Wonder Woman. May giyera, may pandemic (There’s a war, a pandemic)? Leni is with us, helping us. 
When we have problems, Leni is there to help solve the these.”

“Life is hard but I will stand with you. This time, join me in fighting for the woman who can change our lives,” Cueva added. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.