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CAMPAIGN NOTES: Roxas and Robredo's unguarded moments

"Campaign Notes" are filed by Rappler reporters and correspondents who have been covering specific candidates or localities. The series gives insights into the candidates' character, trusted people, and campaign decisions.

When a candidate goes on stage during a campaign rally, he or she can sometimes feel infallible. The bright stage lights or the sheer number of eyes focused on you can make anyone feel indestructible.

As one political expert (or pessimist) pointed out, it’s easy to imagine you’re a sure win when, each and every day of the campaign, you’re greeted by hordes of supporters wearing your campaign color and screaming your name.

But in the months I’ve covered Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas and running mate Leni Robredo, I’ve always felt they have self-awareness.

It isn’t so much self-doubt over their capacity to win, but a consciousness that adoring supporters won’t automatically translate to victory on election day.

Kagulz. Also 70 or so more days of this. #vscocam A photo posted by Bea Cupin (@beacupin) on Mar 1, 2016 at 2:39am PST

In interviews and press conferences, Roxas makes it a point to highlight the kind of reception they’re given. (This is, of course, in response to the default “Ano po ang masasabi 'nyo sa mainit na pagtanggap dito sa [name of province here]?”)

Some might dismiss it as mere chest-beating by the candidates, but, off-camera, in casual conversations with them, you'll get the opposite sense.

Roxas more than once expressed surprise over the warmth and intensity of support he’s seen in their sorties around the Philippines. It's a kind of enthusiasm that has left scars – the literal kind.

8 days left in the campaign period. Mar Roxas waits for his turn to speak at Joel Villanueva's grand rally in Malolos, Bulacan. May 1, 2016. A photo posted by Bea Cupin (@beacupin) on May 1, 2016 at 5:36am PDT

Robredo, a neophyte politician, still finds it odd that random people recognize her on the street.

Grabe, dati di naman pinapansin 'yan (Before, people wouldn’t pay attention to her),” I overheard one Naga resident as Robredo (and her campaign team) had to wrestle their way past a crowd of supporters after a rally in the city.

While trailing the tandem around the country, I've collected a few photos (shot with my trusty smartphone) that, in a way, speak volumes about them. 

Kagulz. Also 70 or so more days of this. #vscocam A photo posted by Bea Cupin (@beacupin) on Mar 1, 2016 at 2:39am PST

Home court. LP VP bet Leni Robredo campaigns in Naga City one last time. May 5, 2016. #PHvote A photo posted by Bea Cupin (@beacupin) on May 5, 2016 at 8:25am PDT

8 days left in the campaign period. Mar Roxas waits for his turn to speak at Joel Villanueva's grand rally in Malolos, Bulacan. May 1, 2016. A photo posted by Bea Cupin (@beacupin) on May 1, 2016 at 5:36am PDT 

Often times, it's these casual conversations or rare, unguarded moments – without the bright glare of a television camera or the intrusive presence of a voice recorder – that make covering a candidate a wee bit more interesting.

Mostly, it's because it makes them human.

#PHvote BTS: The President and his anointed candidate. A photo posted by Bea Cupin (@beacupin) on May 5, 2016 at 6:48am PDT

Will the warm reception translate to actual votes? The “Daang Matuwid” tandem will soon find out. – Rappler.com