Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo received a warm welcome as she visited the province of Bulacan for a vaccine express initiative and various gatherings with her supporters on Wednesday, November 24.
Bulacan residents lined up in a stationary caravan from Guiguinto to Malolos cheered as the vice president's convoy passed around 7:30 am.
In Pulilan town, Mayor Maria Rosario Ochoa-Montejo endorsed the opposition presidential candidate as volunteers whooped and clapped in a Pulilan Central School hall festooned with pink balloons.
“Para sa ating bayan Pulilan, para sa ating bansang Pilipinas, para sa kapakanan ng kinabukasan ng ating mga anak, at ang kanilang magiging anak, pinipili ko si VP Leni Robredo bilang presidente ng Pilipinas," the mayor said.
The audience included volunteers in the local government's programs, members of the parish pastoral councils, homeowners' association, market vendors, health frontliners, and civic groups.
In the evening, the new Malolos City Hall lit up in pink as Mayor Gilbert "Bebong" Gatchalian and other city officials endorsed the tandem of Robredo and her running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
Bulakenyos clad in pink filled the city hall grounds as they waved pink balloons and banners bearing photos of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem.
Robredo was overwhelmed after seeing the wave of pink in Malolos, saying she is even more energized to run her campaign despite her lack of money and machinery as the opposition's presidential bet.
"Matagal ako bago mag-desisyon. Sabi ko po sana ayokong tumakbo kasi wala akong pera, wala akong makinarya. Pero kapag nakikita ko po kayo ngayon, sabi ko wala sinabi 'yung pera tsaka makinarya sa lakas ng taumbayan kagaya ninyo," the Vice President said.
(It took me a long time to decide on my candidacy. I initially did not want to run because I have no money, I have no machinery. But after seeing you all now, I can tell that money and machinery stand no chance against the power of the people like you.)
"Kaya maraming, maraming salamat po. Sa inyo kami kumukuha ng lakas, sa inyo kami kumukuha ng pag-asa (So thank you very much. I draw strength and hope in you)," she said.
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) provided first-dose COVID-19 vaccines for about 1,000 Bulakenyos from A1 to A5 categories at three Robinsons Malolos cinemas.
The inoculated pre-registered individuals also received hygiene and sanitation kits from the OVP and its Angat Buhay partners.
Robredo said her office's vaccination assistance will continue from first dose to booster shots. The OVP will follow the lead of the local government units, depending on their inoculation needs, she added.
"Ako, ang tulong na ino-offer namin (ay) hanggang sa kailangan so magmula sa first dose hanggang sa second dose hanggang sa booster shots. Pero itong ginagawa natin ngayon ay first dose pero iyong tulong namin until kailangan nandiyan kami. Kaya nagpapasalamat tayo sa volunteer doctors natin (dahil) sila talaga iyong yaman natin dito sa vaccine express," Robredo said in a media interview.
(The help we're offering is until needed, so from the first dose to the second dose to booster shots. What we're giving now is the first dose, but as long as we're needed, we will help. That is why we thank volunteer doctors because they are really the ones who really make the vaccine express.)
She acknowledged that in Bicol, her home region, many still have to get their first dose.
While at the site, Robredo thanked the partners, LGU personnel, barangay health workers, and volunteers from the medical sector who joined the vaccine express initiative.
In Filipino, the Vice President said government grassroots health workers face economic challenges but continue to "risk your lives" even when "your own families face disasters." – Rappler.com
Joann Manabat and Jerome Sagcal are Luzon-based journalists and awardees of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.