2022 Philippine Elections

Leni-Kiko murals in QC are a ‘labor of love’ for artists seeking change in 2022

Mara Cepeda
Leni-Kiko murals in QC are a ‘labor of love’ for artists seeking change in 2022

ARTISTS FOR LENI-KIKO. Muralist AG Saño (in black) and interior designer Ina Esquivel (3rd from left) pose for a picture with presidential bet and VP Leni Robredo and her running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan after the unveiling of the huge mural at the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center on November 27, 2021.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

'We believe in their cause. That's why we want to rally behind that,' says artist AG Saño

The pink-clad crowd gathered in one corner of the busy Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City cheered as the 60-foot mural of presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan was unveiled on Saturday, November 27. 

“Leni-Kiko! Leni-Kiko!” chanted the crowd as they watched three people wearing identical pink uniforms rappel down a building to reveal the mural depicting Robredo and Pangilinan looking to the east, each with the right hand on their chest as if they were about to sing the national anthem. 

In the painting, the tandem’s clothes were filled with phrases from the 1987 Constitution and their quotes about upholding truth, justice, and their vision for the Philippines should they become the next top leaders of the country. 

LENI-KIKO TRIBUTE. The 60-foot mural of Robredo and Pangilinan, designed by muralist AG Saño is an eye-catcher along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Among the sea of pink stood artist AG Saño, who designed the eye-catching mural; and interior designer Ina Esquivel, who helped organize the artists who volunteered to paint vibrant murals all over the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center’s compound. 

Saño and Esquivel joined Robredo and Pangilinan during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that signaled the opening of the headquarters for the opposition tandem’s campaign volunteers.

Both artists told Rappler in separate interviews that the murals are a “labor of love” not just for the Leni-Kiko tandem, but for the change they hope to see in the country after the 2022 elections. 

“We chose to do this as a labor of love, like specifically and deliberately, absolutely, labor of love for them and their cause because we believe in their cause. That’s why we want to rally behind that. No amount could match the love that we have for their cause,” Saño said. 

Over 20 artists came together to work on the murals in the volunteer center. They worked for about two weeks, usually at night to avoid the heat of the sun, and they all did it free of charge.

Other supporters of the tandem volunteered to help them paint, including an 11-year-old boy.

“Some of them would even sleep over at night just to finish the different murals. So everything here is purely a voluntary act. There’s no compensation. It’s really just out of, it’s really a labor of love, I think, for our country, and for the message that VP Leni and Senator Kiko have for the campaign,” said Esquivel. 

KAKAMPINK. A Robredo supporter wearing pink all over looks at one of the murals at the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center on November 27, 2021. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

She said each of the artists had been given free reign on their artworks, a majority of which featured a smiling Robredo and Pangilinan done in different illustration styles. The color pink, now a symbol of Robredo’s 2022 bid for the presidency, was a stand out in the compound.

Esquivel herself took charge of painting the corner walls of one structure inside the volunteer center, including the pink jeepney designed by Papemelroti’s Robert Alejandro. 

In this artwork, the jeepney passengers are waving the Philippine flag. Painted on the jeepney is the phrase, “Bumoto nang tama para sa bata (Vote correctly for the sake of the children).”

Apart from Saño, Esquivel, and their respective teams, the other artists who breathed life into the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center are as follows:

  • Glendford Lumbao and team
  • Reena Gabriel
  • Albert Raqueño
  • Gabe Naguiat and Jan Sunday
  • Kyla Gancayco
  • Lee Caces
  • Melissa and Mark Canteras
  • Bet Lazatin
  • Didi Lopa
  • Ysa Da Silva, Nathan Sarcia, and Celline Mercado
  • Sam Bumanlag and team
  • Elena Moran
  • Architects for Leni
  • Joel Fabonan, Noel Martin, and Marga San Juan and team
  • Cristina Arrobio
CHEERING FOR LENI-KIKO. The stage background in the volunteer center features a mural of people cheering. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler
Robredo: ‘They represent what this campaign is all about’

Robredo was awed by the dedication of the artists. She called each of them by name during the program on Saturday and asked the artists to share the stage with her. 

For the Vice President, these volunteer-artists are symbolic of the “people’s campaign” that she and Pangilinan are pushing for in 2022.

“Our volunteer artists, gusto ko silang bigyan ng honor ngayong gabi, kasi sila talaga ‘yung nagre-represent what this campaign is all about, ‘di ba?” said Robredo.

(I want to give honor to our volunteer artists tonight, because they truly represent what this campaign is all about, right?)

“‘Yung kampanyang ito is not about is. Pero ito is about all of us, all wanting to contribute to make our country better, ‘di ba? Kaya’t maraming salamat sa inyo. Maraming salamat. Sobrang privileged kami, sobrang honored with your work. Sana pagpalain kayo ng Maykapal,” added the grateful presidential bet.

(This campaign is not about us. It is about all of us, all wanting to contribute to make our country better, right? So thank you so much. Thank you. We are so privileged, so honored with your work. May God bless you.)

‘THANK YOU.’ Robredo pays tribute to the artists who volunteered to make murals. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Robredo and Pangilinan were joined by human rights lawyer Chel Diokno and a representative of detained reelectionist senator Leila de Lima on Saturday. Both are running under their Senate slate.

Jesuit priest Father Jose Ramon Villarin blessed the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center, which stands just across the Ateneo de Manila University where Villarin used to be president.

BLESSED. Jesuit priest Fr. Jett Vilarin blesses the Leni-Kiko tandem. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Singer Noel Cabangon played his song “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino,” while Bituin Escalante performed a rendition of “Bayan Ko.”

‘AKO’Y ISANG MABUTING PILIPINO.’ Singer Noel Cabangon performs during the opening of the Leni-Kiko Volunteer Center on November 27, 2021. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Robredo’s supporters, who now call themselves “Kakampinks,” have so far been proud of what is turning out to be a bottom-up, volunteer-led movement backing the Philippine opposition leader’s bid for the presidency in 2022. – Rappler.com

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.