Photo from Daglenz Dasco
ILOILO, Philippines – It was a show of support that brought her daughter to tears, but for Liberal Party (LP) vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, the support of Sumilao farmers carries with it a "burden."
"Sinasabi nila na ginagawa nila ito for two reasons. 'Yung una, para pasalamatan ako for the help I gave them 9 years ago... pero sa akin 'yung burden mas 'yung pangalawa nilang dahilan na parang nakikita nila na eto yung one time na meron na kaming pagkakataon na magkaroon kami ng representasyon at boses na sa paraan ng isang mataas na opisyal ng gobyerno," Robredo said in a chance interview with media in Iloilo City, where the ruling party is set to hold the first in a series of campaign rallies to wrap up its campaign.
(They said they were supporting me for two reasons. First, to thank me for my help 9 years ago. But the greater burden is the second reason, that they see me as their representative and voice in government.)
Almost 10 years ago, Sumilao farmers from Mindanao walked to Manila, in a bid to secure their land. When they passed by Naga City en route to Manila, they were greeted and taken care of by the Robredos.
The Camarines Sur representative's husband, the late Jesse Robredo, was mayor then of Naga.
Several Sumilao farmers recently walked from Mindanao to Manila but this time, as a show of support for Robredo's candidacy.
While her husband was mayor, Robredo was a lawyer for a non-governmental organization that helped the poor.
Her experience in working with and for the poor – those in the "laylayan"(marginalized) – is something Robredo often talks about in her stump speeches. Reaching out to and helping the marginalized sectors is among Robredo's main campaign promises. (READ: Roxas-Robredo sorties: 4Ps, 'laylayan')
"Kaya ito ang pinagpalaban namin dahil 'yung laban ko, laban rin nila. 'Yun ang mabigat para sa akin. Kasi parang 'yung burden na kailangan ipanalo ko 'to dahil ito yung mga taong umaasa sa akin. 'Yung laban na ito, hindi kailangan ipanalo ko dahil gusto ko... pero ipanalo ko dapat ito kasi itong mga taong ito na matagal na marginalized, umaasa sa akin," she added.
(That's why my campaign is also their fight. That's a burden for me, too. Because I know people will expect a lot. But I also know I have to win this for them, for the marginalized.)
It was Robredo's daughter Tricia who welcomed the Sumilao farmers when they arrived in Metro Manila on Tuesday, May 3. (READ: Robredo daughter in tears as she welcomes Sumilao farmers)
But it wasn't the first time for the younger Robredo and the marchers to meet. Almost a decade ago, the LP vice presidential candidate's daughter also joined the family's preparations for the Sumilao farmers' visit.
Robredo places second in preference surveys, trailing front runner Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Robredo admitted it was impossible to match Marcos' resources.
"'Yung ginagawa niya ngayon sa local officials, hindi ko naman kaya i-match. Pero 'yung sa akin, best effort," she said.
Repeating a key message in her stump speeches, Robredo said that while machinery and money are important in a campaign, it's still a candidate's "acceptability" and "message" that matter the most. – Rappler.com