2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] House to house campaign: Our final push before election day

Arjay Mercado

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[OPINION] House to house campaign: Our final push before election day
'To be able to persuade, I had to listen, listen, listen'

As of this writing, the latest Pulse Asia pre-elections survey (conducted from March 17 to 21, 2022) revealed that Bongbong Marcos had 56% voter share, while Vice President Leni Robredo obtained 24% voter share. But VP Leni has the momentum, rising by 9 percentage points from 15% in the Pulse Asia’s February 2022 survey.

We have to reduce Marcos’s lead of 32 percentage points. To win, we need to convert a chunk of Marcos voters into Leni voters. My good friend, Kenneth Abante, did the math. If one million volunteers can convert nine Marcos voters to shift to Leni, we can win. Sounds achievable, right?

The big question is: what can we do?

Leni’s volunteers are doing two enormous tasks.  First is the mobilization for the big rallies. Second is the painstaking house-to-house campaigns. I happened to do both on VP Leni’s birthday, and I want to share my observations and experiences. 

The Pasay rally participated in by hundreds of thousands was a breath of fresh air for me. Let me explain.

At home, I have frank conversations with my relatives that test my patience in dealing with people I don’t agree with. I listen to the points they raise, which I concede are valid. Through listening, I have convinced some of them to choose Leni. But I also feel uncomfortable: that feeling of not being able to talk freely to avoid offending someone or worse, causing a fight. Attending the rally is thus a change of environment.

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Before the rally on VP’s birthday, my spirits were dampened. Although I felt Leni had momentum, the recent survey results suggesting a looming Marcos presidency made me feel anxious and worried.  

The rally recharged my spirit. There, I was free to shout at the top of my lungs my utmost support for my President, without fear of being admonished or being dismissed by those close to me. The rally made me feel that I was not alone. And the rally reinforced my conviction that Leni is the best choice for president. 

The downside: everyone there was a partisan wearing pink. The rally didn’t involve voters that we need to convert. 

A Leni rally is a reassurance that other people share my beliefs and principles. The rally mainly reinvigorates the base of Leni supporters. 

Let me consider some ways, though, that a rally can gather additional votes for Leni. First, it’s a way to have attendees that are not yet Leni voters. I strongly suggest that we all invite our undecided relatives or friends to attend a Leni rally. Also, the undecided or soft BBM voters might be able to see the rallies from afar or watch them online. It goes without saying that the rallies energize the supporters to do more for the campaign. 

Now, I share with you my experience in doing house-to-house campaigns. This is a more exhilarating and more profound experience. This is a direct engagement with unknown people whom I wish would be persuaded to vote for Leni. 

I thank the Taguig Robredo People’s Council f(RPC) for guiding me and my friends. If it’s your first time doing a house-to-house campaign, contact the nearest Robredo People’s Council chapter. This can be done through Facebook. Even the interaction though Facebook is a learning experience. The RPC has an amazing way of explaining how to interact with people.

In the house-to-house campaign, you directly talk to people and use the wealth of knowledge you have learned about VP Leni to convince them to vote for her. 

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We experienced completely different situations. Some people would tell you to move to the next house because they already support VP Leni. Still, we thanked them and gave them reinforcement for supporting Leni. 

We also informed them about Comelec’s precinct finder, which could guide them when they vote on election day. We showed them how to shade the ballot (sample ballots would be extremely helpful), and we reminded them to remain vigilant. We encouraged them to talk to others with patience in order to recruit more voters for Leni.

We inevitably faced the hardcore Marcos supporters, a most challenging situation. Some of them shouted at us (we smiled or bowed, thanked them, and left). Others totally ignored us. We treated them with respect. After all, they’re the people whose welfare we’re fighting for, the people whom VP Leni wants to serve.

The most important observation I have is that more than half of the people I talked to in that community in Pasig were either undecided or were not solidly for Marcos. To be able to persuade, I had to listen, listen, listen. I found out their core issues, why they were undecided, or why they leant towards Marcos. A person I met lost his job during the pandemic, and he thinks Marcos can resolve this. I showed him a list of Leni’s programs during the pandemic and her plans if elected president. He said he would consider Leni, and he thanked me for giving information he wouldn’t have gotten from social media.

A woman said she was for Marcos just because a friend told her so. But she was open to Leni. We informed her about the accomplishments and plans of VP Leni. She was impressed that Leni had the qualities she was looking for. Trust me: VP Leni is not a hard sell!

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There was one who had given up on politics and hence may not vote in May. We still gave him Leni materials; we prayed he would change his mind once he learned that Leni was not a traditional politician. 

The house-to-house campaign, I realize, is the biggest advantage of the Leni campaign. It’s volunteer-driven, and it’s intense, something that is missing from the Marcos campaign. Through the house-to-house campaign, we encounter and engage different types of voters, and many of them, though already having a preference, can still be self-persuaded to support Leni. Talking to them, relating with them — this is the mark of a solid campaign. This is the path we must take to win.

Every kakampink has to feel this sense of urgency. We have two weeks left in the campaign; each day counts. Let’s devote even an hour of our time daily to join a house-to-house activity or to talk to relatives, friends, and strangers.  Let’s all get out of our comfort zones, muster all the patience we have, and listen, listen, listen. – Rappler.com

The author is a former Chairperson of the University of the Philippines, Diliman Student Council and is currently a program officer of Action for Economic Reforms.

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