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FPJ, check. Susan Roces, check.
As a reporter following presidential bet Grace Poe, I have listened to her numerous speeches and interviews. I started covering her in July 2015, when she was still coy about her political plans. For most reporters, the struggle then, as in now, is the motherhood statements she often makes in her speeches and interviews. She seldom gives categorical answers.
I could say that out of 10 speeches, she would start 9 of them with a mention of her father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr. She would say that in the 2004 presidential poll, FPJ won in whatever province she’s speaking, or that he shot numerous films there, or it could be as direct and simple as she is FPJ’s daughter.
She also makes sure she drops a line or two from her father’s famous movies – something that I, myself, have already memorized. “Puno na ang salop, dapat nang kalusin” is just one of the lines she frequently mentions.
FPJ’s movie lines are hardly related to her platform, but they provide entertainment for the people present. Suffice it to say, not a campaign day goes by without us hearing FPJ’s name.
I’ve listened to enough of her speeches for me to be able to anticipate the audience’s reaction to her jokes or punch lines – whether about her small height, supposedly “rounded” nose, or even about her inexperience. Poe, despite her “soft” image, could be feisty. As a former debater, too, she delivers her speeches forcefully and emphatically.
I’ve listened to most of her speeches to know that her standard promises of free education, faster Internet speed, and free lunches in daycare centers elicit the loudest applause from the audience.
I’ve listened to most of her speeches to know that she is fluent in both English and Filipino; that she uses the native language when talking to the masses, and the former when speaking with businessmen and dignitaries; that she does not mention FPJ or her mother Susan Roces in front of businessmen and diplomats the same way she does in front of Class CDE audience.
Before business groups, Poe is formal and more platform-oriented. In front of the masses – the bulk of the voting population – she is amiable and more relaxed, as she throws promises left and right.
She follows the same principle even when discussing the citizenship and residency issues against her. She hardly goes into details and appeals mostly to what the crowd could easily grasp – emotions. It’s quite understandable, as the legalistic and technical nature of her disqualification cases are far from most people’s gut.
To understand Poe as a candidate is to understand her words. Hearing a full speech at least twice is enough to know what her campaign sorties are about.
Here are the 10 staple lines in Poe’s campaign speeches:
1. Fernando Poe Jr and his ties to wherever Poe is in the campaign trail. This is the number 1 staple in her speeches. In areas where FPJ had a known strong following, she would spend extra time talking about her father.
“Ang akin ding ama na si FPJ ay mahal na mahal ang inyong probinsya. Napakaraming pelikula ang ginawa niya rito. Kaya kung papanoorin ninyo ‘yung mga lumang pelikula ni FPJ sa cable, ewan ko lang kung makikila pa ninyo ang hitsura ng Laguna noon, pero palagi siyang naririto.” (Siniloan, Laguna, April 1, 2016)
(My father, FPJ, loves your province. He did many movies here. If you will watch FPJ’s old films on cable television, I don’t know if you can still recognize Laguna then, but he was always here.)
“Ito ang kauna-unahang labas namin pagkatapos ng desisyon [ng Korte Suprema] at, para sa akin, isa itong paramdam ng aking ama na si FPJ. Dahil minahal niya ang kanyang mga kababayan dito sa Quezon. Ilang mga pelikula ang ginawa niya rito at ang simbolo ng kanyang mga ginawang pelikula ay tungkol sa kagitingan at sa kagalingan ng bawat Pilipino.” (Lucena, Quezon, March 9, 2016)
(This is our first sortie after the Supreme Court decision. For me, this is FPJ’s way of telling me [to come here], because he loved his fellowmen here in Quezon. He did many movies here. They all symbolized the strength and honor of each Filipino.)
2. FPJ’s movie lines
“Huwag niyong sabihin na marami kayong salapi. Huwag niyo ring sabihin na marami kayong tauhan. Pare-pareho lang tayo. Isang bala ka lang.” (Bacoor, Cavite, March 17, 2016)
(Don’t tell me you have more money. Don’t tell me you have many men. We are all the same. A single bullet is your match.)
“Sabi sa kanya ni [actor] Eddie Garcia: ‘Heneral na ako, nakapako ka pa rin diyan. Marami ka pang bigas na kakainin.’ Anong sagot ni FPJ? ‘Hindi ako kumakain ng bigas, sinasaing ko muna para maging kanin. Ikaw palay pa lang kinakain mo na.'” (Sta Rosa, Laguna, March 15, 2016)
(Actor Eddie Garcia told him in a movie: “I’m already a general while you are stuck there. You have many more rice to eat.” What did FPJ say? “I don’t eat rice, I cook it first. Unlike you, you eat rice even before it is milled.”)
3. Her number 1 endorser and mother, Susan Roces. In several sorties of Poe, some people would actually look for her mother, actress Susan Roces, who currently stars in a television drama based on FPJ’s movie Ang Probinsiyano.
“So sa inyong lahat, ipinapaabot ng aking nanay na si Susan ang kanyang pagkamusta sa inyo. Huwag daw ninyong kalilimutan manood ng Ang Probinsyano. Maraming-maraming salamat po.” (Sta Barbara, Iloilo, March 14, 2016)
(To all of you, my mother Susan sends her regards. She asked me to tell you not to forget to watch Ang Probinsyano.)
4. She says she is a true-blue Filipino
This is one of the simplest ways she addresses the citizenship issues against her. This never fails to make the audience smile or laugh.
“Pero mga kababayan, tingnan naman ninyo ang aking hitsura. Bakit natatawa ‘yung isang bata dito? Pareho tayo. Hindi naman ako ganoon katangkad. Sabi nga nung isa, ‘Ay, Grace Poe, ang liit mo lang pala, ano?’ Iyong aking ilong ay hindi naman matangos, at bilog pa nga. Iyong aking noo ay kasing lapad ng mga noo ninyo.” (San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, March 11, 2016)
(Just look at my appearance. Why is that kid there laughing? We look the same. I’m not that tall. One person even said, “Grace Poe, I didn’t realize you’re a short woman.” My nose is not pointed, it is round. My forehead is as wide as yours.)
5. She says her life, dramatic as it may be, is reality.
Critics say Poe is full of drama – something that Poe admits. She then uses this to relate to ordinary Filipinos, who, she says, have “pinaghuhugutan” (deep sentiments) like her.
“Sa inyong lahat, lahat tayo may pinaghuhugutan sa buhay. Sabi nga nila, masyado daw madrama ang aking buhay. Wala akong magagawa. ‘Yun ang ‘binigay sa akin ng Panginoon. Lahat tayo may hamon na pinagdadaanan. Ang importante sa mga pinuno natin ay naiintindihan ang ating pinagdadaanan.” (Pasay City, February 18, 2016)
(To all of you, we all have our experiences. They say, my life is full of drama. I can’t do anything about it. That’s what God gave me. We all are facing challenges. What’s important is for us to have leaders who understand what we are going through.)
6. Poverty is the root cause of the country’s problems, so she pushes for inclusive growth
“Mga kababayan, ang tunay na problema ng ating bayan ay patuloy na kahirapan. Bagama’t sinasabi nila na ang ating ekonomiya ay umangat na, hindi pa rin nararamdaman ng marami nating mga kababayan ang kaginhawaan. Kaya ako tumatakbo bilang pangulo sapagkat naniniwala ako na ang tamang pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno at mga programang mararamdaman ninyo ay tunay na kailangan para umangat ang inyong estado sa buhay.”
(Fellowmen, the real problem of our country is poverty. Although they say that our economy is improving, many Filipinos still do not feel it. That’s why I am running for president, because I believe that proper governance and programs intended for you are needed to uplift your status in life.)
Poe then says she will expand the existing Conditional Cash Transfer program or 4Ps to 5Ps.
7. Free lunch in daycare, faster Internet, free college education
“Una, kailangan lahat ng mga bata sa public elementary schools at sa day care centers, libre na ang pananghalian. Pangalawa, para sa mga anak ng mahihirap na gustong mag-college, libre na ang state universities at colleges. Pangatlo, dagdag na trabaho na permanente at [may] sapat na kita.” (Kawit, Cavite, March 17, 2016)
(First, all children in public elementary schools and day cares should have free lunch. Second, the children of the poor should be given free college education in state universities and colleges. Third, permanent employment and sufficient salary.)
Under a Poe presidency, she says, families have the option to send their children to private universities and colleges through a voucher system. They will just pay for the balance of the tuition fee.
8. Poe says her inexperience is her edge over other candidates.
“Sabi nila bago daw ako kaya hindi pa raw ako dapat tumakbo bilang pangulo. Pero hindi naman nangangahulugang bago ay walang kakayanan. Hindi ba mahilig naman tayo sa bago? Bagong saing, bagong ligo, bagong bahay, bagong graduate, bagong boyfriend, bagong girlfriend, bagong buhay, bagong bayan, at bagong Pilipinas, kung saan walang maiiwan.” (Siniloan, Laguna, April 1, 2016)
(They say I’m just new that’s why I should not have run for president. But that does not mean I do not have what it takes. We like new things, right? Newly cooked rice, fresh from the shower, new house, new graduate, new boyfriend, new girlfriend, new country, and new Philippines wherein no one will get left behind.)
With lack of experience in government service, Poe has maintained she has no experience in corruption and has no baggage.
9. Agriculture, 10% of the national budget, free irrigation
“Bubuhusan namin ng pondo ang sektor ng agrikultura. Anong ibig sabihin no’n? Kailangan libre na ang irigasyon para sa ating mga magsasaka. Sa ibang lugar naman kailangan ng post-harvest facilities. Kailangan natin ng lugar kung saan tayo magpapatuyo ng ating mga inani, lalong-lalo na kapag umuulan.” (Asingan, Pangasinan, March 30, 2016)
(We will pour funds into the agriculture sector. What does that mean? Irrigation should be free for our farmers. In other places, they need post-harvest facilities. We need areas for drying, especially during the rainy season.)
10. She and running mate Francis Escudero are independent.
“Nakaputi kami, wala kaming partido, sapagkat kung ikaw man ay anomang kulay –kaaway man kita o kaibigan – kung ikaw ay makakatulong sa bayan, kukunin kita sa gobyerno kung magaling ka.” (Sta Cruz, Laguna, April 1, 2016)
(We wear white, we don’t have any political party because whatever color you wear – whether you are an ally or a rival – if you can help the country, I will get you in government if you are good.)
This has been her usual answer each time she is asked about politicians and shifting political alliances ahead of the election. – Rappler.com