For Robredo's pink movement, moving forward won't mean moving on

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
For Robredo's pink movement, moving forward won't mean moving on
Supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo's presidential campaign flash the "Laban Leni" sign at the thanksgiving rally at Ateneo de Manila University on May 13, 2022 following unfavorable May 9 results where her rival, Bongbong Marcos, leads by a wide margin.
Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena

MANILA, Philippines — We lost the battle but not the war.

That was how supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo characterized their candidate's losing run in the 2022 elections on Monday.

The air was somber yet hopeful Friday night at Bellarmine Field on the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City. Though they lost the day, Robredo's voters knew this was just the beginning of something.

Perhaps Robredo herself said it best during her speech before thousands of supporters: "It's okay to cry, but pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and soldier on."

Philstar.com spoke to a number of her supporters to capture the pulse of the Vice President's enthusiastic base. Here's what they had to say.

Dealing with the loss

Ahead of the program, Quezon City-based doctors John and Kristine Duenas said they were still having trouble processing their emotions. They asked: how could the gap between Robredo and presumptive president Bongbong Marcos be that wide?

"It wasn't expected because we really saw the effort of the people. So many of us sacrificed [our] time and effort. You saw how many people went to the rallies. So the results were really confusing," the 54-year-old John said.

A sign that reads "Salamat Leni" as seen at the thanksgiving gathering of supporters of Leni Robredo, who is bowing out as vice president after an electoral loss. Robredo is setting her eyes on building the "widest volunteer network" the country has seen after she steps down from office in July 2022.
Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena

"I would be able to accept it if the elections were fair. But I think Vice President Leni is a once-in-a-lifetime leader, and we wasted that chance to have a leader who could change the country."

Research assistant Gerald Guillermo, 24, said his space of mind was one of accepting the years ahead instead of just moving on with life.

"It will take me a long time to move forward personally... What I'm really feeling is anger. These people chose the son of an ex-dictator who is a liar and a thief," he said in mixed Filipino and English.

"Right now we're all allowed to feel things, sabi nga ni VP Leni. But we need to understand where that anger is coming from, and I hope I don't turn that anger into a divisive way of moving forward."

A member of a camera crew watches the stage at the thanksgiving rally of Vice President Leni Robredo on the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City on May 13, 2022. Behind him is the university's Church of the Gesu.
Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena

Danny Agoncillo, a 62-year-old owner of a travel and tour agency, said he wasn't optimistic about the days ahead.

"I have ups and downs because I know what this development means. In all probability, we will be heading back to a dictatorship. And we have to watch out for that," Agoncillo, once an editor in chief of a local broadsheet said. "The situation is there."

He pointed out a number of factors, including the plan to place Sara Duterte-Carpio, Marcos' presumptive vice president, in the Department of Education and the possible revisionism and militarization of campuses this could cause, the politically-charged environment of red-tagging by the NTF-ELCAC and the Anti-Terror Law, and the Marcos family's history with Martial Law.

"I am concerned about the future of the country... They can red-tag me all they want. But I will never shut up," he said.

'The people are awake'

One common theme arose among the VP's supporters: something changed in the course of Robredo's 90-day campaign. And this momentum could definitely be built on moving forward, with or without Robredo in office.

"People were so apathetic, they didn't care about the things that were happening. But many were inspired to get involved in this campaign," Duenas said. "I hope and I pray that we don't lose this... I hope it will become a movement to be better citizens, better Filipinos."

A member of Leni Robredo's pink movement holds a signage that says, "Once awake, it's a sin to close one's eyes again" as she calls on her supporters to join her in the fight against disinformation and historical revisionism.
Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena

College sophomore and first-time voter Margarita Madriaga said that she'd never experienced being politically active until she got invested in Robredo's campaign.

"I hope that this energy, the spirit of volunteerism, I hope it continues. Right now, the strength of the youth, and all these people from all walks of life, it can really help our country," she said. "Even if things have been messy, we all just want a better Philippines for our families."

Robredo's supporters added that the outgoing veep's speech helped ease their spirits for the coming days.

"She brought us back to reality, and that mindset of not choosing who we help. We're not red and yellow and pink; we're all Filipinos and I think we deserve one another and we need to help one another," Guillermo said.

David Gats, a member of Bikers for Leni said he was dismayed and had trouble moving on until he heard Robredo's announcement that she would turn the Angat Buhay program into a non-government organization.

"As long as we're together, in the end, I'm sure things will go back to normal. It's hard but I think we'll get through it," he said in Filipino.

"We can definitely maintain this momentum. We're behind VP Leni all the way. We didn't lose, because with this movement, we've already won."

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 27, 2022 - 4:17pm

A thread on the supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo and the movement that was built around her presidential campaign or the May 9, 2022 elections. (Main photo by AFP/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

July 27, 2022 - 4:17pm

Ateneo de Manila Univeristy will confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, honoris causa on former Vice President Leni Robredo in recognition of her srvice to the country and her "remarkable contributions towards poverty alleviation, in spite of limited government budget, through the programs her office undertook with a vast network of partners—international organizations, local foundations and other non-government organizations, corporations, and local government units."

"Her responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, natural and man-made disasters, and violations against human rights and the Philippines' national sovereignty, demonstrate a leadership that is both strategic and compassionate, qualities which we hope to form in our students, graduates, and employees," ADMU president Roberto Yap SJ says in an announcement of the conferment, which the university's board approved earlier this month.

June 9, 2022 - 2:44pm

The Ateneo de Manila University announces that outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo will be the Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2022, set on August 27, with the theme: "Hinubog ng mapanghamong panahon, magmahal at magtaya nang may tapang at pag-asa."


May 13, 2022 - 7:35pm

Vice President Leni Robredo will launch Angat Buhay NGO, campaign vs disinformation and historical revisionism through the what she calls the “widest volunteer network in the history of the country.”

May 10, 2022 - 1:51pm

Vice President Robredo says her camp has started consulting with experts to look into reports and allegations of election fraud on social media.

"Alam kong pinoproseso pa ninyo ang mga pangyayari kahapon. Mulat ako sa mga tanong na nananatiling nakalimbitin sa situwasyon," the vice president says.

Robredo says they will immediately share their findings.

May 10, 2022 - 3:01am

Vice President Leni Robredo addresses her supporters for the first time after the May 9 vote.

Speaking before members of the press in Naga past 2 p.m., Robredo acknowledges the dismay over the election results thus far that show her lagging behind rival Bongbong Marcos.

She also asked her supporters to continue the fight for justice and a better life for those on the margins. (Read her full message.)

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