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Newsmakers

One ‘Pink’ Fight

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
One âPinkâ Fight
Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday’s ‘pink’ wave: ‘Nagulat kami.’

Ending weeks of speculation and unity talks with other presidential contenders, Vice President Leni Robredo is well on her way to one pink fight for President in May 2022.

After all, many blushed a rosy pink after her declaration, “Lalaban ako.”

I wouldn’t say “millions” or a “multitude” blushed because I don’t have the data, but last Thursday, the day Leni announced her bid, hot pink rimmed profile photos on Facebook while many posted photos of themselves wearing pink lipstick, pink tops, pink masks, pink hair and displaying pink flowers in both FB and Instagram. Many also posted photos of sunsets and seascapes with the color pink glowing on the horizon.

On the show Market Edge on ANC last Friday, host Michelle Ong noted before a guest that, “The town turned pink.”

Pink is the predominant color of the Robredo campaign in this country where every color on the Pantone has significance.

That her declaration of her presidential bid tickled the town pink surprised even the Vice President herself, who revealed  during a press conference last Friday with running mate Sen. Kiko Pangilinan,  “Nagulat kami in the sense that hindi namin akalain na ganoon ka-overwhelming.”

“Hindi naman na-realize ganoon kadami. It was very encouraging, this outpouring of emotion,” she said.

It also made her realize, she said, that, “Nagkakaisa pala ‘yong taong bayan. Hindi lang naman kailangan na kaming mga politiko ang mag-unite, what is important is that majority of the people have been given an alternative where they can dream again and feel hope again.”

‘I didn’t resign from the Liberal Party. Running as Independent is our symbolic way of showing that we are open to alliances na with many parties.’
Photo by Mark Chester Ang/PeopleAsia

***

According to her campaign manager Bam Aquino (“I told him na hindi ako tutuloy kung wala siya sa tabi ko,” the vice president said of Bam, who originally planned to run for senator), the choice of pink as the symbolic color of Leni’s campaign “exemplifies the campaign.”

“It was a color not chosen by the VP or the campaign team, but rather by the volunteers. In the same way, this will be a true people’s campaign,” Bam, a first cousin of the late former President Noynoy Aquino, told me.

But Leni stressed in her meeting with media that people shouldn’t be defined by their color, but by their “choices” and that pink is the color of protest the world over.

Asked if she thinks her declaration of candidacy (“Buong buo ang loob ko”) will boost her ratings, Leni said that even before she filed her candidacy, her ratings already improved significantly.

Leni recalled that she was once sixth among the six vice presidential bets in 2016, and yet won..

“Lagi ko ‘tong sinasabi, lagi akong ‘power of the long game’,” Leni said. (The “long game,” according to online sources, refers to “taking the necessary steps, now, to set yourself up for long-term success. It means not sacrificing long-term gains for short-term wins.”)

The UP Diliman Economics graduate, who later finished Law at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City, said if elected, her economic policy would focus on how to stop the effects of the pandemic on the people. “Test, trace, treat, vaccinate, ayuda.”

“Mayroon kasi tayong false dichotomy na health versus the economy. Hindi ako naniniwala doon. Para sa akin, closely interconnected ang kalusugan at saka ekonomiya natin,” she pointed out.

She wasn’t worried about big business not yet supporting her candidacy, because she desired more the support of the “ordinary Filipino.”

“What is most important is we receive the backing of ordinary Filipinos. In our experience, ‘yong negosyo nag-aadjust siya sa kung anong gusto ng tao,” she said matter-of-factly.

Why is she running as an Independent when she is chairman of the Liberal Party, to which her running mate belongs?

“I didn’t resign from the Liberal Party. Running as Independent is our symbolic way of showing na bukas kami sa pakikipag-alyansa sa maraming mga partido. Iyong aming sinusulong na inclusivity.”

On why Pangilinan was her choice as running mate, Leni said he is, “Very stable, very steadfast. Hindi nababali ‘yong paniniwala.”

***

When she declared her candidacy, Leni said she was prepared to be the mother of the nation, not just her three children, and was willing to give the country her all till the remaining days of her life.

But though they now support her candidacy “100 percent,” her three daughters Aika, Tricia and Jillian were the first hurdles she faced.

“It was really a struggle,” the widow of Jesse Robredo admitted. (The locket she wears on a chain around her neck contains some of Jesse’s ashes.)

“From the very start, sobrang kontra talaga ‘yong mga anak ko. Noong kumandidato ako para VP, kontrang konta na sila, ang usapan namin noon ay last na ‘yon. Noong lumalabas na ‘yong pangalan ko na posibleng maging Pangulo, parati ang pinapaalala ng mga anak ko na ‘Mama, may promise ka ha na last na ‘yon.’ So talagang struggle siya. Pero ‘yong mga anak ko naman, despite the difficulties, ‘yong sense of duty mataas. Kahit na alam nila na magiging napakahirap sa kanila, alam nila na this is the right thing for me to do. Alam nila na kahit mabigat para sa kanila ay susuporta sila 100 percent.”

What happened last Thursday was something I had not seen in decades. I had seen once before how the outpouring of emotion over the death of people willing to sacrifice all had changed the country. It was unforgettable.

But Thursday’s outpouring was happy, hopeful.

“Ang saya-saya ng Pilipinas,” a colleague told me.

“Leni is a candidate whose heart is in the right place,” says Sen. Frank Drilon, who is not running for office next year.

Perhaps, pink is symbolic of what Leni hopes to achieve if elected — a country in the pink of health, hope and prosperity. Now, that’s happy. *

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

LENI ROBREDO
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