Who’s afraid of Leni Robredo?

The above title is a take from the play/movie, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, an Edward Albee play that was also made into a movie. It is a tragic drama about an unproductive marriage of convenience with the couple creating an imaginary reality and disturbing the lives of other people. Not really my type of story or movie, but it was part of my undergrad humanities class on Drama Appreciation. The movie version also starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, so I had to see it. The relevance of the movie we will see later.

It has been two weeks since the election and a number of things have happened and have not happened. There are the allegations of rigging/cheating, massive vote buying and other unfair conduct of the campaign and the election. There was also the tremendous disinformation and fake news in social media, and the multi-year historical revisionism conducted by paid trolls and influencers. If BBM is eventually proclaimed winner, these are the factors and actors. There were some demonstrations/protests and prayer rallies on the conduct of the election but all were peaceful and sober.

What has not happened is the expected euphoria of the more than 30 million voters who voted for BBM. For a majority elected president, I expected a gigantic sense of triumph and celebration after the election, and the supporters really whooping it up. Yet there have been none, and the BBM supporters seems to be quietly getting back with their lives, as if there was no landslide win. In fact, the paid trolls and influencers were/are still bashing Robredo and her supporters as if she was the winner. Robredo was in the US as an ordinary citizen, to attend her daughter’s graduation, doing mundane housekeeping and traveling, and yet she is being attacked/bashed by trolls as if she won the election. That she was welcomed and admired by ordinary Filipinos/OFWs in America, and other parts of the world and in the Philippines, is surely not politicking for someone who had presumably lost the election. She declined the courtesies extended to her as vice president of the Philippines until June 30, 2022, at the airport and was not extended the courtesies of the Philippine Consulate in New York, and she made no fuss about it. It is really not her fault, that majority of the Filipinos here and abroad support, admire, and love her as a person and a politician, because for them she will always be the winner. So, there are people who are afraid of Robredo not because she is fearsome or powerful but because of what she represents.

The people who supported Robredo from all economic and social classes and various sectors are as ordinary as most Filipinos. They are artists, professionals, office and factory workers, farmers, small business owners, artisans, and household workers. They earn a living, have families, have dreams of better lives, and with many of them having OFW relatives, and have religion. Even if they are of different educational attainments, they are more discerning and analytical of the information and propaganda that they get. They have also established moral limits on what are the allowable wrongdoings/evils that they will accept and tolerate, and more likely believe in heaven and hell. Robredo is the symbol of their values and hope that these values will prevail in Philippine politics and society. These supporters will not disappear even after the elections and even after Robredo steps down. These are the people that are for truth and justice in any society. These are the people who will fight for democracy.

The paid trolls/influencers may consider their actions as just another job which pays well but they, as some already have, will eventually reconcile it with their values and suffer the consequences. The promoters of this disinformation and bashing are the most afraid as they realize the undesirability and unsustainability of their actions, and the bad consequences to the people and the country. They are the most afraid of Leni Robredo now and of the future.

The marriage of convenience in the movie is metaphorical on the marriage of convenience of the political families and the creation of an alternative reality in the last election. It was/is a similar sad state of affairs that ended in a tragedy.

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