DOZENS of Filipino Americans gathered in Central Park on Saturday, Oct. 23 to express their support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo in the upcoming May 2022 elections.
Most of the participants wore pink shirts, ribbons, and hats as they carried handwritten placards that read “Let Leni Lead,” “Laban Leni” and “No to Marcos/Duterte”.
Jillian Robredo, the youngest daughter of VP Robredo attended the New York rally and delivered a short speech to thank the participants led by the broad coalition of 1Sambayan. Robredo is currently taking up Biomolecular Science and Economics at NYU.
As she closed her short talk, she shared her favorite line of the Vice President’s announcement speech.
“Sabi niya, ‘Ang minamahal, dapat ipinaglalaban’. Karamihan sa atin medyo na-di-disappoint kaap hindi pareho yung opinion ng iba sa atin or mas naniniwala sila sa fake news pero sana mag-try tayo na mas lumabas sa mga echo chambers natin at kausapin ang mga kapamilya, kapatıd o ka-trabaho na kayang bumoto. Hindi sila kalaban, alam ko naman na lahat tayo gusto lang ng mas mabuting Pilipinas.”
Looking at all the handmade placards and signs, along with the lugaw on the table, Robredo thanked the event participants for their presence and support.
“Alam naman natin that yung last five years talagang napakahirap kay Mama and initially ayaw talaga namin siyang tumakbo. Nakakagaan ng loob to see the support of the people here today, lalo na malayo ako sa kanila,” she said.
While she and her sisters Aika and Tricia were initially hesitant about their mom running, Jillian said they realized that their mom offered something that they didn’t see in the other candidates who have expressed their intention to run as president.
“Wala sa kanila yung nag-align sa mga paniniwala ko and alam ko naman, hindi lang dahil sa anak ako ng nanay ko, yung mga paniniwala niya, mas okay specially para sa mga kabataan tulad ko, yun ang gusto naming makita sa susunod na pangulo,” she explained.
That hesitancy expressed earlier extends to the numerous misinformation and disinformation that is being spread across social media.
The young Robredo believes that the last five years they have endured in facing trolls, bashers, and detractors have made them stronger.
“Naging practice na yung last few years kaya medyo hindi na kami apektado ngayon,” she quipped. “Yung naging makinarya talaga ng nanay ko ngayon ay yung mga taong sumusuporta sa kanya. Nakikita natin na yung mga trolls sinasagot ng totoong tao and nag-se-send sila ng links para ma-correct yung misinformation. Yun ang pang-battle sa fake news: truth.”
“It is very crucial for Filipinos of all sectors, both in the Philippines and abroad, to unite against the continuation of the Duterte regime, a regime that has abused its power for far too long,” 1Sambayan said in an earlier statement.
As a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, the group hopes to usher in a competent, trustworthy administration in the May 2022 national elections in the Philippines.
At the event, one family from Jersey City brought a big kettle of porridge with the sign “Lugaw for Leni,” a pointed reference to what Robredo’s detractors used as a putdown when her supporters back in 2016 raised funds by selling porridge during the campaign.
“Symbolic kasi ang lugaw at yan ang ambag namin kahit maliit lang,” said Edu dela Cruz, a nurse.
As a Filipino in America, Dr. Mario Brizuela has been observing the political climate from a distance.
He believes that VP Robredo “has been the most trolled and malignantly despised Vice President in history,” due to the tons of fake news that have been thrown at her.
“Her kind of leadership is what people need, what the Philippines needs. It’s the kind that listens, that collectively gathers ideas from the people and come up with more concrete actions and she has done this,” said Dr. Brizuela.
“Let’s fight with Leni, let’s fight as Filipinos, not as partisan politicians but let’s fight with the principle of fighting for the future of the Philippines,” he added.
Hector Fonacier of Bolton, New York is also throwing his support to VP Robredo.
“Ilocano ako, dapat nga Marcos ako. Pero naniniwala ako na kapag mali, mali. Kaliwa’t kanan na ang ginagawa nilang pagnanakaw kahit may pandemya pa,” he shared.
He believes that some of the politicians who have filed their candidacies are Manchurian candidates and that they should be weeded out.
“Kailangan mawala ang mga Manchurian candidates. Ayaw naming ituloy lang nila ang mga ginagawa ni Duterte. Ito yung mga kandidatong pakawala nila,” he said. “Kailangan nating piliin ang kandidato na walang bahid. Hindi mo siya maakusahan na nagnakaw. Siya lang ang lumabas at gumawa noong panahon ng pandemya at si Leni yun.”
Bobby Young echoed what Robredo said about her mom’s campaign and lack of political machinery.
“Ang machinery ni VP Leni ay tayo, ang mga tao. Dahil ang laban na ito ay laban natin, this is the people’s campaign. Kaya tayo lahat nandito, iba-iba man ang pinanggalingan natin, ang political affiliation natin pero nagkakaisa tayo para sa labang ito,” he said.
Shirley Atienza of Migrante New York said her organization strongly believes that Robredo is the best candidate for the job and not the lesser evil as some people have been saying.
“Throwing our support for Leni is not a gamble but a step closer to a better Philippines,” she said. “Rooting for Leni is not a favor we afford to her, it is a favor we owe to ourselves, to the country, and to the generations of Filipinos to come.”