Speech of Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo Vice President of the Philippines at the 1Sambayan Fundraising Dinner
Maraming salamat. Maraming salamat, Brother Armin. Maraming salamat po sa lahat ng kasama natin ngayong gabi. Maraming, maraming salamat sa 1Sambayan for organizing this dinner, and for your big, big support these past months. Thank you everyone for joining us tonight.
By now many of you already know that I had not planned on running for President, si Brother Armin yung number one witness ko dito. The reason for that is that the last five years were really exhausting in so many aspects. As VP, I tried to do my best despite the limited mandate and resources that our office was given. I wanted the office to remain relevant despite the obstacles thrown our way. Pero talaga ‘yung constant attacks, the constant harassment, the constant difficulty I faced despite the fact na gusto ko lang naman talagang tumulong – these made me feel as if every day was an uphill battle.
Meron nga akong description dito pag-nag-kukwento ako na, ang feeling ko parang dumaan ako sa hazing for five and a half months. So I was really looking forward to 2022 na makakapag-rest na ko.
I think that many of you also know that from July till end September, I was trying very hard to unify all the Presidential contenders. I worked on this with the belief that because there was so much at stake, talagang kailangan sana magkaisa. I'm sure everyone is also feeling the sense of urgency and the gravity nitong paparating na eleksyon.
Hindi ito yung normal na election fever lang. Everyone has experienced some form of hardship because of the pandemic. And sa matagal na panahon, we've seen our values and the principles we hold dear threatened -- human rights, the rule of law, our national dignity. I know that many of you feel the way I feel: That the basic question of the elections is whether all of these hardships will continue to press down on us, or makakahinga na ba tayo sa wakas.
And so I tried to pull other candidates together, thinking that unity presented the best pathway to victory. I was very, very close to pulling it off. Yung iba sa inyo, I constantly updated on my initiatives. But the talks collapsed eventually, and nag-collapse ito malapit nang mag-filing. Ako rin, towards the end, I felt that certain lines had to be drawn, pero hindi willing 'yung iba to draw these lines.
At around the time that this was happening, I got the nomination from 1Sambayan. Ako, I will be very honest with you, talagang it came as a surprise kasi alam ko that my numbers were low. Naiintindihan ko naman 'yung considerations that go into such an endorsement. Talagang hindi ko inaasahan na I will be nominated kahit alam ko na maraming, marming supporters who were also with 1Sambayan. Pero because of the many different aspects, many different factors that were surrounding us during that particular time, akala ko talaga sa iba mapupunta yung nomination. So ‘yung the nomination itself was among those things that became very integral to the decision making process leading to October 7 when I announced.
And since then, I'm sure you've all seen the outpouring of support. Ako, to be honest, noong simula, nagulat talaga ako sa intensity ng mga tao at sa willingness nila na talagang lumabas and to do the physical work of showing support and convincing others to join our cause. Talagang nag-uusap kami ni Senator Kiko when we both decided na, sabi namin, i-pre-prepare namin yung sarili namin that the fight would be a long and lonely journey.
Pero since the announcement last October 7, ‘yung deluge ng volunteers, hindi lang sheer number pero ‘yung passion, ‘yung commitment, ‘yung intensity; we were with Brother Armin in Batangas, and brother you saw how intense the volunteers were. Nauuna pa silang gumalaw sa amin.
And over the past few weeks, every time bumababa ako on the ground, I've begun to understand more the roots of this behavior. One story comes to mind: In Tarlac, right after I spoke on stage, a lady grabbed my hand, pinost ko ‘to sa Facebook eh. Tapos may isiniksik siya sa kamay ko akala ko papel. Kasi madalas yun mangyari yun eh na may sulat na ibibigay sa kin. Tapos sabi lang niya sa kin, "Ipinapabigay po ng anak ko. So tinatanong ko siya kung ano yun, ano yun? Tapos sabi niya sa ‘kin ‘baon niya po sa school ito, pero binilin niya sa akin na ibigay sa inyo kasi gusto niyang makatulong.” Dahil ang daming tao sa stage, sumakay na ako sa van noong nakita ko kung ano 'yung inilagay niya sa kamay ko. In my hand were two one-hundred peso bills.
In another event in Batangas, one supporter said something that struck me. Sabi niya, 'yung pagsuporta sa akin, "Tulong niya sa kanyang sarili." And this is something that I truly feel: For a lot of our supporters, this is not even about me as a candidate; they see this as the fight of their lives – para sa mga anak nila, para sa mga apo nila. And, ano siya eh, yung pakiramdam niya, pakiramdam ng napakarami ng nakakausap namin.
Kahapon, andoon ako sa Nueva Ecija, and I know for a fact na yung Nueva Ecija Marcos country yun. Pero ‘yung intensity ng pakiramdam ng mga volunteers walang pagkakaiba sa ibang lugar, ganun din, ganun din yung intensity nila.
Pagpunta ko sa Cebu, I was in Cebu during the weekend, [Technical Difficulty] [laughter]. Ako yata ‘yung na-disconnect. I’m very sorry. Yung kinukwento ko kanina na during the weekend I was in Cebu, pumunta ako sa Archbishops Palace. Pagdating ko merong madre. Merong madre na nagbigay sakin ng isang envelope. Sabi nung madre ‘pinapabigay po ni Father.’ So akala ko din sulat, because I get a lot of those, and nag-usap muna kami ni Bishop. Sinilip ko yung nasa envelope: 4,000 pesos.
So tinanong ko si sister, sister ano ‘to nakakahiya naman. Sabi niya ‘yan po yung allowance na binigay namin kay Father galing sa Archdiocese, ‘yan po yung monthly allowance niya. Pero nalaman niya po na pupunta ka, and sabi niya po gusto niyang ibigay sa ‘yo kasi pangtulong niya sa kampanya mo.
So ‘yung sakin, parang ‘di ba, yung mga tumutulong hindi na lang ito yung mga mayayaman, o yung may extrang pera para ipantulong. Pero ito, ito na ‘yung kakaunti na lang nga yung para sa kanila, binibigay pa.
And this kind of deep response drives the energy. Ito talaga yung nagbibigay ng enthusiasm, itong the acts of love and kindness that has anchored our campaign for the past month. Noon, in a conventional campaign, kung ako yung kandidato ako yung lalapit sa tao para maipakalat ang pinapagawa naming promotional materials. Ngayon, everything is fueled by supporters and volunteers.
Pag nakita niyo naman yung mga tarps iba’t iba yung designs, yung mga t-shirts iba’t ibang shades of pink, yung mga merchandise iba’t iba. Kanina lang na hapon may nagdala sa’kin ng pink na Christmas tree na pang table-top. Talagang iba iba pati yung pag-organize. I’ve been, my husband went through six elections. Ako pangatlong eleksyon ko na ‘to, pero yung dati yung ginagawa namin as a candidate kami yung mag-oorganize ng mga tao, to campaign for us, pero dito baliktad.
‘Yung mga [supporters] talaga nag-se-self organize, and they don’t even wait for us para magplano, na nag-se-spend ng sariling pera. So this is what makes this campaign so different. I don’t even want to call it a campaign anymore, parang ano na talaga siya, people’s movement.
We are fully committed to embracing the unconventional, people-driven nature of the campaign. And the approach is really to build a culture among our supporters and volunteers: And this is a culture that builds affinity with others, and through this affinity, makakakumbinsi tayo ng iba to join our cause. Kasi our eyes have to be open to the realities in our midst now. This goes hand in hand with our efforts to spread our message to the widest audience possible. You've probably already seen our TV ad that aired last Sunday. We're consolidating communities and sectors para mas purposeful ang galaw natin, as we try to reach out to more of our people, lalo na 'yung mga, yung sinasabi natin na mga nasa laylayan, yung mga D and E.
And tiwala ako na if we can sustain this energy, and this enthusiasm, we have a very good chance at making it. At kapag nakarating tayo doon, we can then focus government on what it should have been doing all along: Addressing this pandemic, making sure our laws are applied fairly, and having a more strategic thrust to rising to the many challenges that we're facing.
So ito ngayon, siguro it is safe to say that we have exceeded our targets already. Actually if you saw the latest SWS, nasa number two tayo. Kahit napakalayo pa natin sa number one, actually yung target natin maging number two mga January or Feb pa next year. Pero the big bump nitong buwan is enough to make us feel that all the efforts we have been pouring into the campaign in the past month or so talagang actually making dents.
To everyone here who has been supporting us, maraming, maraming salamat sa inyo. We also want to encourage everyone to continue doing their share. Just to give you an idea, meron kaming mga supporters na halimbawa, there is this business, na 60,000 employees. Naki-meeting sila sa amin, pinresent nila sa amin yung plano nila to convince their 60,000 employees to vote well, vote right during the elections. And talagang nag-e-exert effort into doing their share.
Nakita din siguro ninyo na I was invited to a kasambahay town hall meeting. Sobrang nabigla ako akala ko parang napilitan lang yung mga kasambahay nung kanilang mga employers. Pero when I joined the Zoom there were 1,000 people on Zoom tapos sabi nila there were hundred more na di na nakapasok. Nandun sila sa Facebook live. And then during the open forum, they were actually very active.
So kahit marami pa tayong ground to cover, it has been very, very encouraging all of our efforts, all our sorites on the ground have all been very, very successful. We’ve been to Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Iligan, Marawi, Cebu, Bacolod, Tarlac, Batangas, and yesterday in Nueva Ecija. And common na common talaga yung fire, yung passion ng mga volunteers.
So the challenge now is how to sustain it until May of next year, how to expand our existing networks. Pero ‘pag ganito yung mga supporters natin, gaya ng sabi ko walang imposible.
So thank you very much for being here with us tonight, and thank you so much for your support.
Maraming salamat, and good evening.