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VP Leni’s people-driven campaign | Inquirer Opinion

The photograph of a VP Leni-for-president supporter that captured my imagination was that of a lone mountain climber standing tall on a cold, misty peak, his bare back toward the camera, his six-pack abs facing unseen elements on the other side, waving a bright pink flag. It was posted on Facebook with the hashtags #ClimbersforLeni, #MtApoForLeni, etc. “Ain’t no mountain high enough,” as the song goes. But it is Grieg’s “Peer Gynt, Morning” that is slowly rising to a crescendo in my head while I behold that pink flag fluttering in the wind. Cinematic!

My biased second to that would be a video clip of a St. Scholastica’s College Benedictine nun with a pink waistband and banner jumping out of a vehicle to entice one and all to join the pink caravan for Vice President Leni (VPL). That was ora et labora et laban in action. (Ora et labora—pray and work—is a centuries-old Benedictine motto. The Filipino laban or fight is added for certain occasions by the Benedictine schools’ feisty alumnae.)

As soon as VPL announced her decision to run for president and filed her certificate of candidacy last month, with Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as her running mate, her supporters hit the ground running and painted the town pink in different hues — fuchsia (fuchsistas, get that spelling right), old rose, baby pink, neon pink, hot pink, name it. They came in different mediums — scarves, blouses, hats, jogging outfits, flowers, ribbons, stickers, tarps, Christmas stars, Facebook frames, LED walls, buildings illumined in pink. Photographs of these flooded social media. Online sellers vie to sell pink merchandise.

Techies created video clips, slide shows, music videos, TikTok minis, and whatever else to convey support for VPL and to fight bad propaganda against her. A close friend, Emmy awardee and writer Rochit Tañedo, bravely uploaded her rendition of “Si Ma’am Leni, si Ma’am Leni” (from “Si Filemon, si Filemon” tune) on her FB page. To counter the so-called troll farms that spread lies, hate, and fake news, millennials have created truth farms. More on this another time.

VP Leni expressed surprise at the outpouring. She said so two nights ago at the fundraising online dinner initiated by former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario. Prepared by well-known chef Jessie Sincioco, the dinner cost P25,000 per person (but the menu could have been worth P1,500 in her posh restos) and was delivered to donors in time for the online dinner.VPL and Sen. Kiko were joined by the senatorial hopefuls and convenors of 1Sambayan (among them, former justice Conchita Carpio Morales and La Salle Br. Armin Luistro) who had vetted presidential hopefuls for months and picked VPL as opposition standard bearer. No one wanted to be seen eating the P25,000-dinner during the sharing and Q&A session, but with some 400 paying diners showing up on Zoom, Tuesday’s fundraiser could have grossed close to P10 million. The event lasted more than two hours and got me hungry, so I switched off Zoom’s video feature and supped unseen on a tuna sandwich. I watched till the end.

VPL has no money to fund her presidential campaign but without her asking, people are chipping in, some with their biblical widow’s mite — e.g., two crumpled 100-peso bills from a woman who handed them to VPL with a scribbled note, savings from a grade school kid, people making campaign art works and paying for their printing.

The pink groundswell for Leni-Kiko in different regions and sectors is unprecedented. Despite bashers who belittle them, they feel entitled to label themselves—Lawyers for Leni, Bikers for Leni, Cake Lovers for Leni, Dog Lovers for Leni, Farmers for Leni, Fishermen for Leni. The big regional groups are too many to count, among them Bicol for Leni, Negros for Leni, etc. Even towns have their own, like Dumangasanons for Leni (of Dumangas, Iloilo, hometown of many whose family names begin with D as well as of Philippine-American war hero Col. Quintin Dicen Salas).

Formidable would be the reach of Pari, Madre, Misyonero Para Kay Leni which holds live Facebook streaming on Mondays and because of its members’ ministries in the grassroots where the decisive battles are fought and won. “Dahil sa pagmamahahal sa Diyos at sa bayan” (For love of God and country) is the PMMP Leni’s rallying cry.

Behold a roseate sky in the twilight of a tyrant.

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