The pandemic did a lot of things to people. It displaced some of us, literally and figuratively speaking. Prior to COVID-19, I hardly went out unlike before when I was younger, I was almost always meeting friends and going to gigs. But when I decided to do freelance work and also focused on our consultancy, my introvert self reigned, and the pandemic helped with this further.
I have been openly campaigning for VP Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan in my own way. I have been posting what help they’ve provided for the Philippines and their work as public servants. I’m guilty of discourse from time to time but it has never been my habit. I have no energy and time for it. I also tune-in to the live streams of VP and Sen’s rallies all over the Philippines and the turnout always amazes me. I catch myself getting emotional at times: during VP’s speech, a musician’s performance, or just the plain reason that there are really a huge number of Filipinos supporting the Angat Buhay team.
Just like everybody, I found out about the #PasigLaban grand rally online. I toyed with the idea of attending until I confirmed it with myself that I wanted to participate. As far as I know, this will be the first time that I’ll be attending a rally for a political candidate, unless my brain is failing me again. Days leading to March 20, I got busy with work but at the back of my head, I was extremely excited and terrified. Excited that I knew that I’ll be part of history and happy that I’ll be supporting my president, VP, and their team, terrified because it will be the first time that I’ll be within this huge number of people. The “tita” in me kicked in the night before March 20 when I prepared what I’ll be bringing and wearing. I opted for a pink shirt, of course, that I bought from Linya-Linya, a comfortable denim culottes, sneakers, and cap. I also made some Leni and Kiko photocards that I was planning to give out at the rally. Before I left, I made sure I have my water bottle with me and my phone and digital camera’s battery fully charged. I was ready.
I got there are the venue around 1pm. I had Kuya JR, our trusted driver, drop me off along Metrowalk so I can just cross the street and walk to Emerald Avenue. There were already a lot of people and not long after taking some photos, people were already giving out Leni Kiko fans and stickers. I was walking to Podium to grab lunch with my friend Mau and her housemate Tina. While getting out from Emerald, I saw a people giving free food—pink taho, pink ice cream, coffee, bread, lugaw, etc. I was so moved seeing all these volunteers giving away food that they can practically earn from but decided to just donate it to people who were there for the rally. After having lunch, together with Mau and Tina, we walked to Emerald and was met with a massive number of people. You can’t barely move forward because a huge number of people also wanted to do the same thing. That’s when my anxiety started to creep in. I had to tell Mau that I need to leave the street, I saw her worried face, so I assured her that I was fine but I just needed to leave. It took a while for me to get out of Emerald but I was able to with a full-blown anxiety attack. You see, I’ve been battling with anxiety for years so I wasn’t surprised that this was going to happen. I decided to walk along Ruby Avenue until my anxiety receded. Even at that street, there were a lot of people but was manageable compared to the swarm in Emerald. I didn’t want to leave yet, so I looked for a spot that I can rest but still be able to see the crowd. I sneaked in a parking lot at Ruby Avenue and stayed along the barricade overlooking Emerald Ave. I was beside some volunteers who offered me free lugaw, which I politely declined. By this time, I was already feeling dehydrated even though I drank almost half of my water. It was really hot that day but better than being drenched in rain. I was still nursing my anxiety but feeling mighty proud of myself for being there. The national anthem was sang signaling the start of the program proper. I took photos of placards and the crowd. I just couldn’t believe the number of people who were there to actually support Leni, Kiko, and the rest of Tropang Angat’s campaign. People like me, craving for good governance. I wasn’t there to watch celebrities, musicians, and bands, I wanted to be with like minded people and listen to those whom we will entrust our country in this coming election. Unfortunately, as much as I still wanted to, I couldn’t stay there anymore. My anxiety decided that she wasn’t going anywhere. A bit disappointed, I started walking back to Metrowalk and had myself picked up to head home to Laguna.
Before I attended the PasigLaban rally, I have been watching the live streams of VP Leni and Senator Kiko’s rallies all over the Philippines. Until now, I still watch the streams. While I’m typing this, I’m tuned in on Bohol is Pink’s live stream and Dicta License is performing “Alay sa mga Nagkamalay Noong Dekada Nobenta.” The feeling of being at Emerald Avenue was something that I haven’t felt for a long time. The feeling of hope that we will be able to really get what we’re fighting for, I felt it. Even though you’re being crushed by thousands of people, no one was fighting, no one was yelling profanities, and arguing. People we’re handing out food and water for free so no one will go hungry. The creativity and wit of the attendees were displayed on their placards. I love that every rally would always begin with singing the National Anthem and a prayer. There was a sense of assurance that I am supporting the right people. I won’t ever advice you to attend a rally (especially if you have anxiety like me) if you’re still undecided, but what I would like to do is to encourage you to at least watch a live stream. Listen to VP Leni, Senator Kiko, the rest of their senatorial bets, watch and see for yourself how they talk to people during their campaign. Notice the little things, the way they would acknowledge their volunteers, the LGUs, how they manage to still take the time to accept gifts being handed to them amidst the harmonious chaos, how they would stop talking and call on a medic to give assistance to people in the crowd, these little things; these caring gestures. And look at the attendees, the people supporting them, look at the adoration in their eyes whenever Leni and Kiko take their position on stage, those are the eyes of the hopeful; people who are there due to sheer love, hope, and support.
Ipanalo na natin ito, Pilipinas!