PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

Citizens of the Philippines, kakampinks (fellow pinks), let’s listen to this: “Despite the fact that we didn’t make it, it was the happiest campaign I’ve been involved in.”

That isn’t me talking.

Further: “2022 was the first loss ever for the family, pero it was the most fun of all and also the most meaningful.”

That’s VP Leni. And truly Leni.

I still call her VP even though she is no longer the Vice-President. It is an expression of respect. I could likewise address her “Ma’am.” In the Pinoy context, “Ma’am” is a courteous address usually reserved for elderly women, but I’m older than the VP.

So, I feel more comfortable addressing Leni, our former Vice-President, as VP. VP can stand for “virtuous parent.” Hasn’t VP Leni been called ina ng bayan (mother of the nation)? Hasn’t she been the paragon of parenthood — the caring and loving mom who has likewise assumed the traditional paternal role of being protector and provider to daughters Aika, Tricia, and Jillian?

VP also stands for “valiant Pinay.” For hasn’t she demonstrated indomitable spirit in pursuing the impossible? Walang imposible (nothing is impossible)! Hasn’t she shown boldness and heroism in leading a krusada (crusade) to “fight the unbeatable foe and to bear with unbearable sorrow?”

Yet, with authenticity and spontaneity, she tells her supporters how happy she is, how she had fun during the campaign.

Moreover, VP Leni said that if she ever had to do it all over again knowing the outcome, she would still do it. “I believe we were able to start something very special… hindi lang ako, ako lang ang naging mukha nun (not just me. I was just it’s face). A lot that happened during the campaign was not because of me, pero  (but) it was because people became invested.”

VP Leni gives credit to the mass of volunteers. But it is also a loop. Isa Rodrigo, a young radical intellectual reared by liberal parents, observes: “Most of Leni’s following is due to her impressive cult of personality.”

VP Leni inspires people. She is authentic and spontaneous. She has a heart; she has empathy. She has a vision: angat buhay lahat (elevate everyone’s quality of life).

So dear kakampinks, let’s not despair despite our electoral loss. Let’s emulate VP Leni who radiates happiness because she is overjoyed by the boundless commitment and energy of people to realize change. That movement is everywhere, and even though it was not able to carry us to victory in 2022, its momentum is irreversible.

Never in my life as an activist have I seen such magnitude and intensity of voluntarism and collective action during an electoral campaign. The people power of 1986 that toppled the dictatorship remains unprecedented, but it happened in the aftermath of brazen election cheating that angered the people.

The April 6 noise barrage that shook the Marcos dictatorship happened on the eve of the 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) elections. Nonetheless, the outcome of sham elections was a foregone conclusion. The party of Marcos swept the elections.

But arguably, the strategic objective of the opposition, then and now, is not limited to winning the elections. An equally important objective, then and now, is to awaken and organize our people to undertake collective action.

One can find a parallel here between the 1978 and 2022 campaigns. Although the united democratic opposition was trounced in the rigged 1978 elections, the exercise gave the masses an experience of what a movement could do. The widespread spontaneous protest on April 6, 1978 in metropolitan Manila became the dress rehearsal for the explosion of the parliament of the streets that culminated in the people power revolution in 1986.

But unlike the 1978 noise barrage that happened in metro Manila, the 2022 pink movement was palpable all over the country. In major towns and cities, the Leni rallies attracted tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people.

VP is the magnet. She is the symbol of decency, of integrity, of radikal na pagmamahal (radical love), of hope.

Said VP Leni during the launch of the Angat Buhay program through the Angat Pinas Foundation:

“Tandaan lang po natin, lahat ng ginagawa natin at gagawin pa, nag-uugat lagi sa pag-asa. Pag-asa ang nasa likod ng lahat ng pagsisikap at pagtataya noong nakaraang kampanya. Pag-asa na kung magmahal tayo, kung itodo natin ang pagmamahal na ito, may maaabot tayong pagbabago.

(“Let us remember that what we are doing as well as what we will be doing is rooted in hope. During the campaign, hope underlay all our efforts and judgments. There’s hope when we love, and when we fill life with love, we will realize change.”)

VP calls on us to “move forward.” Moving forward, she envisions a movement with three planks: the socio-economic struggle, the political movement, and the campaign for truth and against disinformation. Angat Buhay focuses on social development. The political party that emerged during the 2022 election is being consolidated. And perhaps the biggest task of all is building and expanding the coalition to combat networked disinformation.

This kind of strategy reminds me of the struggle led by Rizal, Bonifacio, and others against Spanish colonialism and tyranny. Angat Buhay is similar to La Liga Filipina, an organization for mutual aid and protection. The political struggle then was led by the Katipunan. Today, it takes the form of the coalition of reformist politicians and the people’s councils. And the fight for truth has to find expression in a new La Solidaridad and Propaganda Movement.

Ours is indeed a long struggle. It is still a continuation of the great struggles in our history.

As Rizal said, “joy blossoms from suffering, and redemption is a product of sacrifice.” And VP Leni assures us that hope will deliver change.

Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.

www.aer.ph