Victory party feels abound in Tacloban UniTeam rally as 150K fill up Leyte Grandstand

Published April 10, 2022, 12:39 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte–It was like a victory party a full month before the actual elections.

Presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos (Noel Pabalate/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The UniTeam ticket attracted another mammoth crowd, this time at the jampacked Leyte Grandstand here on Saturday, April 9. According to Captain Marjorie Manota, public information officer of the Tacloban City Police Station, the crowd peaked at an estimated 150,000–an impressive figure given that it rained practically the entire day.

As early as noon, kilometric queues of UniTeam supporters were already jutting out of the grandstand. The attendees–which included adults, teenagers, young kids, and the elderly–were already drenched before they got inside the site of the rally.

The event, which featured performers like Toni Gonzaga and bands Plethora and Aegis, wouldn’t start until 5 p.m.

But the unquestionable star of the show was UniTeam presidential bet and Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) Bongbong Marcos. His Sandro Marcos jokes aside, the former Ilocos Norte governor is used to the rockstar reception by now. To such crowds, he is often introduced as the next president of the Philippines, if not “President Bongbong Marcos” as if the ballots had already been counted.

What made the rally here different was Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s purportedly “insurmountable” survey lead over their May 9 rivals, as well as impressions that other candidates are scrambling to change their fortunes by floating new polls tandems.

Taclobanons also celebrated Marcos’s “homecoming”. The ex-senator’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, traces her roots to Leyte.

“Masarap talagang makauwi ulit dito sa Tacloban at kayo’y makasama nang ganito (It’s really good to come home again to Tacloban and to be with you like this),” the Ilocano Palace aspirant said.

“Panalo ka na! Panalo ka na! (You’ve already won!)” the crowd chanted.

Paying tribute to the sacrifice of the people in attendance, Marcos said “Sabi ko na nga ba ang mga Taclobanon, hindi tinatalaban ng ulan. Bumuhos na ‘yung tubig, bumuhos na ‘yung ulan, mas uminit pa dahil sa salubong na ibinigay niyo sa amin (I knew it, Taclobanons are rain-proof. Despite the heavy downpour, it became warmer here thanks to your reception of us).”

Once he was done with his speech, the organizers let loose a 35-minute fireworks display that gave the crowd another reason to cheer.

Marcos’s running mate Duterte was not able to join the Leyte Grandstand rally or the other sorties of UniTeam’s just-concluded three-day Samar-Leyte swing. However, it can be argued that she was never out of mind on the part of the crowd that repeatedly chanted her name during the various rallies here.

The rally Saturday was hosted by House Majority Leader and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) President Martin Romualdez; his wife, Tingog Party-List Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez; and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez. Majority Leader Romualdez and Marcos are cousins.

Romualdez, who represents the first district of Leyte, expressed elation over the huge crowd of Leyteños who warmly welcomed the PFP stalwart.

“In a sense, I was not surprised because Bongbong is related to us Leyteños by blood and family origin,” Romualdez said.

“Mayor Inday Sara is also close to us because his father, President Duterte, traces his roots to Southern Leyte, where he was born in the town of Maasin,” he added.

For her part, Tingog Party-list Rep. Romualdez said the UniTeam candidtaes led by Marcos and Duterte can expect nothing less than all-out support from voters in the province.

“The BBM-Sara UniTeam have been assured of solid support by the two provinces’ (Samar and Leyte) officials. Let us vote straight for BBM-Sara UniTeam,” she said. (With reports from Tonette Marticio)