220,000-crowd powers festive Leni-Kiko grand rally in Pampanga

Right in Arroyo's home province, where she lost in 2016, Vice President Leni Robredo was still able to draw a record-breaking 220,000 crowd in Pampanga—exactly a month before the May 9 elections.

(VP Leni Media Bureau)

This so far exceeded the more than 130,000 attendees of the PasigLaban Grand Rally of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem last month.

The massive turnout of "Kakampinks," as estimated by local police, showed up at the Robinsons Starmills ground in San Fernando for the Manalakaran People's Rally.

Manalakaran is a Kapampangan word that means "to stand up," and thousands indeed stood up to support Robredo, her running mate Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, and their senatorial candidates who each wooed the attendees who braved the summer heat.

In addition to the vast crowd's festive mood were giant and colorful lanterns that lit up and adorned the venue and food carts offering free meals featuring the province's delicacies, including the world-famous sisig.

Robredo admitted she had never thought or dreamed of standing on a stage full of people, especially in the province where she suffered a massive loss in the 2016 vice presidential race.

"Pinaramdam n'yo sa amin na hindi n'yo lang ako mahal, pero talagang napakalaki ng pagmamahal n'yo sa taumbayan (You made us feel that you love not only me, but also your countrymen)," she said.

Pampanga is a known stronghold of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who officially endorsed Robredo's rival, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., last week.

Arroyo even predicted a "landslide victory" for the dictator's son and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, in her home province.

However, Robredo emphasized that the Filipinos, not the politicians, would decide who to elect as the country's next leaders.

"Klaro sa atin na kailangan na natin ng pagbabago. Pagbabago na hindi nanggaling sa mga politiko, pero pagbabago na nagmumula sa puso at isipan ng bawat Pilipino (It is clear that change is what we really need. Change not from politicians, but change that comes from the heart and mind of Filipinos)," she said.

"Ang tunay na lakas hindi manggaling sa aming mga pulitiko. Ang tunay nalakas hindi manggagaling sa pera o makinarya. Ang tunay na lakas ay magmumula sa nagkakaisang taumbayan (Real strength does not come from politicians or from money or machinery. True strength comes from people)," she added.

Should she win the presidency, Robredo also promised that she would continue to serve the public and set aside political colors.

"Ang atin pong paniniwala, 'pag tapos na ang eleleksyon, dapat tapos na rin ang pulitika. Dapat ang inaasikaso na natin yung mga pag-asikaso ng mga kababayan natin na nangangailangan (We believe that when the election is over, politics must be over as well. We must prioritize to take care of the needs of the Filipinos)," she said.

The Pampanga grand rally also holds the biggest stage yet for the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem which gathered Filipino celebrities and artists including Nadine Lustre, Sharon Cuneta, Jolina Magdangal, Sam Concepcion, K Brosas, and Gab Valenciano.