Pink, yellow and the colorful Philippine presidential race
By Diana G. Mendoza
Manila-- The color pink trended on social media in the Philippines on Thursday, Oct. 7, when Vice President Leni Robredo made her announcement to run for president with her team’s choice color as symbol, and as netizens flooded the platforms with posts of their photos in pink outfits, gifs, memes and hashtags.
Up until she filed her certificate of candidacy before the Commission on Elections in the afternoon, the color pink continued to trend, which started the day before with a meme, “On Thursday, we wear pink,” a take on a quote from the Hollywood movie “Mean Girls.”
Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, 56, a human rights lawyer who leads the opposition, would be the fifth presidential contender in the May 9, 2022 national elections when over 64 million Filipino voters will choose their next president, vice president, senators, congressmen, provincial governors, city and town mayors and councilors.
The opposition’s choice of pink was a departure from yellow that has stood to symbolize the opposition during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino, who was swept into power during the 1986 People Power Revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and until the government of her son, the late President Benigno Aquino III.
Political observers said the color change was an effort to diffuse the polarized Philippine society that has branded anyone opposing the Duterte government as yellow.
Robredo’s colleague, Sen. Leila de Lima, praised her courage to face an uphill battle to put a stop to the rule and control of populist President Rodrigo Duterte.
“VP Leni has the clearest vision, along with a good heart and the bright mind to match it, of where we ought to be: a better place and a brighter future, away from this nightmare of the past five years,” de Lima said in a statement.
Robredo’s presidential run is also meant to stop another comeback for the Marcoses. In 2016, she won by a slim margin over Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., former senator and son of the late dictator, who is now running for president.
Apart from facing off anew with Marcos, Robredo will also slug it out with boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and actor-turned-politician Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso, who goes by his showbiz name Isko Moreno.
There is one more remaining day for the filing of candidacy but declared candidates can still withdraw, and be substituted by another candidate until Nov. 15.
Duterte supporters are still hoping that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who remained coy about running for president and filed for another mayoral term, will actually join the crowded race. Social media posts alluding to Duterte’s daughter are anything green, her signature color.
Robredo hopes to replicate her 2016 win in an election that will change due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m officially offering myself as candidate for president. I will take on the fight. We will fight together,” she said in her announcement in Tagalog. “The challenge we face is clear to everyone. We’ve seen the lies and the abuse. They have the money and the machinery.”
Steph Manda, 20, a first-time voter who is part of the huge population of youth voters, said she is one of the many young Filipinos disappointed by Duterte’s deadly drug war and his government’s dismal pandemic response.
“I think I will vote for change. I will vote for Leni because she continued working on Covid-19 vaccinations when everyone in the government was either corrupt or incompetent,” she said. “I have yet to have a second choice but the five other candidates have the same promises.”