After a difficult but fulfilling 4,400-kilometer walk, the Sumilao farmers of Bukidnon were finally able to raise the hands of presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.
The Sumilao farmers walked for 40 days to show support for Robredo and Pangilinan. They made surprise appearance at the "Tanglaw: Laguna People's Rally", held in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, on Friday night, April 29.
"May tatlong rason bakit kami naglalakbay ng 40 days," Nolan Peñas, one of the farmers, said.
The walk is their way of standing with the four million farmers and their families who still experience hunger and poverty, of showing solidarity with the thousands of volunteers who are campaigning for Robredo and Pangilinan, day in and day out; and lastly, of reminding Filipinos to fight for what is theirs.
“Laguna 'wag natin kalimutan na tayo pa rin ay nasa isang demokrasya at malayang bayan, hindi natin hahayaan na agawin muli ito sa atin,” Peñas told the 225,000-strong crowd that braved the changing weather to show their support for the Leni-Kiko tandem.
The summer heat was intense while they waited for the rally to start, then it rained hard, turning the mammoth crowd into a sea of colorful umbrellas.
When it was Robredo’s turn to go onstage, the rains stopped, as it did in several rallies in the past when there was sudden inclement weather.
“Kanina, bumuhos 'yung ulan bago ako magsalita, kaya sabi ko po sa likod: dito yata ako sa Laguna mapapahiya,” Robredo said. “Paglabas ko dito, huminto nga 'yung ulan. Talagang napakalakas ng kakampi natin.” The crowd cheered.
In her message, Robredo took the opportunity to look back at the time when she declared her candidacy for the May 9 elections.
“Kanina po, bago ako i-introduce, tinitingnan ko 'yung video sa harap, nakita ko po 'yung aking mensahe noong pagtanggap ko ng hamon na tumakbo bilang Pangulo,” Robredo said. It happened only on October 7 – almost seven months ago – but a lot has happened since then.
Robredo said courage was all she had as she was in the bottom of the surveys at that time.
“Pero, naglakas loob kayo, tumindig kayo at tama nga, noong tumindig kayo, maraming tumindig sa katabi niyo. Tingnan niyo naman po tayo ngayon, napakarami na natin,” she said.
In the remaining nine days of the campaign, Robredo encouraged her supporters to exert all remaining efforts to advocate for the honest kind of leadership and good governance she, Pangilinan, and their senatorial ticket uphold.
“Hanggang sa kahuli-hulihan, 'yung lahat ng ating lakas, ibuhos po natin para mangumbinsi pa ng iba,” Robredo said.
She said in convincing people, one should be calm when having conversations.
“Pakita po natin sa kanila na welcome sila sa atin. Ipakita natin sila na dito sa atin, masaya. Ipakita natin sa kanila na anuman ang kulay nila, mamahalin at ipaglalaban natin sila,” Robredo said.
In closing, Robredo reiterated her promise to serve all Filipinos, regardless of their political colors. She said she will encourage true unity among all Filipinos – one born out of love for the country. [End]