Reading and Such

Book captures the Philippine renaissance that Leni Robredo spawned

The people's creative, spontaneous expression was a historic phenomenon, making this more than a scrapbook of 'pinagtagpi-tagping alaala'

The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution
Woman in pink Leni Robredo
The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution

Dengcoy Miel’s viral ‘Lugaw’

Photo of phenomenal street rally by Zech Yonzon

At around this time last year, they or we whom the Reds once disparagingly called “The Pink Parlor Set” were all over the place. By Reds, I mean the communists, the socialists, and anyone who believed the Philippines needed something more drastic than a superficial switching of government officials via elections. Not the red color appropriated by the UniTeam Alliance of Bongbong Marcos, he who went on to win the 2022 presidential elections, to the astonishment of the pinks.

Many dyed-in-the-wool Reds and the Yellows from the Cory and Noynoy Aquino years turned their political color to pink in the hope of deep-seated change that then Vice President Leni Robredo and her Tropang Angat represented.

‘Angel of Hope’ by Rowena Gaborni

Chit Roces-Santos wrote in her Philippine Daily Inquirer column: “Leni fought a moral battle and won, which may well be the first step to national rebirth.

“Her candidacy awakened a voluntarism I’ve not seen since Edsa. I prefer the Spanish word voluntad—it ensues from the sense of personal will but one devoid of personal gain, the will to make good things happen in response to others’ needs.

“That makes it a moral battle, and one that begins with me and each one of the rest of us, personally, individually.”

Lucky for us pinkos, again a disparaging term that has taken on an improved meaning, Boboy Yonzon—TV-video director, award-winning scriptwriter, publisher, columnist, graphic designer, and art educator—edited and curated The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution. It is a 244-page remembrance, a visual document of those heady days leading to the May 9 elections.

This hefty book of words and pictures with a square size larger than a vinyl record jacket is published by Yonzon Associates, Inc., under its Onyx Owl Books imprint. Over 200 visual artists, including National Artist BenCab, poets, muralists, cartoonists like the redoubtable Dengcoy Miel, sculptors, designers, and photographers gave the publishers their permission to feature their works.

The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution

Special ‘Sabel’ piece by National Artist Bencab that appears lighter and with a rosy glow

The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution

Cover of the pink book

Why the subject, Atty. Leonor Gerona Robredo, lost is for political scientists and commentators, survey experts, statisticians, and even the highly opinionated to explain. To paraphrase Tennyson the poet, ours was not to reason why, ours was to do and die. The dying was symbolic only. Robredo’s 15 million or so voters make up a solid number and following.

The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution

Dominic Jay Gregorio’s ‘LetLeniLead2022’

Yonzon wrote in the prologue that during the campaign period, “celebrities—actors, singers, beauty queens spoke up, “ unmindful of the bashing.”  National Artists for Literature Virgilio Almario and Gemino Abad, National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, National Artists for Music Ramon Santos and Ryan Cayabyab made known their support for Robredo.

To Yonzon, the murals, witty t-shirt messages and designs, original songs, “clever stationary motorcades and countless expressions that none of the other presidential candidates could inspire” added up into a kind of “Philippine Renaissance—the true Golden Age.” I never saw a greater collective and creative outpouring than this!

The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution

T-shirts say it all.

Sociologist Randy David viewed Robredo “as the charismatic personification of the Edsa people power legacy that the Aquinos (Cory and Noynoy) personified”

He continued, “…Leni is perceived today as the most important steward of the emancipatory spirit that, in 1986, freed the country from the grip of authoritarianism. Narrowly defeating Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the vice-presidential race in 2016, she went on to serve as the principal check to the neo-Marcosian autocracy of President Duterte.”

And so in major cities and  capital towns, people turned out by the hundreds of thousands, even a million in Pasay and Makati, to make their pro-Robredo stance and sentiments known. Then hobbling from osteoarthritis, I watched the live streams on social media, choking back senti tears whenever a drone camera would show the extent of the crowd.

In Luchie Arguelles’s narrative on Pink Parols and Other Means, she explained why the spirit of volunteerism was what distinguished the Robredo campaign from that of traditional politicians.

Wrote she: “In supporting Leni, they (the volunteers) were aware that, more than  anyone, she was lacking in funding for the magnitude of the campaign…Majority of KakamPINK took the campaign personally and in earnest, had to dig into their own pockets to sustain the momentum.”

Some may dismiss the book as just a scrapbook of pinagtagpi-tagping alaala, of what might have beens, but for kakamPINKs such as me, it keeps the spark alive.

‘Kakampink’ fan

The softbound copy of  The Leni Robredo Cultural Revolution is available at P2,200, while the hardbound sells for P3,500. Send a private message to Boboy Yonzon on Facebook for your order.

About author

Articles

She is a freelance journalist. The pandemic has turned her into a homebody.

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