Why I go house-to-house (H2H) in the ‘solid north’

To campaign for our future. It just feels good to be a Filipino now. I know that our efforts will take us somewhere better

The author trying to win over his province mates

A day with the market vendors in San Fabian public market

How much are we willing to sacrifice for our future? In our endless battle for democracy, I am willing to give my extra time and full effort for our nation to win in this race for our future. The national election results will have a great impact in the next six years of our lives.  We have seen the struggles of the less fortunate, most specially during this pandemic. We have witnessed how our elected officials acted during the times of difficulty. Now is the perfect time—let us choose the one who will elevate the way of living to what every Filipino deserves.

It was last October, during my mom’s birthday celebration, when a friend, who is a youth leader, told me about this initiative for the Filipino people. Without any hesitation, I promptly replied, “Para sa bayan!”

I know, this won’t be easy for someone who is living in the bailiwick of the other candidate, as I belong to the so-called “Solid North.” Some family members, neighbors, and most of the people in our community believe that the next President should come from our region. But of course, I am sure that ideology applies only to those who have already closed their minds, who don’t know about history, and who don’t read much about a candidate who presents us with the government we deserve—a government with a clean track record, without corruption issues, with viable platforms, and with an impressive educational background. And the only President we deserve is Leni Robredo. Even before she announced her candidacy, we already believed that she was the only one who could handle the executive position.

As early as December, we were already courting people. Following Comelec protocols, we already introduced them to the Leni-Kiko tandem. In a small barangay in our town, we presented them the kind of government these two leaders will most probably have. We presented them the background of these two deserving candidates. We also gave them free seedlings, aside from the usual tarpaulins, T-shirts, and stickers, courtesy of some volunteers from other towns. It was very noticeable how these people listened; we haven’t heard a single word contradicting what we discussed with them. Truly, talking heart-to-heart, and noticing those who need a good government the most, is the best way to win the Philippines.

It was the hope, more than the happiness and excitement, that I felt after the kick-off rally of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem in Naga City

It was the hope, more than the happiness and excitement, that I felt after the kick-off rally of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem in Naga City last February. I was amazed at how the volunteerism was alive again after years of just going with the flow, if not being resigned to what we are experiencing with the current administration. A people’s movement has been ignited again in aiming for good governance. Every day, the number of volunteers is growing exponentially.

Surprisingly, our town, which enabled a landslide victory of the other candidate in our province in the previous election, has been very brave to stand in support of a leadership that values the welfare of every Filipino. Just like other volunteer groups from other towns and provinces, we also put up a volunteer center. Some well-off, prominent people and families in our town have been very active in supporting our group in all the activities that we conduct. Across all ages, economic classes, and genders, we have taken an initiative to campaign for our future. It just feels so good to be a Filipino during this very moment, I know that all our efforts will take us somewhere better.

Volunteers putting tarp on a house of a Leni supporter from 2016

But how do we do our house-to-house campaign in this so-called Solid North, where most of the local candidates are blatantly endorsing a Marcos presidency? Where people believe in their ties to someone who comes from the same region? Where people always say that if he wins, the Ilocanos will benefit more than other Filipinos?

We must convince, we must accept ridicule, we have to be brave. We talk as concerned Filipinos, we talk heart-to-heart. We’re following a systematic approach in doing it. First thing to do, of course, is to ask what are the characteristics of a leader they are looking for, who is their presidential bet, what is their reason for choosing a candidate, and what are some factors that would change their minds.

The author with initially undecided voters

As expected, most of the people who we are talking to are undecided. These types of people are the ones who we talk to a lot, we have to explain them what Leni and Kiko have done for the Philippines, what their projects are, their track record, and their platforms that would benefit all Filipinos, prioritizing the less fortunate. Since the folk are living mainly in coastal areas and farm lands, we explain to them how Kiko helped our fisherfolk and farmers, and show them the laws he authored. We have cited projects that are visible right in our town. We also share how a Robredo presidency would fight for our sovereign rights and programs for agriculture.

The biggest turnout for the decided ones is for Leni, and this is very surprising to us. Nonetheless, we always show facts even to those who believe in her. We show how a Leni vice-presidency took action during the hardest times—how it responded in the pandemic, during typhoons or any natural calamities, and how the “nasa laylayan” benefited from a small budget of the office. We show how Leni Robredo utilized the limited resources she had. We show how she focused on the unfortunate sectors, how she lifted their way of living. We show how effective she is as a leader.

Convincing people to vote for our candidate may seem hard, but the credentials really speak for themselves, which rabid supporters of the other party would never admit.

Convincing people to vote for our candidate may seem hard, but the credentials really speak for themselves

Along the way, we’ve heard so many hateful words. Kids would say, “Leni Lugaw.” Mostly, they say, “Puro kasi paninira at pambabatikos.” But how do we address these accusations? We didn’t come there to fight these individuals; we came to understand them and let them understand how much is at stake here. We keep talking to them about how she responded during the pandemic, her angat buhay program, her e-konsulta, how she responded during typhoons and any natural disaster, her record with the Commission on Audit (COA), and most especially her educational background. Others said, “Babae kasi at hindi kayang lumaban sa giyera”—we can’t deny the fact that we are really living in a misogynistic society. But we always say that gender is not a basis for leadership; we even compared how women from other countries lead their citizens. The worst thing we have heard is, “Ayaw ko lang.” Others say, bobo, lutang, NPA, dilawan/pinklawan. Some also stated, “Ganun din naman ang buhay kahit sinong mananalo.” We make these people realize how the actions of our leaders affect us in all ways. We let them know that this fight is a fight for everyone.

Those who do not believe in Leni’s leadership, I observed, always say that social media, a 30-second clip, or a vlogger is their primary source of what they believe to be facts. They believe that the late dictator’s son is the one who is a victim of misinformation. They are sure that whatever accusations being thrown at them is a way to destroy a certain candidate, not to open their eyes to the reality of issues. It really is disappointing how fake news peddlers have succeeded in revising history.

The most notable comment I heard was, “Mura kasi ang bilihin dati, at ‘yon ay maibabalik lamang kapag si Marcos ang umupong presidente, at yung yaman na nasa kanila ay ibabalik sa mahihirap.” These people believed what their lola and lolo tell them. They always believe that during the Marcos presidency, the Philippines was at its best—the golden age, as they call it. They barely know about the human rights violations and corruption during that time. Of course, who could ever forget the promise of giving the people the Tallano gold once BBM is elected?

Those who read and understand better provide us with acceptable reasons why a vote for Leni is a must. They don’t forget to mention the COA, COVID-19 responses, the inclusivity of her leadership, her educational background, her being a lawyer, and her track records. Her plans and platforms, such as the raising of the budget for education and healthcare services, were also pointed out. But there are some who say, “Babae kasi ako kaya babae rin dapat o nanay, para aalagaan nya ang Pilipinas na parang anak”; Si Marcos kasi never nag-attend ng debate”; “baka marami na namang mamamatay dahil babalik ang martial law”; “kurakot kasi yung iba”; “walang plano si Marcos”; “puro lang unity at pagkakaisa”; and “di nagbabayad ng utang at tax.” Again, we always tell to people that the facts we show aren’t meant to destroy a candidate.

Babae kasi ako kaya babae rin dapat o nanay, para aalagaan nya ang Pilipinas na parang anak’

San Fabian volunteers’ caravan on its way to the Pangasinan grand rally

Who could ever forget about the rallies of Leni and Kiko? No one. This is only my first time to see hundreds of thousands of people supporting a candidate, providing free food and rides for the attendees. In Pangasinan alone, there were an estimated 76,000 participants. It is so unbelievable to witness such a mammoth crowd, and I’m proud at the same time. The pre-program started at around 2 pm, with guest performers from different parts of Pangasinan and other provinces. Even in the heat of the sun and in the pouring rain, after which appeared a rainbow, never did I move from my position, with people cheering and enjoying all the performances. The crowd was shouting, “Leni” and “Kiko.” But what was most noticeable was the phrase, “Walang Solid North.”

As time passed, the number of attendees kept growing, and this made me even prouder as a Pangasinense and a Filipino. Pangasinan culture was also showcased during the entrance of Leni; she was labelled as the new Urduja, a legendary warrior princess widely believed to be from our province. Of course, another proud moment was when some incumbent officials and candidates from the province endorsed a Leni presidency—most specially Toff de Venecia, the incumbent congressman of the 4th district and son of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia and former congresswoman Gina de Venecia.

When Leni started speaking, people couldn’t stop shouting her name. I can now clearly imagine how a future with good governance will look. It was at that moment that I really felt how good leadership could inspire people, especially a government that would focus on the welfare of every Filipino. The rally that was fueled by the people showed  a clearer path to a decent government. It ended at around 11p.m.

The author with fellow volunteers in San Fabian

Through the entire campaign, I’ve learned that talking to people on the ground, talking to the most vulnerable, and talking to the victims of dirty politics, are the best way to win this battle for our future. Folk who were not convinced would always say, “Bayad ang mga yan.” As someone who is willing to give everything for the future, I’ve been devoting my extra time to make known my stand. All efforts could not be bought or paid for by material things—this is purely volunteerism. I’ve been contributing to this cause, for the future of the Filipino people.

Our efforts will never go to waste. An example is the result of my discussion with my parents, who were once BBM supporters but who have switched to Leni. Over dinner, my father told my mom, “Suportahan natin ang anak natin dahil naniniwala ako sa paninindigan nya para kay Leni, alam ko kung paano natin sya pinalaki.”

It’s a different feeling. These are not the Filipinos I have gotten used to, but a kind of character that I would want to see more of in the coming years. We have only a few days left, so we must move, make a stand, take our only chance for a better government. Ipanalo na natin ito!

About author


He is a 26-year-old Speech Communication and Broadcasting graduate of the University of the Philippines. A former creative writing instructor, he is working as research lead in a publishing company.

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