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A protester holds a slogan that reads, “Return what you stole”, during a rally as they question legitimacy of the election result. Photo: AP

Philippines breaks out in jeers and tears as some Robredo fans ‘draw the line’ after Marcos win

  • Bongbong Marcos supporters continued referring to Robredo as an ‘airhead’ after their candidate won the presidential election
  • Some Robredo supporters say they will no longer be ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ and will cut off financial support to their pro-Marcos relatives and friends who taunted them
Millions of people were moved to tears during the Philippines’ presidential election – for fans of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jnr, who swept to a landslide victory they were tears of jubilation, while supporters of outgoing Vice-President Leni Robredo sobbed in grief and disbelief.

“We wept together,” an ardent Marcos Jnr fan based in California said as she live-streamed on Facebook their revelry with wine and laughter.

Not everyone was as civilised when learning of the election results.

Some Marcos Jnr supporters hounded Robredo on social media to concede defeat, forgetting that their candidate never conceded his loss to her in the 2016 vice-presidential election despite a unanimous court ruling.
Supporters of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jnr gesture and celebrate as ballots are counted during the 2022 national elections on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

On Wednesday, Marcos Jnr claimed victory in the presidential election, vowing to be a leader “for all Filipinos”, his spokesman said.

Even before that proclamation, Marcos Jnr’s supporters were revelling in their candidate’s looming victory the day after the election, and became more aggressive against backers of the rival candidate.

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More than a dozen supporters in Metro Manila got off a bus plastered with Marcos Jnr posters in Makati’s financial district – where Robredo had held a massive “pink” rally last Saturday – and started shouting, “Leni lutang (airhead)” – a chant that was also reposted countless times on social media.

Not done yet, others took to messaging known critics of Marcos Jnr on social media to sneer that, “now it’s our time to show you guys what victory really is … we have a victory party on Edsa, do join us”. Edsa is a highway where a historic peaceful uprising occurred, which toppled Marcos Jnr’s father from power in 1986.
Marcos Jnr’s official Twitter account showed him on election night being greeted in his campaign headquarters with shouts of “we did it, we did it”, while his son Sandro danced in delight.


Philippine election: Bongbong Marcos’ supporters celebrate landslide presidential victory

Philippine election: Bongbong Marcos’ supporters celebrate landslide presidential victory

Over at the Robredo camp, the mood was most funereal.

“I cried,” confessed Lulu Santos, an NGO worker helping distressed communities in far flung villages. “I will probably continue to cry. But I will continue to fight.”

Santos firmly believed that Marcos had cheated. “The cheating started way back, with all the revision of history, mind-conditioning, trolls, fakes and deep fakes.”

But she added: “I still believe in the innate goodness of Filipinos who believe and will stand and fight for truth, justice and freedom.”

“All that is necessary for evil to succeed in this world is for enough good men and women to do nothing. So we will do something. God is with us!,” she said.

Trolls and polls: fake news surrounds Philippines’ Robredo-Marcos showdown

Structural engineer Joshua Agar, 28, blamed himself for Robredo’s defeat. Out biking on election night while trying to process the news, he took a wrong turn and in the dim street lamps “stumbled upon a cemetery”.

Seeing it, “a feeling of disappointment sank into me for having failed in defending history, truth, and democracy”, said the University of the Philippines assistant professor.

He said he bitterly regretted remaining “amicable” towards friends and family members, including his dad – all hardline Marcos Jnr supporters – instead of fighting disinformation and being “feisty [and] drawing the line clearer” with them.

VP Leni is that rare public servant who doesn’t just have a good, consistent track record in office, but who also has the ability to bring out the best in us as Filipinos
Tala Wong, teacher

Robredo supporters fed-up with being taunted by Marcos Jnr supporters have started taking action in the only way they can. On social media, some said that they would no longer be a “Mr Nice Guy” and would cut off financial support to those from the rival political camp. Pro-Marcos Jnr relatives and friends will no longer get birthday and Christmas presents, they said.

A lawyer told his pro-Marcos Jnr clients that he would no longer do “pro-bono” work for them. A doctor said patients whom he knew voted for the late dictator’s son would no longer get free consultations and medicines. A businessman said he had switched to pro-Robredo or “kakampink” suppliers.

Two others separately announced they had changed passwords to their internet, Netflix and Spotify accounts, so neighbours and friends who had jeered them for backing a loser could no longer log on.

Is Bongbong Marcos’ win a sign of nostalgia for his father’s strongman rule?

For Tala Wong, a 33-year-old history teacher, “it’s like going through the five stages of grief all at once”.

“My colleagues and I started questioning what good is teaching history if we do our best and this continues to happen: a Marcos may rise to power again.

“The way I see it, it just means that the fight against misinformation and historical distortion – not revisionism, but outright distortion – isn’t over, and requires a sustained, widespread community effort, with all sectors of society coming together to confront and fight it,” she said.

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On Tuesday, Wong tried to process her grief by joining a rally in front of the Commission on Elections headquarters in Manila to protest the “unjust” election process, and by raising funds and making sandwiches for election monitors auditing the votes.

She said she was doing this because “VP Leni is that rare public servant who doesn’t just have a good, consistent track record in office, but who also has the ability to bring out the best in us as Filipinos”.

Wong said the pink rallies had opened her eyes to how Filipinos were one community, sharing food and witty signs as “one people who want better lives and futures for ourselves and our loved ones – things suddenly possible under a Robredo administration”.

“VP Leni helps me remember why it’s great to be a Filipino,” Wong said.