Record crowds, 'meet the press,' courting the masa and other campaign highlights for the month
A month since the official campaign period for national positions kicked off last Feb. 8, candidates vying to be the country's next president have figured in a number of sorties, interviews, and, for some at least, debates.
With just two months remaining before the high stakes election day on May 9, what places have the presidential bets visited and what strategies have they taken so far to woo prospective voters? What major events have taken place within a month's time that may have affected their candidacies for better or for worse?
Here's a wrap-up of the highlights from the presidential campaign trail so far.
The presidential hopefuls each kicked off their proclamation rallies in areas that have a special meaning to them.
Vice President Leni Robredo held hers in her hometown of Camarines Sur, Sen. Ping Lacson held his in Cavite and Sen. Manny Pacquiao in General Santos City.
Instead of his bailiwick Ilocos Norte, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. chose to hold his proclamation rally at the Iglesia ni Cristo's Philippine Arena in Bulacan. Marcos Jr.'s camp denied he was trying to court the highly coveted INC bloc, saying it was "just a venue" and that there's no endorsement from the religious group.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso opted for the Kartilya ng Katipunan in Ermita, a public park just north of his office at the Manila City Hall.
Labor leader Leody De Guzman, meanwhile, held his rally at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, a shrine for martial law victims during the Marcos regime.
(Non)-attendance in debates
Within a month, two major presidential have taken place: the SMNI debates on Feb. 15 and the CNN Philippines debates on Feb. 27.
The SMNI debates had four attendees, namely Marcos Jr., De Guzman, Norberto Gonzales, and Ernesto Abella.
Robredo, Lacson, Pacquiao, and Domagoso turned down the event hosted by the network owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who has publicly endorsed Marcos Jr. for the May polls and is wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged sex trafficking of children.
Robredo, Domagoso and Lacson all skipped as well as Pacquiao, who cited his pending libel complaint against Quiboloy.
CNN Philippines' Feb. 27 event, meanwhile, had nine out of 10 presidentiables in attendance: Abella, De Guzman, Domagoso, Gonzales, Lacson, Faisal Mangondato, Jose Montemayor Jr., Pacquiao, and Robredo.
Marcos Jr. was the sole absentee, as he held his campaign rally in Pangasinan that same day.
Since kicking off her campaign in Camarines Sur, Robredo and running mate Kiko Pangilinan have so far visited Batangas, Laguna, Bataan, Zambales, Capiz, Aklan, Pangasinan, Iligan City, and Cagayan de Oro.
Their first major stop was in Iloilo on Feb. 25, the 36th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
Iloilo was among the provinces where Robredo garnered the highest votes for vice president in 2016. For her 2022 presidential campaign, she held a series of campaign rallies, which culminated at the Iloilo Sports Complex in Iloilo City, where tens of thousands of "Kakampinks" gave her a warm welcome.
The event was headlined by OPM icon Ely Buendia, Rivermaya, JK Labajo, Pangilinan's wife Sharon Cuneta, and other celebrities who have been backing her candidacy.
At the "Pink Magic of Hope" event in Sampaloc in Manila on March 2, the home turf of Domagoso, thousands of residents also attended to show their support for Robredo.
Last March 4 in Cavite, Lacson's turf, a record 47,000 individuals reportedly went to the General Trias Sports Park to support Robredo and Pangilinan.
Robredo also surprised her supporters when she arrived on a motorcycle after being stuck in traffic.
But Cavite's 7th District Rep. Boying Remulla disputed the numbers, adding that some attendees were given P500 each. He also made claims that some supporters are members of communist groups.
Lacson, meanwhile, tweeted a link to a news article about Remulla's unsubstantiated claims, warning that it's "worrisome" to form coalition with communist groups.
Robredo's camp has denied the accusations, saying that while they've been used to "attacks" and "fake news," the recent ones were "a new low."
The following March 5, meanwhile, Robredo sustained her crowd numbers in Bulacan, where an estimated crowd of 45,000 flocked to the Malolos City Hall.
Her visit to Negros Occidental last March 11 has the biggest crowd turnout yet in recent election history, as organizers claimed a reported 70,000-strong Kakampinks in attendance at the Paglaum Stadium in Bacolod City.
Marcos Jr. and running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio has so far went to Valenzuela, Cavite, Parañaque, Cagayan, Quezon City, Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bacolod City, Batangas, Bicol, Masbate, Bulacan, Abra, Kalinga, and Laguna.
In his hometown Ilocos Norte, Marcos Jr. was given a warm welcome by the residents.
They made their final stop at the Paoay Sand Dunes late evening, as Marcos Jr. announced before thousands of supporters that he has finally come home.
In Bicol, meanwhile, the bailiwick of his rival Robredo, Marcos skipped her hometown Camarines Sur and opted to visit Legazpi and Sorsogon instead last March 5.
Marcos Jr. also held a sortie on Feb. 24 in Iloilo, where she lost to Robredo by a wide margin. In his sortie, which was on the eve of the EDSA People Power Revolution, he didn't mention anything about the historic movement that toppled his late father's government.
Marcos Jr. also reportedly called off his campaign rally in Antique after residents protested against it. Citing the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philstar.com reported that several Antiqueños and Ilonggos expressed their disapproval that Marcos Jr. will hold an event in a place where Evelio Javier, a former governor and supporter of Corazon Aquino, was shot by armed men on Feb. 11, 1986.
Marcos Jr.'s spokesman Vic Rodriguez said the Feb. 24 affair was reset to another date, not canceled.
The former senator, meanwhile, didn't show up in a March 6 event in Dasmariñas, organized by city councilor Kiko Barzaga.
In a statement, Barzaga took responsibility for the "failure in planning and communication," saying he chose to push through with the event despite knowing that they'll be unable to attend due to Sunday "being a rest day."
On the same day, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla posted wedding photos, where Bongbong can be seen with his sister Imee Marcos.
Marcos Jr. also canceled his grand rallies in Oriental Mindoro (March 7) and Parañaque (March 12). For the former, his camp didn't provide any reason but for the latter, it cited the heavy rains that day as the reason in cancelling with the event.
His Bulacan stop last March 8, meanwhile, made a splash online as some attendees lost their phones and wallets during the event.
After the program, some individuals appealed on stage for the return of their belongings. One attendee offered to pay the individual who will return his phone. Another attendee, who's apparently an overseas worker, pleaded to have her OFW identification card back.
Pacquiao and running mate Lito Atienza have toured Metro Manila, speaking with jeepney drivers and operators in Makati, street vendors in Manila, barangay health workers in San Juan, ayuda beneficiaries in Mandaluyong, and wet market workers in Quezon City.
Places they've visited so far include Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Cavite, and Tarlac.
During his Pangasinan event last March 3, Pacquiao made rounds on social media as he sought to dismiss criticisms that he's dull-witted or "mahina ang utak." For him, "Ang pinakabobo dito sa bansa natin iyong boboto ng magnanakaw," he said.
Instead of big rallies, Lacson has so far held "meet the press" events in Quezon City, San Juan, Parañaque, Sorsogon, and Pampanga, where he and running mate Tito Sotto answered questions about their platforms and policies.
Aside from engaging with journalists and the general public, they also spoke with farmers in Nueva Ecija and visited public markets in Santa Cruz, Calamba, and Biñan in Laguna. They also visited fishermen and tricycle drivers in Quezon province, as well as public utility vehicle drivers in Zambales.
Lacson also went to the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio on Feb. 19 for its annual alumni homecoming and parade. The PMA also conferred on him its Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of public service.
The following day, he held another press conference with Manila-based reporters covering his campaign trail.
Back in December, Sotto said doing away with motorcades was part of their campaign strategy.
"Ang strategy namin is to try to reach and talk to the people. So hindi kami pass-by, kasi hindi mo makakausap," Sotto said.
A 41-second video was uploaded, however, on Lacson's official YouTube channel showing he and Sotto aboard a motorcade in Sorsogon, though they used a relatively small vehicle instead of the typical truck.
Domagoso and running mate Dr. Willie Ong had motorcades in Laguna, La Union, Pangasinan, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Marikina, Rizal, Cavite, Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Masbate.
Domagoso also visited Samar provinces on Feb. 14 and 15, during which he's also had a "nostalgic visit" to his late mother's hometown Allen, according to his campaign manager Lito Banayo.
Some videos circulating online even showed Domagoso, who once had a showbiz career, showing off his dance moves before hundreds of audiences, set to Timmy Thomas and Betty Wright's Dying Inside to Hold You.
@pokmaru6 NAISKO 🥰💙☝🏻🙏🏻 Hindi lang bsta salita lahat nagawa nya na 💙 Gising mga kababayan ☝🏻 Eto ang tunay na PAGBABAGO BANGON PILIPINAS 🙏🏻☝🏻 #iskomor ♬ Dying inside - JcOfficial09🇵🇭
More viral videos, however, showed that he's also doing the "two joints" hand sign, which is associated with drugs in street culture. In slang, a joint is cannabis rolled up like a cigarette stick for smoking.
Domagoso explained the gesture to reporters in an ambush interview on March 3, saying he's not promoting recreational drug use and just wants to relate to younger people.
Don’t panic it’s organic ito ang tugon ni Presidential aspirant Mayor Isko Moreno sa pag urirat ng Media sa 2 Joints Sign nito. Hindi raw ito drug related bagkus ay pakiki-relate lang niya sa mga uso ngayon. @News5PH @onenewsph pic.twitter.com/gtBQPmJFl7— Romel M Lopez (@romeltv5) March 3, 2022
"Two joints, drugs ba iyon?" he said. "Isko, Doc Willie. Heto pa isa. Yorme, Ong. Pwede?"
"Chill. Don’t panic, it’s organic!” he added. "Don't panic, it's organic," meanwhile, is another street expression which refers to cannabis not being chemically produced compared to the likes of ecstacy.
But this, too, supposedly has a different meaning for Domagoso. “You’ve been asking us about our numbers," he said of the survey results. "We’re not panicking, tapos awa naman ng Diyos, nagiging organic."
During a press conference in Nueva Ecija, Domagoso took a swipe at candidates who use the term "laylayan ng lipunan" to refer to the marginalized sector, as it's supposedly condescending. Robredo is the only known candidate to have popularized the phrase during her vice presidential campaign in 2016.
“Kaya ang tawag niyo sa amin laylayan kasi mababa iyong tingin niyo sa amin," he said. "Ibig sabihin mataas ang tingin niyo sa sarili niyo."
Domagoso has been featuring his life before from the slums of Tondo to identify with the masa crowd.
As for the De Guzman and Walden Bello tandem, the duo has made the most out of online events.
Among the online events they've attended include the Radyo Veritas Catholic forum, podcast of the University of Santo Tomas political science department, online interview with nonprofit organization HalaLearn, and education forum with publisher Vibal.
De Guzman also gave virtual interviews to IBC13, Radyo5, One PH, De La Salle University Dasmariñas Broadcast Journalism Program Council, and Ateneo De Davao University.
They've so far visited gymnasiums in Bulacan, as well as in Talisay City and Mandaue City in Cebu. Starting March 11, the tandem will have sorties in Mindanao, in Misamis Occidental, Lanao Del Norte, Davao City, Davao Sur, Davao De Oro, Agusan Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur, Maguindanao, and South Cotabato.