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A rally experience

/ 04:30 AM May 02, 2022

My family has never before gone out of their way for a politician.

In the weeks leading up to a rally in our hometown, my family and I spent nights making fruit ice candy to give away, pink and sticky sweet with chopped strawberries and condensed milk. We had to do several trials because we had never made ice candy before.

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On the day of the rally, for which the forecasts had promised rain, the opposite happened. It was painfully hot. We were afraid the ice candy would melt. My family drove through town looking for tube ice. We sat on the kitchen floor, crushing ice under a cloth to put in our one, very heavy, cooler. This is not something we had experience doing. We checked Google and bought rock salt to keep the ice cold.

Traffic was building up. No way would cars be allowed to come near the venue borders. The cooler would be too heavy for a tricycle. Grab cars we booked gave up due to the heavy traffic. We finally had a family member drop us off some distance away and carried the cooler ourselves, stopping once in a while to catch our breath. The sun stung our skin and sweat got into our eyes. No one said anything about going home.

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Once at the venue, we gave out a big bag of snacks and the ice candy. All evidence of our hard work, spanning nights, disappeared in five minutes. This was several hours before the candidate would even appear at the venue. All we had to show for our efforts was a heavy cooler, filled with rock salt and inedible ice.

We anticipated long hours ahead. There was no internet signal. We entertained ourselves. I volunteered at the medic tent for two hours. I have never done this for any politician.

The rally lasted hours, long after the sun had set and rain started to drizzle down. There were artist performances, but I have never been the type to sit outdoors in hot weather for a free concert. We also did not stay to hear the candidates’ platforms; even though I support and agree with them, they would not be discussed in detail at this activity. I am also not a fanatic. I would not walk that far carrying a heavy load just to see a local celebrity’s face, let alone a politician. I was not there for emotional speeches. I was not there for the short bits by our own local government officials, some of whom had “trapo” demeanors at odds with the spirit of the campaign.

I came for the farmers who traveled far to endorse their candidates. I came to express my gratitude to them and to help show them that their support is worthwhile.

I came for the people who would see my photos on social media. I came for the silent onlookers on my feed, for those who are yet undecided or for those seeking understanding but who are afraid to step into volatile conversations. I came to show that I, who had always looked at politicians with extreme degrees of skepticism, know what is at stake enough to publicly give my support to my candidate—honest, accountable, qualified—potentially sacrificing friendships and professional opportunities.

I came for the people in the audience. I came so that my support would reflect in the numbers, much publicized as they are on social media, to give confidence to flagging spirits. I also came to strengthen the convictions of those who may have been undecided or faltering in that crowd. I had a small placard that introduced my family as a family of a martial law victim, to show that we exist; and that despite the preponderance of fake news, we had our documents, photos, and letters, and our recognition by the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board as safeguards of our truth. Some people, victims’ families themselves, asked to take a photo with the placard and, in those exchanges, there was an understanding that was silent and absolute.

I’ve never made ice candy for a politician before, and likely never will, but I still did that for the people around me—for solidarity, to be both example and compatriot. I didn’t make those ice candies, or walk under the sun, or stand under heat and rain for a slate of politicians, whose public actions I will continue to scrutinize whether they win or not.

It’s possible that come May 9, a week from now, my candidates will not win. It is possible that I will consider stopping after seven years of political writing due to fears for my safety. It’s possible that this people’s campaign will not see the outcome it wants the most, and that mere days can wipe away months of effort, leaving us with worse than an empty cooler—sad spirits, decreased funds, and the mockery of other camps. But any sincere effort made for the people is not wasted. I did it so that I could feel, in the years to come, that I came to stand on the right side of history, the way my young parents had bravely done, because such actions have a way of reverberating through time.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 elections, campaign rally, Hints and Symbols, Kay Rivera, rally experience
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