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MITING DE AVANCE: Grace Poe back in Plaza Miranda

Text by AVIGAIL OLARTE

Photos by LUIS LIWANAG

SHE was back to where it all began.

There in the historic Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, presidential candidate Grace Poe retold her story as a baby found on the footsteps of a church in Jaro.

And on a solemn Saturday evening, just as the bells of Quiapo church rang, she said these words:

Mga kababayan lahat ng pagdurog sa aking pagkatao, sa aking pamilya, lahat ng bintang na hindi totoo tinanggap ko ng buong buo para sa inyo (Every effort to bring me and family down, each false accusation, I readily accepted and faced them for you.)”

The senator said her father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., did not raise her a coward.

Just like in her father’s movies, the tough-talking senator stood there,¬†delivered her lines like quick, powerful jabs. She remained firm and undeterred even amid a call for her to withdraw from the race.

Ngayon pa ba ako aatras para ipagpatuloy ay dati nang mali? Hindi! (Should I back down now and let wrongdoings continue? No!)” she said, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd of about 5,000.

Going to back to Plaza Miranda was symbolic, as Poe launched her 2016 campaign and 2013 senatorial bid there.

All throughout the evening, the star-studded miting de avance was marked with messages like, “Lider na may puso, lider na may malasakit ( A leader with a heart, a leader who cares.)” For the Poe camp, this is the kind of leader the country needs.

A survey frontronner until the rise of her rival Rodrigo Duterte, the senator urged Filipinos to vote for a leader they can trust.

Noong panahon ng Kastila, ang mga berdugo ay may suot na maskara, hindi natin sila kilala. Nagtago ito dahil hindi kanais-nais ang itsura o anyo. (During the Spanish period, executioners wore masks and we didn’t know who they were. They hid behind their masks because they’re horrible),” she warned.

In fact, her entire campaign story has followed this narrative — a God-fearing leader who’s out to defend the poor, save them from the clutches of evil.

It is the same storyline that had drawn millions of Filipinos to the on-screen persona of her father dubbed as “Da King,” or the King of Pilippine movies.

People who go to her campaign rallies are loyal to FPJ, and to many, putting Grace Poe into power would vindicate their “hero,” who they believe was cheated in the 2010 elections and robbed him of his destiny to be president.

Like her father, Poe said running for president is a call of duty, something that was thrust upon her. It is a role that might just take her all the way to Malacanang.

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