TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – INCLEMENT weather is no match for Leyteños and Taclobanons, who weathered super typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013, as they were determined Saturday to show their love and affection for UniTeam candidates led by presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
This resulted in a jampacked Leyte Grandstand and nearby streets where an estimated 210,000 local residents braved the rains and endured long hours of waiting.
UniTeam senatorial candidates Harry Roque, Win Gatchalian, Herbert Bautista, Mark Villar, Migz Zubiri, Jinggoy Estrada, and Robin Padilla joined the huge rally, which effectively capped off UniTeam Samar-Leyte swing that started last Friday.
Duterte was not able to join the Leyte Grandstand rally, although she wasn’t at all far from hearts and minds of the attendees who repeatedly chanted her name during countless portions of the event.
The two frontrunner-candidates earlier agreed to split up so they could revisit more areas and reach out to remote communities ahead of the May 9 polls.
The rally, hosted by House Majority Leader and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) President Martin G. Romualdez and his wife, Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, looked more like a victory party for Marcos and the rest of UniTeam as Filipinos only need to wait one more month before the casting of ballots.
Multi-awarded signer Dulce sang the Lupang Hinirang following Marcos’s arrival on stage.
This being Tacloban City, the Yolanda tragedy and the Taclobanons’ display of resilience was alluded to all throughout the program.
In memory of the thousands who lost their lives from the natural disaster, Dulce, Renz Verano, and Beverly Salviejo made a solemn rendition of the song, “Bayan Kong Magiliaw”.
But the celebratory atmosphere was instantly revived when it was Marcos’s turn to speak to the mammoth crowd.
He was introduced on stage by Majority Leader Romualdez.
“Sabi ko na nga ba eh, ang mga Taclobanon hindi tinatalaban ng ulan. Bumuhos na ‘yung tubig, bumuhos na ‘yung ulan, hindi lumalamig, mas uminit pa dahil sa salubong na ibinigay niyo sa amin,” Marcos said.
“Masarap talagang makauwi ulit dito sa Tacloban at kayo ay makasama ng ganito,” he added.
An impressive fireworks display that lasted 35 minutes amid a steady drizzle followed the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer’s speech.
Marcos and his vice presidential running mate Mayor Duterte have been continuously campaigning despite havint identical more-than-majority voter support of 56 percent as reflected in Pulse Asia’s tracking survey for March. The results were released on Wednesday.
Before the rally here, mammoth crowds also attended the UniTeam rallies in Maasin City, Baybay City, and Ormoc City on Saturday.
The UniTeam members also met with local officials led by Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico “Mic” Petilla and Tacloban City Mayor Romualdez.
Majority Leader Romualdez, who represents the first district of Leyte, expressed elation over the throngs of Leyteños that warmly welcomed BBM.
“In a sense, I was not surprised because Bongbong is related to us Leyteños by blood and family origin,” Romualdez said.
Marcos is a cousin of Romualdez. His mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, is from Leyte.
“Mayor Inday Sara is also close to us because his father, President Duterte, traces his roots to Southern Leyte, where he was born in the town of Maasin,” Romualdez said.
Tingog party-list Rep. Romualdez said the UniTeam candidtaes led by Marcos and Duterte can expect nothing less than all-out support from the province.
“The BBM-Sara UniTeam have been assured of solid support by the two provinces’ (Samar and Leyte) officials. Let us vote straight for BBM-Sara UniTeam,” she said.