BAGUIO CITY – It’s been a year since former Vice President MariaLeonor “Leni” Robredo formally announced her candidacy for president on October 7, 2021. I remember doing a happy dance, jumping for joy, and announcing that she would win (at least in my head). Then my obsession with pink shortly began and half my t-shirt drawer turned “rosas.”

Oh, what a year it has been. And what a loss we took in May.

VP Leni, our bet, represented many good things, a beacon of hope. As a person and public servant, she was the real deal. She introduced concepts like radikal na pagmamahal (or radical love, which I even wrote a song about, as it was too inspiring). She was calm, collected, and engaging with her volunteer campaigners and everyone. She had the track record and the platform. She was the next president, for sure.

Volunteers & supporters greeting VP Leni during her Baguio visit last December 8, 2021.

We believed. We did our part, volunteered, campaigned in ways that we can. Here in Baguio where I’m based, we kakampinks are admittedly a minority. This is BBM (Bongbong Marcos) country, and although #WalangSolidNorth, a considerable number of people are still immersed in groupthink and have cemented their loyalties to Apo, his son, and the entire family. Of course, we are all free to support our chosen candidate.

#WalangSolidNorth (There is no solid North) is an anti-Marcos mantra that says there is no such thing as a solid vote for Bongbong, son of the late dictator (Apo) Ferdinand Marcos who hailed from the north.

Despite being in BBM country, I witnessed the commendable and courageous efforts by fellow kakampink volunteers from various sectors. No doubt that everyone involved gave their all. Still, there is much to be said about what we can learn from the experience, and this is what this piece is about.

In hindsight, the movement has been pink, but it sure was very colorful. It is a movement of people who are not like VP Leni, and that’s the reality.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it any further, but: 

What happened to the pink movement? More importantly, what happened in the pink movement (or community)?

To be honest, I can’t say it was all rosy. A friend wrote about this, that since it was a purely volunteer-driven campaign, no one was accountable.

Were we a bunch of good-willed people? Yes. Were we helpful and hopeful? Yes. Were we at times condescending too? Yes. Unable to expand our own worldview? At times.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a full-blooded kakampink, and I really look up to VP Leni and everything she represents. But maybe I had my head submerged deep into the pink waters that after May, when I breathed for air, I looked back and was also disappointed, mostly by many a kakampink.

I know people who are BBM supporters who are way more respectful, present, and kinder than some kakampinks I know. To think our “brand” was that of supposed kindness, love, and all the mushy things.

(I know, I know, a lot of BBM-ers are condescending and downright mean too, at least the human ones. The trolls don’t count.)

It was a misstep to place our trust solely on good will and benevolence when we didn’t approach things objectively and skillfully.

We were conducting activities without really assessing the impact we had. I agree, lugaw (rice porridge) is symbolic. But maybe in these times of poverty and difficulty, there is little bandwidth to process these symbolisms. If you’re hungry, there is probably little capacity to be kind, much less believe those who seem to be kind but are obviously eating more than three meals a day.

One of many lugawan activities in Baguio, which would often be accompanied by other services like Libreng Gupit, Free Medical and Legal Consultations, Job Matching, etc. We tried, but what more could we have done had we been strategic and objective about our own efforts?

VP Leni was competent and deserving of the post, but not everyone felt it or believed it. Yes, we had misinformation and disinformation. Yes, the election results aren’t real, I know they’re not.

But I am not talking about the results here. I am talking about the process. It’s too late to point fingers, re-open or lick wounds, and wish things could have been better. We have the next elections to change our ways and be better, for sure. 

Win or lose, in hindsight, it was pretty messy in many many ways.

But that’s the reality of loving and believing and working on something. Working with people is naturally messy too. 

I am happy to have been a part of it, meet so many amazing people along the way, and witness the hard work of those whose intentions were/are pure and only truly want to help change the course of our history/herstory.

Aside from House to House campaigns, market runs, lugawan activities, etc., volunteers in Baguio also visited different barangays and offices to conduct “Talakayan” – presenting VP Leni, Senator Kiko, and the senatorial slate. It was a unique experience each time, and volunteers have learned early on to expect aloof or even hostile reception from time to time.

But as humans, we are not perfect. Also, no one could have ever predicted the outcome. But to be honest I never thought we would lose. I was 100% sure of our victory, especially after witnessing how many volunteers tirelessly did everything they can. Maybe this overconfidence made us complacent? 

We hyped ourselves up without looking back down to see whom we’ve ostracized, whether within the group or not. We patted ourselves on the back for a lugawan well done without asking those who attended, “Do you even like lugaw? What could we do better next time?”

Attempts to evaluate an activity objectively were met with backlash. And since no one was accountable and no one person steered the boat, everyone wanted to steer, sometimes to the point of it being an ego contest. When one group showed up for an event, another group would be pissed off and upset about it. Grown adults fighting for their rightful spot in the pink playground.

We had so many teams/niche groups – “____ for Leni”, so caught up in proving we were all productive, when at times we were running around like headless chickens. More than productivity, were we truly cultivating meaning? Impact? Impact is way more important than intention, I think. Some groups felt very exclusive at times; even within the Kakampink sphere, the Us vs. Them mentality was very much alive.

We called the other camp/s dumb and stupid and yes some of them probably are, but maybe, just maybe, they’re acting out from a place of genuine belief that their candidate is truly a good person and a competent leader? (I know I’ve done that one too many times- debate with people on social media, trying to convince people to change their beliefs). Not everyone thinks the way we do, and it’s so hard to wrap our heads around our own thought processes and others’ as well (Metacognition -thinking about how we think, is a mind-blowing concept).

Campaign collaterals: tarpaulins, comics, fans, and so much more. Most of these collaterals were donated out of pocket by supporters. In Baguio and Benguet, there have been incidents wherein tarpaulins were taken down from private properties or worse, vandalized and destroyed deliberately.

Should we have appealed to people’s hearts that much and broadcast abstract concepts like love and light and sang about hope constantly, when people just wanted to know if they were going to have a better life? I don’t know the answer, but I just wish we toned down on the Us vs. Them mentality and the “join us because we’re a bunch of people who are nice, smart, and godly.” No wonder many people got turned off. And don’t get me started on rally attendees saying things like, “Hindi kami binayaran, lunch ko palang hindi na nila afford.” How elitist can one statement be?

Ahh, so many things we did wrong, huh. 

One thing we did right was stand behind the person we believed in, up to the last second and even post-elections.

I am of course grateful for the year that was, and sad for what could have been. I can only imagine how breezier it probably is now, had VP Leni won. But no, we have a president who is more focused on vlogging and going to car racing events than doing his job.

VP Leni would surely show up for the job, and would step up too. 

That’s what I learned from the year that was — show up to step up. Showing up is hard already, honestly. And after the series of disappointments during the campaign period and of course the results, lately I haven’t been adamant on showing up. 

The author leading a group of seniors to dance to “Kay Leni Tayo.”

It’s done, it’s over. Attempts to evaluate our own efforts should have been done during the campaign. Only if these will benefit us for the next elections, but I doubt that.

Or are we just caressing each other and patting ourselves on the back once again?

I stay in the movement because of the friendships (with a select few), though I am not so enthusiastic about the latest kakampink-related activities. Maybe for now, the only way I can show up is to just be, and to quietly support the efforts of our kakampink friends. Maybe living the values that VP Leni has shared and shown, and the goals she and this movement have written, need not be exclusive to joining Angat Buhay or whatever groups we’re forming.

“Good work is service in itself”- I can’t remember where I read or heard this, but I do agree. In whatever space one occupies, we can be of help and continue to work towards a better community and country. 

Invaluable friendships were formed during the campaign.

I sure hope many BBM supporters now regret their decision, what with a lazy president, declining quality of life, heightened acts of impunity, historical distortion, and so much more. I also hope that many kakampinks will now see that being a kakampink is more than just the election results or the exclusive factions we’ve formed.

It’s a movement we live every day, not when it’s cool, popular, viral, or may elicit social media engagement. It’s time to rise above the pink waters and really see that all colors are beautiful.

Your forever Kakampink,

Ivee (10/07/22)

Originally published on