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Leni Robredo and the pink wave taking on Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr

“We will give every peso so that our lives will be better,” said the 57-year-old former human rights lawyer, who narrowly defeated Marcos in the separate vice-presidential race in 2016.

“Don’t be afraid because we are many. Thank you for joining me to fight for our country.“

As vice-president Robredo fell out with Duterte after criticizing his war on drugs. Now vying for the top job she finds herself against a powerful Marcos-Duterte alliance, with the president’s daughter Sara the prospective VP on the favorite’s ticket.

English teacher Hannah Macatao, biologist Glenn Gamus and Daryl Field, an architect, at the Robredo rally on Saturday.Credit:Chris Barrett

Robredo lost her husband Jesse, a former cabinet minister, in a plane crash in 2012, and she was introduced on Saturday night by her three daughters after the youngest, 22-year-old Jillian, sang to the huge crowd.

“Red tagged” as a communist sympathizer during the campaign and the victim of other disinformation tactics, Robredo has tried to combat Marcos’ potent social media machinery with an army of volunteers making house-to-house visits. She has also pledged more transparency in government in the Philippines, where corruption has been so entrenched for decades it’s become a way of life.

“She’s the cleanest of all the candidates. She has proven time and time again that she is a woman of integrity, ”said Timothy Blandura, a 24-year-old IT worker at the Robredo rally with his brother de él Tam, 17, and parents Teodulo, 64, and Esperanza, 53.

Teodulo, a trainer of electrical linemen, said he has told his sons about the era of rule under Ferdinand Marcos snr, which was marked by rights abuses and the alleged fleecing of as much as $US10 billion ($14 billion) before the family fled into exiled in Hawaii when he was deposed in 1986.

The Blandura family - Tam, 17, Timothy, 24, Esperanza, 53, and Teodulo, 64 show their support for Robredo.

The Blandura family – Tam, 17, Timothy, 24, Esperanza, 53, and Teodulo, 64 show their support for Robredo.Credit:Chris Barrett

“[Marcos jnr] is also liable. He is one who took advantage of the ill-gotten wealth. He is a beneficiary,” Teodulo Blandura said.

“The blood of Marcos is in him. He is the son. We have a saying in the Philippines: whatever the tree, so is the fruit.”

Appearing on stage with his wife Liza and three sons, Marcos also drew an enormous audience for his last campaign outing in Manila’s bayside Paranaque City on Saturday. His team reported the crowd was a million strong, a figure that could also not be confirmed.

The setting for the feverish gathering on a dirt block of reclaimed land was a far cry from that of Robredo’s rally on the streets of the capital’s financial district.

Ferdinand Marcos jnr dances on stage during his last campaign rally in bayside Manila on Saturday night.

Ferdinand Marcos jnr dances on stage during his last campaign rally in bayside Manila on Saturday night.Credit:AP

But it was representative of a contest that has emerged in some ways as a clash of class, with Robredo a champion of the educated and middle class and Marcos harnessing broad support across those on lower incomes and the poor.

Analysts say his appeal is based on the presentation of his late father as a great statesman to a public unhappy with years of rule by the Liberal Party, who they identify with elites and oligarchs.

Political commentator Edmund Tayao said Duterte’s triumph in 2016 demonstrated voters were tired of an “elite brand of politics” and polling suggested Robredo’s team would pay the price for looking down their noses at those in the Marcos camp.

“When they campaign they present themselves as if they are the only ones who are competent, the moral choice, and all the other choices are bad,” Tayao said. “Instead of convincing other voters who are not necessarily with them from the very start, it turns off the voters really.”

Robredo is running as an independent, not for the Liberal Party, as she did six years ago. But she still chairs the party, so there is no escaping the affiliation.

University students Jancee Moradillo and Mark Janson at the final-day Marcos event in the capital.

University students Jancee Moradillo and Mark Janson at the final-day Marcos event in the capital.Credit:Chris Barrett

Mark Janson, an 18-year-old first-year student at Cavite State University south of Manila, admitted he had been left disillusioned by the Robredo team’s approach.

“I also attended some Leni rallies,” he said at the Marcos event. “The problem is when I attended and she had campaign rallies like this, all she did was to speak bad about Bongbong. But she’s never actually talked about what her plan is.

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Josie Cosa, a retiree from Las Pinas outside Manila, is behind Marcos “because of his heart”. “I’ve felt his love for our country,” she said. “To have a peaceful country you have to be unified… especially the rich people, the oligarchs.”

But English teacher Hannah Macatao, a Robredo devotee, believes many on the Marcos side are “actually allergic to facts now”.

“It’s frustrating to us because we’re not voting [for Leni] just because we like the candidate,” the 25-year-old said.

“We’re doing this for everyone with all the colors, it’s not just pink. It’s red, blue, whatever the color of the politician is. Our vote is for the Philippines, it’s not for ourselves.”

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