MANILA, Philippines—Evangelist and presidential candidate Eduardo “Brother Eddie” Villanueva held his “miting de avance” Saturday with thousands of followers, including entire families who brought their young children, filling up the grounds of the Rizal Park Grandstand in Manila to profess support for their religious leader’s second foray into electoral politics.
“This is the real survey. The people have spoken!” declared Villanueva, who has been trailing in the pre-election surveys on voter preferences, as he addressed the cheering crowd at around 8 p.m.
Organizers claimed the crowd, many of whom wore yellow-and-green shirts and waved campaign paraphernalia bearing the words, “Eddie Ako!” reached about 1.2 million at the peak of the rally.
No independent estimates on the crowd was available.
With Villanueva were his running mate, Perfecto Yasay, and Bangon Pilipinas senatorial candidates Zafrullah Alonto; Zosimo Paredes; Imelda Papin; Ramoncito Ocampo; Kata Inocencio; Adz Nikabulin; Alex Tinsay; Reynaldo Princesa; and Israel Virgines.
In the afternoon, his supporters lined up along Roxas Boulevard starting from the corner of TM Kalaw St. all the way up to the intersection with EDSA in a sort of human chain.
Youth volunteers held placards, danced to a campaign jingle and gave the “V”-sign to entertain motorists.
“I am overwhelmed by the support of patriotic Filipinos who desire nothing but to see change in our nation,” said Villanueva.
By around 10 p.m. the throngs were treated to a concert hosted by Donita Rose and Bangon Pilipinas volunteer Edgar Robles.
Performers included Gary Valenciano, Jericho Rosales, Reuben Laurente and Carla Martinez.
The entertainment was interspersed with prayers led by pastors and religious leaders from different denominations for orderly and honest elections on May 10.
One supporter, Eugene Areglo, 40, brought his wife, three young children and mother-in-law to the Luneta Grandstand. He said they commuted from their home in Marikina.
He said the other candidates were “old faces in government, except for Brother Eddie.
Villanueva asked his supporters to “vote out traditional politics and vote for new politics.”
He urged the youth not to vote for traditional politicians who engage in mudslinging to advance their own electoral campaign.
“The mudslinging between and among national candidates in the last two weeks has shown how disturbing and dirty traditional politics has become in this country,” he said. “Try to determine whether the accusations are true or not. Regardless of its truth or falsity, determine also the persons and motives behind the attack.”