Singer Sam Concepcion obliged residents of a Pampanga suburb to a round of hard liquor, hoping to convert them to the side of presidential candidate Leni Robredo by joining them where they are most at ease -- a Sunday afternoon of shots and jokes among friends.
Concepcion went viral for that house-to-house campaign moment in Barangay Cuayan, Angeles City and he appropriately captioned the Twitter photo with "whatever it takes" as one of his new friends flashed the "L" sign for their souvenir photo.
It's that human touch that Robredo's supporters are counting on to further narrow the survey gap between her and frontrunner Bongbong Marcos -- 32 points based on Pusle Asia's March 17 to 21 poll -- with her daughters and celebrity supporters marshalling volunteers.
"Yung mindset natin, mas makinig rather than kumbinsihin kasi mas malayo ang mararating natin kapag naiintindihan natin kung ano ang pinanggagalingan nila. Ultimately, in the end, mare-realize natin pare-pareho naman ang mga pangarap natin para sa bansa,” said the eldest of the three Robredo sisters, Aika.
House-to-house campaigns allow voters to get to know their candidates on a deeper, more personal level. It shows that politicians, too, are humans, and can relate to the plight of ordinary Filipinos, said campaign strategist Gerardo Eusebio, who teaches political science at the De La Salle University
“It expresses a feeling of closeness, of intimacy, of sincerity. So probably one of the reasons why the Robredo camp is utilizing house-to-house campaigns is to project a feeling or an aura or an atmosphere of closeness, sincerity,” Eusebio told reportr.
“It’s more of a psychological weapon to generate votes, not necessarily in that area, that should be coursed also through the social media to get the maximum effect,” he added.
Why hold house-to-house campaigns?
Filipinos love to see themselves being close to their politicians, and house-to-house campaigns are effective in showing that image of intimacy between the voting public and the candidates, Eusebio said.
“Your choice of candidate, ikaw yun e. Ikaw yung candidate, actually. Parang may identification ka,” he said.
“We vote in accordance with the candidate's similarities or likeness to our own dreams and aspirations. So therefore to be close to them is parang spiritual thing. It is not actually mental but more on spiritual and emotional,” he added.
And since house-to-house campaigns seek to evoke a feeling of closeness between voters and the candidates, achievements and platforms don’t matter much during these visits, but how politicians introduce themselves and leave an impression, Eusebio said.
“Filipinos are like that. We don't really care for academic credentials, intellectual discussion. Personalistic tayo. 'Nagsama kami niyan,' yun ang importante sa atin. 'Nakilala ko na yan e,’ yun ang tatatak, yun ang importante sa Pinoy,” he said.
“‘If he wins, ano ba yung ihahain niya na batas?’ Minsan you forget about these. Pero yung ngiti niya nung lumapit ka, nung inabutan ka, magsisindi ng sigarilyo, sinindihan ka ng lighter, hindi mo makakalimutan yun,” he added.
Do house-to-house campaigns generate a huge number of votes for a candidate? Not so much, according to Eusebio, especially if the candidate is running for a national office. This campaign style, after all, are more effective for local candidates, he added.
But if photos and videos of house-to-house campaigns are broadcast on the television or posted on social media, it could capture the people’s attention and make them realize that the candidate is sincere and approachable --- qualities that push people to vote for a politician, Eusebio said.
“Kunwari ipapalabas mo sa social media, kumuha ka ng clip, kunwari nagkakape si Leni doon sa bahay ng isang resident, malakas ang impact nun,” he said.
“Kung yung mga picture mo habang nangangampanya ka sa house-to-house ilalagay sa social media, okay rin yun. Sa buong Pilipinas nakikita rin ng mga tao yun,” he added.
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How to mount a successful house-to-house campaign
House-to-house campaigns are no longer limited to candidates or their campaign team, as anyone who supports the politician can join neighborhood and even market runs to maximize the reach.
For those who want to launch their own house-to-house campaigns for the candidate they are supporting, here are some tips from campaign strategist Eusebio:
Wear simple clothing
The goal of a house-to-house campaign is to introduce the candidate to the common folk, so it’s important that the participants should wear clothes that ordinary Filipinos can identify with, Eusebio said.
“Yung clothes mo, it should be simple, kung ano yung mga sinusuot ng mga tao sa kalye. So tshirt would be good, maong, rubber shoes,” he added.
Bring food… lots of it
It’s not for you or your staff to eat (although also bring some for them), but for the people you will come across during your house-to-house campaign. These food items should be ready to eat, something that can be eaten while having small talks with your target people, Eusebio said.
Also, one thing that house-to-house campaigns shouldn’t miss, according to Eusebio, are alcoholic beverages. Sam Concepcion was apparently right, after all.
“Alak is very important. Sa mga kanto kasi minsan nandiyan na yung mga tumpukan na mga nag-iinuman. Meron kang iiwanan doon na mga gin, pero malalaki dapat. Kasi kung mag-iiwan ka ng konti lang, baka alaskahin ka pa. So dapat babudgetan mo nang konti,” he added.
Make small talk
Conversations with people during house-to-house campaigns should be light, and can even veer away from the candidate’s platforms that can get boring
Talk about what they ate for breakfast, what their hobbies are, or even join them in their meal. These activities evoke a feeling of closeness and sincerity, Eusebio said.
After doing house-to-house campaigns, try to gather the people in a campaign rally where you can now further explain your platforms and programs of government. This will allow for a more holistic approach in campaigning, according to Eusebio.
“Ang essence ng house-to-house ay hindi yung pupunta ka sa mga kaibigan, you are actually nanliligaw, nanunuyo,” Eusebio said.
“Kasi kung palaging nasa stage ka lang, para kang hari na ikaw ang pinupuntahan. You try to express that you are, after all that's been said and done, but a mortal being, flesh and blood. Tao lang ako, kailangan ko ng tulong niyo. Yun ang takeaway nun,” he added.