Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who is running as presidential candidate Leni Robredo's vice president, recalled how after months of convincing, the most he got from the reluctant national politician was a prayer emoji. Robredo relented at the last minute and threw the same challenge at Pangilinan, who also could not say no.
Both Robredo and Pangilinan know the difficult road ahead, having been on the receiving end of six years of criticism, trolling and misinformation. Yet they convinced each other to run because of faith.
"Ang sabi ko nga, wala kong kawala. No choice, ika nga. Pero sa totoo lang, tinatawag tayo ng tungkulin. Call of duty -- hindi lang kay Ma'am Leni, hindi lang sa partido, koalisyon o hanay ng mga supporters, per sagradong tungkulin sa bansa," Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said he had to call his wife, Mega Star Sharon Cuneta and daughters Frankie Pangilinan and KC Concepcion abroad to help him decide. All along, he was planning a reelection campaign.
Cuneta was not hard to convince, being a Robredo supporter, Pangilinan said.
For Robredo, having Pangilinan as running mate "makes the most sense". She cited Pangilinan's public service record from student leader in UP Diliman to lawmaker to farmers' advocate in the Senate.
"Napaka-stable, napaka-steadfast, hindi nababali 'yung paniniwala. In a way, pareho kaming independent-minded," said Robredo.
"Kampante ako na pareho ang aming patutunguhan, pinagpaguran ko 'yung Office of the Vice President. Kung nasan na 'yung Office of the Vice President, wala akong pagdadalawang-isip na kay Sen. Kiko ko 'yun iiwan," she said.
During their first joint press conference, Pangilinan's voice cracked as he discussed what his tandem with Robredo hoped to achieve.
"Ang pangarap ko para sa bayan: Sana all may trabaho at maayos na kita. Sana all may sapat na pagkain sa mesa. Sana all may bakuna. Sana all ligtas sa sakit. Sana all may sariling tahanan. Sana all makapagtapos ng pag-aaral," he said.
"Matagal na kaming magkasangga sa mga laban ni Ma’am Leni. Ilang taon na rin kaming ginigipit. Hindi kami nagpatinag — ang paniwala ko, iisa lang ang aming mga prinsipyo, hangarin, at pangarap para sa ating mga pamilya at sa bayan," he said.