First-time voter Ven was part of history, yet she watched most of Vice President Leni Robredo's speech at a Pasig City campaign rally last March 20 on a giant LED screen. Lesson learned: come early to see the candidate up-close.
As the May 9 elections draw closer, parks and streets will turn pink, red and green as candidates try to outdo each other in terms of size and social media noise. Another thing that Ven learned when she joined some 90,000 people on Emerald Avenue: do your business in the restroom before diving in.
"Twice ako nag-try lumabas sa crowd, una naiihi ako kaso hirap. 'Di ko na pinush. More tiis-tiis na lang kahit ma-UTI, go!" Ven, a banker, told reportr. She declined to have her full name published to avoid complications at work.
News editor JM Reyes, who attended the same rally, spent three hours trying to book a Grab car from SM Megamall to Cubao for the 11-minute trip home, to no avail. Next time, he'll book a hotel room near the venue.
The most important and polarizing elections means people who do not normally join campaign rallies will be breaking out of their comfort zones to have their voices heard. What do you need to prepare when there are no creature comforts for hours?
Prepare to meet a huge crowd
We're still in a pandemic, and exposure to tens of thousands of supporters in a rally can trigger the anxiety of some, who had been cocooned for two years.
Scyld, who refused to give his full name, told reportr he had to prepare himself ahead of the Pasig rally last March 20 so he won't be too overwhelmed with the noisy crowd. "Mahalaga na buo 'yung loob sa gagawin since 'di madali 'yung mahabang rally and prepared ang body sa physical stress," he said.
Eat before the rally
Ven said eating a hearty meal ahead of the rally helped curb hunger pangs throughout the program. If you have a sensitive tummy, avoid drinking or eating anything that can irritate it, Scyld added.
Wear comfortable clothes
The dry season is here, and it's easy to get sweaty outdoors. Wear light-colored clothes and avoid dark-colored ones that absorb heat. Also bring extra shirts in case you want to freshen up during the rally.
Bring a small towel or handkerchief
It's to wipe the sweat off your face. It also helps in case you get exposed to tear gas. Just dampen the towel with water and cover your mouth and nose with it.
Bring extra face masks
Better to have extras in case your mask gets damaged or too sweaty to wear comfortably, said Scyld.
Don't forget to hydrate. It can also be difficult to find a store where you can buy a bottle once the crowd thickens.
As much as it's tempting to drink all the water you have while outdoors, it can also be difficult to weave through the crowd to find a toilet. By the time you find one, you could be facing a massive queue at the nearest portalet, not to mention enduring the stench of urine.
Programs take hours to finish, so make sure you have snacks to munch on when you feel hungry. Don't forget to bring extra in case someone else needs it. Bring those that are bite sized and easy to eat like crackers. If you must bring sandwiches, avoid ingredients that spoil easily.
Charge your devices and bring a powerbank
You won't know how long you'll be at the rally so it's best to fully charge your mobile phones and other devices. Don't forget your power bank.
Bring the essentials only and swap your handbags with a body bag, which is easier to carry around when you're in a big crowd.
Don't forget your medicines
If you have allergies, don't forget your antihistamines. If you're asthmatic, your inhaler. It's also safe to bring paracetamol in case of a headache. For those who get easily dizzy, maybe a bottle of White Flower or Katinko too?
Take care of your belongings
Even if you trust the crowd you're in, don't be complacen. Look after your mobile phones and wallets. While some rallies have lost and found booths, it's best you won't have to look for your personal items there.
Clean as you go
Rallies are usually held in public areas, so bring your own trash bags and dispose the garbage properly.
If you want a good spot, come early
Some supporters arrive at the venue hours before the start of the program just to get good seats or find a place where they can comfortably stay for hours. Arriving at the venue minutes before the program starts might mean you'll have to be content listening to the program from the fringes of the venue.
For commuters, take the train
Booking a Grab Car or taxi can be difficult when competing with others from the same venue. If it's near a train station and it's still open, take the train instead, said Ven.
For those with cars, scout for parking ahead of time
Check via Google or scout the area days before the program so you would know where to park your car. The parking areas nearest the venue will be filled the quickest so look for alternatives. If there's a mall nearby, parking there is also an option.
Try carpooling with friends
If you and your barkada will attend the same rally, why not carpool instead? This means avoiding the hassle of looking for multiple parking slots. It's also environment-friendly.
Booking a room near the venue is an option
If you live far from the venue and you can afford it, why not book a room nearby? It also benefits those who are working from home who want to attend the rally right after duty, said Reyes.
For solo attendees, inform your loved ones of your whereabouts
During rallies, expect spotty or lost mobile signals, said Reyes. For solo attendees, it's best to inform loved ones of your whereabouts and what time you expect to be home.
Don't forget to have an emergency contact card with you at all times.
For groups, set an emergency location for meetups
It's best to set a specific time and location on where to meet in case any of you gets lost in the crowd. If possible, do the buddy system so you always have someone with you.
It's possible for the elderly and differently-abled supporters to join the rallies, too. In case you're around them, look after them too, even if you're not part of the same group.
Plan an escape route
In case the rally gets unruly, it's best to have an escape route. If you can, study the area before going to the rally venue.
Enjoy the moment
It's a given that you'll listen to the platforms of the candidates. Don't forget to have fun. Who knows, you might be part of the next viral video Ariana Grande posts on her Instagram Story.