Hot pink is the color of the political change in the Philippines

Color of change.
Color of change.
Image: Reuters/Ezra Acaya
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A vivid magenta is the hot new color of Philippine politics.

The hue is the unofficial color of vice president Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, whose liberal politics and tempered leadership style offer a sharp counterpoint to incumbent president Rodrigo Duterte. Ahead of the May 2022 elections, the 56-year old human rights lawyer confirmed her presidential bid today (Oct. 7) via a 15-minute speech streamed on social media channels. Robredo will be running under the Liberal Party and will face opponents like Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr. and boxer Manny Pacquiao.

“Thank you for all who sent their support, prayers, and understood the discernment process I had to go through regarding the 2022 elections,” she said. “Being president is a heavy responsibility. It can’t be based on personal ambition or external pressure.”

Filipinos who are anxious for reprieve of Duterte’s strongman politics had been eagerly awaiting her candidacy. But Robredo, who was subject to constant intimidation and harassment during her tenure, explained that she had planned to step away from the national spotlight and go back to her hometown in central Philippines to help in the region’s pandemic recovery efforts.

In the Philippines, presidents and vice presidents are elected separately. Robredo beat Duterte’s running mate by a landslide in the 2016 elections.

“Today, I am fully resolved; we need to emancipate ourselves from our current situation,” she said. “I will fight, we will fight.”

Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo announces her candidacy for president, in Quezon City, Metro Manila
Hot pink.
Image: Reuters/Lisa Marie David

Supporters responded by flooding social media with pink pride—ribbons, selfies in pink shirts, and themed avatars abound on Facebook and Instagram. Robredo delivered the speech wearing a simple blue blouse that set off a pink awareness ribbon. She later posed for cameras bearing her certificate of candidacy wearing a pink face mask.

The power of pink

Robredo pink isn’t an anemic girly pastel. It’s louder and more kinetic hue (hex code #fe18a3).

Philippine Vice Pesident Leni Robredo Files Presidential Bid
Primary pink.
Image: Reuters/Lisa Marie David

Her camp explained to CNN it has yet to decide on the branding of her campaign. She had previously adopted yellow, the traditional color of the Filipino liberal party popularized by Corazon Aquino. But a group called “Dapat si Leni” (It should be Leni) has already done some design work independently of the campaign and circulated it in social media. It is among several volunteer groups behind Robredo; it’s produced communication materials like campaign videos, illustrated portraits, shirts, and even a catchy jingle to drum support for her candidacy.

Dapat Si Leni’s team chose two saturated colors for the unofficial campaign—reminiscent of Pantone’s 2015 dual colors of the year—but most supporters have embraced the pink.

In a tweet, they explain the symbolism of their picks: “We also chose these colors because they’re loud like our calls for change, bright enough to see the foreseeable future, and strong like our drive to bring back our country from the depths.”

So far, Robredo is the only woman in the race. If she wins, she would become the country’s third female commander-in-chief since it gained independence from Spain in 1898, following Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.