(Note: I wrote this article last March 12, 2021, I am posting it here for posterity and in the hopes of helping Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan win the 2022 elections. Featured image courtesy of Rappler)

“The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”

― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow


The Duterte propaganda machine for the past five years has effectively used social media in keeping the President’s ratings high despite all the negative attributes of the Duterte government.

In the coming 2022 elections, the opposition needs to find a way to raise the ratings of VPL in hopes of winning the Presidency.

This paper aims to give a straightforward solution to the branding and imaging problem amidst the noise in social media and the massive amount of fake news targeting VPL.


The challenge of increasing VP Leni’s (VPL) ratings and the challenge of virality in social media to win the 2022 presidential elections.


  1. Consistent and systematic online attacks of “trolls.”
  2. Strategic and tactical placements of “Fake News” on social media pages that have tremendous reach.
  3. Lack of paid and free content creators can churn out consistent content online, specifically on YouTube.
  4. Lack of publicity in traditional online and offline media.
  5. Lack of foresight and preparation on the upcoming 2022 Presidential elections resulting in lackluster ratings.
  6. The perceived success of the Duterte campaign in demonizing anything associated with LP, from its color to its personalities. This is considered as the by-product of years of systematic historical negationism by the Marcoses through social media.
  7. The Duterte campaign is perceived to allegedly have a bigger budget, allegedly backed by China and unscrupulous politicians.
  8. The perception of the weakness of the LP brought upon the damaging loss of the Otso Derecho ticket in 2019.


The metaphysical foundation of an effective brand is based on the Six Human Needs, highly considered as drives for every decision humans make. (Source)

They are as follows:

  1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure.

How The Duterte Campaign Utilized this Human Need:

The Duterte campaign used the idea of law and order, thus securing the core families and their children from “drug lords” and “drug addicts.”

His campaign slogan “Tapang at Malasakit” unconsciously impresses Duterte as someone willing to be the victim in exchange for their well-being. Duterte has time and again declared that he is willing to go to hell to bring Filipinos peace.

  1. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli.

How The Duterte Campaign Utilized this Human Need:

The Duterte campaign used the slogan “Bisaya Na Pod” to unconsciously imply that it is time for Visayans to be in power and then promoted the myth of “Imperial Manila” as a vehicle to provide victimhood narrative thus getting the sympathy of Bisaya speaking Filipinos and further strengthening regionalism.

  1. Significance: feeling unique, essential, special, or needed

How The Duterte Campaign Utilized this Human Need:

By tapping on OFW’s a huge subset of our country, which provides income to low-income families, they belong primarily to the lower class.

The Duterte campaign identified with them and granted them the honor of exclusivity by acknowledging them as fellow “Ka-DDS.” Thus, gaining a powerful foothold with the breadwinners and decision-makers.

  1. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

How the Duterte Campaign Utilized this Human Need:

The “Tatay Digong” narrative is the answer to the Duterte Campaign; it even used VPL as a vehicle for gaining votes and gathering sympathy towards its detractors by calling her “Nanay Leni.”

  1. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability, or understanding.

How the Duterte Campaign Utilized this Human Need:

The Duterte campaign used a set of slogans that directly and indirectly promoted growth:

“Tapang at Malasakit” – Connotes cowardice of the previous government and lack of compassion, thus propping Duterte as a better alternative.

“Matapang na solusyon, Mabilis na aksyon” – Connotes the lack of action from the current government, thus the rising need for a new one.

“Change is Coming, Atin ‘to P’re!” – Connotes immediate need for change while identifying with the common tao a direct attack on the issues hounding the previous government (Yolanda, SAF 44, Laglag Bala, Taxi Aircon Drugging.)

  1. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to, and supporting others.

How the Duterte Campaign Utilized this Human Need:

The Duterte Kitchen started the trend of seeming altruistic actions predicated with the proclamations and massive media mileage after Duterte went to Leyte and gave the impression that he can do better.

This is continued with the Malasakit centers of Bong Go with pictures of shoes being given out or Duterte kissing the ground.


*Branding is the perpetual process of identifying, creating, and managing the cumulative assets and actions that shape the perception of a brand in stakeholders’ minds. – (source)

*Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that value customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (source)


The goal is not to foster an atmosphere of competition but of active cooperation, even between individuals considered hostile to her leadership.

It is to transcend politics and be considered one who represents the people from the fringes.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause, or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People do not buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.

We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.

For values or guiding principles to be truly effective, they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea – we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.”

― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


“People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people.”

― Carl Jung

Given the above examples of how the Duterte campaign could break through the noise of the last 2016 elections, it is imperative that VPL approach this campaign using the same foundations utilizing the six human needs.

By doing so, voters will visualize through their unconscious where VPL wants to bring them and where she is taking them.

Moreover, WHY they should join VPL in her journey.

  • Provide a convincing narrative through a story entrenched in an archetype that Filipinos will associate with without sounding too critical of the current government. This is to redirect attention from online attacks.

The moniker “Nanay Leni” provides a rich trove of stories that she can use.

Being a woman familiar with the tragedy of loss with the death of Jesse Robredo, her husband, and taking care of her three daughters provides a backdrop of identifying with the stories of women who are struggling single parents.

The “Nanay Leni” term also plays in the narrative that the Duterte campaign used to promote her with Tatay Digong as her partner in leading the nation.

All of these plays within the Filipino myth of “Malakas at Maganda,” but what makes this idea innovative is to put forth an assertion that it is now “Maganda’s” time to lead as the country is done with Duterte, without downplaying his administration and with the idea of progress through continuity albeit under new leadership.

This brings to focus VPL’s achievements that she can do under the Duterte administration and the promise of doing more if she is given a chance to lead the nation.

This solution targets three of the six human needs:

Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure

Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli

Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

  • Provide a slogan that is considered “neutral” and innovative, focusing on the “positive.”

Slogans should always be short, memorable, and actionable.

These slogans can be considered neutral and follow the three laws of logic:

The law of Identity

The law of non-contradiction

The law of the excluded middle

Nevertheless, what is more important is that the slogan should tell a story that is true enough that even thinking about going against such a slogan is tantamount to breaking one of the three laws of logic.

Most importantly, the goal of a slogan is to have the power to visualize the unconscious.

This is to “unconsciously” encourage and empower Filipinos to transcend and make a “leap of faith” by voting for VPL and in so, doing something positive for their country which they can quickly identify with while targeting the nuclear family, its breadwinners, and decision-makers (ex: OFW’s) in the messaging and branding.

The following slogans are as follows:

“Magandang Pilipinas”

“Mas Gaganda ang Pilipinas”

“Tapos na sila, tayo naman.”

“Bawat pamilya may kadamay, Sa Pambansang Nanay”

This solution targets the six human needs:

Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure

Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli

Significance: feeling unique, important, special, or needed

Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability, or understanding

Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to, and supporting others


“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” 

– Gen. George Patton

The Duterte PR team is excellent in creating a moving target. Moreover, because of social media, information moves amazingly fast that people are bombarded with information every hour of the day, that they are robbed of the benefit of time in cross-referencing and finding out if what they are hearing is true or not, let alone create their own opinion about the information they are being fed, that they are left to accept whatever information given them as long as it solidifies their beliefs, this is called confirmation bias.

Before the opposition can address a specific issue, another issue comes up. To further elaborate on this phenomenon, see comic.

The problematic assumption of the opposition is that the people already bought the idea of not having a pushback when it comes to social media trolling.
However, previous experiences have proven this as not being always the case.

When congress passed the resolution of giving the Commission on Human Rights only a 1,000-peso budget in 2018, people were quick to disagree and hurriedly organize a protest rally as such that on the day of the protest rally, congress rescinded their proclamation.

Another case is in the recent 2019 elections, where several candidates who won local elections came from political parties that are not sympathetic to the government. This, even though all opposition senators who ran lost.

It is highly probable that the opposition fell victim to a logical fallacy which is “Correlation does not imply causation”, and in the process doubting themselves and exhibiting learned helplessness. Which is a highly self-defeating habit to the detriment of the opposition and its followers.

The following strategies and tactics aims to ameliorate the problems discussed above.

Strategy #1: Redirecting conversations
The first rule of engagement is to never make a frontal assault on a superior force. VPL’s campaign stands to gain more from not attacking Duterte directly and instead posing as the alternative to everything that is happening in the country that is not good.
Instead of decrying Duterte’s closure of ABS-CBN, offer the alternative of re-opening ABS-CBN and giving back people their jobs.

Instead of decrying the lack of COVID19 vaccines, offer the alternative of procuring more vaccines from the international community implying that they trust VPL more.
Offer the opportunity to have a secure livelihood, a chance to eat three times a day and have prices that are affordable.

(Note: This is not to undermine the power of criticizing the government and its wrongdoings, instead its goal is to be able to start conversations with people who are looking for answers outside the government.)

But most of all make the campaign all about the nuclear family, and not about the candidate.

Strategy #2: Reframe the concepts of Safety and Discipline
Reframe the discussion of safety by stating that taking care of each other is more important than just feeling safe, that when somebody needs help someone will definitely be there for them, use the Filipino concept of “Walang Iwanan”.

And then highlight the achievements of VPL and the trust she garnered from the international community. Which brings us to the other important matter which is reframing the concept of discipline. The idea of discipline for the Duterte government is as follows:

Discipline for thee,
But no discipline for me.

The fact that Duterte has proven time and again to not be in places where he is needed the most screams of the hypocrisy of what his government demands of its constituents.

By showing people that VPL’s concept of discipline is living it first as a leader before demanding it of others is a perfect example of walking the talk and providing a more viable alternative especially for the business sector.

Strategy #3: Make the people believe in something bigger than themselves.

According to this article: Do Not Read This If You Don’t Want People Criticizing Leni Robredo it is painfully hard to invite people to join a cause if VPL herself is unsure if she will run for President or not. (Thankfully she decided to run)
Her perceived hesitancy gives an impression of uncertainty and lack of political will, however this is clearly an issue of what VPL’s followers wants and what VPL needs.
VPL needs assurances, but her followers want commitment, and this is understandable because both mutually understand the importance of sacrifice.

The important question however is what does the voting population want and need?
The most immediate need of the people is a President who can lead the nation by providing people with the needed vaccines, food and jobs in order to feed their families and keep them safe from the pandemic, everything else is trivial.

Making people believe in something bigger than themselves means for them to be able to visualize a better country and a better future.

To be given a goal and a purpose instead of living a meaningless everyday existence while waiting for vaccines and help.

The goal can be as simple as hitting a milestone by acquiring more vaccines, getting more people vaccinated every day, strengthening the health sector thus improving investor confidence and encouraging support from the international health community.

Strategy #4: If you can’t be controversial, be interesting.

All the media blunders of Duterte serves a single purpose, and this is to theatricalize his government and keep the attention of media.

The more familiar people are with Duterte and his antics, the better.

This is no different from what 20th century dictators did in capturing the minds of their people and influencing social discussions. (Watch Netflix’s How to be a Tyrant)
The more media mileage Duterte has, will result in lesser mileage for his political opponents.
However, there’s reason to believe that Duterte’s novelty and popularity has been steadily waning. Despite his high survey ratings the economic outlook of the country spells disaster which is mostly the first phase in every populist leader’s fall.

The main challenge of VPL is not only how to capture a lot of media mileage but mostly how to get her own share of true fans.

These 1,000 true fans will be the prime movers of VPL and be her evangelists. But the first way to gather it is to be interesting if she can’t be controversial.

But more so, these 1,000 true fans should also exhibit consistency and be able to multiply itself independently following a set of ideology. The question is what kind of ideology is VPL willing to imbibe with herself and her followers?

Strategy #5: Use the Yellow/Pink Army as Leverage.
The sudden demise of Pnoy offered a nostalgic look at what the country was, under a government and President who is the opposite of Duterte.

And this is not saying lightly how much Pnoy contributed to fixing the economy as studies after studies has shown how effective Pnoy’s government was in handling peoples taxes as evidenced by the number of successful projects that are completed under Duterte and which Mark Villar is famous for maliciously credit-grabbing.

The very simple funeral and burial ceremony spoke volumes in the simplicity of the life of Pnoy and the massive outpouring of sympathies in social media silenced every troll who tried to re-cast Pnoy as a villain.

Positioning VPL as the representative of Pnoy and Jesse will rally the Yellow/Pink Army in getting more support and dispelling the myths and lies Duterte trolls worked hard for.

Strategy #6: The key is familiarity from massive airtime – Target AM Radios.

The almost weekly caravan of supporters of VPL is a great way in getting peoples attention and making them familiar with VPL. However, these caravans last only a couple of hours, the whole idea is to be to consistently present in all conversations and discussions. Positioning familiarity by utilizing AM Radios is a great way to reach a wider audience consistently and effectively.


There is a bitter pill to swallow in VPL’s campaign because such problems should have been addressed years earlier. While monetary problems are a sure hindrance to expanding VPL’s audience reach, this could still be ameliorated based on previous Filipino experiences (Piso para kay Leni, Community Pantry).

VPL’s greatest challenge is the problem of time and the insurmountable and overarching investments made by her previous opponent Bong2x Marcos and the current Duterte Political Machinery, in which both are now reaping their rewards.

One could say that everything about the opposition was effectively and sufficiently demonized that even the opposition and their members believe that the color of their party is one thing that needs to be avoided in fears of being associated with the “Dilawans.”

It would also take something short of a miracle to go against a more well-funded, disciplined, let alone an aggressive with no sense of ethics or morality in harassing the opposition and VPL herself.

The “Troll Army” was so effective in polarizing public discussions that social scientists have reported study after study of behaviors that do not exist in the previous political memory of the country and the voting population.

Furthermore, with ABS-CBN being made an example off by Duterte sends shivers in the business sector willing to put out their necks for VPL.

Furthermore, this paper does not even factor in the limitations brought upon by COVID and its corresponding effects on the economy and society.

The only reassuring thing that this author observes is that the same problems will also be present to the other Presidential candidates, albeit not as bad and brutal as VPL’s situation.

The bottom line is that this election will be a battle of narratives/stories. Moreover, as all narratives and stories go, the more powerful a narrative/story is, the better chances it could win an election, just like the way Duterte did it