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Grace Poe's formula for strong showing: FPJ, Erap, and being herself


(Updated 5:27 p.m.) Grace Poe, who never rose above third place in surveys, leads the senatorial bets with 14,649, 941 votes according to partial and unofficial results as of 4:46 p.m. Tuesday.
 
It would be quite easy to assume that Grace Poe's rise to the top was solely because of the influence of her late father, National Artist Fernando Poe Jr., more popularly known as FPJ.
 
But several analysts said Tuesday that her surprisingly strong performance was also actually due to other factors in her favor, including the exuberant support of her father's best friend, former President Joseph Estrada, a leader of the opposing coalition.
 
FPJ's daughter
 
Mon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said much of Grace's clout can be attributed to "the father factor."
 
"Mukhang 'di nakalimutan ng mga tao 'yung nangyari nung 2004. Wala kasing closure 'yun.  Nung namatay si FPJ, 'di nagkaroon ng malinaw na ending 'yung Garci case," he said. It is widely believed that FPJ was cheated of victory in his contest with then incumbent President Gloria Arroyo.

Poe's personal narrative of redemption for her legendary father drove many of his supporters to her side.

Aside from the FPJ factor, Casiple said another factor that boosted Grace's electoral bid was the support of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) stalwart and former President Estrada.
 
Grace and re-electionist Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda were supposed to be the common bets of UNA and the administration-led Team PNoy. But they were eventually dropped from the UNA slate for failing to appear during campaign activities.
 
Estrada, however, said he would not withdraw support for Grace because of his history with FPJ.
 
"In effect, common candidate pa rin siya ng dalawang panig. Hindi siya naapektuhan at may mga boto siyang nakuha. So malaking advantage 'yun kasi hindi siya kalaban. Tingin ni Erap hindi siya kalaban," Casiple said. "In fact, wala siyang kalaban." 
 
Analyst Malou Tiquia agreed, ensured that she was "the candidate who was in both ballots."
 
"When finally voters knew the daughter of the King was running, endearment became second hand," added campaign strategist Malou Tiquia.
 
Grace and Nancy 
 
Poe also had more to her candidacy than a famous name and Erap's support. Tiquia said she knew how to handle her media presence well.
 
Likewise, Casiple said it helped that Grace participated in public debates.
 
"I think what came across is the picture ng isang hindi simpleng anak pero may sariling credential para sa pulitika at pamununo," he said.
 
By attending all debates, unlike her father in 2004, Tiquia said Grace showed to all "what stuff she was made of."
 
"Her simple and direct answers were welcome developments. She was petite, seemingly fragile but she looks straight in your eyes when she fields questions and explains positions," she said.
 
Veteran journalist Malous Mangahas likewise said this is the main difference between Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay's daughter Nancy, who is currently ranked fifth based on partial unofficial results.
 
"They both have famous fathers [but] Grace Poe was seen and heard, Nancy Binay was never heard at all sa mga debates," Mangahas said in an interview on GMA News TV's News To Go on Tuesday.
 
"I think between the two candidates, si Grace Poe was weighed in terms of her own merit even if that is not probably absolutely founded in fact," she added.
 
Endearing and unassuming
 
Casiple also said Grace, previously the chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, seems nice and does not have an air of arrogance.
 
"In effect, may identification 'yung mga botante sa kanya, not only because she is the daughter of FPJ but in her own right," he said.
 
Tiquia also said that just like FPJ, Grace was "very unassuming."
 
"She was frank and did not mince words with her replies. She giggled like a shy girl and fidgeted with uneasy questions. Being herself gave her the freshness others did not have," she said.
 
And even after she disclosed the fact she was adopted, Tiquia said Grace remained the "daughter of her celebrity parents."
 
"FPJ resonated in her messaging and the last ad with Susan Roces tied the knot of the commitments of her parents becoming hers," she said.
 
She also said the decision to come up with a TV biopic where she disclosed that she was adopted resulted in "more buzz coming into the equation."
 
In GMA's Kandidato program, Poe said it was the most effective way to let people know her story.
 
"Maraming haka-haka tungkol sa aking pagkatao. Pinaka-epektibong paraan para umpisa pa lang sa kampanya ilabas na, sapagkat nakinikinita na namin nung mga panahon na ‘yun, na kung mag-umpisa na ang kampanya, bubulatlatin yan," she said.
 
"Para makilala din ninyo ang aking pagkatao. Para kung ‘yan ay batayan para kayo ay pumili para sa akin o hindi, nasa tao yun," she added.
 
The future
 
Casiple admitted that while Grace's rise to the top may have something to do with the supposed rift between survey leaders Legarda and Alan Peter Cayetano, her strong showing was still more of her doing.
 
"Siyempre, 'pag na-distract 'yung [nasa taas mo] you are in a good position na malampasan sila pareho [pero] mas siya kasi talaga," he said.
 
Even Escudero, who had previously ranked second in surveys, seemed to have been affected by the issues concerning his love life based on the partial unofficial results.
 
Mangahas said that Poe's success should teach these re-electionists a lesson in humility.
 
"Parang there's a message there from the voters na gusto nila ng bagong kandidato who might actually be in their view representing change," she said.
 
And with this new development, Casiple said it's very likely that interested 2016 contenders would be courting Grace.
 
"Every road leads to Grace Poe kasi 'yung number one position 'yan pinag-aawayan talaga dahil ang posisyon na 'yan traditionally launching pad ng presidential or vice presidential career. Kaya 'pag nandyan ka, kahit baguhan ka, automatically kino-consider ka na," he said. 
 
If she could sum it all up, Tiquia said Grace did three things right: she "had discipline to stick to message; she attended all debates to show her mettle and caring nature; and she is the daughter of her parents." — RSJ/KG/HS, GMA News 
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