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The regulars of Rockwell Center — a high-end mixed-use development in Makati City, and a playground of the rich and sophisticated — must have clutched their pearls when chaos ensued at the normally peaceful Power Plant Mall, which is located within the exclusive area.
Disturbing the peace were supporters of rivals Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo who engaged in a showdown of chants as mall guards desperately tried to quell the crowd’s deafening cries.
But what led Rockwell’s normally reserved, upscale crowd to break social norms and let their claws out — at a mall of all places?
It all began when controversial influencer and socialite Cat Arambulo — who was previously in hot water after she told Manila’s working class to “stay at home, motherfuckers” earlier in the pandemic — published a poster on social media announcing a gathering of Marcos supporters (presumably of her similar social class) at the posh mall, and invited them to wear red.
Interestingly, the latest Pulse Asia Survey indicates that the majority of Marcos Jr.’s supporters belong to the C, D, and E socioeconomic classes — largely approximating the country’s middle and lower classes.
Some people on the internet did not take this well, in part because a beloved social media figure called “Leni Bear” is known to regularly hang out at the spot where the Marcos supporters chose to convene.
Cat Arambulo-Antonio is asking BBM supporters to meet up at Rockwell tomorrow, 2pm; asking them to wear red. Tapos the meet up spot that they chose is the usual spot where Leni Bear stays. Bullies talaga sila. pic.twitter.com/7fWbbI4EDL
— Joby Orosa V (@orosajohnb) April 27, 2022
That said, the uproar was largely due to the fact that the Power Plant Mall and the Rockwell Center are both owned by the Lopez Holdings Corporation — aka the same family behind the Philippines’ largest broadcaster, ABS-CBN, which has a tumultuous history with the Marcoses, and recently, the Dutertes. During Martial Law, late president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. imprisoned Eugenio Lopez Jr., then the ABS-CBN chairman, and seized control of the broadcast network’s assets.
In 2020, allies of President Rodrigo Duterte moved to block the network’s request for a 25-year franchise, forcing the media giant’s shutdown on free TV and causing 11,000 workers to lose their jobs.
With Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte supporters gathering at the Lopez-owned property, netizens saw this as adding insult to injury — leading to a contingent of Robredo supporters, dressed in pink, to show up at the same time as their rivals.
After Arambulo’s post went viral, the influencer later went on social media to clear the air, saying that this was simply a call for Marcos supporters to meet and shop together and denied that she had orchestrated the gathering.
This is not a @nextgenforbbmsara event. It’s NOT my event either. I’m just attending our supporter’s initiative.
No speaker, no celebrities, NOTHING! Just us supporters joining together to do what we love: supporting our candidate and of course shopping
— Cat Arambulo-Antonio (@catarambulo_com) April 27, 2022
Pinks now occupying the LGF of Rockwell, reds were at Cafe Mediterranean but left to go up because they are super outnumbered, all restos now in PINK. #RockwellisPink
— Martin (@mart712in) April 28, 2022
It started off as a mostly peaceful gathering — social media “wonder kid” Nate even played one of Robredo’s volunteer-led campaign songs “Rosas” on the piano — until both parties crossed paths.
— Marianne Enriquez (@mariannenriquez) April 28, 2022
Even “Megastar” Sharon Cuneta, wife of Robredo’s running mate Kiko Pangilinan, chimed in and said that she suddenly felt like shopping at Power Plant Mall, adding, “My ABS-CBN bosses, the Lopezes, own [the mall] and the entire Rockwell [Center]. I want to show my support for LENI-KIKO too! And the Lopezes as well. We can also watch Eskapo (Escape) about [Eugenio] Lopez’s and Serge Osmeña’s imprisonment, starring Christopher de Leon and Richard Gomez.”
So, a petty showdown between the privileged few or a rightful occupation of a public space? Whatever your take on the issue, we are particularly tickled by this notion: