DESPITE waiting for three hours, the crowd that gathered for Saturday’s rally of the Liberal Party (LP) in Cebu City stayed put and numbered about 60,000 based on the party’s estimate.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña described the rally as a test of organizational skills and gave his team a “passing grade.” He said the event showed critics the LP’s local allies can deliver a crowd even without celebrities, entertainers or snacks.

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“Passing grade lang ikumpara sa pikas, ako lang gi-test among organization ba…kon unsa ang kaya. Nindot man ang resulta (It merits a passing grade compared to the other parties. I just wanted to test the organization, see what our allies can deliver. The results were good),” Osmeña said.

“We didn’t do Wowowee to get the crowd. With the people that showed up, it’s very good. I just don’t know who to thank,” he said when interviewed after the rally.

The Nacionalista Party rally in the North Reclamation Area last Feb. 21 featured several celebrities, like the “Wowowee” game show host Willie Revillame. The NP rally’s crowd, a local daily reported, reached 150,000.

The LP rally was hosted by actor-comedian Dennis Padilla and north district congressional aspirant Cutie del Mar.

Not all of the LP’s allies showed up, however.

Former senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, who is running for Cebu City mayor, explained he didn’t show up because it was a rally of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

He downplayed reports about the rally’s attendance.

“Mas daghan pa gyud unta ang manambong ato kon LP pa ang nagpasiugda. Naa ba gud didto ang taga third district ug ubang supporters sa province (More people would have attended if the LP had organized it. Were there even supporters from the third district and other areas of the province)?” the former senator said.

Despite his criticisms, Sonny said he will still support and campaign for Aquino and gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III.

Tomas took potshots at his estranged cousin for criticizing the LP campaign in Cebu.

“Kinsa man na siya nga mosulti niana? Siya mismo wa’y tawo sige lang ug panaway, tan-awa iyang kampanya wa siya’y kapitan, way konsehal, wa gani tanod (What gives him the right to say that? He just keeps criticizing, but look at his campaign. He doesn’t even have captains, councilors or tanods),” the mayor said.

The mayor said it is important that both Aquino and Roxas have not tarnished their names.

“Ang importante kay limpyo ang ilang kamot, walay mantsa. Naay bright, pero ilang gigamit ang ilang ka-bright sa pagkawat sa atong kwarta… (What’s important is that their hands are clean. There are bright persons who use their intelligence to steal the people’s money). To Noynoy and Mar, welcome to Cebu, see how the people love

you,” he said.

Reporters overheard a few teenagers talking as they negotiated their way through the crowd, discussing how they would get home after the rally because they had no money for their fare.

In a separate interview, Cebu City Administrator Francisco Fernandez said there was certainly no “hakot” or paid crowd.

“It’s the enthusiasm of the people that brought them here,” he said.

For the Liberal Party senatorial aspirant Teacher Neric Acosta, he said that the crowd who gathered during the LP’s rally is an indicator of what a true rally is.

Ruffy Biazon, who is running for the Senate under LP, downplayed the effect celebrities have on the voting process.

“The people will look at the real issue and the issue here is a government that you can trust,” said Biazon. (Elly Bolonos)