Ariana Grande Emerald Street Pasig
Image Credit: Screengrabs

Manila: This refrain rang out from a skyscraper-studded avenue in Manila’s suburban Pasig City:

“This is the part when I say I don't want ya

I'm stronger than I've been before

This is the part when I break free

'Cause I can't resist it no more.”

On Sunday (March 20, 2022) a massive crowd composed mostly young Filipinos broke into the tune of Ariana Grande’s hit song “Break Free” during a campaign rally.

The video of the crowd singing the the American pop star’s hit song has since become viral. The sheer size of the Sunday crowd singing her hit song has amazed Ariana, who shared a drone video of Manila’s Emerald Avenue filled with a crowd in pink singing in unison. Ariana shared her on Grande’s Instagram Stories.

The campaign rally was led by presidential candidate Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and her running mate Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan in Pasig City, one of the constituent cities of Metro Manila.

“I could not believe this was real,” she said. “I love you more than words.”

After Grande’s appreciation post, “Break Free” landed the trending Twitter topics.

Pasig City Police estimated the campaign rally was attended by up to 137,000 supporters, making it the largest crowd that were gathered for an election campaign this year so far, following the reduction in COVID alert level in Manila and across the country.

Robredo, a lawyer and economist, is the lone woman contesting the country’s top spot in a 10-way race. She has been at loggerheads with President Rodrigo Duterte over the way the deadly anti-drugs campaign has been pursued by the strongman, with a number of children being caught in the crossfire.

Emerald Avenue, near one of the two Philippine Stock Exchange houses, was filled with   sea of humanity in pink, the unofficial campaign colour of the opposition.

Robredo, currently the country's vice president, is set for a showdown with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the Philippines' former dictator. She has been trailing in most surveys taken until February, and a distant second to Marcos Jr., though she has a higher rating on Google Trends.

Campaigning for national polls kicked off in February, more than 3 months prior to the May 9 vote. Duterte’s term ends on June 30, 2022.

Marcos Jr’s namesake father, Ferdinand Sr., was overthrown in a 1986 civilian-backed military uprising, after 21 years in power, 9 of which was under a harsh one-man, and military rule, or Martial Law. In the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo narrowly defeated Marcos Jr.

The Sunday atmosphere was festive as candidates gave their speech. Several Filipino artists such as popular rock band River Maya and Ben & Ben were on hard to perform for the crowd. 

The Break Free music video, which bears an intergalactic war theme, was released in August 2014 and has racked up more than 1.1 billion Youtube views.