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State of Play: The Philippines Presidential Election

With BBM’s qualification issue settling, the candidates are now poised for the contest. To understand the race ahead, we provide the following analysis:

BBM’s campaign showed the most organization, cohesive strategy and funding. It started with a well polished advertising, massive spectacle, and rapid alliance building. Securing Sara Duterte as his running mate is a boon, despite her lack of social media power and severe overlapping of Marcos and Duterte voters.

While BBM had a large social advertising base, his allies footed the bill; either a pass through payment or as a tribute. Search Facebook Ads library.

The campaign needed to orchestrate overwhelming public support to forestall COMELEC action and to deprive other campaigns of alliances and resources explained the blockbuster head start. BBM is the leader of the pack, but his campaign is on the defensive at the starting line. The social data suggests BBM has reached its maximum voter generation potential. Even as the campaign season starts, BBM won’t be gaining more voters and can only lose allies and voters. It is not clear if BBM has any strategic messages left for the public or are we destined to listen to reruns.

Second in contention is VP Leni Robredo. Like BBM, VP Leni’s camp has done well on social media through organizing engagement rather than paid exposure. The engagement level, the sharing, and the virality of her targeted message have had an outsize impact relative to her followers.

By per capita impact, VP Leni is the most effective and the most energetic candidate.

Her campaign’s challenge remains growing the base supporters. Her early engagement with influencers is very organic and shows much of the campaign’s strategy of connecting with many small network knitting rather than the top down advertising model BBM has thus far used. While it’s unclear what Leni’s strategic message will be, the tactical moves are transparent. Her campaign is designing a slow rise, building up to a huge explosive uptick in April.

Of all the candidates, Senator Lacson has the most governing experience and the longest service. Together with Senator Sotto, they represent the most qualified national managers. In addition, Senator Lacson also started heavy social advertising in September.

Given those factors, it is a disappointment to see the social reach and follower growth being so far behind. The main strategic mistake is to over-rely on traditional media and advertising, as both senators have been low social media presence through their senate career. The campaign is in the typical tragedy of a good leader unable to connect with the voters. Just last week, Lacson’s supporters complained about other candidates stealing the good Senator’s issues and policies. While there is time for the campaign to switch gears, the old media mindset and the high ideal speaking habit might be too difficult to overcome in time.

On the opposite spectrum of senatorial popularity, Manny Pacquiao has the highest public reach, highest public adoration and the lowest public presence of all the senators. So his low-performance as a national candidate represents a serious stumble. The necessary rebranding of Manny as a serious leader never got started. His public engagement has been giving away money and material to the needy, while a noble act is unsustainable. With his national visibility, Manny should be close on Leni’s heel. His performance shows a serious lack of campaign preparation, a surprise for a candidate whose entire career has been about professional discipline and training.

Mayor Moreno deployed social media to upset all political expectations for his mayoral run. But for his presidential run, his effort has underwhelmed the public. If one presidential aspirant was expected to rule Facebook, the consensus was to be Isko. Social media represented Isko’s best path to offset BBM’s financial advantage, especially with his high visibility. But the campaign’s poor showing so far is directly traceable to the mismanagement of his brain trust and leadership team. Unless he corrects this intellectual and operational vacuum, the public will watch his campaign fizzle.

The Philippines has the most vibrant democracy in Asia, in its fascinating mix of the high social connectedness of its people and the social media overlay. It also means a successful national campaign must muster all forms of communication and engagement tactics from the grassroot to the interweb. For the next four months, we will watch which camp can claw away and hold on to those who are favorable to BBM.


Amont of post that focuses on each candidates.

The corresponding public reaction to posts.

The degree where the public engages with the candidate.


Data provided by QSearch from 2021/9/1 to 2022/01/19. Total of 527,675,321 data points, inclusive of sentiment markers, comments, and internet UL addresses. For questions, elaboration, or campaign application, please email


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