Today's Punto
Today's Punto
By Bong Lacson

Oct 05, 2017

MONDAY, PRESIDENT Duterte signed into law RA 10952, moving barangay and SK elections to May 2018, suspending for the second time our rights to vote for the officials of the basic political unit of our democracy.

To the ecstasy of all incumbent barangay officials who shall hold on to their prized positions. To the agony of the wannabes and pretenders to those positions, especially those who have started the groundwork – with the corresponding spending – for the now-scrapped October polls.

To the voters, collective dismay over their disenfranchisement anew, albeit temporarily, to change officials they have suffered for long, or affirm those who have proven themselves in office.

To the general public, general unhappiness over their deprivation of the fun – and the funds – inherent in all barangay elections. That which I miss most.

Hence, finding relevance anew this piece first published here 10 years ago:

PASSIONATELY PERSONAL. That is a natural course in barangay elections as everybody there, at the least, knows everybody. That is if everybody is not related, by affinity or consanguinity, to everybody.

Thus the heat of the campaign: the stake, prized as though it were the presidency of the country itself.

It does come as no surprise but as a matter of course for blood to lose its thickness in barangay politics: brother fights brother, mother fights daughter, father fights uncle, inlaws fight one another, all affinities rendered asunder.

With family wealth dispersed and doled out to the voters, barangay elections not only help the local economy in terms of liquidity but serve as great social equalizers.

Personalan truly makes the essence of these elections. This is most evident in the names put up by the candidates.

In my barangay in Sto. Tomas town, there is a Payok running against a Pusa. Elsewhere, there is a Manok, a Bulik and a Tatso too.

I saw a Tuyo running for kagawad somewhere. And a Menudo too. Too bad my friend Paksi, a former town councilor, opted to retire from politics altogether after he lost in this year’s polls. They would have provided some culinary delight to the polls.

It is in barangay polls too that handicaps are celebrated to highlight candidacies, not as defi ciencies. There is a Putot, a Duling – not Mayor Boking Morales’ ever-loyal lieutenant, a Salapi (one with extra digits, not money), and a Tikol and Pile in the running. (And who can forget the unbeatable Capitan Ngongo in the City of San Fernando, a few years after this piece was written?)

Candidates truly come in all shapes and sizes: Taba, Payat, and Sexy; Tangkad and Pandak. In all shades of color too: Baluga, Puti, Brown and Tagpi, as one afflicted with vitiligo had for a political moniker. No Blue there, he being already elected Angeles City mayor.

No Tarzan too, he being elected congressman. No Cheetah here. But once there was in Quezon City in the late comic Rene Requiestas who was a kagawad.

Strongman Atlas runs in Dau, Mabalacat. I wonder if there’s a Hercules somewhere. I am most certain though there are a lot of Samsons out there.

Personalan, so the name-calling gets real nasty. Junior Sablay? Still too kind, make that Marcoracot, a penny-ante plunderer, a petty Marcos. The “man you love”? Make that the manyilab (arsonist).

A candidate left by his wife becomes a pindeho. One with only a mother is a putok sa buho. Reasons don’t matter here. It’s all perception. It’s all deception.

Still, there’s much in one’s moniker that makes the big difference in the polls. There was once in a barrio in San Fernando where the contending candidates were named Apostol, Jesus and Satanas. Guess who won?

Satanas and Apostol lost. And the voters rued their choice.

Barangay elections, as in any other political contest, is no simple name game. Keep the passion but don’t leave out the reason.

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