TAKE A bow, Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr.
In his very first re-election bid, Lazatin did the unprecedented in the annals of the city’s electoral history – garnering over 112,947 votes — the first ever hizzoner to attain – aye, surpass – the 100,000-vote mark, the first ever to be voted by over 50% — exactly 54.87% — of the city’s total voting population of 205,822.
A landslide, indeed, an avalanche by any measure, totally burying the pretender to the mayoralty’s 47,300 votes to electoral nothingness, okay – just to be kind – to utter insignificance.
With Lazatin’s triumph comes now the greater challenge: his numbers manifesting the greatest affirmation by the city electorate of his sterling performance in his very first term as mayor now engendering among them higher hopes of even greater accomplishments in his second term.
Tall order? Worry not, Pogi always delivers.
Shine on, Crisostomo C. Garbo.
Indeed, a rarity elsewhere and never in the history of Mabalacat, from town to city, has a single slate – governor, vice governor, two board members, mayor, vice mayor, all of 10 councilors – been voted straight.
Yeah, if fading memory still serves right, not even during the dictator Marcos’ KBL bloc-voting days when then popular Fred Halili handily won the mayoralty while his gubernatorial bet, the erudite Estelito Mendoza, lost miserably.
No mean feat, did Team MCG – standing as much for Mayor Cris Garbo as for Mabalacat City Government – achieve in the elections just past with its wholesale poll victory.
“The people of Mabalacat City have spoken once again…” So declared Garbo in his post-election statement.
How the people have, indeed, spoken! Garbo garnering 75,794 votes – over 60% more than the combined votes of his rivals, former forever-mayor Boking Morales with 25,926 votes and broadcaster Deng Pangilinan with 3,659.
An even stronger statement the electorate delivered for Vice Mayor Gerald Aquino with 80,051 votes against opponent Christian Halili’s measly 25,440.
“Through the ballots, they have reaffirmed, in unison, their choice for a governance that firmly stands on integrity, honesty, credibility. and unwavering service,” enthused Garbo.
Rising up to the new challenge, thus: “With the help of the Almighty God, we shall endeavor once again to deliver to expectations anchored in our ‘Bayung Mabalacat’ vision. We shall also continue to challenge ourselves to do even more in pushing our beloved city and its people to greater success.”
Rise now, Vilma B. Caluag.
With 55,508 votes to her name, the first-ever lady mayor takes over the City of San Fernando. No spectacle in terms of numbers there, but the magnitude of her electoral ascendancy comes to brilliance with the very renown of the rivals she bested.
Unarguably, Caluag was the most inexperienced in the field of governance among the marquee names in the city’s mayoralty contest: multi-term provincial board member Rosve Henson, longtime vice mayor Jimmy Lazatin, and certainly not the least, multi-term congressman, EDSA 2 hero, three-term city mayor, World City Mayor awardee Oca Rodriguez.
Daunting as the task ahead is for Caluag, the greatest challenge for her at the onset is to immediately prove she has something more substantive other than her prowess to parlay her Tik-Tok moves to electoral victory, sans daughter Nicole and husband Melchor.
Even as her triumph serves as an empowerment to all women, gender will be the least consideration in her performance as city mayor, of the very capital of Pampanga at that!
Luck be a lady, so we can only wish her. For now.