On the Radar

A battle of lineage and history for Congress in Cavite

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda - Philstar.com
A battle of lineage and history for Congress in Cavite
Pediatric dentist and ex-Kawit Vice Mayor Dr. Paul Abaya is running against actor and incumbent Vice Governor of Cavite Jolo Revilla.
Photos from Dr. Paul and Jolo’s Facebook accounts.

“There have been times in this office when I wondered how you could do the job if you hadn’t been an actor.” This was a statement said by former US President Ronald Reagan, who was an actor prior to becoming one of the leaders of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Celebrities running for political office has been going on for years, in the Philippines included. Action star Joseph Ejercito Estrada even served as our 13th president. The Philippines probably has one of the greatest number of celebrities vying for a political position. Most of them win because of numerous reasons, but definitely star power is one of them. 

During my interview with Pulse Asia president Ronnie Holmes, he said that the election is really one big popularity contest. “Kapag hindi ka kilala, hindi ka ma-e-elect.Hindi ka mahahalal. Ikaw na artista, ikaw na miyembro ng pampulitikang pamilya, kinakailangan kakilala ka. Medyo lamang ang artista lalo na kapag parati siyang lumalabas sa pelikula o sa TV,” Holmes said. 

According to a report on Rappler, there are at least 35 showbiz personalities that filed their candidacy for this year’s election, both in national and local positions. Although I’d like to think that more voters now are more discerning, there are still those who give in to the charm and idolatry.

“Ang unang advantage mo dyan kilala ba ang apelyido mo? Kung ang apelyido mo ay hindi kilala, mahirap-hirap. Lamang ang artista dahil ang publicity nila may katagalan na rin,” further explains Holmes. 

With Associate Professor for Political Science in UP Diliman Dr. Jean Encinas Franco and President of Pulse Asia Ronnie Holmes. Watch my interview with them here.

There are several showbiz royalties whose families have successfully dominated the political arena for years.  One of them is the Revillas of Cavite.  The deceased patriarch of the family and “Hari ng Agimat” Ramon Revilla Sr. was a senator.  His son, Bong, is currently a senator. Another son, Strike Revilla, an incumbent congressman at the 2nd District of Cavite, is running for mayor in Bacoor, a seat that was occupied by his sister-in-law and Bong’s wife, actress Lani Mercado. Lani is the one now running for Cavite’s 2nd Congressional District, switching roles with her brother-in-law. Ram Revilla is campaigning for board member at the 2nd District of Cavite and older brother Bryan is running as representative for the AGIMAT Partylist. Ram and Bryan are both sons of Bong and Lani. Their brother Jolo Revilla, currently the vice governor of Cavite, is running for Congress in the 1st District of Cavite, against former Kawit City Vice Mayor and practicing pediatric dentist, Dr. Paul Abaya Jr. Amidst the Revillas being a household name in both the entertainment and political industry, the Abayas are not one to be underestimated due to their legacy in public service and their solid track record in politics.

The legacy of a hero

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Doc Paul in my program, Pamilya Talk. Doc Paul is the great-grandson of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines. He is also the 5th son and junior of former Congressman Plaridel Abaya. Having that kind of a lineage, there must definitely be some pressure to live up to his family name. But instead of buckling under the weight of said pressure, Doc Paul considers it a privilege.

“I always see that [the lineage] as a gift that was given to me. At the same time, it is a responsibility. Being [President Aguinaldo’s] great-grandson, we need to continue his legacy as a President who fought for the freedom of our country way back in 1898,” he said.

Doc Paul graduated from the University of San Diego, with a degree in Biology, then studied at Tufts University-School of Dental Medicine in Massachusetts. He specialized in Pediatric Dentistry in New York University. He has a license to practice in the US but opted to be a dentist here in the Philippines. Doc Paul was the president of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society. A frontline dentist during the pandemic, he’s one of the 27 dentists in the country who specializes in pediatric dentistry. 

“It takes extra patience and compassion in dealing with children. I just happen to be good at working with them,” he said pertaining to his specialization. Doc Paul believes in prioritizing children and in giving importance to their welfare, especially in crafting government programs.

“I always see that [the lineage] as a gift that was given to me. At the same time, it is a responsibility. Being [President Aguinaldo’s] great-grandson, we need to continue his legacy as a President who fought for the freedom of our country way back in 1898” – Doc Paul Abaya

Cavite politics

Cavite has always been one of those provinces known for its rather intense political climate. For Doc Paul to even attempt to enter one of the most toxic geopolitical arenas in the country, he must have a good bit of courage, an amazing support system, or both.

He was working behind the scenes during the tenure of his brother, former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Aguinaldo Abaya, as Congressman of the First District of Cavite. Doc Paul also became the primary organizer for any medical and dental related initiatives of his elder brother. When he became Kawit Vice Mayor, his tenure in Kawit resulted in more vaccine drives, medical missions, and medical information drives to promote awareness and prevention of certain diseases. Now, he is running once again, and this time against one of the most popular political families in the province, the Revillas.

He said he’s not afraid of the popular Vice Governor Jolo Revilla because he believes in his, and his family’s, brand of public service. 

“True service is always given wholly. It’s important that we decide wholeheartedly when running for public service,” he added. 

Doc Paul also harped on his ABAYAnihan platform of government, which stands for Ahon mula sa pandemiya, BAngon sa kabuhayan, YAman para sa bayan. He plans to use his expertise in the medical field (both as a frontliner and as a manager), along with the advice from experienced public servants in his family, to give the residents of the First District of Cavite the service and care they deserve.

This pandemic made people shift their priorities in life. If health was important before, it’s twice as important now.  Since we are all still recovering from the economic downturn of our two-year lockdown, the question that echoes in the minds of every Caviteño in the 1st District is: Do we need an actor or a doctor?

The challenges brought about by COVID19 will forever be in our minds, and our pandemic experience will greatly influence our choice of the kinds of leaders we will elect on May 9.  Whether you’re a doctor or an actor running for office, what counts is your track record of servant leadership and your ability to inspire people to find hope amidst the crisis they are facing. The real job comes after all this campaign chaos. We hope and pray that whoever wins in this election will be true to their word and will make all their promises in fruition. 



Watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts: InstagramFacebookYouTubeTwitter and Kumu.  Please share your stories or suggest topics at [email protected] 


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