The doctor is in

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

The campaign period for national level candidates has begun, so the media circle is now going to be bombarded with interesting, exciting and, sometimes, disappointing news about candidates gunning for the country’s top posts. The lower rungs of national candidates, like Congress, are no slouch either, being just as interesting, exciting and, yes, sometimes also disappointing.

One of the districts that caught my attention is District 1 in Cavite, wherein two candidates from well-known political clans are vying for a congressional seat. On one hand is Jolo Revilla, career politician, actor, scion of another career politician and actor who are well known celebrities in the province. On the other hand is Dr. Paul Aguinaldo Abaya, another scion of a career politician in the province, who is also highly popular, albeit for different reasons.

I’ve had many conversations with fellow media and political colleagues in Cavite, the most captivating of which was how this congressional rivalry is shaping up, at least from the technical lens of voter preference and choice drivers. While the Revillas would fit into the stereotypical mold of charismatic, dazzling politicians, the Abayas are more subtle in their efficiency and service, particularly  Dr. Paul.

Dr. Paul served as vice mayor of Kawit, Cavite from 2013 to 2016. He hopes to return to politics by running for Congress in the First District of Cavite, where he and his five brothers (notable of which is former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya and Congressman Francis Gerald “Boy Blue” Abaya) grew up. Before his foray into politics, he had a successful career as a pediatric dentist. He took his education at the University of San Diego for his degree in Biology, and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine for his doctorate in Dental Medicine. After studying, he earned the license to practice dentistry in both the United States and the Philippines, but decided to return home to use his expertise to help his municipality.

When he was Kawit vice mayor, he was instrumental in modernizing the municipality’s services through the“One Stop Shop Service Center.” He also passed 125 resolutions and 23 ordinances with different aspects besides health such as Gender and Development, Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) & Zoning, Local Investment and Incentive, Environment and Animal Rabies.

Given those achievements, several of my colleagues are quite excited for Dr. Paul’s political comeback after a six-year hiatus. They further highlighted how District 1, especially in Cavite City, Noveleta and Rosario, is looking forward to having a doctor as a representative.

Another interesting aspect of the campaign – and I have to warn you, there’s a dentist pun coming – is that Dr. Paul’s momentum seems to be fueled mainly by word-of-mouth (see what I did there?). While celebrity culture and fandom is undeniably a powerful tool among Filipino voters, local elections (beginning in 2019) have also begun to show signs of a shift towards grassroots connection and track record assessment.

To this point, Dr. Paul’s stint as vice mayor of Kawit has served him well. My friends happily share tidbits of information, such as how he implemented projects for Kalayaan Hospital – hiring doctors, providing free medicines, vaccination, awareness drives, medical missions and other programs for seniors and school children. I need to emphasize, though, that my residence and place of work are far from Kawit, so their experiences and opinions may not be fully cascaded yet.

Ultimately, me and my friends agree that District 1, Cavite is quite the contest to watch, where polar opposites in terms of personas and approaches will clash. Will the people choose to vote those that they idolize, or those that they closely connect with?


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