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Opinion

Unrequited

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. - The Philippine Star

The basic law governing the conduct of elections continues to be B.P. 881 a.k.a. the Omnibus Election Code of 1985, as amended. In Sec. 79 of the Code, election campaign refers to acts designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate to public office; a candidate is any person aspiring for or seeking an elective public office.

You’d think that after almost 40 years of periodic electoral exercises, the meaning of these basic terms would have become second nature. You think!? But they can’t even help us process the different phenomena that our vice presidential candidates have figured in lately.

Two weeks ago, at the high profile Comelec vice presidential debate, Liberal Party candidate Sen. Francis “Kiko“ Pangilinan defended his position in favor of single ticket voting: “I agree that it should be in tandem. They cannot be from different parties ... So they can work together in unity and have concrete plans from the very beginning and not have conflicts.” If he wins and Leni loses, will chaos reign?

Three days ago, Kiko the candidate morphed into Kiko the uncandidate. Told that Eastern Samar local leadership were supporting only Vice President Leni Robredo’s candidacy and that she was OK with it, he attempted to defuse the insulting implication by saying it was his decision not to accompany Leni. The famous sugarcoat became: for Leni to increase, I must decrease. Many were tickled pink that Kiko’s mind was open, after all.

Dr. Willie Ong endured his own running mate’s solo sojourn to Mindanao over a month ago. Willie, however, was not as stoic. The non-politico side of him admitted that he was hurt. If the doctor had been less serious, he might have also tried to rationalize, Kiko style: for Isko to campaign, I was told to refrain.

At the debate, Willie was as profuse in his advocacy for bloc voting: “When they are not partners, I don’t know how they will work.” But how do they tandem with partners who would untandem them? Also, like Kiko, this hard line is a self-inflicted handicap that might turn-off prospective mixed ticket voters.

Rep. Lito Atienza took the candidate to uncandidate metamorphosis one step further, admitting a predisposition to withdraw from the vice presidential derby. Rather than aspiring for or seeking elective public office, his is an act designed to lose public office. It’s an unapologetic gambit to gift running mate Senator Manny Pacquiao with a fighting chance if he should team with Senate President Vicente Sotto. I can almost hear the pundits’ chorus their Kiko-esque justification: for Manny to appear, I must disappear.

Trapo? Hindi po. I am happy to be seeing young public servants embracing the praxes of non-traditional politics. Mayor Vico Sotto has come to own the peg of archetypal good governance icon. He was in the news for eschewing the self-aggrandizement of credit grabbing for government projects. At least in Pasig City, projects under his administration will be billed as projects of the people and not of any incumbent.

In 1988, I was 23 and newly elected to the City Council of Manila. One of my first ordinances was the similar anti-epal proposal banning credit grabbing from public works projects; prohibiting personalized license plates and even criminalizing business cards that contain the message: “Please extend assistance to…,” among others. I served two terms before realizing that two terms was long enough. But within my brief elective public service journey, even projects I secured from national funding I made sure to be branded as projects of the people of Sampaloc, never to be claimed as my own.

Golden harvests. In women’s sport, the Philippines has rarely been known as best in the world. Before Hidilyn Diaz in weightlifting, it was only our lady bowlers that positioned us as leaders on the global map. Bong Coo and Lita de la Rosa, later Arianne Cerdeña all left their world mark on the pine and maple lanes.

In two of the world’s most popular and pandemic boom sports – golf and tennis, whose season’s pinnacle events are their Major tournaments on the international professional circuit, we proudly have Filipinas at first echelon. We had no idea how good they were and neither did they! However confident one is about his/her talent level and skill set, it is only by being tested against the best in the world that one discovers his/her true worth.

Filipina Japanese Yuka Saso did. She is the first Major winner in Philippine golfing history. She won the 2021 US Open Golf, becoming the event’s youngest winner ever at 19 years of age. This weekend she competes in the first Major of 2022, the Chevron Championship, better known to older generations as the Dinah Shore where, until last year, winners took the traditional dunk into Poppi’s pond in Mission Hills. Yuka has ranked as high as 5th in the world. She is known for her swing, steely nerves and Pinay humility.

Canadian teen Leylah Annie Exevea Fernandez, last year’s surprise finalist at the Major tournament (Grand Slam) US Open, also did. Of Filipino-Ecuadorian descent, the equally well-mannered Fernandez successfully defended as champion at the Abierto GNP Seguros Open in Mexico last month. It was another come-from-behind win with the diminutive fighter saving five championship points to conquer feisty Colombian Camila Osorio.

Fernandez stands head and shoulders below the mighty front guard of top-ranked players in height, but certainly not in heart. For a sport where scientifically 5’9” is seen as best suited for dominance, she is listed as 5’6”. This week begins her clay court swing as she campaigns in the Charleston open leading up to next month’s grand slam at Stade Roland Garros in Paris.

Let’s continue to cheer for the elegant golf & tennis swings and do-or-die attitude of these inspirational, world-class Filipinas who stamp the colors of the Philippines wherever they play.

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