Where's the buzz in the barangay?

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

From where I am, nothing seems to be stirring with regard to the barangay elections, which is now just two Mondays away. Of course the official 10-day election campaign period was to have only just started, but hey this is the Philippines where everybody eats politics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nobody follows campaign rules strictly.

I am right now in the second-class town of Carigara, Leyte: 2020 population, 54,656 people; barangays, 49; 2022 voters, 38,606. We are essentially a small town in the province. Quite progressive (three major banks are good enough indicators) but a small town nonetheless. In a manner of speaking almost everybody knows everybody else. And what is going on.

And that is precisely it. Nothing seems to be going on. Not even politics, whose next rapidly-approaching manifestation is the October 30, 2023 barangay elections. Is Juan still running? Is Pedro not challenging him? How about Jose, the "umagad" of Juan who has been badmouthing him, is he not going to run just to ruin his chances?

Things such as these should have long circulated even outside campaign periods. You normally hear this where pedicab drivers gather for a drink of three-in-one coffee. Or at my favorite lotto outlet which I visit every day without winning. There is no talk of politics there so far, only whether Delfin is still alive after the scuttlebutt that he died three days ago.

So what is strange about this particular political exercise? Has the interest waned? I do not think so. Why, we even dabble in the Israeli-Hamas conflict, so how much more for barangay elections when quite often they are also the personal affairs of personal friends. A barangay election is where all the "maritesses" in the world thrive.

One possible reason why there is little to no movement in the barangay election is that the anticipated funding from regular politicians and other sources have not started to come in. But that does not justify lying down and going to sleep. If someone is truly interested in running he has to at least show some interest by going around and getting acquainted and reacquainted.

Even if the funds have not come they will eventually. It is not wise to make hostage of a headstart just because the color of money has not shown its face just as yet. As they say, all elections are local. Whatever the level of politics, politicians need the support of officials at the grassroots, so there is no neglecting and ignoring the needs of barangay officials.

The next scheduled barangay elections is 2025. That is just a short while away from the elections two Mondays hence. Isn't that too short a term for those who get elected? Remember that those currently serving in office were elected in 2018. It is totally possible that some who might otherwise be interested to run have been disheartened by the very short incoming term.

But then again, this seeming quiet in the barangay front could be just one of the many odd vagaries that seizes Philippine politics every now and then. Who knows what I am experiencing and palpably noticing is just the calm before the storm and that eventually, as it has always been, the parade will always turn into Main Street and the fiesta will come to town.

I have a particular interest in this barangay election, my first since uprooting myself from Cebu nearly five years ago. Since moving here I have already experienced a mid-term election in 2019 and a presidential one in 2022. Both were unforgettable experiences for me with the latter even life-altering. So it would be interesting to see how the 2023 barangay election would turn out to be.

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