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The Bicolano Vote

Everywhere I went, I heard the same thing. I heard it on the family dining table. I heard it from a friend. I opened my Facebook account, there were posts of the same sentiment. People talk about it in the places I go to around downtown. My sister says that nettizens were saying the same thing. TV personalities were expressing the same views on air. Heck, one broadcaster could not even contain himself and he had to exclaim his personal frustrations while on duty. So, there seems to be a prominent consensus on favored senatorial candidates. Now, what I don’t get is… if so many people don’t like a certain group of candidates, then why? Why are these same people who seem to be shunned by many are overwhelmingly leading in the rank of supposedly elected senators? I simply don’t get it. If so many people don’t like them to be elected, then why do they have so many votes; and with crushing numbers at that? Why is there so much noise of disappointment against the results while the supposed “unpopular” candidates were voted by so many of the electorate? Where are these people who voted for them? Why don’t I hear any din of defense from them? If I were one of them I would certainly respond to take advantage of our bragging rights. After all, their team swept the Senate. In this mismatch between vote and voice, it would seem logical that some irregularities occurred. Yet, there is no serious report of electoral fraud; and some of the losing candidates have conceded to defeat and expressed gratitude to their supporters; thereby agreeing to the fact and fairness of the election results. So, what’s the deal?

After a couple of days, it got clearer. I’m in Naga. I’m in Bicol. It would follow that my family, circle of friends both online and offline, and immediate social environment would be Bicolanos, Nagueños. According to reports, all Otso Diretso candidates made it to the top 12 in Naga; notably not including Bong Go and Bato de la Rosa or Francis Tolentino. On a wider scale, in Bicol Region, the otso would be slashed to cuatro as four of them win in the region, once again not including Bong Go, Bato or Tolentino who are notably top listers in the national ranking. (Jus in case youre interested, the regional winners are Aquino, Roxas, Diokno and Alejano.) ( This seems to be an opposite of the national results. Well, not entirely, Nagueños and the rest of the Bicolanos joined the whole nation in voting for Grace Poe, Cynthia Villlar, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, and Bong Revilla. Now, that’s why there’s a disparity between local views and national votes.

News articles trace this trend to Naga being the bailiwick of the Vice President Leni Robredo. I beg to disagree. I don’t remember Bicolanos sweeping the Aksyon Demokratiko ticket back in the time of the then Secretary Raul Roco’s candidacy for Presidency. Pardon the comparison, but Raul Roco would have had a stronger influence. I don’t think we Bicolanos vote by association although it could happen coincidentally. Take a look at the Villafuertes. They did not all win although they were associated with each other. Ubos kung Ubos, Gabos kung Gabos prevailed for decades simply because no formidable opposition stood to challenge their camaraderie.

Although the 8 member team leaves a considerable room for entry from the opposing party to join in the winning 12, the non-Otso Diretso filllers in Bicol are an interesting bunch. Rather, the ones who are not included in the fillers are a very interesting bunch. Despite their prominently high spot in the national ranking, Bicolanos seem to have snubbed this group: Bong Go, Bato de la Rosa, Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos and Nancy Binay. Yes, it is natural in an act of selection that there would be some elements which would not be selected. But what is interesting in this case is that this set was not selected despite their overwhelming selection by the rest of the nation.

I’ve been cracking my head on analyzing this phenomenon. So, what’s the common denominator? Two are neophytes; the other three are veterans. Two of the three veterans are from political dynasties. Most of them are strongly connected to President Duterte; all except Nancy Binay. So maybe we vote by association after all. It seems Bicolanos have voted against association with President Duterte. The remarkable Otso Diretso support has been a definite expression of refusal of the administration. Compromise was inevitable. A clear snub of Duterte connection is a clear vote against the President’s influence in the Senate. That’s how the Bicolano has voted.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2

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