Is Imee Marcos running for Senator?

By the looks of it, yes, Imee Marcos is seriously considering a senate run next year, 2019.

The governor, whose third term ends next year, has been going around provinces from Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan to Metro Manila cities, and, as I write this, to Iloilo where the Dinagyang Festival is ongoing.

Imee presses flesh in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija (Photo from the Imee Marcos Facebook page)

Once hesitant to run for a national post (she said she would rather go back to her first loves: filmmaking, graphic animation, and theater), Imee seems to be now considering the growing clamor for her to run for senator. Such clamor, I suspect, is getting stronger as the vice presidential protest of her brother Bongbong is at snail pace. Bongbong can’t run for the senate without jeopardizing his protest, and people want a Marcos in the national scene.

Imee is no stranger to legislative work. Prior to becoming governor, She was representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte for 9 years. As governor, she focused on programs for education and youth empowerment, agriculture, economic development, tourism, and the advancement of clean energy, winning for Ilocos Norte a host of awards.

Whether her clash with Rudy Farinas—House Majority Floor Leader and himself a possible senatoriable—which led to congressional hearings would affect her chances remains to be seen, but judging by the very warm reception she experienced in places she has visited thus far, a senate seat is not beyond her reach.

Congressman Fariñas, non grata

persona

BY A resounding vote of 8, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte in their regular session on June 27 declared Rudy Fariñas as persona non grata. The congressman was expectedly piqued, but he was right to point out in his statement that referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that “he or she is ostracized, and that such a person is for all intents and purposes culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively non-existent.” That exactly is what board members have done to him.

The term “persona non grata” is Latin for “a person not appreciated.” It was originally meant for diplomats and foreigners who have been deemed undesirable or unwelcome, but it is not the first time a Filipino citizen has been declared non grata in his own country.

Ramon Bautista was declared persona non grata by the Davao City Council for his hipon jokes in a party in the city during the celebration of Kadayawan Festival in 2014. Bautista joked that many women in the city are “hipon” which is a derogatory term for a person with a sexually appealing body but with a less attractive face.

Last year, the Sagguniang Panlalawigan of Pangasinan also declared Dr. Dexter Buted, president of the Pangasinan State University (PSU) as persona non grata after he snubbed the board’s three invitations to him and other university officials to appear before an inquiry.

But this indeed could be the first time a sitting congressman is declared persona non grata in his own province. What are its implications? Continue reading “Congressman Fariñas, non grata”

Rudy wins… and loses

photo from rappler.com

RUDY Fariñas is no doubt a brilliant lawyer and a skillful politician. He can amaze you with his analytical mind perfectly matched with his gift of gab. He can dazzle you with the wit and humor that go well with his good looks. This congressman, who loves to remind people that he is an Ateneo graduate and a bar topnotcher, can indeed make so-so lawyers look like total idiots.

I once wrote after his successful comeback to the national consciousness through the Corona impeachment trial that he should run for the Senate and that it will be a great disservice to the nation and a great injustice to his gifts if he doesn’t. And in another article after his glorious resurrection from political death, I sang my hallelujahs for the triumph of the human spirit. “You have seen the worst in me, now is time to see the best of me,” he said. And most of us believed him.

In 2010, he ran with Imee Marcos under the slate of One Ilocos Norte. Imee won as Governor. Rudy was elected congressman of the province’s First District. Such political union was short lived and in 2013, it was One Ilocos Norte no more.

But the rift between Rudy and Imee climaxed in recent weeks with the congressional investigations on the supposed misuse of R.A. 7171 funds. The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Committee, of which Rudy is part, alleged that some P66 million in funds intended for the welfare of tobacco framers were wrongfully used for the purchase of vehicles, and that there were obvious irregularities in procurement procedures.

I will leave the facts and legalities to the experts, for I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant. But let me give my two cents on who is winning in this political battle.

Rudy is winning. He has managed to keep six Ilocos Norte Capitol employees under detention for contempt. He has also thrice defied the Court of Appeals which is hearing the petition for habeas corpus filed by the detainees’ lawyers. I say “he”, and not the “Committee” or the “House” because, come on, we know that it is all Rudy’s orchestrations. The congressmen, afraid to lose positions and perks they enjoy if they draw the ire of the majority leader, will always toe the line. Although a political butterfly who gracefully fluttered his wings from the Yellows to the current administration, Rudy enjoys the trust and confidence, not only of the House Speaker, but President Duterte himself. And with all his feats, we can say, with just a little exaggeration, that Rudy Fariñas is master of the universe. Continue reading “Rudy wins… and loses”

Rockstar Governor

If she wins as governor, her critics warned in 2010, she will probably spend more time in Metro Manila than in the Ilocos Norte Capitol.  “She will be bored here,” they said matter-of-factly. Sure, Imee Marcos had served as congresswoman for nine years but that job meant more time spent in the nation’s capital.

Four years and one reelection later, the cynics, or whatever have remained of them, are silent. Many may now even be singing a different tune. Looking at how things are going on for the province, it has become increasingly difficult not to admire Imee Marcos as a leader. Highly popular and well-loved, she has attained rockstar status never before seen in this part of the country. Here are 10 reasons why:

1.      Hands-on leadership, good governance

To begin with, Imee has consistently proven, both in moments of joy and in times of disaster, that she is a hands-on governor. Even young employees at the Capitol are having difficulty keeping pace with the lady leader who is known to work long hours even on weekends. “Her energy is unbelievable,” says a colleague at the provincial press corps.

Resulting from her hard work, Ilocos Norte has been constantly identified as among the best governed provinces in the country. It also holds the distinction of being the first Philippine province to attain full ISO certification.

Governor Marcos during a flag-raising ceremony
Governor Marcos during a flag-raising ceremony (NOTE: Most photos in this article are from websites and social media accounts maintained by the Ilocos Norte Provincial Government.)
Imee visits calamity victims.
Imee visits calamity victims.

Continue reading “Rockstar Governor”

OPEN

I brought my kids to the Open Capitol activity held Feb. 2 in celebration of the 194th Founding Anniversary of the Province of Ilocos Norte. Eighty Accountancy Students enrolled in Sociology 1 (Society and Culture, which I teach) formed part of the estimated 7,000 visitors who trooped to the Capitol that day. The tour to the province’s seat of power was timely as we were just about to begin our classroom discussions on government as a social institution.

Here, dear karikna, are some of the observations and insights of my students. Continue reading “OPEN”

Super Imee

Okay, the title may sound hard sell at first, but you just have to talk to people who saw her in action when Typhoon Mina pounded Ilocos to believe this is apt.

“Ma’am, pahinga naman po kayo, hindi po kayo Superwoman,” a young staff had to remind Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos who had a maximum two hours of sleep in the two days Mina unleashed her wrath in the Saluyot Republic.

She would be in one town talking to municipal and barangay officials one minutes and, faster than you can say “I love you, Imee,” she would be seen in yet another town consoling a widow. And these are not just photo-op visits. Manang Imee personally made calls to coordinate with various government agencies, inspected damaged infrastructure and crops, and made sure relief goods reached the intended recipients.

But believe me, dear karikna, her presence alone was even more valuable than relief goods. When Manang Imee visits a place, observes a media colleague, “people feel no longer alone and neglected… somehow, they feel safe.” Oh, yes, the lady radiates sunshine in the middle of a storm and a nasty tornado.

Imee checking on victims in Sarrat (photo from Imee Marcos facebook page)

Young and dynamic, the Capitol’s media staff were quick to post pictures and updates on Facebook to reassure Ilocanos, here and in diaspora, that government is responding well to the situation. Deeply moved, Ilocanos in Hawaii and elsewhere showered Manang Imee’s facebook page with messages of gratitude and admiration. Continue reading “Super Imee”

Outpour of love for La Greta

SHE’S got to be today’s most loved lola in the Saluyot Republic. Many wept, some smiled. Many wept and smiled. Many wanted to hug the lady, others wished to join her for coffee. Everybody prayed for her good health. While many wanted to help the lady, the wiser ones knew that Matilda “Gretchen” Mandac, just by living a life of bliss and serenity amidst harsh realities, has already helped them.

Last week’s “The (other) Lady at the Capitol” elicited heartwarming reactions from thousands of netizens who read, liked, and shared the article posted in this blog and circulated heavily  in social networking sites.

“This is tragic and yet inspiring. I have to admit my tears were flowing while reading the story. Some people have everything and yet they want more. This amazing lady is an angel. Thank you, Nana Gretchen, for opening my heart,” says Passerby, member of a famous rock band. I didn’t know he can be that cheesy. Carla Tayag, another blog visitor, had a similar sentiment, “..And here I am, whining that I can’t even buy myself a new pair of flats. I think learning about her story already helped me a lot… In fact, more than I can ever help her.” Indeed, many readers admired Nana Gretchen for her indomitable faith and strong character. To many, she exemplifies the best in the human spirit.

The bulk of reactors were young students. Kristian Ranjo, I learned, have had coffee dates with La Greta even before I wrote the story. Icko shared that part of him “died” when he learned about Nana Gretchen, but Michelle Fuerte, who saw joy in the lady’s story, wrote, “Thumbs up Nanay Gretchen, isa kang magandang modelo sa mga tao na dapat tularan at ipagmalaki. Love You.”

“I Love You, Nanay Gretchen,” actually reverberates in a number of comments. Many said their newfound hero reminds them of their departed grandparents. Those who still have their lolos and lolas pledged to love their elders even more. Continue reading “Outpour of love for La Greta”

Imeemadness

Hindi ako mahilig makinig sa mga talumpati ng mga pulitiko. Karamihan kasi sa mga ito ay nakakabobo, nakakatorta ng utak. ‘Yung iba nga, mukhang maging sila ay hindi naiintindihan ang pinagsasasabi; malamang ay ipinagawa lang nila ang kanilang speech sa pipitsuging ghost writer na nangongopya lang naman mula sa Internet. At madalas, halos kalahati ng speech ay pagbati sa mga ibang opisyal at VIP na dumalo sa okasyon, walang patumanggang paghihimuran ng puw*t.

Subali’t busog na busog ako sa aking pagdalo sa State of the Province Address (SOPA) ni Manang Imee noong nakaraang Miyerkules, June 29, sa Ilocano Heroes Hall. At nabusog ako bago pa man inihain ang meryenda.

Napakahusay ng pagkakasulat ng pinakaunang SOPA dito sa Ilocos Norte, at binigyang buhay ito ng flawless na pagbigkas ng minamahal na punong lalawigan.

Alam niyo naman, mahal na karikna, at ‘di ko itatanggi na lubos ang aking pagmamahal at paggalang sa gobernadora, gaya ng pagmamahal ng isang uugod-ugod na Noranian kay Nora. Continue reading “Imeemadness”

‘Babaeng bakla’

OK, I’m writing about her again, and at the risk of being suspected as a paid PR.  But what can I do?  I am a fan.

Besides, it’s enough that God knows how much I value my integrity as a writer.  Never have I asked nor accepted payment, monetary or otherwise, for anything I write in this space.  Without rendering judgment on those who engage in it, journalistic prostitution is not my cup of tea.  I am young, and, when you are young, you are always idealistic, unless of course you are a juvenile delinquent or a Sangguniang Kabataan official, whichever is worse.

The last time I met Imee Marcos was in May prior to the elections.  During a barangay tour in Laoag, she spoke at a lightning rally incidentally held in front of our house.  Posing for a souvenir photo with my parents, Imee noticed my mom’s garden and told us of her love of plants.  Gloria, our househelp, was not to be outdone.  She approached Imee to say “thank you.”  Luzviminda, Gloria’s daughter, finished college as a Scholar ni Imee.  “Kumusta na si Luz?,” asked the then gubernatorial candidate.  “Nakapagtrabaho na po siya, at may anak na,” Gloria replied.  “Ang tanda ko na pala, may mga anak na ang mga scholars ko,” Imee replied, sounding pensive.

That, dear karikna, was the last time, but I manage to keep track of Manang Imee.  I am lucky to know some Capitol insiders who attest to the remarkable work ethic of the lady whose age I mistakenly put at 58 in a previous column.  (She’s actually younger, a bit.)  Ferdinand and Imelda’s eldest child is said to work long hours and is meticulous on how things get done.  True to her campaign promise, the gobernadora is determined to create more jobs here in the province where, as with the rest of the country, unemployment and underemployment figures remain high.  I am very confident that Imee will deliver.  In fact, I tell my students in the university, especially those in the lower years, that they are luckier than their seniors because more jobs would have been generated in the province when they graduate.

Yes, Imee is a hard worker, but not the nerdy type. Giselle Sanchez, in her Manila Bulletin column Gossip Girl, wrote about Miss Marcos’s lighter side in an article titled, “A birthday tribute to the original ‘babaeng bakla’.”  Sanchez attended the Princeton-educated governor’s birthday celebration here in the province last week.

“You know the saying that there’s a thin line between genius and insanity? Imee is a genius but once she cracks her witty one-liners, you are going to go insane,” the comedienne revealed.  She then went on to share what she considered as “the top 10 unforgettable quotes of Miss Imee Marcos,” to wit: Continue reading “‘Babaeng bakla’”

“With Imee as governor, it’s exciting to live in Ilocos.”

Photo by Alaric Yanos

YOU WOULD think the line is straight from a press release written by Imee’s young and brilliant media staff, or from a column penned by some paid publicist or corrupt journalist, but no, the generous adulation is lifted from the hymn of praises sang by a group of public administration postgraduate students who visited the province recently.

Led by Dr. Prospero De Vera, their eminent professor at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance, the class was in town to study national-local relations, the role of state universities and colleges (SUCs) in national development, and to meet local officials of the province.  They had a chance to personally listen to Governor Imee Marcos deliver her first one hundred days report at the capitol, and oh boy were they charmed.

In a public lecture he delivered at the MMSU Graduate School, De Vera noted that Imee is one of the very few governors who are actively and decisively working for the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals which provide concrete, numerical benchmarks for tackling extreme poverty in its many dimensions, including income poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental degradation, and global partnership for development. If these goals are achieved, world poverty will be cut by half by 2015.

Imee’s commitment to help avert climate change was also noticed by the UP NCPAG group.  De Vera can name only one other governor who is seriously talking about climate change, Joey Salceda of Albay, yes, that economic maverick who called Gloria, then his boss, “one lucky bitch.” Continue reading ““With Imee as governor, it’s exciting to live in Ilocos.””

Gaga over Imee

WHAT WAS TOUTED as a tight battle between cousins turned out to be a ho-hum at the box office, er, the polling precincts. Imee Marcos won the Ilocos Norte gubernatorial race in a heartbeat, and with a thrashing margin.

    Supporters of Michael Keon make a simplistic analysis, saying that money did it. At least three hundred million pesos, they claim, was spent in the campaign, especially in special operations (read: vote buying).

    I have always believed Imee would win, and even sans vote buying, this I privately told my friends and colleagues weeks before the May 10 polls.     The Marcos brand name remains deeply rooted in the Ilocano psyche, and it will take some more generations for the magic to fade, if it ever will.

    And Imee is not a bad politician either. Residents of the second district will attest to her work ethic. She is results-oriented and determined. Her heart lies in the proper places.

    At the Mariano Marcos State University alone, then Congresswoman Imee funded the construction of nine buildings. Today, the university, which her visionary father built in 1978, is considered as a model state university in the whole country, and is starting to make a mark in the international scene.

    The Marcoses, conscious of their important role in history, are not the type who would initiate projects which are fleeting. Apo Ferdinand’s rural electrification, agriculture modernization, and cultural revolution, among others, continue to benefit the Filipino masa. That is why The Apo’s elder daughter won handily although only a handful of mayors supported her bid. I am convinced, dear karikna, that Imee will make an even better governor than his brother, Senator-elect Bongbong, who, as early as now, is being touted by overzealous fans as future president.

    All members of my family, save my dad, voted for Imee. Weakened by illness, dad is glued to the television most of the time, and he may have been hypnotized by the frequent airing over cable television the press conference where Governor Keon delivered his moving “I-am-fighting-for-my-dignity” speech. Continue reading “Gaga over Imee”