Battle for Laoag: Roger the Crusader vs ‘Sweet’ Chevylle

(The Ilocos Times and riknakem.net are embarking on a voter information campaign dubbed “Keddeng ti Umili 2013”. In this issue, we are featuring the mayoralty candidates in Laoag City. News articles on the interviews, conducted mainly by your karikna, are published in the paper.)

She is sugar, spice, and everything nice. She answers even the most controversial questions but knows how to get though them unscathed. She pledges to speak ill of no one, even if her main political opponent is having a field day throwing mud.

He is stiff and stern. It is not difficult to be afraid of him. And having a reputation of literally slapping people, which he does not categorically deny, is of no help. But he came prepared for the interview, bringing with him documents proving that the current administration led by his nephew is anything but sugar, spice, and everything nice.

chevylle roger

It has happened elsewhere, family members torn widely apart by politics, but we did not see it coming here in Laoag City. The Fariñas Family has always seemed close-knit and formidable until now. There was hope against hope that they would resolve their issues among themselves, but in politics, dear karikna, hope has its limits. And so it has come to this.

Roger accuses the couple—Mayor Michael and ABC President Chevylle—of corruption and ill-gotten wealth. He cites a newly constructed house, which he values at 80 million pesos, condominium units in Manila, and luxury cars, among others, as proof of shenanigans. He decries the deterioration of peace and order, overpriced but losing government ventures such as the Laoag City General Hospital, and dirty public spaces which was unseen of during his term when the Laoag first gained fame as the Philippines’cleanest and greenest component city .

roger with me

To all these, Chevylle has ready answers. In her husband’s nine-year stint, she says, Laoag City has reaped various recognitions, including the ‘Seal of Good Housekeeping’ from the Department of Interior and Local Government. She argued that “If there was corruption, it would have been known because the ‘seal’ guarantees efficiency and transparency in governance.” She says their house, located at Brgy. Vira in the city’s outskirts, costs only eight million pesos at most while denying other properties Roger asserts they have amassed. While enumerating their various businesses which contribute to their family income, this advertising graduate of Miriam College says she is not materialistic and is content with a simple lifestyle. She proceeds to show a crucifix pendant, a gift from his late father, which she says is her main piece of jewelry. Continue reading “Battle for Laoag: Roger the Crusader vs ‘Sweet’ Chevylle”

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”

Michael Keon’s perfect script …and other political tidbits

(This column appears in The Ilocos Times this week.  I quoted some of your comments posted here in this blog so a wider readership can partake in your wisdom.  Keep ’em coming, dear karikna.)


WHOEVER HELPED Governor Michael Marcos Keon (MMK) draft the speech he delivered in his press conference, Feb. 8, must be commended.

First off, it seemed spontaneous.  “Let me speak from my heart,” he said.  And the piece did sound sincere.  As a speechwriter myself, however, I know it was carefully crafted and executed.

He began by relating the series of events that led to his running for reelection as governor opposite his cousin Imee Marcos.  He gave his story, his version of the story, which is very much different from what I heard from Imee in an interview she gave your karikna a couple of weeks back.

Anyway, why they both decided to run does not interest me much.  It’s given, they are both running.  Period.  It’s time to move on.

The best part came when MMK said that although this battle is the hardest one he ever had to face, he will carry on because he is running not as much for winning as it is for finding personal closure.  “I do not want to spend the rest of my life asking myself what the result would have been had I run,” he said, on a very pensive note.

He cast no stones on the person of anyone, and tackled the issues on the level of reason.

How could you, dear karikna, go against a man who is searching for answers in life, and who is holding on to his dignity?

The press conference, broadcast on cable television, was held immediately after Keon’s allies at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan lost the vote on the issue of Tobacco Excise Tax monetization.  Such event provided a very good backdrop to the presscon.  Emotions were high, and the losers were expecting  public sympathy.

The governor’s two children from Australia were there, and so were a number of mayors, to show solid support for MMK.

*****

IMEE is not at all bothered that most of the mayors throw their support to her political opponent.

“Good leadership is not about making the mayors happy.  It’s about making the people happy by serving their interests well,” she said.

Besides, she is confident that some mayors will eventually cross the fence.  “They are just waiting for the right time.”  She explains that these mayors do not want to have their projects derailed and so they are sticking it out with the governor, but only in the meantime.

Let’s see.  As with the past, Balimbing is the fruit of the season. Continue reading “Michael Keon’s perfect script …and other political tidbits”