By Alex P. Vidal
“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”—George Eliot
I HAD the privilege to “campaign” for the parents of 2022 presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. during the 1986 and 1992 presidential elections, respectively.
First, my family in San Jose, Antique campaigned hard for Bongbong’s father, the late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., during the 1986 presidential snap election.
Many of my aunts were friends of the Pacificadors; in fact, they were neighbors.
At that time, former Assemblyman Arturo “Turing” Pacificador, Marcos’ chief ally, was lording over the politics in Antique; Pacificador’s grip with the Antiquenos then can be compared with the Dutertes’ political supremacy in Davao City today.
Whether Pacificador was a hero or villain for teaming up with President Marcos, it depended on which political spectrum one belonged.
Several weeks before the snap election on February 7, 1986, I was in Antique, where I witnessed how the Marcos administration mobilized its resources and full might to ensure the late dictator’s “victory.”
To make the long story short, I helped campaign for the late strongman to please my aunts, who had high regards for the late patriarch Pacificador and his family.
When the late former Antique Governor Evelio Javier made one of his last hard-hitting speeches before the snap election, I was there playing chess in the back of the public plaza (located in front of the capitol), where the now national hero delivered the powerful speech.
Javier, who was the chief campaigner of Marcos’ rival, the late former President Corazon Aquino, yelled while denouncing both Marcos and Pacificador.
I thought I heard the voice of a very angry man with an ax to grind in that afternoon.
It was on the same place where he was murdered on February 11, 1986 during the canvassing of ballots.
In the 1992 presidential election, I was “obligated” to campaign for Bongbong’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who ran against the late former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the late former House Speaker Ramon Mitra, the late former Ambassador Danding Cojuangco, the late former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman and senator Jovito Salonga, and former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff, General Fidel Ramos.
Mrs. Marcos, accompanied by then KBL senatorial candidates Salvador Panelo (who is now running for senator anew), the late comedian Chiquito, General Vicente Piccio of Belison, Antique, and other KBL stalwarts, met us at Hotel del Rio in Iloilo City through her former chief of staff Sol Vanzi.
It was Vanzi who had earlier facilitated our “exclusive” meeting with Mrs Marcos and her late mercurial lawyer Antonio Coronel at Manila’s Intercontinental Hotel.
This was in the first week of November 1991, or several days after the Marcos family, ousted in the “People Power” EDSA Revolution in February 1986, was allowed by the Cory Government to come back from exile in Hawaii after five years.
In a “special arrangement”, we joined Mrs. Marcos’ caravan from Iloilo to Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.
On May 11, 1992, however, I cast my vote for the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who lost to General Ramos or FVR after a controversial power outage during the canvassing.
Dear was Mrs. Marcos, who wound up fifth but garnered more votes against sixth placer Salonga, but dearer was my fellow Ilonggo and one of the best presidents the Philippines never had, Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Now that Bongbong or BBM is the one running for president, I did not campaign for him. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. In fact, I won’t vote for him.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)