Sunday, April 18, 2010


I was more than a bit surprised at the spate of comments sent to this blog concerning the person, reputation and even the supposed airplane antics of the Hon. Philip Pichay, the incumbent congressional representative for the first district of Surigao del Sur (which includes the town of Lianga). Pichay happens, at present, to be gunning for re-election to a second term in the coming May 2010 general elections.

The truth of the matter is I do not know Rep. Pichay personally. Few of his constituents really do. What I am aware of is the public face of the man, the persona he has presented to his constituency in the three years he has served as our man in Congress. Even then it is a face that is enigmatic as it is confusing.

It is perhaps to his eternal misfortune that Philip must always be seen by the people here in contrast to his brother, Prospero "Butch" Pichay, the erstwhile 2007 senatorial candidate and MalacaƱang confidant who is currently chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration before serving three terms in the same position Philip is presently occupying. Butch Pichay's shadow in both local and national politics continues to loom large and much of Philip's PR problems has to do with having to live up to the expectations of many of his constituents who see him as his brother's alter ego and not his own man.

Those who know him and have worked with him say that Philip is more the gruff, hard-nosed and work driven businessman than the folksy, backslapping and socially adroit politician that his brother is. They say he is results oriented, works hard at what he does and has little appetite for the PR side of politics. As a consequence, they say, he is perceived to be cold and inaccessible by the many of the local folks who are not comfortable with public personalities not deemed, in the local parlance, "politico" enough.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running Start

The start of the official campaign period for politicians gunning for local positions in the May 2010 general elections started Friday two weeks ago with a whimper in Lianga. Unlike the histrionics and pseudo-showbiz antics with which national candidates inaugurated the start of their own campaign period earlier, what characterized the first days of electioneering here, at least for local candidates, was an atmosphere of frantic calm, a sudden quickening of tension amidst what, at first glance, would pass for just another regular day in the boondocks.

In the old days, local politicians would vie for the honor and prestige of being the first to greet the first day of the campaign with huge, elaborate rallies and meetings de avance. The idea, of course, was to intimidate the opposition with a show of financial and logistical strength calculated to cow them into some form of surrender and abject submission.

Nowadays, it would seem that local politicians have decided to change tactics. The strategy, it now seems, is to maximize the limited financial resources they have in this hard economic times and the get the biggest bang for every buck they have to spend. So, expensive rallies and meetings are discouraged while smaller and more intimate caucuses with community leaders, voting blocs and ordinary voters are in now favor.

House to house sorties are suddenly back in vogue with candidates going the rounds of even the remotest barangays or villages to press the flesh and shake the calloused and dirty hands of the rural electorate. Local community leaders are personally sought out and courted with outright cash incentives and promises of future favors. If the elections were a basketball game, this was "man to man" offence and defence of the first order.