BAGUIO CITY—During elections, name recall oftentimes trumps track record, and this season many candidates in central and northern Luzon are seriously running for public offices using names that they believe will make or break their political fortunes.
In Central Luzon, thousands of candidates are running for just 1,429 local offices, not a very promising field for many politicians with forgettable names. So many registered names and aliases that they hope will narrow the field for them in the minds of voters.
Meet Jackie Chan, not the Hong Kong movie actor but Jacqueline Chan, who is running for mayor in Aringay town in La Union province.
Here comes Bruce Lee, who is not the resurrected kung-fu movie star of the 1970s but Bruce Limmayog, a candidate for the Baguio City Council.
Who can forget Nora Aunor? She is still making movies and winning awards, so comedian Dexter Dominguez is capitalizing on his resemblance to the 1960s actress and is running for a seat on the Bataan provincial board as Teri Onor, his screen name.
Even veteran politicians are into it and among them is former Pampanga Rep. Carmelo Lazatin, who is staging a political comeback by running for mayor of Angeles City using his nickname “Tarzan.”
But it’s serious business, as the records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show, and on it depends political life or death.
In Aurora, Baler mayoral candidate Nelianto Bihasa uses “Pilot” as his campaign nickname.
Joel Torre, not the actor but an aspiring councilor in Casiguran, goes by the alias “Kapuso,” the moniker of a major television network.
In Dipaculao, Sebastian de la Cruz and Nestor Guillermo are running for the municipal council as “Beting Hilot” and “Balatong,” respectively.
In Maria Aurora, vice mayoral candidate Ariel Bitong is known as “Kagat.” In the same town, Rolando Aznar Jr. is running for the municipal council as “Bangus.”
Kirby Tolentino is campaigning for a seat in the San Luis municipal council as “K.”
In Angat town, Bulacan province, aspiring councilor Allen Cruz, 23, goes around as “Patay Cruz” (his name on the ballot) or “Allen Patay.” He says his family has long been known as “patay” (dead). His uncle, Ruben, 57, says the name has stuck to the family because an elder, Pacita, became famous for playing dead to escape Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Ruben’s late father, Ernesto, and his brother, Restituto, had served as village officials in the town. Cruz’s brother is an incumbent councilor.
Enrique de la Cruz Jr. is running for a seat on the Bulacan provincial board and he introduces himself to voters as “Buko,” a reference to the family business of trading in young coconuts.
Another candidate for the provincial board is Carlito Bernabe, a former village chief in Poblacion, Norzagaray town, who is campaigning as “Kapitan Putol.” He lost both of his arms in a childhood accident.
In Guiguinto town, vice mayoral candidate Estrelita Aballa uses the alias “Pute,” a reference to her fair complexion.
In Balagtas town, Councilor Ruben Hipolito is running for reelection as “Tubig” (water), an alias derived from the family’s purified drinking water refilling business.
Eduardo Joson IV (NPC-Balane) goes around as “Ding Liit” in his run for vice governor of Nueva Ecija.
With a namesake running for the position he is seeking, reelectionist Councilor Ramon Garcia of Cabanatuan City adopted the alias “Suka” (vinegar) and that is his name on the official ballot. Garcia, 59, says classmates gave him that name when he was in high school.
Another candidate for the Cabanatuan city council, Angelito Saclolo Jr., is asking for help from voters by using, well, “Help” as his alternate name.
In Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, Alberto Miranda is running for a seat in the municipal council using the name “Buro,” a local condiment made of rice and fermented fish.
From Pampanga, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo is running for the House of Representatives as “John Lloyd.”
Angeles Councilor Jericho Aguas uses the name of his celebrity wife, Isabel Granada, as his campaign name and eye doctor Ruben Maniago is seeking another term in the council as “Salamin.”
In Floridablanca, Pampanga, a candidate for councilor, Jesus Nanquil, introduces himself to voters as “Bong Bukul,” while in Guagua town, rock artist Sajid uses his band’s name, “White Lies,” in his run for a seat in the municipal council.
Still in Pampanga, Masantol vice mayoral candidate Ronald Flores is campaigning as “Lovekoto.” In Sta. Rita town, “Kulapu” is the registered name of vice mayoral candidate Edilberto Sazon Jr.
Husband-and-wife team Romeo and Gloria Ronquillo are seeking the top two offices in Sto. Tomas town using the nicknames “Ninong” and “Ninang.”
Shortness is not a problem for Efren Lingat, who is running for councilor in Sto. Tomas town, gamely introducing himself to voters as “Bansot.”
Rica Victoria Diaz-Arambulo, who is running for vice governor of Zambales province, uses the nickname “Buenas Diaz.”
An independent candidate for mayor of Baguio City, Peter Puzon, promises change and uses the name “Game-Changer Puzon.”
In San Fernando City, Noel Gundran Sr. is running for councilor, a full-time job but he is using the name “3/4 Gundran.”
In Ilocos Sur, Samuel Comedian is seriously running for councilor in Sigay town.
In Santa town, Bella Bello is running for councilor. Kojak Pati is running for councilor in San Ildefonso town. And Mario Makiling is a candidate for councilor in Bangar town, La Union.
In the Cordilleras, Banat Walis is running for mayor in Sadanga, Mountain Province, but he has not adopted the broom as his political symbol. Somebody else, on the national scene, is already using the broomstick to remind voters to vote for her [Tingting Cojuangco].
In Sta. Marcela town, Apayao, Idol Guiang has no problem. He is running unopposed.
Lucas Bugatti is running for councilor in Hungduan town, Ifugao, but is not going around in the eponymous Italian car.
Mayor Anthony Wooden of Tadian town, Mountain Province, leads a bunch of Cordillera candidates with Western names, although in the province’s fashion, his name is pronounced as “woe-uden.”
In Benguet province, Franklin Smith is running for councilor in Atok town. Thomas Wales Jr. is running for vice mayor of Bokod town and his brother Victor for councilor. Jodeth Thompson is a candidate for councilor in Kibungan town and Floyd Anderson is running for mayor of Tuba.
Name of the hour
But the candidates with the name of the hour can be found in San Esteban town in Ilocos Sur and Sto. Tomas town in Pangasinan. Running for the municipal council in San Esteban are Henry, Jose and Oloc, and running for the municipal council in Sto. Tomas is Alfredo. All are surnamed Eleccion.—Reports from Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Anselmo Roque and Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon