By Ellson Quismorio | Manila Bulletin
The past week, presidential candidate former senator Bongbong Marcos and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio tested just how receptive the majority of Ilocanos would be to their north-and-south-flavored pairing.
For Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) President and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, the reaction that he saw from people up north was that of warmth and acceptance.
“Barnstorming the country’s northern provinces for several days, the Davao City mayor disproved notions that the politically-defining vote was already an afterthought and instead further solidified it, this time behind the UniTeam,” said Romualdez.
Romualdez was referring to the so-called “Solid North”, which is as close as a regional bloc vote if there is one, and is based one Ilocanos’ affinity to each other. At least, according to La Union Governor Emmanuel “Pacoy” Ortega lll.
The House Majority Leader, who accompanied Mayor Duterte-Carpio in many campaign sorties in “Ilocano country”, witnessed how the BBM-Sara UniTeam notched the support and endorsements of local political leaders, from governors down to municipal officials. Various local groups and grassroots organizations also expressed backing for the duo.
Ilocandia’s vote strength is nothing to sneeze at either, with Isabela and Pangasinan alone accounting for an estimated three million voters.
By any measure, the region serves as a solid base support for politicians, but it has belonged to the Marcoses in particular, and has been that way for decades. If there was any surprise during the UniTeam’s northern Luzon swing, it was just how warmly Ilocanos received Inday Sara, even if her association with their beloved Bongbong accounted for a significant part of it.
If anything, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc was happy that the BBM-Sara UniTeam didn’t take Ilocandia for granted, and that they still chose to touch base with locals who were going to vote for them anyway.
Meanwhile, Marcos and Duterte-Carpio–whose fathers are presidents–have displayed a dynamic that Ilocanos can appreciate, especially from the latter. She calls him “Apo BBM”, a gesture that would make one think that the Duterte-Carpio was brought up by an Ilocano family.
Sandro Marcos, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) presidential bet’s son, would later reveal to Ilocos Norte folk that the Marcoses owed a debt of gratitude to the Davao mayor and that, in return, they should “protect” her.
Duterte-Carpio serves as chairperson of Lakas-CMD.