The Manila Times : BBM, Sara blow wind of change in Samar and Leyte

12 April 2022

By Yen Makabenta | The Manila Times

First word

IN my many years of covering and analyzing political campaigns, I can't remember a time when the music and the spectacle moved me as deeply as they did in the grand rally of the BBM-Sara UniTeam in Tacloban City last Saturday, April 9.

When singer and TV host Toni Gonzaga sang "Umagang Kay Ganda" in the finale, she articulated the eloquent lyrics of Michael Pangilinan with such magnificence, I thought I was watching political theater at its best. As with everything else in their campaign, Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte showed us here that they know exactly what they must do to win the hearts and minds of our people.

Wind of change

To find a music parallel for what happened in Tacloban on April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan – Day of Heroism — in the national calendar), I had to reach back to the year 1989, when communism and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and the world was turned upside down.

To mark the magic of the moment, the Scorpions, the great German rock band, wrote and performed the song, "Wind of Change" to the amazement and joy of the whole world. The vivid lyrics and rhythms of the song captured all the earth-shaking change that had just taken place.

The Scorpions are estimated to have sold over 100 million records around the world, making them one of the bestselling hard rock and heavy metal bands. "Wind of Change" is hailed as a symbolic anthem of the political changes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it remains as one of the bestselling singles in the world with over 14 million copies. Other Scorpions hits like "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and "Still Loving You" are regarded as some of the most influential and popular works in heavy metal music and among rock ballads.

'Umagang Kay Ganda'

BBM-Sara's campaign tour in Samar and Leyte over the weekend was no less epic and precedent-setting. It was spectacular as entertainment. It was pregnant with political significance. And it will contribute handsomely to the now inevitable landslide of BBM-Sara on election day.

Michael Pangilinan was prescient in his lyrics for "Umaga" on what is to come.

Basta't tayo'y magkasama

Laging mayroong umagang kay ganda

Pagsikat ng araw

May dalang liwanag

Sa ating pangarap, ooh

Haharapin natin

Haharapin natin

Pagsikat ng araw

May dalang liwanag

Gumising na

Araw ng pag-asa'y narito na

Dumating din, haharapin natin

Basta't tayo'y magkasama

Laging mayroong umagang kay ganda

Pagsikat ng araw

May dalang liwanag

Sa ating pangarap, ooh

Haharapin natin

Haharapin natin.

(To my foreign readers, the first two lines mean, "As long as we are together, there will always be a beautiful morning.")

Like the yearly typhoons that visit East Visayas every year, but more gentle and benign, the BBM-Sara UniTeam blew into town with the full force of its popularity, and left the region totally mesmerized and ecstatic.

Bongbong showed the magnetism and dynamism that took him to the head of the pack after he announced his candidacy.

Although running mate Inday Sara could not go to East Visayas with him (she was in Luzon on a separate campaign swing so the team could cover more ground), BBM showed plenty of energy and stamina in navigating the entire region, as UniTeam mounted rallies in the three Leyte provinces (Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran) and two Samar provinces (Samar and Northern Samar). The one province left out of the tour was Eastern Samar, where its governor, Ben Evardone, had pledged his soul to Leni Robredo for 30 pieces of something.

Leyte political clans endorse BBM

Perhaps most significant about BBM's Leyte visit was the pledge of Leyte's many political clans to endorse BBM and Sara, and their readiness to work together with him.

Leaders who at one time were the Liberal and Yellow stalwarts in the province expressed their support and telegraphed their readiness to change colors or spots.

Officials of the fourth district of Leyte led by Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez and Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez vowed their support for Bongbong and his running mate, Sara. Gomez introduced Marcos to the crowd as the country's next president.

The announcement by the Gomezes was followed by similar expressions of support by the long-serving Petilla political clan, led by Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and former energy secretary and gubernatorial candidate Jericho Petilla.

Also pitching for the UniTeam were officials from Southern Leyte headed by Gov. Damian Mercado and Vice Gov. Christopher Yap, and others from the Samar provinces.

The Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party said Leyte and Southern Leyte officials consider Marcos and Duterte-Carpio as family and as Leyteños.

Other political families also pledged their full support for Bongbong. In a gathering attended by some of the province's most influential political families last Saturday, Marcos said he was glad he insisted on proceeding to Ormoc City despite inclement weather.

Aside from bringing his message of unity and hope, the UniTeam presidential bet thanked the Leyteños for their commitment to help him seal his victory in the coming May polls.

Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio "Goyo" Larrazabal, who is running for representative of Leyte's fourth district, welcomed Marcos and his team. He assured them of his full support, saying Marcos "will always be family since he is a true son of Leyte."

Held at the Larrazabal-owned Hotel Don Felipe in Ormoc City, the special gathering was attended by close to 500 people. The guest list included some of the most powerful political clans led by the Larrazabals, the Codillas, Aviles, Fiel, Aparis, Mendoza, Pepito, Santiago, Tugunon and Chu.

But there is now also a question of whether BBM can broker or should even try to broker an agreement among these families, because many of their scions are seeking the same posts in the May 9 elections. They can agree to support in common BBM-Sara, but it's something else to imagine that they can give way to each other this late in the day.

It takes a president and a strong party leader to provide a solomonic solution to such differences.