Bicol a ‘cradle’ of VP candidates

Mara Cepeda, Rhaydz B. Barcia

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Bicol a ‘cradle’ of VP candidates
'Like a sili, the presence of Bicol stalwarts will add spice to the vice presidential contest,' says Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, who notes there are 4 aspirants from the region so far

MANILA, Philippines – With Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo formally announcing her bid for the vice presidency, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said that the Bicol region is becoming a “cradle” of vice presidential candidates.

Sa unang pagkakataon, mas maraming ‘vice presidentiable’ na magmumula sa Bicol sa taong ito kesa sa bagyo,” said Recto in a statement on Monday, October 5, making references to the Bicol’s location as a typhoon belt. (For the first time, there are more vice presidential candidates than typhoons coming from Bicol this year.)

“It is becoming the cradle of VPs. National leaders are becoming its major export. Bicol is punching above its weight,” the senator added.

On Monday morning, Robredo ended the weeks-long courtship of the Liberal Party (LP) by declaring that she will be the running mate of the party’s standard-bearer, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

Before throwing her hat into local politics, Robredo took over as LP’s chairman in Camarines Sur following the death of her husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, in August 2012.

She then ran for Congress in 2013 as LP members believed only Robredo’s candidacy could topple the influential Villafuerte dynasty in Camarines Sur’s 3rd district.

Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, who formally announced on Saturday that he will run for vice president, hails from Albay, where his late father grew up. The senator and his group Magdalo will be supporting the presidential bid of Senator Grace Poe.

Poe’s running mate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, also comes from Bicol. He was a former representative of Sorsogon, where his father, former Agriculture Secretary Salvador “Tatay” Escudero, was a veteran politician.

Meanwhile, Senator Gringo Honasan II, another Bicol native, is expected to accept the offer to be the vice presidential candidate of his party, the United Nationalist Alliance. He will be the running mate of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“If Gringo will join the fray, Leni will be the 4th Bicolano to throw her hat into the vice presidential ring. Batangueno Sonny Trillanes’ mom is from Bicol, which makes him an oragon,” said Recto, using a Bicolano slang word referring to a person of excellence and someone who is feisty and brave.

“Like a sili (chili), the presence of Bicol stalwarts will add spice to the vice presidential contest. As they share the same homeland, I foresee a friendly but fierce contest among kababayans (those coming from the same region).”

The ‘age’ of Bicolanos

This is the first time in the country’s political history wherein Bicolanos have been chosen by various presidential aspirants as their running mates.

The Bicol region, commonly known as opposition country, is noted for its bloc voting history with more than 3 million registered voters as of July 2015.

Escudero, Honasan, Robredo, and Trillanes will be facing Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who is eyeing a tandem with Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, who announced late Monday that he will run for vice president too.

Cayetano is an adopted Albayano because his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, is a native of Tiwi town in Albay.

“It means this is the age of Bicolanos,” said Honasan.

Trillanes, meanwhile, thinks having Bicolanos as vice presidential candidates is good for the region.

Ano man ang mangyari, maganda ito [para] sa Bicol region dahil mayroon at maroon mananalo from the region at hopefully this time, mabibigyan na talaga ng attention ang Bicol region para ‘di na siya napagiiwanan,” he said.

(Whatever happens, this is good for the Bicol region because it’s likely that someone will win from the region for vice president. Hopefully this time, due attention would be given to the Bicol region so it will not be left behind.)

Good luck     

Recto wished Robredo, Escudero, Honasan, and Trillanes good luck “as they wage the good fight.”

“They, including Alan and Bongbong, are all eminently qualified for the post they are seeking,” said the senator.

“I am sure that their frank exchange of views and presentation of respective platforms will enlighten the public on the challenges that face the nation, show us the way forward, and  elevate the quality of public discourse,” Recto added. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.