Grace Poe returns to roots after historic SC win

Camille Elemia

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Grace Poe returns to roots after historic SC win

Arnold Almacen

The presidential candidate takes the time in between sorties to visit Jaro Cathedral, where she was found as an infant almost 48 years ago

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – It was a homecoming of sorts.

After the historic Supreme Court ruling in her favor, saying she is a natural-born Filipino, presidential bet Grace Poe on Monday, March 14, returned to where her journey began – Iloilo.

Poe, a foundling, took the time in between sorties to visit Jaro Cathedral, where she was found as an infant almost 48 years ago.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa pagkakataon na ito, nakabalik ako at nakahinga nang maluwag, hindi naman dahil sa makakatakbo na ako bilang pangulo kung hindi dahil kinilala na rin ako, lalong-lalo na dito ako nanggaling,” Poe said in a chance interview.

(I am thankful for this opportunity to return here and breathe freely now, not just because I can now run for president because finally I am now acknowledged as a Filipino, especially I came from here.)

The senator said she thought of going back to Jaro upon hearing the SC decision. She once again vowed to take her oath in front of the cathedral if she wins the presidency.

“Siyempre dahil, ‘di ba, mayroong sentimyento ‘yan siyempre galing dito. At saka sabi ko nga, kung mabibigyan ako ng pagkakataon ay talagang dito nagsimula at gusto ko rin dito magsimula ulit,” she said.

(Of course, this is sentimental because I came from here. And like I said, if I would be given the chance, I would want to start here again.)

In her several market visits and public consultations, Poe made sure to tell voters that she is a “real Ilongga.”

“Ako ay masaya na naririto ngayon. Pagkatapos ng desisyon ng Korte Suprema, ako ay tuod nga Ilongga,” she said. (I am happy to be here today. After the decision of Supreme Court, I am a real Ilongga.)

Quest for parents not yet over

The SC win may have removed the biggest roadblock in her presidential bid, but not in her personal journey, as questions still hound Poe on her real parents’ identity. Poe had undergone several DNA tests but all have yielded negative results.

“’Yon nga, ‘yung isa nagkukuwento na ang nanay daw niya midwife na nagputol ng aking umbilical cord. So kahit na may desisyon na ang Korte Suprema gusto ko pa rin malaman sana ‘yung kabuuan ng istorya at ako’y patuloy na nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng mga pamilya na lumapit at boluntaryong nagbigay ng kanilang DNA para mawakasan na ito. Pero hindi man nagkatugma, patuloy pa rin ang aking paghahanap,” Poe said.

(There’s one person who told me that her mother was the midwife who cut my umbilical cord. So even if there’s a decision by the Supreme Court, I would still want to know the whole story and I’m thankful to all the family who approached me and voluntarily gave their DNA to put an end to this issue. Even if there was no match, my quest still continues.)

Iloilo is also considered the bailiwick of the ruling Liberal Party. Senate President Franklin Drilon hail from the province, while administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II is from the region.

In fact in 2010, Roxas won against Jejomar Binay in the vice presidential race in the province with 503,959 votes. Roxas is also the top presidential choice in Western Visayas, according to surveys.

Despite this, the year 2013 had shown that there is more to the province than being a so-called yellow country. Poe ranked 4th in Iloilo province and 1st in Iloilo city with 121,783 votes.

After 4 visits, Poe said she and her slate would still come back to the 9th most vote-rich province. Iloilo has nearly 1.4 million voters.

“Well, ‘yung first kasi nga dito dapat ‘yung proclamation [rally] dahil dito nag-umpisa. Tapos ‘nung pre-campaign tatlong beses na akong nagpunta rito at hindi pa ito ang huli. Bago matapos ang kampanya ay babalik kami dito. Malaki ang Iloilo, so nakakailang ikot pa lang kami, kaya dapat talaga bumalik pa kami dito,” she said.

(Well, the first one – our proclamation rally – should have been held here because this is where it started. During the pre-campaign, I was here 3 times and this is not the last time. Before the campaign ends, we will go back. Iloilo is big, we have not roamed much, we really need to return.)

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.