LAGUNA, Philippines – For presidential candidate Grace Poe, this sortie feels like a homecoming. Here she is reunited with relatives of her husband, Neil.
Camille Elemia reports.
CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: This is the closest place to home for this foundling. For presidential bet Grace Poe, it’s Lumban, Laguna – the hometown of her husband Neil Llamanzares. Laguna, home to some 1.7 million voters, is the 4th most-vote rich province. No wonder Poe has been here twice in just 2 weeks.
In the town of Lumban, Poe visits the ancestral home of the Llamanzareses, her husband’s family. It’s the first time her in-laws, Teddy and Carol Llamanzares, join her rallies.
GRACE POE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Pero nakakabit din sa aking puso ang mga taga-Laguna. Bagamat hindi ako dito pinanaganak, ako naman po ay nabihag ng isang taga-Laguna na taga-rito sa Lumban, si Teodoro Vera Llamanzares, ang tawag nila sa kanya ay Neil. Narito ang kanyang ama, si Dr. Teddy Llamanzares.
(But the people of Laguna are close to my heart. I may not have been born here but I’ve been captivated by someone born in Laguna. He’s from here in Lumban – Teodoro Vera Llamanzares, or Neil. His father is here – Dr. Teddy Llamanzares.)
CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: Poe is all praises for her in-laws. She tells the crowd they did not grow up with a comfortable life. Despite issues against her family’s citizenship, she tells her husband’s town mates Neil is a Filipino with values.
GRACE POE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iba pa rin ang pakiramdam sa bayan ng iyong pamilya. Ang aking asawa ay Pilipinong-Pilipino, ang aking asawa ay kamukha ng marami rito sa Lumban. Ang aking asawa ay gwapo. Siyempre, sasabihin iyan ng asawa. Pero nabihag niya ako hindi sa kanyang kaguwapuhan. Mabait siya, malambing, at masipag magtrabaho. Hindi siya umaasa sa iba, gagawin niya kahit magbanat siya ng buto.
(It feels special to be in your loved ones’ hometown. My husband is every inch a Filipino. He looks like most of those here in Lumban. My husband is handsome. Of course, it’s something his wife would say. It’s true. But I was smitten not only by his good looks. He is kind, he is affectionate, and he is hardworking. He does not leave others to do the work for him. He does the work himself.)
CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: Even her husband’s status as a dual citizen of the United States and the Philippines is being used against her. This time, she visits dismissed governor ER Ejercito, a known ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Ejercito is also the nephew of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who recently endorsed Poe. But the senator downplays the meeting, saying it is just a normal part of their provincial campaigns.
GRACE POE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hindi, ano lang ito, courtesy call. ‘Pag pumupunta naman kami sa isang probinsya, dinadaanan namin, kung tatanggapin kami ng lokal na pamahalaan. Matagal na kaming magkakilala pero alam mo naman iba ang partido nila.
(This is just a courtesy call. Whenever we go to a province, we try to determine if the local government will receive us. We may know each other for a long time but their political parties are different.)
CAMILLE ELEMIA, REPORTING: Poe’s visit to Laguna comes at a time when she regains the lead in the Pulse Asia surveys. When Fernando Poe Jr ran in 2004, he won by a large margin here against then president Gloria Arroyo despite allegations she cheated. The province proved its loyalty to the King when Poe emerged the top senator in the province in 2013. As they say, home is where the heart is. Camille Elemia, Rappler, Laguna. – Rappler.com