The Tans of Samar: Expanding a dynasty

Judith Balea
Headed by matriarch Milagrosa, who was once a reluctant candidate, the Tans want control of key cities, both congressional districts, and the province

EXPANDING TURF. The Tan family is vying for the highest posts in Samar province, where it has long ruled

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines – In the May polls, Samar 2nd district Rep Milagrosa “Mila” Tan is seeking re-election. And so are her children – daughter Sharee Ann “Sheeann” Tan as governor of the province, and son Stephen James “Jimboy” Tan as vice governor.

For somebody who was a reluctant candidate 5 elections ago, Mila has come a long way. Running under different political parties in the past, she has expanded her dynasty. This year, two more children and a brother-in-law are also entering the fray.

In this bid to further tighten their grip on a province of less than one million people, the Tans are being challenged by other political dynasties, primarily the Uys, whose turf the Tans are trying to encroach on.

Mila, 55, and Sheeann, 30, are running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition banner, while Jimboy, 29, is with the Nacionalista Party. Their opponent families are all with the Liberal Party (LP), one of earlier parties that Mila joined and left.

Samar has 481,278 registered voters.

Entrepreneur first

The Tan family has been in power in Samar for more than a decade.

A widow, Mila sought a seat in the provincial board in 1998 to replace her brother-in-law Ruben Tan, who was in turn a substitute for her late husband, Ricardo.

She was reluctant to seek public office. Mila and her husband were entrepreneurs. They were engaged in general merchandising and microlending, which made them well known in town.

They knew how to relate to the masses well, a skill that worked to their advantage in politics.

After serving as provincial board member, Mila ran for governor (under former President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino) in 2001. She trounced then incumbent Jose Roño, who was deputy prime minister during the Marcos regime.

She won her second and third terms under the LP and former President Gloria Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino, respectively.

Supportive children

In 2007, Mila fielded her second daughter Sheeann to run for representative of the 2nd district. A political neophyte, Sheeann won. She was the youngest lawmaker in Congress.

Then in 2010, mother and daughter switched places—Mila ran for Congress and Sheeann pursued the governor’s post. The same year, Mila fielded her third child Jimboy, a political neophyte, for vice governor. The 3 of them won.

Sheeann said she and her brother shared the same sentiment as their mom. They never intended to run for government posts.

Kailangan kong gawin ito. Kailangan ko suportahan mom ko,” she said. (I just had to do it. I had to support my mom.)

Challengers

MORE ARE RUNNING. The Tan matriarch is fielding more relatives to posts in this year's elections

For a family who was reluctant to go into politics, nothing could be more ironic than fielding more members.

Mila’s brother-in-law, Arnold Tan, 37 and brother of Mila’s late husband, is vying for the congressional seat in the 1st district.

In Calbayog City, Mila’s eldest Angelie, 32, is running as an independent against re-electionist Mayor Ronaldo Aquino (LP) and Vice Mayor Rey James Uy (independent).

Uy is the son of the late former Calbayog mayor Reynaldo Uy, who was murdered in 2011. The Uys are the prominent political family in the city. Reynaldo served as city mayor for 3 terms until 2001, then representative of the 1st district until 2010, and was elected mayor again.

Mila’s youngest son Reynolds Michael, 24, is vying for the mayoral post of Catbalogan City under the NPC. He will compete against his sister-in-law, 29-year-old Stephany Uy-Tan (LP).

Stephany is the estranged wife of re-electionist Vice Governor Jimboy Tan. She is the daughter of Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy, the long-time mayor of Catbalogan. They are not related to the Uys of Calbayog.

In the 2nd congressional district, Mila is being challenged by lawyer Eunice Babalcon (LP) and Villareal Mayor Reynato Latorre (United Nationalist Alliance or UNA).

Babalcon belongs to a political family in Paranas town. Both her parents served as Paranas mayor, and her father is seeking a third term.

Latorre, on the other hand, is a 3-term mayor of Villareal. His sister Marilou (NPC) is seeking to replace him in the post.

Sheeann is being challenged as governor by Rosa Jessica “Aika” Uy (LP), 30, a registered nurse and the eldest child of the late Reynaldo of Calbayog.

Jimboy is being challenged as vice governor by the long-time mayor of Basey town, Wilfredo Estroninos (LP). – Rappler.com 

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