Caloocan residents voting for Bongbong Marcos out of nostalgia

MANILA, Philippines – Voters in a resettlement area in Caloocan City went nostalgic as they declared their support for vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr on Wednesday, February 17. 

Marcos Jr, currently a senator, is the son and namesake of the late president, who initiated the housing project for their community.

Barangay Bagong Silang is a resettlement site granted by President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s to people living in slums like in Tondo in the city of Manila. The welcome it gave the young Marcos on Wednesday could very well earn the place “little Ilocos” with residents being indebted to the family. 

Rogelio Abenes, 51, told Rappler how they thank the Marcos family for giving them a space to live in. 

“Iisa lang ang aming panawagan. Lahat kami dito kami talagang sumusuporta, kasi kung wala ang pamilya niya, wala kami rito. Sila kasi nag-develop nito eh,” he said. 

(We only have one call. All of us here support [Marcos], because if it were not for their family, we wouldn't here. They were the ones who developed this [site].) 

74-year-old Efren Rile had the same sentiment: “Ang mga tao rito noon walang matirhan, ibang ibang mga lugar. Kung hindi kay Presidente Marcos 'tsaka Imelda, wala po kaming lahat dito.” 

(People here used to be homeless. [They] were from different areas. If not for President Marcos and [his wife] Imelda, we wouldn’t be here.) 

Asked about the senator’s most beneficial projects in Bagong Silang, another “Marcos loyalist” said she is unfamiliar with any. All she knew about was his father’s legacy to their community. That makes Marcos Jr the “rightful vice president,” said 63-year-old Gloria Gomez. 

After his sortie in Caloocan, Marcos went to another housing project initiated by his mother in Barangay Longos, Malabon, where he was also received warmly. Some were even in tears as they welcomed the family’s scion. 

Residents of Brgy Longos, Malabon singing 'Ako ay Pilipino' during Marcos' visit #PHVote @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/Fw17yZ6wH0 — Patty Pasion (@pattypasion) February 17, 2016

Selective memory? 

Most of those who welcomed the vice presidential aspirant were senior citizens, some were even wearing shirts that bear the image of former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Some residents simply shrugged off the issues on human rights violations committed by the Marcoses during martial law. They said they saw a better Philippines during those times. 

“Ano ba ang malay niya? Bata pa s’ya ‘nun. Maraming magsasabi pa sa’yo, mas gusto pa namin 'yung panahon ng mga Marcos,” Rile said. 

(What does [Marcos Jr] know about it? He was so young at the time. There will even be people telling you they liked it better during the time of Marcos.) 

52-year-old May Bernaldo, meanwhile, said she does not believe the late strongman committed any illegal acts. “Naririnig po namin, pero wala po kaming nakikita, wala pong katotohanan 'yun.” (We heard about it but we did not see anything. Those [allegations] are untrue.) 

Revive urban land reform 

Marcos loyalists in Caloocan called on their vice presidential bet to help them fight for their lands, with the National Housing Authority (NHA) threatening to evict them. 

“Ang gusto namin, [ilaban] 'yung problema namin sa NHA…. Pabago-bago ang presyo. Ang lupa na ito ay resettlement. Binalewala nila ang 'binayad namin noon, tapos tinatakot pa nila kami for eviction,” local leader Victoria Arroyo told Rappler. 

(We want [his help] to fight for our problem with the NHA. They increased the fees we pay for our lands. This is a resettlement. They disregarded the charges we previously settled. They even warn us of eviction.) 

Rile added: “'Yung problema rito para maresolbahan, alam po namin na s’ya lang ang p'wedeng gumawa ng paraan.” (We need him to resolve the problem here. He’s the only one who can do something about our situation.) 

Marcos told reporters in a press conference that he will try to revive the urban land reform programs the way his father had.

“Mukhang 'di naiintindihan ng mga leader natin at wala silang ginagawa. Ang kanilang mga ginagawang relocation ay di kagaya nito na kumpleto,” Marcos said. (It seems our leaders don’t understand [urban land reform]. They are not doing anything. The relocation projects they build are not complete, unlike this one.)

He noted that the Ministry of Human Settlements under his mother built “local communities” and not just physical houses without water, electricity, and livelihood. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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