Gravedigger wins as top councilor in Batangas town
BATANGAS, Philippines – Poverty alleviation will be the main advocacy of Arnel Garces once he assumes his position as Number 1 councilor of Taal town in Batangas.
The 61-year-old gravedigger and caretaker in Taal Public Cemetery ran as an independent candidate in the recently held elections and emerged as the top councilor after receiving 17,787 votes with a lead of more than 4,000 votes over the next winning candidate.
Garces has been a gravedigger since 1990, helping residents find cheap land to serve as their final resting place. He said he never considered his lack of material wealth a hindrance to being of service to people.
Garces was only hoping to make it to the 8th and last spot in the local council. He never imagined a poor man like himself, and an independent candidate at that, would make it to the top spot.
During the campaign period, he visited all 42 barangays on his motorcycle together with his wife and only 7 volunteers, starting very early in the morning and finishing late at night.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng nagpursigi at tumulong sa aking laban na ito, lalong lalo na sa mga taong pinakinggan ang aking hiling na mahalal sa konseho. Bukod dito, nagpapasalamat din ako Panginoon sa pagpapahintulot na tupadin ko ang aking adhikaing maglingkod sa bayan kong sinilangan, ang bayan ng Taal, kahit na ako’y isa lamang sepulturero at ang tanging maipapagmalaki ko ay ang puso ko po na para sa mga Taaleño,” he said.
(I thank everyone who faithfully helped in this fight, especially the people who heard my plea to elect me to the council. I also thank the Lord for granting my desire to serve the town of my birth, Taal, even if I'm only a sepulcher, and the only thing I have to offer is my heart that goes for Taaleños.)
Garces is not new to politics. He had served as the barangay captain of Barangay Tierra Alta from 2006 to 2009. He ran for councilor in 2013 and 2016, but lost on both occasions. – Rappler.com