BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Platforms and promises did take center stage yesterday but production value and singing, dancing candidates also caught the attention of supporters even for just a few hours as two major rival parties here capped the months-long campaign in the first-ever battle royale since recent years.
As the mercury soared to a real feel of almost 40 degrees yesterday, candidates and supporters braved the tiempo muerto heat in marching to their respective rally sites.
Sitting Mayor Evelio Leonardia, running for a third term as chief executive of this urban capital, led the march of thousands of his supporters from the main Roman Catholic church, the San Sebastian Cathedral, to the rally site surrounding the Pope John Paul II Tower that stands on reclaimed land.
The ruling ticket first heard Holy Mass before trooping to the venue some hundreds of meters away.
Locking arms with his top two running mates, Leonardia walked to the staging site with a crowd that was as wide as Rizal Street and stretched eastward several hundreds of meters all the way to its junction with Lacson Street.
Over at the Paglaum Sports Complex, Cong. Greg Gasataya was the first to arrive late in the afternoon to a swarm of supporters who trooped to the first-ever stadium in the province as early as 1pm braving the sweltering heat.
Before him, candidates for councilors have already arrived, seeking shelter in airconditioned tents that were put up beside the football pitch.
Traffic was snarled at the downtown area as streets became parking lots for cars of both supporters and candidates of the two parties.
In both sites, organizers flew kites in official party colors, some with names and ballot numbers of candidates.
PERFORMANCE VS. PROMISES
“This is a question of performance versus promises and Grupo Progreso delivered,” Leonardia told DNX as he was being interviewed while on the move.
On stage at the rally site, former Yasmin Dormido and Mark Salanga emceed the event while at the Asenso stage, Dani Dingcong and Kurt Soberano revved up the crowd.
All four are former employees or talents of the local affiliate of ABS-CBN.
“This is just the lightning before the thunder,” senior GP member and incumbent Councilor Archie Baribar as he viewed the cheering crowd and vowed that the May 9 polls will “bring the thunder.”
Some candidates, like Ed Guillem, danced to their campaign jingles, drawing cheers and hoots of approval from their supporters.
GROWTH, GROWTH, GROWTH
But over at the Asenso camp, in its event dubbed Fiesta Sang Pagbag-o (Fiesta of Change), Cong. Greg Gasataya presented again his vision of enhanced growth here with his Orange Belt concept that would be formed as an eastern growth area on the ridge of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Economic Highway (BaNOcEH) that would pass through nine major villages.
Gasataya opted to show an audio visual presentation of the growth area after a short speech that included presenting his wife and children on stage.
“They (GP) have been sitting for so long now that it is time for change. It is time for some new blood to be infused in council,” former vice mayor and Team Asenso candidate for councilor Jude Thaddeus Sayson said.
Benitez, in his speech, said “The dream of Team Asenso is that each household will experience an improvement in their lives. Improvement would not be based merely on infrastructure projects but in terms of benefits that each household will gain from.”