POSTSCRIPT / February 18, 2010 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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How cabalens handle poll dispute with grace

CLARK FIELD — What is the latest battle report in the capitolio after the Commission on Elections ruled that former provincial board member Lilia Pineda actually won over Gov. Eddie Panlilio by 2,011 votes in the 2007 election?

Are the protagonists and their followers at each other’s throats already? Has Among Ed, as the priest-turned-politician is often called, barricaded himself in the capitolio while Pineda’s supporters encamped outside spoiling for a takeover?

In her protest, Pineda asked for a recount because, she said, votes cast for “Nanay Baby” — one of her names registered with Comelec — were not counted.

Get the drift of things among the cabalens in the excerpt below from a situationer of Robby Tantingco in SunStar Pampanga.

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AMONG AND NANAY: Robby, who is the director of the Juan D. Nepomuceno Center for Kapampangan Studies of the Holy Angel University in Angeles City, reports:

“Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela and Gov. Joselito Mendoza of Bulacan, both ousted by Comelec, can go to war with their respective opponents and drag their respective Capitols to hell, but here in Pampanga, both victor and vanquished, thank God, are being cool and civilized about the potentially explosive situation.

“Well, so far.

“Gov. Eddie Panlilio should be credited for calming his people’s anger and for asking them to say in prayer what they are raring to shout in protest. The former (and future?) priest that he is, Among Ed has no choice but to do as Christ did, which is to exhort his followers to be instruments of peace rather than of war.

“But Lilia Pineda should also be credited for speaking the right words at the right time. The day the Comelec decision came out, she told her supporters not to storm the Capitol (as Obet Pagdanganan did in Bulacan), but instead let the appeal process take its course and allow Among Ed to fight — ‘which is what I also did when I filed the protest,’ she said.

“ ‘I am in no rush to occupy the governor’s office. Winning the recount is enough psychological victory for me.’

“If she meant what she said, then bravo to her! This former vendor of coconuts has shown more class and grace and magnanimity than many would care to admit. Now if she can make her supporters follow her lead, she can probably convince voters she is the kind of leader Capitol needs.

“And if she can sustain her emerging image as a sweet, benevolent mother, then she might just succeed in extricating herself from the forces of darkness that her opponents have boxed her in.

“For all we know, the hand of God is again at work here: Three years ago, Kapampangans came together to carry Among Ed to a spectacular election victory that could only be described as miraculous.

“Today I consider it a miracle that Among Ed is gracious in defeat and Lilia Pineda is magnanimous in victory. If we have leaders like these, my God, there is hope for Pampanga.”

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VIRTUE & GREATNESS: Robby continues, “Actually, even Spaniards in colonial times marveled at Kapampangans’ natural capacity for virtue and greatness.

“Whether fighting colonizers or obeying their orders, Kapampangans showed purity of intention and intensity of conviction which left Spaniards in awe of them and other natives envious and contemptuous.

“In 1571, after Legazpi sailed into Manila Bay and formed an alliance with the Tagalog chieftains Soliman, Matanda and Lakandula, a young Kapampangan datu from Macabebe broke ranks with his Tagalog allies and continued fighting the invaders, until his death.

“Later, after they had been pacified, Kapampangans helped the Spaniards build the walls of Intramuros, fight off Chinese pirates and Dutch invaders, and search for new lands to colonize across Southeast Asia.

“When Kapampangans were drafted into the Spanish royal army, they fought so well that the colonial government rewarded them with perks and incentives, including the honor of commanding large military units and getting access to exclusive schools.

“And in these schools, Kapampangans beat their Spanish classmates in subjects you would not expect natives to excel in, like theology, philosophy and Latin.

“It was therefore no surprise that the first natives to become priests and nuns were Kapampangans. Even missionaries who took Kapampangans with them to missions across the ocean admired their devotion, even heroic sanctity.

“Phelipe Sonsong of Macabebe, for example, quietly served his fellow Jesuit missionaries in Guam, but when he died, the island’s highest military officials, including the Governor himself, carried this holy man’s coffin to the cemetery. His religious superiors called him a saint and ordered the ringing of church bells in Manila upon receiving news of his death.

“Meanwhile, the only native to have been granted an audience with a King of Spain (Philip II, in 1587) was a 10-year-old Kapampangan boy named Martin Sancho. He made the royal jaw drop when he flawlessly recited the entire Catholic catechism in Latin. He went on to settle in Rome and Toledo and became the first Filipino Jesuit.

“The famous Spanish journalist, Felipe del Pan, described Kapampangans ‘the loyal companions of our disgraces and of our glories. They, and only they, were with us during the 1650s to the 1750s, in that century of frustrations, when we were harassed on all fronts, not being able to sustain the farms and the honor of the flag. Brave people!’ ”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 18, 2010)

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