What’s in a Name?-A A +A
By Mina Paras
Monday, March 4, 2013
JULIET: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” (From William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)
Not so in Philippine politics.
Would you vote for a candidate named Francisco Gaboso? Not to deride the name, but if you pit that with a ‘pretty’ name like Isko Moreno, Gaboso wouldn’t stand a chance. Except that Gaboso is Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno’s real name.
Philippine politics is largely based on name recall. If your name is short and sweet, you stand a better chance to win than that of a candidate whose name is difficult to recognize, even if they are one and the same person. The first time that action superstar Ramon Revilla ran for the Senate, he listed himself under Jose Bautista, his real name. He lost. Having learned the lesson, thereafter he ran and won as Ramon Revilla. Though his children are truly Bautistas, they all adapted the surname Revilla, now a trademark in Philippine politics.
Former President Joseph Estrada had always used his screen name from the time he first ran for mayor in the then sleepy town of San Juan, Rizal, which rose to become a progressive city under his 17-year reign. He ran for the Senate, then the vice-presidency, and eventually the presidency. He won, but EDSA 1986 happened. It would be tempting to say ‘and the rest is history’. Except that his story is not finished yet.
Joseph Ejercito Estrada, aka Erap, almost won back the presidency had not President Pnoy ran, in 2010. That election saw major upsets.
Presidentiable mega-businessman Manny Villar, originally the top contender in that race, turned up a poor third when the dust had settled.
Pnoy, whose presidential candidacy was enabled by the stepping down of original presidential candidate Mar Roxas, won because of the renewed fervor of Filipinos when his mother, the revered Philippine president passed away less than a year before the elections. The name Aquino retained its magic. If Mar hadn’t stepped down from the race, Erap would now be the president, because he won second place in 2010.
The name Estrada proved its magic once again when his son Jinggoy Estrada, and his wife Loi, also won seats in the Senate. After 6 years, though, Dr. Loi Ejercito Estrada chose to drop out of politics. Comes now son JV (Jose Victor), who’s running for the Senate after his 3 terms in Congress had expired. Although he had used the name Ejercito, now he is running as JV Ejercito Estrada, the better to benefit from the Estrada name. The Estradas haven’t left their home base San Juan. JV’s mother, the absolutely charming Guia Gomez, had stepped up to JV’s former post as mayor, and is now running the city where the Greenhills villages and the famous Greenhills ‘tiangge’ are located. Guia also uses the name Estrada. (She was the first lady of San Juan when Erap was mayor. If my memory serves me right, Erap mentioned in an interview a long time ago that he married Guia in church. But I may be wrong.)
One really drastic name adaptation was when then senatoriable Ralph Recto wrote down as one of his Comelec-accredited names Vilma Santos, which to me is really pushing it to the extreme. Senator Kiko Pangilinan so far has not resorted to changing his name to Sharon Cuneta.
Trademark names however are not an infallible way to win an election. Take Congressman Tarzan Lazatin’s daughter, who ran and lost in a congressional election. Tarzan himself inherited the Lazatin legacy from his father, the late Rafael Lazatin. Another Lazatin scion, Pogi, is up in the running to continue the Lazatin legacy.
When Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, popularly known as EdPam, first ran for Angeles City mayor, I’m sure the voters were reminded of his father Alberto, “Tatang Bert” to everybody, who was a long time Angeles vice-mayor. Will his son Edu, now a city councilor running for re-election, inherit the charisma of his father and grandfather?
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 05, 2013.