STILL about Benitez, he is a complete stranger, not just to the third district, but even in Victorias. He has lived in Metro Manila all his life. The son of former Imelda Marcos' whiz kid, Jolly Benetiz, Albee has been to Victorias only intermittently. Coming from the landed aristocracy on his late mother's side, I doubt if he had immersed himself in the way his hacienda workers live, hopefully enough for him to get acquainted with their hopes and dreams, their wants and their fears. How in the world can he even think of representing them?

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The same is true with Anthony Golez, who aims to represent Bacolod City. Before the Baha controversy, Golez is unheard of in Bacolod, in fact, he bought a house there not too long ago, after he thought that Bacolod is his for the asking.

Sta. Clara residents, one of the flooded parts of Bacolod, were up in arms against Bing Leonardia for what they claim was the latter's neglect of their plight. In fact, it was the initial belief that the Sta. Clara protesters were partisans of Congressman Monico Puentevella. Seizing the opportunity for his incipient desire to be congressman, he came over, purportedly to "mediate" between Leonardia and the Sta. Clara protesters. Pretty soon, word spread that he came here to establish a beachhead for his congressional dreams. Yet, he emphatically pledged that he will never be a roadblock to Cano Tan's congressional aspiration. "Bacolod is yours", he reportedly assured Cano.

But in truth, it took no time for Golez to come into partnership with Bing Leonardia, who also grabbed Golez's offer of partnership I suppose for the funds of it, in effect scuttling Taddy Sayson's own desire to run for Congress.

Were it not for the logistical superiority of Golez, there is absolutely no reason for Leonardia to prefer him over Sayson. Sayson is a native Bacoleño. Schooled in public service under the tutelage of his late father, former vice mayor Jovito Sayson, Taddy knows Bacolod City like the palm of his hand. Had Leonardia not preferred Golez, the Bacolod electorate would now be faced with the difficulty of choosing between two authentic and genuine Bacoleños, Taddy Sayson and Cano Tan.

Alas, the ways of politics are indeed strange. And money is its least common denominator.

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In the mayoralty race, Vladi Gonzales is in a somewhat similar situation. Although a native Negrense, he stayed for sometime in Cebu, where he started as a real estate developer. In his early childhood, he stayed with his grandmother because I was told, he is the product of a broken home. Later, his estranged father took him under his care and financed his way through college at La Salle, Bacolod. My sketches information is that he later transferred to Cebu and went into the construction business and afterwards as real estate developer where he made his mark and brought him the affluence he is enjoying now.

In a way, Vladi is a self-made man although some say he is a John Osmeña made man. His problem is that he is known only to an exclusive circle in Bacolod and to the business community of which he is a part. To the general mass of Bacolod, he is a virtual stranger the way Golez is. Where other political leaders in the city have virtually immersed themselves in the city's population, Golez and Vladi had to undertake a crass course of introducing themselves to the electorate.

How they can succeed in doing this is the $64 question.