Sula: An independent Christmas


THE City of San Fernando, known all over as the Christmas Capital of the Philippines, challenged but not outshone, will only have two kings, not three, this Christmas. Only Gaspar and Baltazar.

Hear ye, hear ye. King Melchor will be a no-show. The Queen of Dolores has served notice, thank you. The king reigns but it is the queen that rules, an increasing reality for many Filipino with rising women empowerment, at home and in politics as well.

Tough luck.

The forthcoming Giant Lantern Festival, a pre-Christmas pageant of the biggest and brightest lanterns in the city, a huge tourist draw yearly, will also likely be dimmer or less bright with one less giant parol during the feast of colorful lights on an earthly Kapampangan star.

Tough choice.

Barangay chairman Vilma Caluag, who is betting her money that incumbent Mayor Edwin Santiago will not have the number to retain his crown, has told all and sundry that her turf, a four-peat champion of the festival, will not take part in it.

Her mystifying reason: she doesn't want to lose.

Tough lady.

Poor Bong Mah, one of the movers, is baffled by a transcendent, if philosophical, question. Who wants to lose, anyway?

Now, that's the Vilma conundrum.

The undercurrent must be towing an iceberg-like issue whose hidden part is much bigger, more damaging than its tip. That's what brought the Titanic to the bottom despite what its name implied. Caveat be careful with the use of your name.

Let's walk back Vilma's narrative, as told by people in the know.

She rose at the top of the heap in Dolores after her dutiful husband either gave way or completed his term. That set her up for the next ambition: to become a member of the city council by being the president of the Association of Barangay Captains. No problem, the good mayor promised to hand it to her on a silver platter.

She later found out she was being screwed. She decided to take the matter into her own hands. She won by the skin of her teeth: by one vote. Having tasted blood and wanting revenge, she decided, why not the city throne?

This time around, having learned from the triste experiencia, she has seen a foregone result in the forthcoming giant lantern festival. Her barangay won't make it. Apparently, she's betting on it by withdrawing from the festival as a contestant, not as a participant.

She's willing to display her giant lantern in the affair provided that she gets treated with the same amount of subsidy the others are given.

Not that she can't afford it. Dolores is probably the richest barangay in the city even without going to the bank to verify it. In fact, she has called out the city government on the issue of apparently disproportionate share on real property taxes.

With the campaign period drawing nigh, assuming for the sake of argument that it's not yet taking place, expect things to get worse before they get better.



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