THE official campaign for local positions started last Friday. To the aspirants with foresight the campaign period has begun since three years ago, the incumbents especially. 

While Governor Panlilio was occupied in parrying his rival’s offensive action through a proxy war, he was not able build enormous political support.  Since day one he was kept on the defensive thus losing valuable points on offense. Like the boxer Clottey he kept his defenses up to avoid a knockout.

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As her allies kept Among Ed busy and mired in regular attack, Mrs. Lilia “Baby” Pineda was all over town winning new supporters and adherents.  The enormous swell of support she has over the governor today will swamp the priest politician in the May polls.

Likewise City Mayor Oscar Rodriquez of San Fernando is expected to overwhelm his opponent. 

Mayor Oca has built quite a reputation and an impregnable political fortress for the past six years. 

It will take Tiger Lagman a miracle of sorts to beat Oca.

In Angeles City, Atty. Ed Pamintuan has a lot of catching up to do for being absent for a decade or so in the local politics. Edpam prides in his accomplishments while serving in national agencies while Nepomuceno’s active presence and involvement in Angeles elections has put him safely ahead in the race.  Tony Mamac is now sprinting fast, too.

Nepomuceno leads Edpam widely on account of the late entry of the former SCADC chair in the campaign.  Blueboy has been quietly building strong alliances for the past three years compared to Edpam’s recent entry to win public support.

That is the principal reason why Blueboy is winning over Edpam as of to date.  If last Friday’s public rallies of the protagonist were an indication of future results, the issue in Angeles is Edpam’s glowing promises versus Blueboy’s solid achievements.  It’s oratory against performance, words over action, Angeles residents believed.

While certain colleagues were focused on covering Governor Panlilio’s activities, I had joined some media workers in a look-see at the other camp.

First activity of Nanay Baby for the day was to hear a concelebrated mass in her honor held at the historic St. Augustine Church in Lubao.

Church pews were filled with her cabalen who, compared to the 2007 pre-poll Mass said in the same venue, showed more enthusiasm, sang with great feeling, and prayed more fervently for her resounding success in her comeback bid according to a woman volunteer for Pineda.

With ten priests concelebrating at the event, my friend Among Rudy de Guzman among them, the atmosphere was less of a worship rite than a celebration of victory. From the patio I could not hear the homily but the rapt silence inside the cavernous church resonated with gospel message about human goodness, faith, hope and love.  Snatches of the sermon filtered out in the churchyard bathed in cool sunlight.

Nanay Baby in a press briefing made a peace offering to her rival who called the Comelec-declared governor “evil,” columnist Bong Lacson reported the calumny.

The power lady, in deep humility, appealed to media to treat Among Ed “kindly and fairly.  Let us cease from hurting his feelings further and refrain from attacking him,” she asked the newsmen. 

She also asked her allies to “stop rocking the boat. The shore is on sight.”

The lady has kept her cool and sobriety intact even as her group wanted to step up the legal battle to unseat Panlilio.

Nanay Baby has put all legal actions on hold and let the issue settle down.  She is not insistent on claiming her right by law but she is hopeful of getting her reward in righteous victory in May.

She has sensed the coming of a new day; she has felt where the wind is blowing. A woman’s keen instinct is at work – she knows the pulse-beat of her cabalen.

Answering a query, she cited the countless humanitarian cases she has served in over two decades: the many lives she saved, the sick she has caused to be cured; jobs she provided and secured for Pampangos. Presently scores of kidney patients undergoing expensive regular dialysis depend on her assistance for dear life.  “And they call me evil?” she perorated.

She wants to concentrate in overhauling the health care delivery system when she becomes governor. “I do not want any cabalen to die without receiving medical attention, nor suffer without receiving medicine, even surgery when required,” she said.

Unknown to the public she has arranged with the Mount Carmel Medical Center a special protocol for indigents needing surgery.  This medical mission had saved many a life or a limb.

Having received special blessings for the day, Nanay Baby asked members of media for a group prayer for the speedy recovery of FG Atty. Mike Arroyo, and for added strength and forbearance of President Arroyo in the face of her travails.

The Nanay already has a blueprint for her work agenda and missions: “Life is too short not to spend it in serving a noble purpose,” she stated a life principle. 

The next provincial administrator, the indefatigable Engr. Rosve Henson, will carry most of the brunt of the daily grind, with Vice Gov. Yeng Guiao manning the legislative machinery, I learned.