NO MATTER how serious one candidate for the Dalaguete Municipal Council gets, his supporters will call him a Joke.

That happens to be the nickname that Lakas-Kampi candidate Michael Comedia (wink, wink) registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

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Amid the serious business of waging a campaign, nicknames allow candidates to gain a few laughs—and trigger name recall besides.

If it works, Esoy Kanding, Salingsing, Virgin and Butse Gamay may soon find themselves laughing all the way to the town hall.

Those are the nicknames of council candidates Narciso Pepito Sr. of Sogod, Shalimar Lucmayon of Tabuelan, Virgincito Ferrolino of Samboan and Vicente Sepulveda III of Borbon.

Candidates can also use nicknames to put voters at ease. In Daanbantayan, the contenders for mayor are Augusto “Dodong Itok” Corro and Ma. Luisa “Inday Malou” Loot.

Things may get confusing, however, for candidates with common nicknames. Both the mayoral candidates of Borbon town are nicknamed Daday: Teresita Celis of One Cebu and Suprema Trinidad, who is an independent aspirant.

Boy or Boboy is particularly common. At least 42 candidates all over Cebu Province registered that as their nickname.

In the City of Naga, five of the 28 candidates for the council are nicknamed Boy. They are Nilo Alinsonorin, Othello Chiong and Porferio Resaba Jr., all of the Nacionalista Party; Rustico Dabon of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino; and Gumersindo Deguma, an independent candidate.

Twenty-two candidates in the province registered Dodong as their nickname; 22 others want voters to know them as Jun or Junjun. (In contrast, there is only one Embalmer, one American Idol and one Kill.)

In Santander, two candidates for vice mayor will have to pronounce their nicknames carefully when they campaign, to avoid confusing voters. Larry Ondangan goes by the nickname Ite. His rival Wilson Wenceslao is Eti.

Gingging, Junjun

But the nicknames we now know candidates by may not always have been their pet names.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia recalled how her father, Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia (Cebu Province, 2nd district), would call her Gingging. When she started attending St. Theresa’s College, her classmates started calling her Gwen—now her registered nickname before the Commission on Elections.

Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr., for his part, said he was nicknamed Jun growing up. Close relatives and family call him Jun still.

However, the nickname Greg stuck when he entered politics in 1988, running for a seat in the Provincial Board.

“Greg is a romantic name compared to just Jun,” Sanchez said in jest.

His running mate, Hilario Davide III, goes by the nickname Junjun.

Garcia, for her part, called it a “happy coincidence” that her nickname rhymes with the name of her running mate, Glenn Anthony Soco. Soco said he has always been called Glenn.

So now the One Cebu campaign repeatedly mentions the “Gwen-Glenn” tandem.

“Iginuhit ng tadhana (It’s fate),” the governor joked.

Three-pointer

In Talisay City, a former star basketball player’s nickname helps him remind voters about his prowess on the hard court. Rodolfo Cabigas of the Nacionalista Party has registered Rodi as his nickname in this year’s elections.

But another nickname, Mr. Three-Pointer, is believed to be among the reasons he has become one of the longest-serving councilors of Talisay.

He served for three consecutive terms as councilor of the then Municipality of Talisay. He then lost a campaign for the Provincial Board in 2001, but made his comeback in 2004.

He is seeking reelection for a third consecutive term.

“Nagpasalamat gyud ko sa akong career sa basketball kay nakatabang gyud ni sa akong candidature (I am very thankful for my basketball career, because it has helped my candidacy),” he added.

Numbers game

The use of a candidate’s nickname is an effective tool for name recall, but poll automation has compelled most candidates to add a number to their campaign materials, one campaign strategist said.

Lawyer Francisco Amit, secretary general of Padayon Mandaue, said a catchy nickname may be effective for now, but computerization of the elections may change that.

Among the nicknames he considers effective in the Mandaue City elections are Lolypop (Emmarie Ouano Dizon), Baludong (Ariston Cortes III), Edsa (Edmund Sanchez) and Ading (Amadeo Seno Jr.).

But if he were a candidate in this year’s elections, he said, he would use his number, instead of his nickname. (A candidate’s name is preceded by a number and an oval. Voters are supposed to shade the ovals for the candidates they want to support.)

In more ways than one, the elections are a numbers game. And for candidates serious about winning office, the campaign is no joke. (JGA/GC/OCP)