THE word goes around and everywhere in San Fernando that City Mayor Edwin “Edsan” Santiago is threatened and feels insecure in the possibility of a comeback by the former mayor now Rep. Oscar S. Rodriguez.

Supporters of Edsan have been using Rep. Oca as a bogey man to unsettle the mayor. They poised the populist lawmaker like a scarecrow to frighten the birds. That’s one way of getting concessions from the mayor.

This is what I gathered last week in my small attempt to verify widespread rumours that the congressman may reclaim his seat as city mayor. The speculation has caused Edsan a recurring headache.

The City Mayor is intrigued, of course, by the mystic silence of the Rodriguez camp which does not confirm or deny the canard. City councilor-allies of Edsan even questioned Cong Oca’s use of a part of Heroes Hall as his district office, citing the cost of power consumption thereat.

Rodriguez wanted to install a separate electric meter for the office and pay the power bill. The mayor, not wanting to appear as harassing Cong Oca, did not allow it, said an insider at the Hall.

Generally Fernandinos have not found anything detestable about Edsan’s governance. Residents rated his performance as normal while citing him for trying his best to replicate the accomplishments of the world class city mayor. One big difference is his alleged lack o political will and his penchant to pass the buck to save his skin, an ex-barangay chairman noted.

Why should Fernandinos then clamour for and expect the reinstallation of Cong Oca to the City Hall?

The reason is due to a matter of taste. Edsan is doing what Oca normally did in his reign. Both have not exceeded or abused their powers. They performed within the standards and parameters of the office.

It’s the reason food lovers repeatedly go for the “sisig” of Aling Lucing when this dish is served in all the ubiquitous “sisigan” all over Pampanga. Why would lumpia fanciers choose Everybody’s Cafe over the hundreds of restaurants with the same entree? Why do diners long for fried chicken at Tess Laus’s Max restaurant rather than at McDo, Jollibee and KFC?

The Romans explained this behavior: “De gustibus non est disputandum.” In matters of taste there is no argument.

Fernandinos, therefore, have been used to Oca’s distinct and remarkable style of governance. This is known as “kakaibang panlasa” in Filipino culture.

Edsan’s friendliness cannot beat Oca’s folksy charm; the city mayor’s industriousness cannot subsume his mentor’s creative initiatives. Santiago’s “Fernandinos First Policy” is amorphous and bland compared to to Oca’s compelling mantra in “Magsilbi Tamu.”

I admire Edsan advisers’ early foresight and defensive posture against Rodriguez’s probable return to his turf. The battle cry “Fernandinos First!” was adopted as a rallying theme but also to thwart and diminish Oca’s option for a comeback. The lawmaker is a native of Sta. Ana town against the mayor who is San Fernando-born.

If the city residents find Edsan’s birthplace against Oca’s origin to their taste, nasa panlasa yan. Yeng Guiao who hails from small town Magalang beat Blueboy Nepomuceno of votes-rich Angeles.

Comparisons are odious specially that between first termer Santiago and the three-termed Rodriguez. Definitely Edsan suffers in comparison to his mentor’s vast experience in public office.

Oca has the advantage of learning because he has “seen too much, suffered much, and studied much.” Similarly, that’s the difference between the makers of Aling Lucing’s sisig and the rest of the market.

A pre-emptive action against Oca’s likely return to City Hall is now operational. Mayor Edsan’s suspect hatchet men – the deadly riding-in-tandem Councilors Noel Tulabut and Lito Ocampo have started to snipe at Cong Oca’s administration.

Edsan has reportedly intimidated Noel and Lito (former allies of Oca) by hints of dropping them off as reelectionists in 2016. He is said to threaten them by running for vice mayor under Oca, so they need to demolish Rodriguez this early.

Edsan may be doing well at work. But majority of Fernandinos love the leadership qualities and character of Cong Oca, I was told. That explains the spreading rumour of his comeback. In matters of (political) taste there is no argument.


Where we walk today is just as important

As where we will be tomorrow.

Happiness not only awaits us in heaven.

There’s joy in life’s journey.