By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
The covered basketball court at the Narra Homes Subdivision in Imus, Cavite vibrated with shouts and music the afternoon of April 4.
It was no summer sports league. Instead, Imus was having its own version of the many events enveloping the country since March 31–the start of the campaign period for local positions.
At an enlarged stage inside, the candidates of the “Team Saki” slate–named after their mayoral bet Homer Saquilayan–were working up the assembled supporters into cheers.
A live rock band jammed the intro tunes to pop hits like “Call Me Maybe” as each contender was introduced.
The contenders are one side of the intense political battle permeating Cavite that spilled into Imus. They wore azure collared shirts printed with lines in all caps: “No more lies”, “No more deceptions”, “No more corruption”.
The shirts and the speeches hit at the administration of Saquilayan’s opponent, Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi. The two are at odds over Supreme Court and Comelec rulings in March declaring Saquilayan the duly elected mayor of Imus. Maliksi, however, refuses to leave city hall.
But the city candidates (there since noon) were not the only reason for the excited crowd. Even the subdivision guards and barangay watchmen outside were racking their heads over the flow of vehicles entering the already-cramped subdivision from the narrow main road.
Welcoming streamers announced the main attraction—Cavite reelectionist governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla, vice-gubernatorial candidate Jolo Revilla, and Revilla’s girlfriend, actress Jodi Sta. Maria.
The hot afternoon meant good business for nearby home-based stalls selling cold refreshments. One heavyset owner already took on blending halo-halo ingredients as the orders piled up. But she laughingly told her vendors, “Kapag dumating na si Jodi Sta. Maria iiwan ko na kayo!”
By 4 p.m., the motorcade of Remulla and Revilla arrived. The governor, wearing a personal collared blue shirt, his running-mate in white, met screams in the court. The band struck up “Mangarap Ka” as the tandem walked to the stage.
The opening melody of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” accompanied Saquilayan as he handed the microphone to Revilla.
Female shouts of “Jolo! Jolo! Jolo!” met the actor, who smiled and quickly replaced the chant with Jonvic’s name. Soon the band joined in with a beat.
Revilla held forth on his accomplishments as a barangay captain in Bacoor for the past three years and the problems in Cavite he assured the crowd he and Remulla would solve if elected.
But seemingly he saved his biggest pitch for their votes for last.