Duterte surrounded by crowd and cellphone cams as he arrives to vote at Daniel Aguinaldo High School in Davao (Shot by Dong Plaza, ABS-CBN News)

Waiting for Digong

Crowd waiting for Rodrigo Duterte to cast his vote in Davao City Daniel Aguinaldo High School (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

DAVAO CITY— The Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School hardly saw a crowd in its grounds like the one that descended outside Precinct 216 on the afternoon of May 9, election day.

It was like a mob waiting for a rock star. Many of them dressed in red and raising fists and cheers at broadcast cameras, people were jockeying alongside media and police for a view.

Precinct 216, a room labeled Aster (after the flower), was one of 14 clustered voting precincts in the school where 90,000 Davaoeños would vote.

As the noontime heat gave way to afternoon shade, fewer voters came to vote in the precinct. Still, the rush of people who wanted to see the precinct’s most famous voter did not end. The rest of the school gradually emptied, except for the area surrounding the bungalow classroom.

Some had arrived since morning, others after they cast their own votes. They were pointing cell phone cameras at the scene, on themselves, or on familiar faces from the national media, hoping their angle would capture the moment they saw him.

Couple waits for Duterte in Davao City precinct before he casts his vote (Shot by Dong Plaza, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Dong Plaza, ABS-CBN News)

The people here were waiting for Rodrigo Duterte, the man they believed would be president. And as the minutes of that fateful day passed, it was not just in Davao.

Everyone across the nation awaited him.

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Strictly politics*

Orange bottles of mineral water branded with Manny Villar's name and face given in Las Pinas.

Branded mineral water bottles from your favorite candidate

Before the campaign period for the national elections, there was the pre-campaign period. Emphasis on “campaign.”

And why not? Philippine politics seems to be an eternal operation to stay in power or go higher.

Thus you find the prevalent tarps of smiling faces greeting every occasion from the fiesta to the funeral. Plus the same strain of posters with their forced acronyms and subliminal messages.

A little girl in Filipiniana attracts the camera hours before the Mar Roxas - Korina Sanchez weddingGuests arrive for the wedding of the election season in Sto. Domingo Church.

Plus these events perfectly timed for the season.

And thus we all know that this person is vying for this position before he or she even says it or files papers at the Comelec.

Only a few weeks before the filing deadline did we see prospective candidates affirm or dismiss speculations on their running.

Joseph Estrada, Jejomar Binay, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada pose for the media before they proclaim their 2010 candidacies. Joseph Estrada finally declares his 2010 wish for "the last performance of my life" in Tondo Manila

Including a former president bent to continue his unfinished business.

The ride all started with the passing of the late great Cory Aquino that changed the political destinies of some. Soon the leading was left off, the nonviable now probable. Swiftly the tides turned and the rabbits jumped fences.

I’ve often mused about how the many considerable choices for 2010 came about due to who ran and won in 2004. Potential presidents are only now coming into the fray.

Today I still can’t pick among my top four bets.

Our field operations teams met this preview of campaign 2010 by covering the proclamations live.

Seats at the Lakas-Kampi-CMD convention with its predetermined presidential bethttps://i1.wp.com/images.pinoyjourn.multiply.com/image/1/photos/44/400x400/71/Lakas-Kampi-convention-Gibo-6.jpg

One of the biggest was by the country's biggest political party, with its already-determined presidential bet.

Those minute to hour-long airings mask the early call times, ocular inspections and intensive coordination needed for a crew of ten to twenty to set up and air. Here you learn the power of anticipating programs and making connections.

And amid the hustle and bustle for Halalan 2010, we also see the twilight days of a president and her government cramming to claim history’s verdict.

Department of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes with UP economics professor Winnie Monsod after debating oil priceshttps://i1.wp.com/images.pinoyjourn.multiply.com/image/1/photos/44/400x400/86/Duque-DOH-preps-for-New-Year-2010-4.jpg

And cramming, as well, for another run of office.

It was in one such coverage that I smiled at President Arroyo and got to shake her hand–not in Malacanang, but in one of the few areas I guess she was at her proudest best.

We could not air live her second final economic update in a Makati hotel. I could only check on our reporters and on the event.

There I found a childhood friend with the Foreign Affairs Department on duty as an usher.

President Gloria Arroyo, officials and PSG walk the red carpet out of the Philippine Economic Briefing in Makati

PGMA just a few feet away.

Soon the Presidential entourage walked out of the forum hall on the red carpet. My friend and the ushers lined up to greet them. Unsure what to do, I stood beside her at the end.

As President Arroyo shook hands with the ushers, I knew she would end with me before they proceeded to the photo op area.

Somehow we were not both sure how to greet each other, I wearing a red collared shirt and jeans in a place where dark corporate attires ruled.

Our hands and gazes awkwardly, silently met, and then left off.

Telling the encounter to my workmates, one asked why I was cordial when I came from a school supposedly angry with the President.

I answered, “Wala namang personalan (It’s nothing personal).”

Much as our politics should be.

See all shots from the topsy-turvy turns in politics taken during the daily grind at this pinoyjourn Multiply album.

*Apologies, of course, to the long-running ANC public affairs show.