Monday, November 02, 2009

The Ati Calling the Negro Black

Last week, Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog (who has declared his intention to run for mayor) strongly denied in local media that he is a traditional politician. His exact words were: “I am not here to perpetuate myself in power but to serve and help others serve in the future. I am not a trapo as others are saying because I don’t make politics my source of livelihood. Our family has no intention to put up a political dynasty. The ultimate indication of traditional politics is perpetuation in power.” He also added that he will retire from politics when he is 50 (he is 44 years old today).

If he intends to honor this promise, then that means he will serve as mayor for only two terms. I somehow find it hard to believe that someone who is seemingly in such a hurry and so atat na atat in becoming mayor would so easily give it up when, as he said, “he reaches 50 years old.” But what happens if there is a so-called “public clamor” (which is so easily manufactured in this country, especially if you have money and media savvy) for him to complete his three-terms? Will he then succumb and use this “clamor” as an excuse for breaking his promise?

At 50 a man is just at the height of his powers. But at this age, Mabilog would like us to believe that he would retire unceremoniously. I somehow find that totally incredible because if history teaches us anything it is that power is intoxicating and even the most steadfast of men easily succumb to its allure. In the movie Lord of the Rings, we saw that the ring of power was not given to the Race of Men, Dwarfs or the Elves but to the Hobbit precisely because Hobbits are simple creatures and lack the ambition to dominate others. But even the happy-go-lucky Hobbit Frodo Baggins did not give up the ring of power so easily (he had to be forced to do it by his sidekick Samwise Gamgee) and even Frodo’s uncle, Bilbo Baggins, was destroyed by the ring of power. Alas, Hobbits exist only in fantasy but the movie Lord of the Rings offers a perfect analogy of the corrupting influence of political power.

In real life, we have as a perfect example the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos, whom even his detractors would grudgingly describe as a brilliant guy, was elected president in 1965 when he was only 47 years old and again reelected in 1969. His term should have ended in 1973 but the problem was, in 1973 Marcos would have only been 55 years old. He rightly felt that he was too young to retire – and many Filipinos at that time sincerely agreed with him - and this was one of his personal justifications why he declared Martial Law and perpetuated himself in power. I still hear oldtimers say that Marcos started out as a good man and that he became corrupted after staying too long in power; a record-breaking 20 years. Today, whenever I hear the word trapo, I think of Ferdinand Marcos. He has become the perfect embodiment of a traditional politician.

So how do you define a trapo? The concept of the trapo is very hard to capture in words but, much like pornography which likewise eludes definition, Filipinos usually know a trapo when they see one. Trapos we are told are politicians who have no ideology and are interested only in acquiring power for personal gratification. Thus, he switches parties and abandons allies when it is no longer convenient to his political ambitions. They are persons who will do anything and say everything just to get elected even though they lack the necessary qualifications, intelligence and track record to govern. As such, a trapo is someone who engages in mere tokenism and is not really after instituting reforms and improving the lot of the people. Also, trapos love to call attention to themselves and often surround themselves with sycophants (or mga sipsip).

Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is a trapo is because his pronouncements often do not jive with his actions. For example, he said that he will not engage in mudslinging because “that is the trapo way.” But in labelling Secretary Gonzalez a trapo, isn’t he engaged in mudslinging already? People cannot be expected to trust someone who says one thing and does another. And because of his “aggressive” style of politics, people get the impression that he will say and do anything to win as mayor. Mabilog calling Secretary Gonzalez a traditional politician is like the ati calling the negro black. In fact, even hard-core trapos in Iloilo City are hesitant (nahuya) and not quite capable of doing the things that Vice Mayor Mabilog has been doing for the past six years to further his political career. I mean, handing out medals which have your face plastered on the back is definitely raising the bar of trapo-hood a notch higher (or lower if you like). At least, when Secretary Gonzalez was Mabilog’s age he was definitely not a trapo: he was busy fighting the Marcos dictatorship and lawyering for jailed opposition figures (like Ninoy Aquino) then. At least Raul Gonzalez, Sr. had the courage to stand up for his convictions back when it was not politically convenient and dangerous to do so. Mabilog, on the other hand, served actively the Marcos regime by heading its youth organization Kabataang Barangay in Molo. Even at a young age, he was already a trapo.

Since he is vying for the highest post in the city, Mabilog should expect his track record to be scrutinized. It is not my intention to denigrate Mabilog but I would be amiss in my duties as a columnist if I fail to point out what I see as his failings as a leader because in the end, it is the people of Iloilo City who will eventually suffer if we elect, for lack of information, another “clueless” person to head City Hall. I am not engaging in mudslinging; far from it, I am raising these points merely to elicit information and draw out answers from our vice mayor. Kung wala kalayo, indi maluto ang bibingka and it is only thru the heat of intense media scrutiny that issues are joined and the people enlightened. This is why I would like to end this entry with a challenge in the form of a question. “What life-altering things have you really done for our people besides handing out “tokens” and palliatives like birthday cakes, t-shirts and caps, medals and the like, and being “extra-friendly” and very accommodating to people? What concrete steps have you done to address the real, “big-ticket” problems of the city such as the periodic flooding, the brown-outs, the lack of economic opportunities, the squatter problem and urban congestion, the burgeoning illegal drug trade and the deteriorating public school system in Iloilo City?” If your excuse is that as Vice Mayor you do not have the power and resources to address these problems, then my next question to you is: “As Presiding Officer of the City Council, what noteworthy ordinances and policies have you personally initiated and enacted that have helped improve the plight of Ilonggos? ”

Please, please Mr. Vice Mayor carefully explain to us, enlighten us, convince us why you deserve our trust and our vote as mayor of Iloilo City.


francis magno said...

Vice-Mayor Mabilog is the Presiding Officer of Sangguniang
Panglungsod (Legislative Council)
that initiates ordinances and/or resolutions, all affectingt the affairs of the city government and its residents. It is generally comparable to the Board of Directors, in matters pertaining to enacting legislative acts that will promote the general welfare of the Ilonggos- its proprietary functions. To the private corporation, its all profit-oriented and increase the investment of the stockholders.

What did he do as the CEO of the Council? Hmmmpppp? Nada! All that he did was all-out networking to social functions relative to his mayoral ambition. But in providing the leadership in Council, it could be well described as chaotic and divided among the warring camps of City Councilors. Did Mr. Mabilog intervened to unify the City Council? The asnwer is in the negative.

All that the members of the press could aptly say is that he projected the Mr. Clean Image, if not the Mr. Gentleman, withe the semblance of Mayor Jerry Trenas.

Ah, it is a political camouflage. The voters come May 2010 should be wiser enough this time. They have to choose one that has the courage and strenght with the political giants among the political parties in the House of Representtaives and Senate and coupled with his vision of what is best for the City of Iloilo.

Mr. Mabilog lost the golden opportunity to prove his worth as vice-mayor. For him to run as the City Elderman, is just another dream that will fade away like
the cigarette smoke.

Frank Magno

Anonymous said...

Well, Jed was a big mistake. No doubt about it. If only you can hear what he promise to families and friends. And where is that going to come from!?? Ladies and Gentleman wake up. He doesn't have any money to fund this election. This is not a joke. Who is going to fund it and what is the exchange of that funding...His soul? If you truly care for him, better free him from some of his sins if I were you. "Do not vote for Jed" not at all.

Anonymous said...

Agree guid ako kay Francis Magno kag kay anonymous. Dapat sini i post kag pabasa sa mga supporter ya para tanan mabal-an nga sobra pa siya sa trapo. Hindi siya sinsero nga tawo. Kalolooy lang ang banwa sang Iloilo kun siya and maging Mayor ta. Sa bilog ya nga term ang obra ya ma nga migo lang kag mag pa expose sa publiko para makilala. Wala siya may ginhimo nga substansia sa siyudad sang Iloilo. Corrupt siya ka-ayo, paminsaron ninyo ha bata pa siya. Ako ya guinakulba-an.

Anonymous said...


Dapat ka guid lang makulbaan. Days ago, while Jed and Jerry are in peace talk for the completion of their slate, against the ruling party of Raul Gonzalez and his son, congressman Raul Gonzalez, Jr.,Mayor Jerry Trenas imposed as a condition to take his brother in law, Councilor Joe Espinosa as the vice-mayor.

Pending final talks, sa kulaborasyun ni Jerry, basta na lang nag deklara si Joe sang iya candidatura bilang bise-mayor.
All along, Jerry was acting in bad faith;all in his mind was to make Joe as his vice-mayor, take it or leave it!

Makita mo diri ang pagh ka arogante sining mga politiko. Indi sila kuno tradpol; kay gali kon indi tadpol, politically corrupt, if not morally bankarote. Gindala pa ang mga madre kag mag pangamuyo, kon bala magdalagan sa kandidatura sa mabot nga eleksyun; kay gali, drama acto numero Uno, dungan sang iya pangbalbas, agud
makita nga bag-o kag bataon nga kongresista.

Ah, tongresista sa Kongreso. Madugangan naman. Ilonggo, bugtaw sa kama tuoran.

Panahon na nga ibalik ang moralidad sa politika. Kon indi sa karonb, san-o pa? Padayun na lang bala ini nga panghikut ka mga pulitiko tubtub sa aton mga kaapuhan, kon kita wala na sa duta nga luhaan? Ibangon ang demokrasya!

Iboto ang naga hambal sing kamatuoran kagh naga bulig sing hugot, labi na sa mga imol kag kubos! Indi mag padala-dala sa kumusta? Basi ma swine flu ka pa!

francis magno said...

Raul Gonzalez Sr leads a revolutionary response to popular demands for the formation of candidates to run the City Government of Iloilo and represent its people in the House of representatives.

Like the English nobility who preferred to lose their privileges rather than their heads. He humbly submit himself and the political contenders to the chieftains of some 140 villages, to decide and select the candidates for the May 2010 elections in the local level.

It paved the way for the assimiliation and enfranchisement of the people's representaives to pre-select the formation of a new government.

While he has the complete authority to do so, he responded to popular demands and acknowledge the inevitability of change in the local social and political landscape.

He may have come into realization of the need and wilingness and capacity to act as instrument of radical,if not revolutionary means
to arrests the deteriorating level of peace and order, land use and utilization, joblessness, poverty, corruption, transparency in governance, and provisions of social services to the poorest among the poor residents in the city.

He will be at the center, not above of the community, providing direction to men and women constituting the governing class, as faithful instruments of the Ilonggo's revolutionary aspirations.

I do not know Raul Sr., but I am fully aware of the charges leveled against him. Dubbed as the "King,"
because of his exercise of powers summed up by opposing camps as "dictatorial," could be well attributed as part of the power-play in the great tradition of the type of democracy prevailing in our country.

I do trust that he will remain at the core, of the community not above,as the power center surrounded by the representtives of the sovereign people of Iloilo City.

I would rather cast my vote to someone who has proven himself in public service rather than someone who pretends as reformer,in fact and in truth, did nothing tangible
in alleviating the conditions of our people.


Kap Boy said...

Perhaps another rebuttal to the issue that Secretary Gonzalez is making threats left and right is needed. Whenever a government executive admonishes other bureaucrats on the need to render dedicated public service, he is merely discharging a task of leadership. Secretary Gonzalez calls attention to one's discrepancy never made an empty threat as an executive.

Antoinne said...


I like this blog, can we publish this in the newspaper (Iloilo City) - how much will you charge to write something like this for the paper. People need to know and be aware of what kind of person they will be voting.
I do not want Jed Mabilog to win as Mayor of Iloilo City. He does not deserve it. I am very scared if he or Trenas will win this election.

I like your articles, you are a great writer.