Family, familiar theme of unity at Marcos’ Ilocos Norte homecoming

The UniTeam’s Ilocos Norte proclamation rally at the Paoay Sand Dunes on February 17, 2022 ended with the song “Bagong Lipunan” playing while candidates waved Philippine flags onstage.

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. came home Wednesday to his family’s bailiwick, Ilocos Norte, to woo hundreds of thousands of voters in the 2022 elections.

Apart from his rivals who began the campaign in their hometowns, Marcos picked the Philippine Arena — the world’s largest indoor arena — in Bulacan for his proclamation rally on February 8.RELATED STORIESIt’s ‘Unity, Unity, Unity’ for UniTeam’s presidential bet Marcos

This week, the UniTeam targeted provinces in northern Luzon, with Marcos and his running-mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte holding a campaign caravan in Cagayan province with former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday. Mayor Duterte also visited the province of Isabela in the same week.

On Wednesday, Marcos, Duterte and members of the UniTeam a caravan from Pagudpud, passing by town halls and plazas.

On a makeshift stage at the Paoay Sand Dunes — a local tourist attraction in the province, which is also the same setting of the critically-acclaimed “Himala” — Marcos addressed the thick crowd past 11:00 p.m., saying he has finally come home. 

“Itong pag-uwi ko na ito ay naiba dahil di ako umuwi dito mag-isa; umuwi ako dito na may kasama,” Marcos said, referring to his running-mate Duterte.

(This homecoming is different because I am not coming home alone. I am coming home with someone)

Marcos immediately went on to campaign for his eldest son Sandro Marco,  who introduced him and who is is running against Rep. Ria Fariñas (Ilocos Norte, 1st District) for a seat at the House of Representatives.

Marcos also greeted politician relatives on stage: His sister Sen. Imee Marcos; nephew Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc; cousin Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba (Ilocos Norte, 2nd District) and Ilocos Norte Vice Gov. Cecilia Araneta-Marcos.

Marcos was also flanked by nine of the 11 confirmed UniTeam senators, and aspirant Robin Padilla, whom he referred to as part of his team but who is not quite included in their slate.

Home turf

Unlike the title of the classic Nora Aunor movie, Marcos may not need a miracle to win in the province in May.

Marcos is coming back to Ilocos Norte boasting a 60% voter preference in the latest Pulse Asia survey, conducted in late January and ahead of the official campaign kickoff. His VP bet Duterte also enjoys a double-digit lead against her rivals in the vice-presidential post.

At the Ilocos Norte provincial capitol, people in public areas stood holding banners and posters for Marcos as early as 4 p.m. Campaign jingles of the UniTeam and the new version of the Martial Law-era Bagong Lipunan anthem, which has stirred ugly memories for victims and survivors, were blaring from the speakers.

Roads leading to the Paoay Sand Dunes were lined with people waiting for the motorcade, and it was estimated that some 15,000 people attended the proclamation rally. Some arrived as early as 3 p.m., having traveled for hours from towns across the province.

Marcos was born in Manila like his mother Imelda was. His dictator father hails from Ilocos Sur. But the former senator has been the province’s vice governor, governor and member of the House of Representatives through the years. His stint in local politics was broken only when the family was on self-exile after the 1986 People Power revolution and after his election as senator.

Speaking to Ilocanos in a speech mostly in Filipino, Marcos said his running mate Duterte shares his strong belief that the country needs unity to recover from the pandemic.

While consulting experts on how to address and recover from the pandemic, Marcos said he was also brought back to the concept of unity.

He has been criticized for lack of concrete platforms while only banking on an overarching campaign of unity, but he hammers on that their tandem is proof of unity.

Duterte, who hails from Davao City, is a child of a president, like Marcos. During the 2016 elections, her father President Rodrigo Duterte, earned 102,994 votes in the province, nearly 50,000 more than then-Vice President Jejomar Binay who came in second in the Northern Province.

Marcos, unsurprisingly, won by a wide margin of over 294,000 votes in Ilocos Norte. He secured 297,853 votes in the province, a landslide victory over Vice President Leni Robredo’s 3,696.

He however eventually lost the vice-presidential race, and is now facing off, again, with Robredo in the May elections. This time, for the seat in Malacañang.

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