A tale of two city lifestyles

Mayor Jejomar Binay promised—and continues to promise until now—that he would make all of us live the affluent lifestyle of Makati City’s residents if he were elected president. 

Indeed, Makati’s poverty incidence rate was only 0.5 percent of its population, second best only to San Juan’s 0.3 percent and that, perhaps, entitled Mayor Binay to boast that “ganito kami sa Makati.”

When my friends and I—especially those of us who were already dependent on our meager pensions—heard his promise for the first time in 2008, we wished that we, too, could live that affluent lifestyle. We then prayed that it would come true.

We embraced his promise as if it were our only hope from being dragged down into the ranks of the poor one-fourth of our population.

He even promised to make the whole country as prosperous as Makati City as if he, his wife and his son—not its business tycoons—were the ones who had transformed this former swampland into the country’s foremost financial district.

A certified boy scout who was always prepared, Mayor Binay quickly declared his candidacy for the presidency on Nov. 12, 2008, way ahead of the forthcoming May 10, 2010 presidential election then.

Among his rivals was Senator Manuel Roxas who had himself nominated by the Liberal Party as its standard bearer two weeks later on Nov. 26.

But the unexpected death of former President Cory Aquino on Aug. 1, 2009 suddenly altered their political destinies and that of her son Senator Noynoy Aquino III.

Giving way to Senator Noynoy as the new Liberal Party’s standard bearer, Senator Roxas on Sept. 1 withdrew his own nomination for the presidency and slid to run as his vice presidential candidate.

Mayor Binay—as if he, too, didn’t want to be on a collision course with President Cory’s son—also withdrew his presidential bid and slid to be the running mate of former President Erap “Para sa Mahirap” Estrada.

Mayor Binay and Senator Roxas thus ended up still facing each other, this time for the second-highest position of the land.

PNoy won convincingly as president but Mayor Binay’s 14,645,574 votes barely edged only Senator Roxas’ 13,918,490 votes in the slimmest winning margin of any vice presidential race in the country.

Mayor Binay thus accomplished something that no mayor has done before. Even the popular movie star, San Juan Mayor Erap, first had to become a senator before being elected as vice president.

VP Mayor wasted no time in announcing that he would seek again the presidency six years after. Since then, he has not ceased campaigning for it.

He must have inspired to follow in his footsteps Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte of Davao City, a lawyer and a septuagenarian like him.

Davao City in the 1980s was noted for murders that were common occurrences in its streets until the locals formed in 1985 the vigilante group “Alsa Masa” that drove out these lawless elements.

An assistant prosecutor since 1977, Mayor Digong was first appointed as officer-in-charge vice mayor immediately after the 1986 People Power almost at the same time when  VP Binay was appointed by President Cory as Makati City’s officer-in-charge mayor.

Davao City was still the country’s murder capital—not only its largest city in terms of area—when Mayor Digong became its mayor for the first time in 1988. Thereafter, peace and order improved, the economy developed, and social stability reigned.

He continued to be its mayor for the next 22 years, serving at times as vice mayor and congressman.

The two thus started their political careers at the same time and the forthcoming 2016 election would decide who will finish as president.

Denying, and ever denying that he was running in the next presidential election, Mayor Digong could not stop 50,000 of his supporters from braving a rainy afternoon last Saturday at the Quirino Grandstand just to beg him to run for president.

Wearing Duterte baller ID bands, ribbons, and T-shirts, they were but a fraction of his solid followers who make up at least 15 percent of voters.

Ever enigmatic, he didn’t attend the gathering. Instead, he only sent his followers a text message that he would soon do a final soul-searching before finally deciding with all his heart and mind whether to run or not.

He nonetheless promised that he would never abandon them.

My senior citizen friends and I believe him because we now consider him as ours—“Atin ‘to ‘Pre.”

After all, he never abandoned Davao City.

More than that, he had transformed the city from a hotbed of uncontrolled criminals, communist guerrillas and leftists into one of the safest cities in the world which now also serves as the main trade, commerce, and industry hub of Mindanao.

We also crave the same peaceful and progressive lifestyle that its residents now enjoy.

To satisfy this craving, Mayor Digong must decide to run so he could transform the rest of the country into another Davao City of a larger scale.

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