DAVAO CITY – Past 8:00 pm, Chariza Gementiza fixed her eyes on Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ’s speech peppered with familiar jokes and expletives.
Gementiza, along with thousands of crowd that filled the strip of road along Ponciano and Roxas Streets in Davao City, were cheering and laughing at Duterte, who was speaking thousand of miles away from his supporters here.
Thanks to a projected screen, though, Duterte was virtually present here on Tuesday, February 9. His camp chose Manila’s district of Tondo to witness the launch of his presidential race.
On the same day, other contenders like Senator Miriam Santiago and Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas were in Batac, Ilocos Norte and Roxas City, Capiz, respectively. Ilocos Norte is the home of Santiago’s running mate, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. while Roxas once served as a representative in Congress for Capiz’s first district.
So many where wondering why — of all places — it had to be Tondo? Duterte’s camp explained: Tondo mirrors the squalor, the neglected by government, the disparity between rich and poor.
In other words, Tondo was a perfect stage for Duterte’s inauguration. “It characterized the state of our nation, said Peter Laviña,” the head of Duterte’s media group.
Supporters: Tondo or wherever, we’ll support you
And Gementiza believes Duterte’s decision to choose Tondo made sense. Davaoeños hearts are with the mayor, she said in an interview with DavaoToday.
“Ok lang para makakuha siya ng boto sa Manila. Mas need nya na pumunta sa Manila (It’s okay because he needs to get votes from Manila. He needs to be there),” said Gementiza, a staff of a barangay councilor from Barangay 76-A in Bucana here.
Thousands of supporters of Duterte gathered along Ponciano Street and Roxas Avenue, this city, on Tuesday, for the candidate’s inaugural program at 4:00 pm.
One of them, Marilyn Ocay, a resident from Bucana, was carrying banners of sacks bearing Duterte’s name. When asked whether it was a bad decision for the mayor to choose Tondo instead of Davao for the inauguration of his campaign, she only had one thing to say.
“Wherever Duterte is, I will support him,” she said.
Tondo as a perfect stage
Rocky Balili, one of the organizers and a member of the Duterte Diehard Supporter (DDS) – Davao Region said Tondo “depicts the poverty in the Philippines” which Duterte hopes to end.
“Ang Tondo pinapakita natin na ito yung mukha ng Pilipinas. Mas kailangan nating ipakita kung ano yung talagang mukha ng kahirapan sa Pilipinas at yung drug pusher natin nandiyan sa Tondo. Marami diyang criminal, statement din yan ni Digong (Tondo shows the situation of our country. We need to make the people see what the real situation of the country is. The drug pushers and criminals are also there in Tondo, that is also the statement of Duterte),” said Balili.
He said they see the event in Davao as a “people’s initiative.”
“Kung nakikita mo yung mga placards, streamers ng mga tao na pumunta dito, hindi yan traditional. Mga sako, karton, ito kasi yung instruction ni mayor eh (As you can see the people went here bringing placards, streamers made from sacks and cardboard because that is the instruction of the mayor),” he said.
Tondo, a district in Manila with a population of more than half a million people, is considered to be the country’s symbol of poverty and an “eye-opener” for visitors. (With a report from Noveah May Simbajon/davaotoday.com)