The body count stands at 116 and climbing as E-Day finally arrives. Theoretically, he whole bloody exercise comes to climax today although the canvassing of votes, done manually in this electronic age, is when Philippine elections are really won. The level of political violence appears to have escalated even as concerns over possible widespread cheating, as orchestrated by the administration, have been aired. On the precinct level though, at least in my small area of Pasig, Metro Manila, there is a fiesta atmosphere at the polling place just across our house. An air of expectation prevails, despite the slight tension brought about by the presence of policemen and adversarial poll watchers keeping a watchful eye on each other.
Manny Pacquiao’s bid to become congressman of his home province of South Cotabato in Mindanao is nearing the homestretch and the final rounds are about to be played out. D-day is May 14, 2007 and the outcome is far from certain. He faces U.S.-born Darlene Antonino, a two-term congresswoman who, at first glance, appears to be just as unsuited for the Philippine Congress as the world-famous boxer. Antonino is a chef with a Masters in Culinary Arts from The Cordon Bleu in London. But she is heir to a well-oiled political machine which, in the Philippines, is all that counts. Her family has been prominent in South Cotabato politics for over four decades.