IF the informal survey we did among three of the country’s leading designers and their staff mirrors not only the fashion industry’s sentiments, but also the entire nation’s, then Dr. Elenita Binay and Liza Marcos wouldn’t have any problems having the best ternos made should their respective husbands win and get sworn in as president and vice president, respectively, this June.
In a poll we did involving designers Eric Pineda, JC Buendia, Dennis Lustico and their respective staff, Vice President Jejomar Binay emerged as their top choice for president, while Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. edged out by two votes closest rival Rep. Leni Robredo for the vice presidency.
Amidst the sultry weather, and in between piecing together a dress here and a coat there, the designers and their individual teams of tailors, sewers, finishers and beaders coolly revealed their choices to us for the country’s top two leaders several days before the entire nation heads for the polls on May 9.
Binay and Marcos won over their respective rivals with 10 and 11 votes each. Former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Robredo placed second with seven and nine votes, respectively. A total of 26 people participated in the poll.
“I want Roxas to win so that the straight path (the Liberal Party’s Daang Matuwid slogan) would have continuity,” said sewer Teresita Yanga, 63, of Team Pineda.
“He’s a good speaker,” said gown maker JR del Rosario, 31, also of Team Pineda, referring to the supposedly charisma-challenged Roxas. “I also like what PNoy did. He had those corrupt people imprisoned. I want that to continue under Mar.”
Del Rosario, a native of Camarines Norte, also chose Robredo, his oragun (provincemate), for sentimental reasons.
“Besides, she also speaks well. The couple did many things for us in Naga,” he said, referring to Robredo’s husband, the late Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo.
Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, current frontrunner in all major surveys for president, could only muster five votes. Most of those who went for him are worried over their children’s safety. They’re holding on to his promise of ridding the country of “mga rapist at adik” in six months’ time.
With three and five votes, respectively, the tandem of Sens. Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero also didn’t do well.
So, why did many of our respondents go for BiBong?
“I feel that Bongbong is very competent,” said assistant designer Alyssa Lustico.
At 24, Lustico’s niece wasn’t even born yet when the Marcoses were booted out of Malacañang during the bloodless four-day coup in 1986, which the entire world now knows as the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Surprisingly, a number of respondents who were old enough to live through the tail end of martial law also picked Marcos.
“The father is different from the son,” insisted Sonia Cerbito, 46, Pineda’s production supervisor.
“I really think Bongbong helps people in secret. I could sense it,” said tailor Joey Dublin, 32, of Team Pineda.
How he manages to “sense it,” Dublin couldn’t tell for sure. But Aurora Suarez, who, at 58, is definitely old enough to have experienced life under martial law, was more emphatic about her choice.
“I want Bongbong so that, like his father, he could strike fear in the hearts of bad people,” said Suarez, one of Pineda’s beaders.
Quite a number of them couldn’t quite articulate why they’re going for certain candidates. If this is symptomatic of voter awareness across the country, then the untold amounts each candidate spent in TV and radio ads over the last three months did little in clarifying issues or articulating his or her stand.
Asked why she chose Binay, for instance, sewer Annie Antonio, 45, of Team Lustico, after giving it some thought, could only utter three words the seem to defy translation: “Napupusuan ko siya.”
And what about her reason for choosing Marcos? “Siya ang gusto ko.”
But some of the respondents’ sentiments for going for Binay were quite telling.
Even though many of them don’t live in Makati, they’re quite aware, for instance, of the freebies their relatives’ school-age children get from the city’s first family. It didn’t seem to matter to them that the Binays use public funds to dole out free education and uniforms to children of Makati residents.
“Many people say he steals (Binay),” says Ruth Santos, 42, Pineda’s secretary. “But at least, many people still get to benefit from it.”
Apart from Buendia and staff, who are all going for Roxas and Robredo with the exception of one, Pineda and Lustico have different bets for president from the rest of their respective people.
“I’m voting for Miriam (Santiago),” said Pineda. “It doesn’t matter if she’s sick or if she doesn’t win. I really believe she is qualified.”
For voting “with my conscience,” none of Pineda’s bets for president in the past, including the late Sen. Raul Roco, won the race. In all likelihood, the ailing Sen. Santiago, a three-time presidential contender who’s trailing in surveys, is going to lose badly this time.
For vice president, Pineda’s choice of Marcos is “very personal.” He and the candidate’s older sister Irene Marcos-Araneta are good friends.
“I believe Bongbong is very qualified because he’s very educated,” said Pineda. “They shouldn’t worry because he’s not running for president. And since he’s out to clear the family name, he’s probably poised to do some good.”
If Marcos should become vice president, Pineda wants Araneta to assume a more active role in promoting the arts.
“I believe Irene has a sincere desire to further uplift arts and culture in the country. Her efforts would really make a difference,” he said.
Lustico, unlike most of his staff who support Binay and Marcos, is going for RoRo.
“I’m pro-business,” he said. “I don’t like instability that might come with a change in government. I want continuity. If you observe closely, never in our history has our economy improved as much as it has under the present administration. We’re being talked about in a positive way by the rest of the world.”
Despite being accused by his critics of incompetence and hardheadedness, President Aquino has never been linked directly to any form of corruption, Lustico added.
Buendia, like many informed Filipinos, carefully studied each candidate. Aside from politics, he sifted through the issues by reading up on economics and various credible on-line links.
He found his answer, he said, while “picturing the Philippines” under each of the five presidential candidates.
“Mar wasn’t my first choice for president,” he said. “The DOTC and DILG didn’t fly high under his watch. But when I looked back at his track record and tried to recall the few times I met him, he was always proper. He never bragged, but he knew what he was talking about.”
Buendia has also taken a contrary view on Roxas’ wife Korina Sanchez. He insists that the outspoken broadcaster is really down to earth and a “certified doer who can get things done.”
“During the past six years, I’ve never seen so many friends travel abroad,” Buendia said. “I’ve never seen so many Filipinos buy luxury bags, eat out at restaurants and go to concerts. Life has been good to many.”
Buendia hopes that these growing ranks of Filipinos joining the middle class would be inspired to “share with the less fortunate” their blessings. That’s where Robredo, as role model and inspiration with a proven track record, would come in, he said.