I got a chance talking to my father when I went home for a 6-day vacation during the all-saints and the all-souls days. We talked about almost all topics that came to his mind. His most favorite topic, however, is politics. And when talking about politics, he would always talk about the local politics - the politics in my hometown Pio V. Corpus, the hometown of a good man: the late Congressman Fausto Seachon Jr.
Here’s a glimpse of my hometown’s local politics based on my father's account:
On the night of August 14, 2010, day one of the 3-day town’s annual fiesta, something bizarre took place at the town plaza. Uninvited, the governor of Masbate province, the Honorable Dayan Seachon-Lanete, out from nowhere, emerged and materialized at the town plaza in the middle of the coronation night program. My father recounted that somebody from the fiesta organizer announced and acknowledged the presence of the governor over the microphone. The governor, together with security escorts, made a dramatic entrance into the plaza by tossing money unto the crowd virtually turning them into animals in feeding frenzy struggling to catch the bills on the air and on the ground.
Aside from tossing money, the governor copied Korina Sanchez’s Rated K’s ‘Handog Tsinelas Campaign’ by giving away slippers to the crowd. The only dissimilarity from the Rated K’s campaign is that while Korina gives away slippers only to those who don’t own one or those who could not afford to buy one, the governor is giving the slippers away indiscriminately to the crowd. A certain Teofila Letrago, who was with the crowd, criticized the way the governor is giving away the slippers. Yeah, she has all the right to protest the governor’s action as she claimed to have been hit on the head by a flying pair of slippers tossed by the governor’s party. The governor, however, apologized for Teofila’s misfortune.
Now, here’s the heart of the story:
While the municipal mayor has one unwelcomed and uninvited visitor in the town’s festivity in the person of Governor Dayan Seachon-Lanete, he has three invited special guests. The three are the incumbent mayors of some municipalities of Masbate province, namely: the Municipality of Ezperanza, the Municipality of Cataingan, and the Municipality of Mandaon. All of these HONORABLE MAYORS are not in good terms with the incumbent governor for varied personal and political reasons. In all, there were FOUR HONORABLE MAYORS present around the presidential table at the town plaza during the event.
Sensing the presence of the governor, the four HONORABLES walked out of the town plaza leaving the governor and party to continue their ‘missionary work’ distributing their goods. An aide of the governor asked the sound system crew to play the popular Tawi-tawian song, the Pakiring (or Dayang-Dayang) – to serve as background music while the governor is busy dealing with her constituents around the plaza. To the governor’s dismay, however, the municipal vice mayor who remained in the plaza watching their activities ordered the sound system crew to STOP the playing of the music. Obviously, the governor was in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
To add more insult to the injury, the four HONORABLES returned to the municipal plaza when the governor and party left and no longer in the vicinity.
Then comes a riddle: who among the HONORABLE GOVERNOR, the HONORABLE VICE MAYOR and the FOUR HONORABLE MAYORS showed decency and possess some sort of civility? No one knows, of course. Do you?
Now, let us look into the personalities involved in the incident for us to decide who among the HONORABLES are worthy of respect from the people of Pio V. Corpus and Masbate Province in general. I will enumerate their names and provide descriptions for each as far as I personally know them.
Here are the HONORABLES:
Hon. Governor Dayan Seachon-Lanete
She is the incumbent governor of Masbate province and the former representative of the third district of Masbate. She is the younger sibling of the late Congressman Fausto Seachon Jr. She toppled Olga Kho, the wife of Antonio Kho, in the recent gubernatorial race. She was a professor of the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu City. Brilliant, articulate, and has a very strong political will.
Hon. Mayor McJohn Seachon
He is the incumbent mayor of the Municipality of Esperanza, Masbate. He is the only son of the late Congressman Fausto Seachon and a NEPHEW of the incumbent governor. He chose to remain under LAKAS-KAMPI, the political party of his father’s enemy suspected of masterminding his father’s killing. His move was interpreted by his late father’s supporters and intellectuals of Pio V. Corpus - as sleeping with the enemy.
During the 2010 elections he ran without opponent upon the sanction of his aunt who is on the rival party NPC. The move, apparently, was intended to make peace with his nephew as the Seachon’s and Lanete’s are allegedly divided due to a family feud -- a situation being taken advantage of by their political opponents.
Hon. Mayor Diomedes Amaroto
He is the incumbent, 3rd termer, Municipal Mayor of Pio V. Corpus, Masbate. Before becoming a mayor, he served as barangay captain of Poblacion Pio V. Corpus for three consecutive terms. He ran and served under the NPC, the political party of the late Congressman Fausto Seachon Jr. The story has it that when barangay captain Diomedes Amaroto’s last term was about to end, it was my father and the late congressman who persuaded the barangay captain to run for mayor amid his reluctance.
The then barangay captain Diomedes Amarato has all the reasons for his reluctance of becoming a mayor. Foremost, he was concerned about his educational background. He never went to college and his capacity in governance is a big issue. Second, people voted for him as barangay captain for three consecutive terms not because of his competence but because of his being a good person. Obviously, he knew his limitations. He may be a good barangay captain but he does not make a good mayor. So whatever becomes of the mayor, blame it to the late congressman and my father.
In one occasion, I saw a manifestation of the mayor’s incompetence. On December 23, 2003 (date to be verified), the late congressman Fausto Seachon asked my father to go with him on the wake of a friend in barangay Tanque, about 20 kilometers from the Poblacion. I went along with my father. On the evening of that day, the group assembled at the mayor’s residence ready for the dangerous trip to barangay Tanque. Why dangerous? Imagine travelling with a congressman with armed escorts with the idea that ambush is always imminent.
At the mayor’s house, I sat between the late congressman and the mayor while my father was seated at the opposite side of the table. I had a great conversation with the late congressman on topics ranging from current events and politics. I can’t forget him discussing the ‘one child policy’ of China. The mayor on the other hand was speechless; nothing to share about what we were talking about. He, instead, turned to my father, a cockfight aficionado, and talked about their cocks. But at some point during our conversation, the late Congressman Fausto Seachon asked Mayor Diomedes Amaroto on how much fund the Municipality has. As expected, the mayor has nothing to answer. The late congressman got irritated and admonished Mayor Amaroto.
“Where in the world can you find a mayor who does not know how much money his municipality has?” the irked congressman asked. “It is only here in the municipality of Pio V. Corpus!” the congressman added. The conversation, though, ended up with the mayor learning some lessons from the congressman.
The mayor is extremely loyal to the late congressman that with the congressman’s death he transferred his loyalty to McJohn Seachon, the incumbent mayor of the municipality of Esperanza and the only son of the late congressman. When McJohn Seachon decided to remain under Lakas-Kampi, he also did the same -- thus giving the opponents of Dayan opportunity to take advantage of the situation in order to win the elections. He supported Tony Kho and campaigned heavily against Dayan Lanete in the 2010 elections. Our mayor is now sleeping with the enemy he and the late Congressman Fausto Seachon had been fighting against when the latter was still alive.
Hon. Wilton Kho
The young mayor of the Municipality of Cataingan, he is the son of former governor Antonio Kho and now representative of the 2nd district of Masbate.
The Kho’s and the Seachons are supposed to be mortal enemies. I don’t need to mention the reason why, but anybody who wants to investigate would be led to the story sorrounding the assassination of the late congressman Fausto Seachon.
Hon. Vice Mayor Herminigildo Betonio III
He is the most trusted BATA-BATA of Congressman Antonio Kho. He is my kababayan but several years my junior. As far as I know I doubt if he ever went to college.
His late grandfather, his namesake, is a former municipal mayor of Pio V. Corpus. Like my father, he is a gambler. He is a familiar face on cockfights and derbies. Before making it to the vice mayoralty, he lost once in the previous election running for the same post. Personally, I know him as a gun-toting kid since every time I saw him, then; he is always carrying a gun.
Hon. Mayor Kristine Salve Hao
She is the incumbent, very fresh and beautiful mayor of the Municipality of Mandaon. A registered nurse, she just recently passed the nurse licensure exams. She replaces her mother, the very kind-hearted former Mayor Emily Estipona-Hao. Kristine is the fiancée of the Honorable Mayor Wilton Kho of the municipality of Cataingan.
The Hao’s are good and kind people as described in my brief encounter with the former Mayor Emily and her daughter – as recorded in my previous blogpost, The Ro-Ro Project and the Good Samaritan.