HAVING been educated in elite learning institutions like the London School of Economics, University of the Philippines-College of Law and Harvard University, it was not easy and seemed off for Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of Aurora province to reach out and blend in with the masses he promises to serve.
But as the votes cast were counted, the young lawmaker turned out to be among the top favorites for the Senate.
Angara made an effort to reach out to the masses from day one by wearing camisa de Chino during the 90-day campaign trail. It seemed to have worked.
The camisa is a staple outfit of Filipino farmers. But even the affluent wear it inside the barong tagalog.
Angara, who has represented Aurora province in the House of Representatives for the past nine years, traced his strong finish not only to his camisa de Chino but also to the command votes and the endorsement of youthful celebrities.
“It is really much better than what we expected. We never ranked higher than eighth in pre-election surveys, so being in number six is definitely a comfortable place. I see that I got a huge lift from command votes because we finished well in the last 10 days of the campaign. We consolidated the support of religious groups, influential personalities, organized labor unions, local kingpins,” told reporters.
In addition, Angara’s Senate bid was also endorsed by multi-awarded actor Coco Martin and popstar princess/singer Sarah Geronimo. Martin is only 31, while Geronimo is 24.
“The endorsement of these celebrities is a big help because they introduced me to the masses, a sector of our society wherein there is no large interest in politics. For somebody who is always into serious stuff like me, they [Coco and Sarah] made me relatable to the audience,” Angara added.
Sharpening the message
He followed it up by focusing on one platform: providing greater access to education, especially college education, thru targeted scholarships.
“When my ranking was not picking up, Senator [Franklin] Drilon advised us that we need to sharpen our message. They compared it to selling a product. The product should stand for something. Otherwise, the voters will get confused,” Angara, a lawyer, pointed out.
Angara, however, admitted that the impact of the clout of his father, outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara, was something that the pre-election cannot measure.
The elder Angara has been a senator for four terms (1987 to 1992, 1992 to 1998, 2001 to 2007 and 2007 to 2013) and is the longest serving senator in post Martial law era.
Of course, the efforts of my father in the sidelines of the campaign is something that you cannot see in surveys. It is a big factor, too. He called up his friends from politics,” the younger Angara said.
“Name recall is important, but in terms of converting it to votes, your surname won’t be enough and we have seen it happen this year. You have to have a strong message and plans on how to serve the public,” he said, referring to United Nationalist Alliance Senate bet and Rep. Jackie Enrile of Cagayan who is the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Enrile got 8.2 million votes as of press time and was in the 15th place.
“It was such a hard campaign. There are people who say it was a spectacular finish for me, but it didn’t feel spectacular for the whole of 90 days. We were grinding for every inch. We have to sweat and work hard for every game,” Angara said.
Llanesca T. Panti