What Ilocanos want to tell presumptive president Bongbong Marcos

Michael Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2022 08:09 PM

 The interior of the Marcos Museum in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, featuring the house's dining area that was converted into a study. May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.
The interior of the Marcos Museum in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, featuring the house's dining area that was converted into a study. May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

ILOCOS NORTE - In the sleepy town of Sarrat in Ilocos Norte lies a piece of history: the birthplace of late president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. turned into a museum.

The brick building features relics of the Edralin family's history, ranging from high wooden chairs a mother would sit on to watch over their children and their suitors, to a table that had probably been used by Marcos himself to study. 

Tourism ambassador Minda-Cristina Jusay told ABS-CBN News she was going to cry tears of joy. After all, Marcos' son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., was poised to become the country's first Ilocano president in 36 years. 

"I'm very glad, maiiyak ako," Jusay said, before explaining she was the presumptive president's second cousin. "They're my relatives, for one. At saka mabait na bata si Bonget." 

Jusay said she was glad that despite all the negative things said about his family, "Bonget" kept his cool and never said anything negative against his opponents. 

"He's well-versed into a lot of things, pati ang foreign policy, yung foreign policies na yan, because kung hindi magaling ang presidente mo, you cannot make good policies eh," the elderly tourism ambassador said. 

But Jusay added there are a few things to solve in Ilocos Norte, especially high power prices. 

"Kase we produce our own electricity here in Ilocos Norte," she said. "We have the wind farm, tatlo yan eh. Burgos, Bangui, and Pagudpud. Sana mapa-baba niya ang kuryente namin here. Kasi mas mataas ang kuryente ng Ilocos kaysa sa Manila, sa aking nakikita."

She added that there are also high petroleum prices to address, as well as continuing the "Build, Build, Build" program of the outgoing Duterte administration to better connect the Ilocos Region to the rest of the country. 

Outside the Marcos Museum, a few brickmakers had set up shop making hollow blocks for various buildings. With them was driver Simon Salenda, who said he was sure there would be a celebration in town if Marcos Jr. visits Sarrat. 

Life goes on in the town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, the birthplace of late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., namesake of his son, presumptive president Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.
Life goes on in the town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, the birthplace of late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., namesake of his son, presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

When asked what he expected the presumptive president to do once in office, Salenda said he wants Marcos Jr. to address the issue of rising prices, especially that of fertilizer. 

"Taas ng presyo! Limang libo na yung taas," Salenda, also a farmer, said. "P5,500 na ngayon, doble yung dalawa. Tapos yung palay naman di naman masyadong tumataas yung presyo." 

Compared to farming, there was no problem making money through producing hollow blocks. 

Salenda added that even though Ilocos Norte's highways are easy enough to travel on, he hoped the new presumptive president would improve roads and bridges leading to faraway barrios. 

"Kase kapag tumataas yung tubig, ano eh, nagbabalsa kami eh," he said. "O sasakay lang sa ano, yung kawayan lang." 

Past a few houses near the Marcos Museum, student Ejay Rasos said he is happy that Marcos Jr. is the country's presumptive president.

A residential area in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, following the victory of presumptive president Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. in the 2022 elections. May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.
A residential area in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, following the victory of presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in the 2022 elections. May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

"Masaya kase Ilocano din po ako. Saka siya po yung binoto ko din po," he said. "Pero still hoping po na maganda pa din po yung pamamalakad niya."

For him, it is important for Marcos Jr. to increase the funding for education, as well as agriculture. 

"Medyo nakukulangan lang din po ako," Rasos said about the funding for schools in Ilocos Norte.

He also called on those who voted for other presidential candidates to accept the election results. 

In the heart of Sarrat, fish vendor Clara Antonio was resting under the eaves of a store to shield herself from the midday heat. She said news of Marcos Jr.'s victory made her leap in joy.

"Kami sa bahay lang namin kami, isa lang bumoboto. Pero mga kapatid ko, mga pinsan ko, sila (bumoto)," Antonio said. "Apo Bongbong Marcos!"

For her, the former senator ought to increase the number of jobs in Ilocos Norte. 

"Nagpapasalamat kami dahil babalik siya rin sa dati naming paghahanap buhay na masaya kami," she said. 

In the center of Sarrat stands the Santa Monica Parish Church, the largest of its kind in Ilocos Norte. Wind from the plains in front of it would blow dust past the doors and onto its 140 meter stone floor. Dust that Rex Doropan would have to sweep away by himself with another colleague. 

The Santa Monica Parish Church located in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, the birthplace of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., in this photo taken on May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.
The Santa Monica Parish Church located in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, the birthplace of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., in this photo taken on May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

Doropan is sure that Marcos Jr. would do many things, not only in Ilocos Norte, but across the Philippines. 

However, he wants the presumptive president to build a hospital in Sarrat. Though there is a rural health unit in the town, people still have to travel to nearby Laoag or Batac for more advanced medical treatment. 

Doropan, a farmer, also hopes Marcos Jr. will increase the selling price of palay for farmers. 

"Mga magsasaka, mapapababa yung mga parang abono, ganon," he said. "At saka yung palay kasi para syempre tumaas yung presyo."

Back at the Marcos Museum, near a replica of what would have been the Edralin family's kitchen behind their house, Minda-Cristina Jusay told ABS-CBN News she expects Marcos Jr. to work hard. 

A picture of Josefa Edralin looking upon another image of her son, late president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.
A picture of Josefa Edralin looking upon another image of her son, late president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. May 10, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

"For one, he is one guy who does not know everything. So he has to choose very good think-tanks," Jusay said. "And natutuwa naman ako that Imee Marcos is the ate. She's there, she will always guide him." 

When asked if there was anything she wanted to say to the presumptive president, the tourist ambassador said she would greet him. 

"Congratulations for a job well done! And for being that wholesome person na hindi nagsalita ng masama sa kapwa." 

As of May 12, 3:17 p.m., Marcos Jr. leads the presidential race with 31,104,060 votes compared to the 14,822,026 obtained by his closest rival, Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo. 

The United States and China have already congratulated Marcos for his victory in the elections, and expect him to strengthen ties.

Meanwhile, in Ilocos Norte, five of Bongbong's relatives, including his son Ferdinand Alexander "Sandro" Marcos, have been proclaimed as officials in the province. 

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