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Election season kicks off with colourful, creative campaigns.

Byline: Barbara Mae Dacanay

Manila Presidential candidates yesterday projected religious and nationalist values at the official start of a 90-day campaign for the May 10 elections. The candidates also passed themselves off as historically conscious and desirous of change.

Religious leader Eddie Villanueva unfurled a giant Philippine flag in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila's central Luneta Park to mark the official campaign of Bangon Pilipinas Movement (Rise Up Philippines Movement).

"Let us wave the hope of a new Philippines," a tearful Villanueva said.

He said he chose Luneta because it is "like a holy land" where the country's national hero Jose Rizal was killed by Spanish colonials in 1896.

Senator Manuel Villar Jr went to Calamba, Laguna, in southern Luzon, the hometown of Rizal.

In a well-attended rally in the afternoon, Villar, Senator Loren Legarda, the vice presidential candidate of the Nationalista Party, and the senatorial candidates recited their vision before Rizal's statue.

Historical appeal

"We unveiled our vision for the nation [at] the birthplace of Rizal who told us and showed us how to love our country," the Nationalista Party said in a statement.

Popular Liberal Party candidate Senator Benigno aeNoynoy' Aquino attended a holy mass celebrated by a bishop and 14 priests in his hometown in Concepcion, Tarlac, central Luzon.

Accompanied by Senator Mar Roxas, his wife Korina Sanchez, and the Liberal Party's 10 senatorial candidates, Aquino placed a wreath at the statue of the late Senator Benigno Aquino, his father, and unveiled a monument dedicated to his mother Corazon Aquino at the plaza of Tarlac City.

"The memories of Ninoy Aquino and the late President Cory Aquino will be an inspiration to the party's campaign," the Liberal Party said in a statement.

Aquino and his team then went from Capas town to Tarlac City, a stronghold Aquino shares with the Cojuangco clans. They visited a public market in Concepcion.

President Gloria Arroyo did not attend the campaign start of ruling Lakas Party's presidential candidate, former defence secretary Gilbert Teodoro, and vice presidential candidate and actor Edu Manzano.

Teodoro and his team met at the party's headquarters in Pasig. They proceeded to Ynares Gym in Antipolo after lunch.

The ruling party has only six instead of 12 senatorial candidates, led by former actor and Senator Ramon Revilla who has been topping electoral polls.

Although not very popular, independent candidates Senator Richard Gordon and former chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Bayani Fernando came out with a very creative campaign.

They drove to the south superhighway on their way to southern suburban Cavite where the first Philippine Republic was declared by General Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

"We need to have leaders chosen based on right, not popularity; honesty, not buying the presidency; work ethic, not inheritance," Gordon said, as he raised up a replica of the sword that his great grandfather Jose Tagle used when he fought the Spanish colonials in 1896.

Singing talents

Singing Imagine, a Beatles hit, Gordon said his running mate was also a good singer.

"We are cashless but we are matchless with our good track records and our talents," Gordon said.

Calling their campaign cheap and creative, they brought a truck similar to Optimus Prime, the main character of the popular cartoon, The Transformers.

Gordon and Fernando called themselves aeThe Transformers' u ostensibly to underline their difference as candidates.

Joseph Estrada began a less dramatic campaign by saying: "With Erap, no one will be poor."

Erap is Estrada's nickname. His supporters, re-electionist Senator Jose aeJinggoy' Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile gave away aprons that bore their party name, the People's Party.

Senator Ma Ana Consuelo aeJamby' Madrigal, attended mass before going to a busy district in Manila.

J.C. Delos Reyes, a councillor in Olongapo, hit the church before campaigning. Nicky Perlas, an environmentalist, also launched his campaign saying he was the country's answer to climate change, a global problem.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Feb 10, 2010
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