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No slowing down for perennial Iloilo poll loser, 73.

A fixture in almost every election here, 73-year-old Carmelo 'Mel' Carreon is running again for mayor of Iloilo City in May's midterm elections.

It is his third attempt to capture City Hall, after losing the mayoral races in 1998 and 2001.

He has lost other political contests: for the city council in 1992, 2013 and 2016; the House of Representatives in 2004; and for Malacanang in 2010.

Describing himself as an 'unrecognized Ilonggo global celebrity,' Carreon said failure had never discouraged him from running.

Plan B: City Hall

For May's elections, he originally aimed for the Senate, filing a certificate of candidacy on Oct. 11, 2018. Four days later, he changed his mind, withdrew the certificate and filed another for the Iloilo mayoral race.

The midterms are still a month away so he still has hope of breaking his bad political luck.

His losses, however, are not limited to politics.

Believing that his tenacity was a 'testament to the endurance of human endeavor,' Carreon once applied for a Guinness World Record and nominated himself for the Ramon Magsaysay Award.Both organizations rejected him.


But the accounting graduate of the now-defunct Visayan Central College (Class of 1967) perseveres.

During campaigns, he wears a tarpaulin vest marked 'Magbag-o! Bayan ko' (Change! My country) and gloves of different colors to catch people's attention.

He wears a mask and stands at street corners, under traffic lights, or at the entrance to shopping malls to make people aware of his existence and that he is running for public office.

This time, he is up against a mix of political heavy and lightweights: reelectionist Mayor Jose Espinosa III of the Nacionalista Party, Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas of the National Unity Party, Pacita Gonzalez of Lakas-CMD, Efren Gimeo of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, Esteban Abitang of Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan, and Rudy Bantolo, a retired public health official who is running as an independent candidate.

Carreon claims to be part of a line of Iloilo municipal officials who served during the Commonwealth era (1935 to 1945), but says he pursues his political ambition without financial help from his relatives.

'If a blind man can live by himself, a normal man can survive also,' he said.

If he wins, he said, the bulk of the city's funds will be spent for services.

'We will make Iloilo City as progressive as Makati City, Quezon City and Davao City. If Davao and Makati could do it, we, too, can,' he said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 10, 2019
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