All photos by Pia Ranada/Rappler
In his sorties in Pangasinan and Vigan City, Rodrigo Duterte could be found throwing out distinct blue and red ballers during his motorcades. On the ballers can be read his name and that of his running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. (WATCH: Duterte woos Pangasinan, Vigan)
But whether to his knowledge or not, different ballers were being distributed during the same event. These ballers are blue and white. They still bear Duterte’s name but Cayetano’s name has been replaced with that of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
If a tandem is like a love team, there may be a love triangle developing in the eyes of supporters in Ilocos region, a bailiwick of the Marcoses. After all, Marcos had asked to be Duterte’s running mate but the Davao City mayor’s sweet yes went to Cayetano.
Despite the tension, Duterte keeps coming back to Ilocos and it’s not hard to see why. The Solid North is likely backing the vice presidential candidacy of Marcos Jr, but who the region will choose as president is still anybody’s guess.
Lagging behind in survey numbers in the Balance of Luzon, Duterte wants the region's vote badly. So far, he’s visited all 4 provinces there in a span of a few weeks.
The Duterte-Cayetano ballers have been usurped by a Duterte-Marcos baller in a campaign event in Dagupan City, Pangasinan
But his repeated visits may not be as strategic for Cayetano. In Duterte’s first Ilocos visit, in Laoag City where Marcos’ eldest sister rules as governor, Cayetano opted out. His campaign staff says he decided to entertain a media interview request instead. (WATCH: Duterte of the South woos the Solid North)
The second time, when Duterte visited La Union, Cayetano was present but had to cancel a “message event” with farmers. No explanation was given to the media.
In Pangasinan and Vigan City, Cayetano was unusually quiet. He did not give a single speech and even when ambushed by media, he gestured that he had a sore throat.
In fact, Cayetano missed the Vigan sortie altogether, deciding to fly back to Manila to rest. His wife, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, accompanied Duterte in his stead.
There’s been a growing call for a Duterte-Marcos tandem, especially among Ilocanos. In fact, there’s a group of Duterte supporters called "AlDub" or Alyansang Duterte-Bongbong.
This is dangerous for Cayetano who is banking on his pair-up with Duterte to attract more votes. He needs the tandem to be solid. This much is evident in press releases that take the trouble to remind the public that Duterte "cannot make it without Alan."
About Duterte’s choice of sortie venues, a Cayetano staff member just shrugged and said their presidential candidate makes his own choices. After all, he needs all the votes he can get.
Which love team will win in the end? If the election season were one long teleserye, the big finale airs on May 9, 2016. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com