Madrigal spends birthday on poor ‘island in city’

Madrigal spends birthday on poor ‘island in city’
By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—“The rich are different from you and me,” said author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Instead of throwing a big party, presidential candidate Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, a member of the old rich in the Philippines, celebrated her 52nd birthday Monday at Isla Pulo, a “very poor community, one without electricity and water source,” located in the middle of fishponds in Navotas, Metro Manila.

Madrigal not only treated its residents to a lunch of lechon (roasted pig), fried chicken, pork adobo and ice cream, she formally adopted Isla Pulo, which she called an “island in the city.”

She shared her birthday wish with the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “The perceived top contenders in the May presidential election may win the so-called surveys but I intend to win the votes of people’s hearts.”

She also had a birthday wish for the country: That “voters will support the candidate who will represent compassion and justice and who will fight for Philippine sovereignty.”

Free food, education

The independent presidential candidate expressed confidence that “the choice of the people will be the choice of the light… a person who is touched by God.”

She described Isla Pulo as a “symbol of 90 percent of Filipinos who have been forgotten by the present and past administrations. It’s just another neglected community. When you don’t see it, you don’t remember it.”

“Win or lose, the best thing I can do is to give them free education. One of my foundations will provide them with scholarship grants. I also plan to establish a feeding program for its malnourished kids. I will try to give each [of the 200 families] here enough capital [to start their own business],” Madrigal said.

First candidate to visit

Isla Pulo residents, mostly migrants from various provinces, are engaged in garbage scavenging and charcoal-making.

Madrigal is the “first presidential candidate” to have visited Isla Pulo, according to local leader Jesus Valderama.

“[Isla Pulo] is symbolic of the poor in the Philippines. If any of my opponents is elected president, he will continue the same neo-liberal policies of [President Macapagal-Arroyo]. And 90 percent of Filipinos will continue to be an island,” Madrigal said.

On Cloud 9

On Monday, Madrigal was on Cloud 9 after a “very encouraging” reception in her recent campaign sorties in Tagum City, Davao del Norte and Gen. Santos City.

With help from “Jamby bracelets,” her popular campaign giveaways, she was positively received by residents of Bataan, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan, Bohol and Batangas.

During the 2004 senatorial elections, the same bracelets, along with the endorsement of actress Judy Ann Santos “helped me get over 13.2 million votes,” Madrigal said.

She ranked No. 4 among the winning senators.

Homestretch

In the next two weeks, Madrigal is scheduled to barnstorm Albay, hometown of her late grandfather Sen. Vicente Madrigal and will visit other Bicol provinces. She will also go to Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental in the Visayas, as well as northwestern Mindanao, Cagayan Valley and Metro Manila.

“I’m not a trapo (traditional politician), so I do not only go to where there are many people. I go to reach the people. Fortunately, they come out when they see me,” she said.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.