Tribe sees Estrada win in pig bile
By Vincent Cabreza, Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—If the tribal reading of a pig’s entrails is to be believed, then Erap will be our president again.
After examining the bile of a sacrificial pig Sunday, mambunong (native priest) Delmo Telio delivered the good news to deposed President Joseph Estrada, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard-bearer.
Telio, who led the ritual butchering of a black native pig at the Baguio Athletic Bowl in honor of Estrada, his running mate Jejomar Binay and reelectionist Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, said the healthy bile meant that the former President would win on May 10.
“I see your victory,” Telio told Estrada, who sat about two meters from where the animal was slaughtered.
The cañao (native feast) was organized by retired Cordillera professionals who belong to the Benevolent Association of Retired Persons (BARP).
Around 700 BARP members and PMP supporters joined the feast where organizers butchered a horse, two carabaos (water buffalos), a cow and a pig. This combination of sacrificial animals is usually reserved for the Ibaloi’s richest and most honored members.
Anything for votes
Estrada told the crowd he was a little scared about the ritual.
“Akala ko ipapakain niyo sa akin iyong lamang loob. Medyo kinabahan ako. Pero kakainin ko ito kung iboboto niyo ako (I was a little apprehensive about this ritual. I thought I was supposed to eat the innards. But I would gladly eat them if it would earn me your votes),” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Estrada had campaigned here and in other parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region when he ran for president in 1998, but he said it was his first time to see a pig butchered in a ritual.
Estrada and Binay accommodated requests from the crowd and danced the Benguet tayaw, a native dance mimicking the flight of birds.
But they did not notice some members of the crowd who were chuckling as Binay was wearing a beaded headband traditionally worn by Kalinga women.
A couple of BARP members, who realized the faux pas, said they did not know how to tell Estrada’s campaign handlers about Binay’s feminine headgear.
Estrada, however, was spared from ridicule when he was asked by a group of women wearing traditional Ibaloi dresses to wear a feathered headgear meant for hunters.
For all his big plans about food security and forging lasting peace in Mindanao, Estrada, speaking live on radio station dzMM on Saturday around midnight, appeared at a loss when asked what he planned for small vendors.
Estrada told a woman vendor who asked the question: “Mahirap ‘yan…siguro sarapan mo na lang ang timpla para maraming bumili ng barbecue mo (That’s a hard question. Perhaps if you made your barbecue more delicious, you could make more money)?”
Apparently not expecting such a response, the woman pressed on, only to hear the former president repeat part of his campaign speeches complaining about the “poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer” under the Arroyo administration.
In the end, Estrada offered to ask someone to study the plight of street vendors, particularly the idea of exempting them from securing business permits.
Losing his touch?
The episode was the latest in a string of anecdotes showing the former President losing his touch when it came to specific matters of governance. Often, he talked about the importance of peace and order and food security—the cornerstone of his present campaign.
Not long ago, Estrada was asked by a TV reporter in a provincial sortie about his platform for health care. He replied: “Hindi ko alam … Nakalimutan ko na … Pwede bukas na lang (I don’t know. I’ve forgotten. Can I give my answer tomorrow)?”
Sensing the awkwardness of the situation, a media aide reminded Estrada that he had allocated a significant amount of budget for health care during his abbreviated presidency.
But for all his shortcomings in the campaign, Estrada is probably as tireless and as determined as any of the other presidential contenders.
Despite a surgically repaired knee, he has covered more than 90 percent of all provinces, according to his media handlers.
Better version of Erap
His wife, former Sen. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito, Sunday said the public was now seeing a “better version” of her husband compared with the one who ran and won in 1998.
“After six and a half years of incarceration, I think he has learned his lesson. He’s wiser and I think he will be able to rule better this time,” she told reporters in Baguio.
Estrada arrived here Sunday morning in what could be his final provincial sortie before the May 10 elections.