Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

If there are parachute journalists, there are also parachute politicians. During elections, national politicians become parachute candidates. I am a parachute candidate. I visit provinces and far-flung towns to campaign for Kabataan Partylist but I only stay for less than 24 hours. This prevents me from deepening my knowledge about the issues confronting our kababayans in the regions. To prepare for what I will discuss in my speeches, I rely on newspaper reports (if there are local newspapers, and if they are written in English or Filipino), conversations with politicians (sometimes unreliable source of information), and updates from our chapters.

But despite my greater awareness of the political life in the provinces, I still remain a parachute politician. Because of tight campaign schedule, I’m unable to explore the tourist spots and exotic wilderness of our islands. Last March 3, I was in Puerto Princesa where I saw my wife’s cousin. Her family was there to have a short vacation; most probably they went to El Nido, Honda Bay, or the world-famous Underground River. Regarding my Palawan trip, I was only in Puerto Princesa for less than 24 hours and I didn’t leave the town proper. Indeed, I’m a parachute candidate.

Palawan experience

The caravan started from the airport and we made a stop-over at the public market. The market tour was memorable because it was the first time that I introduced myself as a member of Congress instead of simply talking about my partylist. Apparently, it is easier to convince voters to support Kabataan Partylist if they know that I’m a congressman.

After campaigning in the market, we had our lunch at Badjao Seafront resto. Mayor Edward Hagedorn, who is always mistaken as the mayor of Palawan, hosted the lunch meeting. Some of his pals from the Lo’ Waist Gang joined us in the resto. Hagedorn is a famous local chief executive who has garnered awards for his successful pro-environment programs (Bantay Dagat). He is also called Mr. Political Will because of his strong leadership. Maybe Hagedorn’s hands-on leadership is the reason why I didn’t see illegal campaign posters in the city.

Hagedorn clarified that Puerto Princesa, not Palawan, is the country’s last frontier. Puerto Princesa is described as a “city in a forest.” To protect the pristine resources of Puerto Princesa, Hagedorn has banned mining activities in the big city, which was recently classified as a Highly Urbanized City. Even factories are not allowed to operate in the area.

Hagedorn lamented the decision of the provincial government to allow large scale mining in the province. He said that sooner or later big mining companies would sue him for economic sabotage because he rejected all mining applications in Puerto Princesa. Would you believe that a mining company has applied for a permit to extract marble deposits from the Underground River?

The St. Paul Subterranean River Park or Underground River in Sabang, Puerto Princesa is a world-renowned tourist destination site in Palawan with almost 1,000 visitors everyday. Last month, President Gloria Arroyo became the country’s first president to have entered the river which was classified in 2003 as a National Geological Monument.

After lunch, we met the local press corps at the Palawan State University. I learned that BSPE (Petroleum Engineering) is a leading course offering in the university because of the continuing demand for skilled workers at the Malampaya oil and gas field.

Then I spoke in a voters’ education forum organized by PSU students. Many of the organizers are new members of Kabataan Partylist who applied for membership through the internet. I also delivered a brief message in a rock band concert inside the campus.

We had our dinner at Inato resto where I ordered a familiar recipe: “walang kamatayang pansit” – this is the exact name of the food listed in the menu. Then we toured Baybay, a former urban poor settlement which was converted into a seaside promenade. Hagedorn is proud of his housing program for informal settlers: it is the poor who will choose their preferred housing site and the city government will buy the land.

We stayed overnight at Skylight Hotel. I was a guest at DYER Environmental Radio the following morning.

Trivia: Before MIMAROPA, there was MINSUPALA – Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan. Is it correct to name Palawan as part of Luzon? Shouldn’t it be included as a Mindanao or Visayas island? Even Moro rebels are claiming that Palawan is part of their ancestral domain.

Joke: What is the largest airport in the world? Puerto Princesa airport. Why? Kasi pag take-off mo pa lang ay nasa Vietnam ka pa rin referring to the Vietnamese settlement near the airport. Palawan used to host refugees of the Vietnam War.

5 Responses to “Parachute politician in Palawan”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mong palatino, LiezyL gomez. LiezyL gomez said: mga suLat ni @mongster: twitterring candidates – […]

    Tweets that mention Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » Parachute politician in Palawan --

  2. saludo ako sa iyo, mong. nagagawa mo itong pagmintina ng iyong blog. ako ay ipit at aligaga na sa aking sariling pinasan na trabaho. isa kang inspirasyon.

    Rolando Tolentino

  3. salamat sir roland sa pagbisita sa aking blog. mas prefer ko kasi ang blogging kaysa facebooking kaya nagpipilit na makasulat kahit madalas walang oras at sobrang pagod sa kampanya.


  4. mong musta?

    nakapag-blog ka pa rin kahit bz sa kampanya huh!?hehe!

    enwey, sana makpunta ka dito sa misamis occidental at ng magkitkita tau ni paul omar sa oroquieta.

    kampanaya kita dito.


    albert john

  5. […] was made part of Luzon when just two generations ago it was still part of Minsupala (Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan). In fact, the Moro people consider it as part of their ancestral domain. […]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » ‘Filipinos belong to geography’

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