Near midnight of Oct. 28, my Uncle Gerry in Hawaii posted a lengthy note at the Labayog Clan Facebook page. There was good news for the clan. (For the curious, yes, Labayog is the La in La Yumul.) My brother was elected as chairman of Brgy. 7-A, Laoag City where his family has lived for around 25 years. I reside in nearby Brgy. 5. The following is Uncle Gerry’s post quoted verbatim.
“Wow! Again, the Labayog Clan made history. Herry Labayog Yumul is elected as kapitan.
“If you are a Laoagueño, West Riverside is like a municipality within a city. It covers Barangays 1 to 10. Barangay 7-A is like its capital, being the center of the densely populated West Riverside.”
“Herry, who has the heart of a leader, deserves the position. When I attended his graduation in Baguio City, I already saw in him the makings of a leader. When his name was called, there was a thunderous applause and standing ovation. He even captured the heart of the most beautiful co-civil engineering graduate and now his wife Gina. Sabi nga nila, may inalat si Herry.
“He practiced briefly in construction supervision. But his salary was not enough to raise a family. With 3 children to feed and send to school, his salary was not enough so he ventured in business. As a market vendor, the hundreds of vendors in Ilocos Norte were amazed of his character and personality and elected him as president of the Ilocos Norte Ambulant Vendors Association. He had represented them in dialogue with government officials for a system beneficial to both sides. He is currently president of the Laoag City Night Market Vendors Association.
“In 2010, he ran as a barangay official, and was overwhelmingly elected. In this election, the outgoing Brgy. Captain made Herry his personal choice to lead 7-A. Even high-ranking provincial and city officials gave him their blessings. Thankfully, he was also endorsed by the Iglesia ni Cristo.
“In his campaign sorties, members of the Labayog clan extended their all-out support. They were with him everywhere, rain or shine. The Pink Ladies—composed of Mafae, Mafel, and Girlie (Herry’s nephews)—were even Branded as EBB or Eat Bulaga Babes. I call them Herry’s Angels.
“I laughed at one of their campaign slogans. ‘Ibotos tayo a Kapitan ni Tito Herry, naimas nga agserbi’ (Iboto natin si Tito Herry, masarap siyang magsilbi.) And they follow it up with, ‘Uray damagenyo ken Tita Gina.’ (Kahit tanungin niyo pa kay Tita Gina.) Dinamagko ken Gina, kasta unay ti katkatawana. (Nung tinanong kay Gina, sobrang tawa niya.)
“His candidacy made the clan stronger. Naging lalo tayong matatag. Lalo tayong naging close. Lalo tayong nagmahalan. Wala kami diyan. Ngunit kasama ninyo kami sa tagumpay. Wala kaming naitulong except our fervent prayers that God will guide Herry’s candidacy.
“We continue to pray that God will bless him and that he will do his job with the wisdom of Godliness, honesty, and dedication.
“Agbiag ni Herry! God bless us all.”
-Love, Uncle Gerry
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing, said Edmund Burke. Putting this statement in the Philippine political context, we ask: Who is evil? And who are the good men? Truth is, you do not need to be a politician to be evil, and your veering away from politics never guarantees your being a good man.
When my brother Herry broached the idea of him running as a barangay official, I was the first in the family to encourage him to carry on. Initially, his wife and our mother were vehemently against it. Among us five siblings, he is really the born leader. Among us five, I am the born critic. I was optimistic, dear karikna, not only that he will win, but that he will do well. Yet I did not campaign for him in any way, lest I lose credibility as a writer and sociologist.
Now that he has indeed won, the bigger challenge he faces is how to serve his Barangay well and fulfill his promises. In the murky world of politics, it is never easy to be upright, but I know he will try really hard. And because I am no Conrado de Quiros, I will never tolerate, much less defend, an erring brother.