By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Compared to most of the senatorial candidates who come from political dynasties and have millions in campaign funds to splurge, he could be seen as a hobbit challenging giants to a race.
“I look at the elections as a big challenge. I am challenged and honored.”
This was the reply of Representative Teodoro Casiño, Teddy to most of his colleagues and friends and Papa Teddy to many of his supporters when he was asked in a national television show if he was at all afraid of the senatorial race given his very limited campaign resources.
Teddy may not have the political pedigree and enormous resources like most candidates, but he took on the challenge along with the honor of being the voice of the common folk in the halls of senate. Literally, he is running in the 2013 electoral race with the Senate as his finish line relying largely on the mass base of his party, Makabayan Coalition.
This progressive lawmaker is taking the race to greater heights as he is going to be running in 33 cities and towns all over the country in all the 90-day campaign period encouraging everyone to join him and help him cross the finish line.
Teddy kicked off his campaign for the 2013 Senatorial race with a run. He ran from Baclaran in Parañaque to the Senate Building in Pasay. Even when he filed his candidacy last October, he ran to the Commission on Election (Comelec) office in the rain.
Last February 24, he came to Baguio City to join the Panagbenga float parade. Before the start of the parade, he ran from the Convention Center to the top of Session road where he sat among the thousands of spectators and patiently waited for the parade to start. After the parade, he walked down Session Road to the Baguio Public Market where he shook hands and greeted vendors and market goers with a smile, dimples and all. Along the way, people would hold him for a photograph and to express their support to his candidacy.
Before coming up to Baguio, he ran in Cavite and from Baguio he went to Batangas. So far, he has ran in 14 cities and towns now. With roughly 60 days to go before the campaign period ends as promised, he still has to ran in 19 towns and cities. He has ran in Metro Manila; Sta Rosa and Calamba, Laguna; Cavite; Baguio; Batangas; Pampanga; Nueva Ecija; Davao; Cebu; Bukidnon; Zamboanga; Iloilo and Guimaras.
In all of the places he has gone to, Teddy did not run alone. Aside from his campaign team, local supporters and volunteers in these towns and cities ran with him. In fact during his campaign kick off, his followers from most of the 33 towns and cities also staged a fun run simultaneously to show their support.
“My party Makabayan Coalition, its network of party-list organizations and members, peoples organizations, NGOs, networks and various friends across the country, are helping my campaign by organizing fundraising activities and events. The large number of volunteers is also of great help,” he disclosed in an interview.
In one of his interviews, he also disclosed that he is able to save much from accommodation expenses because he does not sleep in hotels when he goes to the different towns and cities because friends and supporters welcome him to their homes.
He added that at present, they are selling teddy care bears, pins and other campaign paraphernalia to raise more funds for the campaign.
“We cannot match the resources of the other candidates,” he admits. “But we are running with and for the people, so we are not afraid,” he points out.
As he has been saying since the start of his campaign, it is about time for the voice of the common folk to be heard in the halls of Senate and offers himself to be their mouthpiece. He flaunts his unblemished nine year stint in congress as Bayan Muna Partylist representative as he humbly seek the people’s continuing support in his senatorial bid.
In his nine years as a partylist representative, he was not involved in any corruption or scandal issue. He has authored and pushed for bills that advance and protect the peoples welfare and interest. He has pushed for the legislation of laws for genuine agrarian reform, wage increase, respect for women’s, children’s and human rights and national industrialization.
Even as a congressman, he has not stopped from joining protest actions, together with his fellow progressive legislators they marched on the streets with the common folk in their struggle for food security, decent jobs, social services and peace based on justice.
When asked if at any point in his nine years as a congressman was he ever tempted to put his interest above the public that he serves, he replied, “There was never a time that I was tempted to engage in nefarious and illegal activities in and out of Congress. I live, do and act on the principle that the people’s welfare is above all and public office is a public trust.”
“I strive to live a simple life and this has been my guideline and reminder to put the interest of the common folk first. I also have Bayan Muna party-list and the Makabayan Coalition to thank for inculcating in me the values of real public servants,” he added.
He claimed to have dedicated his life to the advancement of social change. He further said his involvement in the struggle of the workers, peasants, urban poor and other ordinary folk; his party that is deeply rooted in the struggle of the masses and his family that is one with their struggles has kept him grounded.
The path he has taken, being the voice of ordinary people in the halls of congress is the path less taken by politicians as it is no easy task and yet he never went astray for nine years. This time he is taking on a taller order, to be the voice of the common folk in the senate. He is optimistic that he stands a fighting chance to win one of the most coveted seats in the country. But whether he gets to seat or not is yet to be determined after the May polls.
His place in the senate maybe undetermined yet, but his commitment to keep on treading that path less taken, whether walking, marching or running, he has determined long before his political career. In fact, he declared that hoping and working for social change is what drives him to keep on amid all the sweat, tears and blood already shed for this cause.
And when asked for how long will he be keeping on the difficult path, he said, “For as long it takes. In my stead, practically my whole life.”
There goes the assurance that win or lose this progressive lawmaker will not run away from his commitment to the common folk. He draws strength and courage from the Filipino masses he hopes to represent in the senate, will they let him run their race alone? # nordis.net