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Sea, sand, sun and San Miguel

Treating voters is an inevitable feature of political campaigning in the Philippines. But who really benefits from the hand-outs?


The endearing chaos of the Philippines? presidential and local elections this month might seem a million miles away from the beautiful people tanning themselves on tropical Boracay?s White Beach, once voted the world?s best.

But that?s not the case. Just 500 metres away from the shore, on the dusty main road behind the white sand and swaying coconut palms, the campaign for the post of mayor of Boracay has just hit top gear.

The noise is deafening and the atmosphere poisonous as some 300 passenger-carrying tricycle and moped drivers mercilessly gun their two-stroke engines. Clouds of acrid exhaust spew over the road as the latest political stunt of mayoral candidate Ceron ?Dodong? Cawaling, gets under way in the run-up to the May 10 elections.

Plastic yellow flags featuring his smiling face adorn the already garishly decorated tricycles, as the caravan carves its ear-shattering and polluting path through the island?s hinterland. Mayor Cawaling himself, for he is the incumbent seeking re-election, wisely opts for a more dignified and less bone-shaking golf cart, along with candidates who are on his ticket for several other elected local positions.

It?s ostensibly such a powerful show of local support that Cawaling must surely sweep all before him in the poll.

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