Among contemporary politicians, Danding Cojuangco is among the most adept at building alliances. Since founding the Nationalist People's Coalition as a vehicle for his presidency, Cojuangco has nurtured and consolidated the NPC. Seeing the devastating impact of family feuds on the Cojuangco family fortunes, his branch of the family has also reached a rapprochement with his cousin Cory Aquino's branch. In 2001, they did not field candidates against each other. Instead Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III held on to his post as representative of the second district, while the NPC got Tarlac's two other seats: Danding's nephew Gilbert Teodoro for the first district and Noynoy's uncle Jesli A. Lapus for the third.
"It's a policy of my Uncle Danding," said Teodoro. "He has seen what happens to other families, when there's too many of them struggling over a small pie. His rule is you're the one in your area, as long as you do your job, nobody will bother you."
Cojuangco's contribution to dynasty building is conflict avoidance within the clan. He did this by conceding the second district of Tarlac to his cousins. He also got out of the Cojuangco tribal ground and carved out new districts for his sons: the fifth district of Pangasinan for Marcos or 'Mark,' and the fourth district of Negros Occidental for Carlos or 'Charlie.'
Not all political families can do this, of course. Cojuangco succeeded only because of the geographical spread of his formidable business interests. He runs the Northern Cement Corp. in Pangasinan and owns at least 3,000 hectares of land in Negros Occidental. Rather than dissipating resources in a debilitating family feud, he simply expanded his political influence so there would be enough to go around.
By 2001, Danding controlled all but one of the five districts of Negros Occidental and four of the six districts of Pangasinan, which was Ramos country in the 1990s. He did this by bankrolling the candidacies of his allies so they could outspend their rivals and by dispensing largesse in their districts. The NPC had 55 seats in the 12th House, many of them held by some of the oldest political clans who also collaborated with Marcos like the Escuderos, Fuentebellas, Duranos, Espinosas, Imperials, and Josons. Cojuangco's ability to cobble together a redoubtable political network attests to his dealmaking skills, considering that he was forced into exile with Marcos in 1986 and was a political pariah until his return to the Philippines in 1989. NPC members almost always vote as a bloc because of the patronage debts they owe Cojuangco.
Cojuangco has used the NPC to enter into a coalition with the ruling party briefly in 1992 and for a longer period from 2001 to 2004, even when he supported the losing presidential candidate both times. This has enabled him to wangle concessions from the presidents and the governments then in power by promising to deliver a bloc of votes for bills that presidents wanted passed. Together with his influence in the courts and the bureaucracy, Cojuangco's clout in Congress has enabled him to regain and retain control of the biggest chunks of his business empire that were taken over in 1986. The NPC remains part of the ruling coalition.
Top 4: Singson Clan
The dirty badboy of Ilocos Sur the thru lord of the north, A very powerful Political King pin pew! The entirely control the Ilocos Sur but the problem is that this Singson Destroys all his enemy!
Top 3: TV/media Myth
This is a recent addition to the arsenal of weapons available for dynasty building. Since the 1990s, celebrity power has been able to eclipse clan power, at least in some areas. This has left many families scrambling for the glitter and glamour of media or showbiz if only to heighten their electoral appeal. In the past, politicians merely hired entertainers to draw in the crowds: Today the entertainers themselves are running for office, shaking the complacency of political families and forcing them to reinvent themselves to be more acceptable to a media-inundated and celebrity-crazed electorate. In some instances, scions of political families have married celebrities. In 2002, Negros Occidental Rep. Julio 'Jules' Ledesma IV walked down the aisle with the stunning movie star Assunta de Rossi in a televised ceremony at his hacienda. Ledesma is a descendant of some of the wealthiest Negrense sugar-planter clans. He is also related to the Lopez family that owns ABS-CBN and is a nephew of former Negros Rep. Hortensia Starke.
Earlier, Batangas representative and now Senator Ralph Recto wed popular movie actress Vilma Santos in 1992, a marriage that helped catapult the third-generation legislator (his grandfather was the nationalist Senator Claro M. Recto and his father Rafael was a member of the Batasang Pambansa) to the Senate. Other celebrity marriages of political clans in the House include those of Negros Occidental Rep. Carlos Cojuangco, son of San Miguel Corp. chairman Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, to the late actress Rio Diaz, and that of Antonio 'Tonyboy' Floirendo to former Miss Universe and TV host Margie Moran. There is also Senator Francis 'Kiko' Pangilinan, husband of megastar Sharon Cuneta, who is now gunning for reelection as an independent.
Short of marrying celebrity, some politicians go into the media or the movies themselves.
Several host talk shows on radio or television. Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos once anchored an entertainment talk show on popular radio station DZBB. The fourth-generation legislator has also made cameo appearances on TV soaps and comedies, and is a fairly regular guest on talk shows, where she expounds not only on politics, but also on the talents of her ramp/commercial model son Borgy and the latest exploits of her mother Imelda. No doubt, she calculates that the showbiz glitz can help put the shine back on the tarnished Marcos name.
Lawyer Renato Cayetano, who died in 2003, was elected to the Senate in 1998 mainly because he hosted a popular radio and TV talk show where he dispensed free legal advice. Cayetano was not exactly a shining star of the legal profession. Far from it — he spent more time in coffeeshops than courtrooms, his skills honed in dealmaking rather than litigation. Yet his programs projected him as a skilled lawyer who helped ordinary folk. This media projection became the foundation of the Cayetano dynasty. Riding on his father's media-manufactured reputation, Alan Peter Cayetano won a House seat representing Taguig-Pateros in 1998, 2001, and 2004. He is now running for the Senate. His younger brother Rene Carl was elected Muntinlupa councilor in 2001 and 2004, while older sister Pia, who replaced their father in the radio show "Compañero y Compañera," won a six-year stint at the Senate in 2004.
Those who were already media or movie celebrities before entering politics have a decided advantage as far as name recall is concerned. They can then leverage this asset to ensure they and their kin hold on to public office. Thus, showbiz dynasties have emerged. These, however, have been more successful in their bids for national, rather than local or district, office. In part, this is because name recall is of paramount importance when vying for national positions, while money and machinery often matter more in local or district elections. The more successful showbiz clans, though, have been able to win both national and local posts.
JOSEPH Estrada, shown here campaigning in 1998, won the presidency by a big margin. Riding on his movie-star fame, his wife and son were eventually elected to public office. [photo courtesy of Malaya]
The senator's son-in-law, Robert Jaworski, is a sports celebrity, a former basketball player and coach who was elected to the Senate in 1998 and 2001. Jaworski's son Robert Jr. or 'Dodot' married Mikee Cojuangco, the daughter of former Tarlac Rep. Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco and former Tarlac Gov. Margarita 'Tingting' Cojuangco. Mikee, a former actress and champion equestrienne, was herself once a member of the Sangguniang Kabataan in Tarlac. Husband Dodot, became representative of Pasig City in Congress in 2004, but is said to be now eyeing the Pasig mayoralty.
Those who do not have direct access to media and celebrity make do with ensuring they get good media coverage. This is especially true for those who come from urbanized districts whose constituents are more thoroughly exposed to the media than those in the rural areas. This is also true for those whose ambitions go beyond their districts or beyond the House of Representatives, and so need national exposure via the media so they can vie for higher office. Third-generation legislator Manuel Roxas II, a two-term Capiz representative who was President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's trade secretary, used clever TV advertising and maximum media visibility in preparation for his Senate run in 2004. Such exposure entails money as the cost of television advertising is prohibitive (in 2003, the top price for a 30-second placement on primetime TV was P130,000). In addition, politicians often give under-the-table payments for journalists in exchange for favorable coverage.