This was how Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu City Election Officer Edwin Cadungog described the last day of filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs) yesterday.
Cadungog cited the presence of celebrities and the large number of supporters accompanying the dominant political groups in Cebu City: Team Rama and Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).
Congressional hopeful Annabelle Rama, a talent manager and cousin of Mayor Michael Rama, brought with her a handful of celebrities including her husband Eddie and children Ruffa, Richard and Raymond.
“As expected, many candidates opted to file their COCs on the last day. What was unexpected was the number of people who attended because of the presence of celebrities. There were fans and supporters,” said Cadungog.
Comelec staff advised fans to stay outside so that candidates and their immediate families will have enough room inside the office.
But Comelec personnel were also star-struck. Comelec 7 Director Temmie Lambino told the staff in jest that if they neglect their tasks to ogle the celebrities they will lose their jobs.
Cadungog estimated the crowd accompanying Team Rama to be between 500 and 700.
The BOPK came to the Comelec office with about 500 supporters as well.
There were also a handful of independent candidates.
Among the 15 candidates running as independent are 55-year-old businesswoman Lea Ong and Miguel Selim who refused to be interviewed because he claimed to be a member of the press. They hope to beat incumbent Cebu City Mayor Rama and Rep. Tomas Osmeña
(Cebu City, south district) in the mayoral race.
A total of 56 candidates filed their COCs for the 20 positions available including mayor, vice mayor, eight seats for councilor each for the north and south districts of Cebu City.
Gumersindo Cañete is unfazed by the two dominant groups as he filed his COC to run for councilor in the south district.
Cañete, 54, applied for early retirement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines but realized he wants to continue serving the people. He thought of entering the world of politics.
“I want to continue serving the people since I opted for early retirement. I have many projects in mind but it would be too early to reveal these now that I have yet to win the elections,” Cañete told Sun.Star Cebu in Bisaya.
He said he plans to secure a loan from the AFP Savings and Loans Association Inc. (AFPSLAI) to wage an all-out campaign.
Twenty-two candidates will vie for eight positions in the City Council that are allotted for the south district while in the north, there are 17.
Eight candidates want to be congressman in the north district: Annabelle Rama of Team Rama, former congressman Raul del Mar of BOPK, and independent candidates Judge Donato Navarro, Juan Arenasa, Pablo Doronio, Vicente Tan, Eliseo Tumulak, Marlo Maamo and Florencio Villarin who was the last person to file his COC at 4:15 p.m. yesterday.
There are only three candidates for south district congressman: Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa of BOPK, lawyer Aristotle Batuhan of Team Rama and independent candidate Erlinda Sollano.
There are only two candidates for vice mayor: incumbent Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young of BOPK and Councilor Edgardo Labella of Team Rama.
Comelec North District Election Officer Marchel Sarno said there are fewer candidates this year compared to the over a hundred people who filed their COCs in the last elections.
He said that it could be because there were three groups that filed complete slates in the last elections.