Pimentel and Zubiri are slugging it out for the 11th and 12th seats but for the local elections the circus is over. Which brings us to my ‘trivial’ question: Nagkaroon na ba ng mayora sa Baguio? Not yet, they say. Hillary Clinton is inching her way to US presidency. We have PGMA and Corazon Aquino in the Philippines. Mayor Vi is now Gov Vi. Then again, eh ano ngayon? Will a lady mayor dramatically change the local political landscape?

A 2005 study on Women in Contemporary Local Philippine Politics of Dr. Prosperina D. Tapales validates more general studies that women politicians come from political families. Examples of which are, PGMA, Darlene Antonino Custodio, Ate Vi, the list 00goes on. However, the surveys show that they have had achievements as government administrators or professionals and business women before entering politics.

On the aspect of kinship politics the study highlighted, one interviewee explained the phenomenon succinctly -“Kinship may be our entry point; but you should judge us by what we do after we get elected.” This was also echoed by the husband of a mayor, a former mayor himself, who said “I told her that ‘our name will get you elected; but after that, you will be judged based on your own actions.’”

The same study mentioned that those two women have received awards as outstanding city mayors. One downplays her husband’s prominence, but the other credits her success to her husband’s familial politics.

Once in office, they pursue projects which may not be immediately labeled as gender-oriented, such as agriculture or public works, with the more gendered social services (health and education). Nonetheless, some of them are aware of responding to issues important to mothers and children, and some have even started women’s and/or children’s programs. Many of them consider their being mothers as a big influence on the priority they give their projects.

Tapales likewise noted that beyond the those who stay in power, we have the political heirs and substitutes. The sudden increase in the proportion of women local chief executives (LCEs) can be attributed also to kinship politics. Because the 1987 Philippine Constitution provided for mandatory term limits of three terms or nine years to politicians (except the President who gets one term of six years) many of the women LCEs who were elected in 1998 and 2001 were what are now called “breakers” ( a term coined by themselves), wives (and children) of politicians who have reached their term limits. A few have stayed on, but many gave up their posts after only one term; unfortunately, some of them had done well in their brief stints in office. (to be continued)