Manitoba Filipinos deeply divided over commanding lead of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in presidential election
Some Filipino-Canadians concerned about 'revisionist history,' others say wait and see how he actually leads
Filipino people living in Manitoba watched the son and namesake of ousted Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos take a commanding lead in an unofficial vote count in Monday's presidential election, but many are divided on the prospect of his leading the country.
Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. led the unofficial vote count for most of the day on Monday in the country. Sara Duterte, the daughter of the current president, is running to be vice-president.
Marcos pulled far ahead of his closest challenger — current Vice-President Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights — which was a big disappointment for a Filipina woman who cast her ballot from Winnipeg.
April Carandang, who is a Canadian permanent resident, registered to vote for the first time in the election so she could see Robredo become president, but believes that is no longer possible.
"I feel devastated because I really wanted Leni to win ... She has a great track record, she has no issues of corruption and she loves the Filipino people," Carandang said.
Throughout her campaign, Robredo distanced herself from the current president's violent temperament and promised to uphold human rights for the country's citizens.
Marcos Jr.'s popularity, the result of a major rehabilitation of his family name, also comes from a widespread social media campaign under the theme of unifying the country.
His lead in the campaign is also disappointing for Leonilo Santiago, a Filipino international student at the University of Manitoba, who believes this election could reinvigorate the legacy of the Marcos dynasty.
"It's definitely the forgetting the history, historical revisionism.," he said in an interview on CBC Manitoba's Information Radio on Monday. "This will definitely affect our generation [and] the future generations to come."
He watched the election coverage live and said it's been "nerve-racking."
"It's definitely something that we are involved with because we have people who we are close with back home," he said.
WATCH | Filipinos in Canada divided over election:
Dante Aviso, who was born a year before Ferdinand Marcos Sr. became president, says the interim results are deeply disappointing.
He lived through14 years when the country was under martial law, including a period where there was a rice shortage, and corruption was rampant.
"We are not happy that the son and the daughters of the dictators President Marcos Sr. and President Duterte, that they're leading the nation again. It's like a carbon copy was happened in 1966 when the dictator Marcos ascended to power and also in 2016 when president Duterte ascended to power," Aviso said.
Many Filipino people in Winnipeg support Marcos Jr. and believe he will be good for the country, including a group of people who watched election coverage on TV together at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba on Monday evening.
Candidate not his father, man says
As a Canadian citizen, Tomas Recalde wasn't able to vote in the election, but he watched the coverage until 2 a.m. Monday and is pleased with the lead Marcos Jr. has taken.
Recalde believes Marcos Jr. shouldn't be judged for the crimes of his father.
"You cannot blame what the fathers did on your son or what your son on to your father ... They think that the son is already a dictator? He didn't even started sitting down in the palace," he said.
He says opponents of Marcos and Duterte should give them time to lead before opposing them.
"Why don't we just let Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte lead for six months or one year and they say something? Even myself, I supported Bongbong Marcos, if I see something that I don't like, I will speak against him," Recalde said.
Virginia Gayot, the president of the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, said she connected with Marcos' platform of unifying Filipinos, but she knows not everyone believes in him.
"For me, honestly, let's give him a chance to lead the country. Who knows, it might be good, but of course Filipinos should support whoever is there as president," she said.
Gayot hopes the new president will focus on improving the country's economy so Filipinos will be able to earn a living there.
John Acab is from the Philippines and now calls Winnipeg home. He thinks it's most important for the incoming president to invest in the next generation.
"Just invest in the kids' education. That's the best thing they could do, definitely, because people already — the situations, I think it's better to invest in the future of the kids," Acab said in an interview on Sunday.
The election winner will take office on June 30 for a single, six-year term.
With files from the CBC's Jim Agapito, Joanne Roberts and the Associated Press