After nearly 60 years of controlling politics in Tagaytay City, the Tolentino family faces a challenge from the Remullas, another political clan in Cavite. The battle is spilling over to the rest of Cavite’s 7th District and in “Family Feud-style,” pits husband-and-wife against two brothers.
The main battleground is Tagaytay, a booming tourist destination for its scenic views of Taal Volcano and Lake, cool weather, and local delicacies. But with progress comes overcrowding, unsightly mega-structures and traffic jams. And critics say many of Tagaytay’s poor residents have been left behind.
Congressman Crispin “Boying” Remulla of Cavite’s 7th district raises these issues as he bids to become the new mayor of Tagaytay, under the Nacionalista Party (NP) banner.
“It has been a one family affair since 1954 basically, so for more than 50 years, one family has made its direction and right now, we have a city just totally unplanned, there’s no master plan,” Remulla says.
Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino says Remulla exaggerates. “Hindi naman lahat yan mapupunan ng high-rise. Iyan, city eh, ang pangit naman kung ang city walang high-rise.”
But acknowledging the monstrous traffic jams, especially on weekends, Tolentino explains: “Of course, timing lang ang pag akyat ng Tagaytay, timing lang. Maganda yung economy kaya siguro ganyan ka-traffic sa Tagaytay.”
THE TOLENTINO CLAN
Traffic is a perennial problem as visitors and residents increase. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com
A candidate and member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), Tolentino is the third in his immediate family to sit as mayor of Tagaytay. The first was his father, who was in office for 27 years, followed by his brother, now Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis, who held the post for 10 years.
With Bambol bowing out in June after 9 years in office, the family has fielded Bambol’s wife Agnes, a medical doctor who has not held any elective post. Agnes Tolentino is going up against veteran lawmaker Boying Remulla.
“Nagugustuhan siguro kami ng tao tsaka may nagagawa kami para sa tao,” says Tolentino, when asked why his family has managed to stay in control of Tagaytay for close to six decades.
Responding to criticisms against political dynasties, Tolentino adds: “Eh yung makakalaban ko nga, (Remulla) tatlo sila eh.”
But the Tolentinos are also looking to expand their political reach beyond Tagaytay and into the nine other towns that compose Cavite’s 7th District.
Tolentino is running for congressman there against former Congressman Gilbert Remulla who, in turn, is seeking to replace his term-limited brother Boying.
Gilbert and Boying have another brother running in Cavite: re-electionist Governor Jonvic Remulla.
TRACING ISSUES, ROOTS
High-rise property development dot the Tagaytay skyline. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com
Rather than harp on the issue of dynasty, Gilbert says critics should look at the more pressing issues in the province. “Yung ibang issue, katulad ng corruption, lack of development, education, health, iyan ang mga kailangan sagutin muna, huwag na muna dynasty ang tingnan. Unless yun ang dahilan kung bakit hindi nasasagot (ang problema).”
But even though the name ‘Remulla’ has become synonymous with Cavite politics, their rivals question their right to lead or represent Tagaytay and the rest of the 7th district. The Remulla brothers trace their roots to Naic, among other areas, which is part of the district.
“Si Boying, kalilipat lang, last year lang so alam nila (Tagaytay voters) na ang magmamahal sa sariling bayan, of course, yung kababayan sa district. Alam nila (7th District voters) na si Gilbert, transfer din from the other district,” Tolentino says.
But Boying says the Tolentinos had been blocking his attempts to register as a voter in Tagaytay. “In 1998, I registered for Tagaytay and then suddenly, I found my name disappearing from the list of voters. So that time, as early as 1998, I knew they were up to something or they are doing something wrong about the system.”
Aside from the two-on-two of the Tolentinos and Remullas, their parties Liberal Party and NP are one-on-one in Tagaytay City and the 8 towns of the 7th District: Indang, Mendez, Alfonso, Magallanes, Gen. Aguinaldo (Bailen), Maragondon, Naic, and Ternate.
With no third force in these places, voters could possibly put an end to one dynasty, only to have another step in.