Marikina councilor bet Habijan: Grace in defeat

Speqtrum goes into a Facebook interview with Erick Franco Habijan, an openly gay candidate for councilor in the city of Marikina in the Metro Manila capital.

He gained a social media following with his political advertisement online that bravely expressed pride of being a gay candidate.

Although he lost, Habijan said he makes sure he is grateful in his defeat, adding that he also wanted to show that even a gay candidate can join the political arena.

Habijan
Photo from Eric Habijan’s Facebook account (www.facebook.com/erickhabijan)

Question: How was the campaign in Marikina as a gay candidate? You’ve gotten a lot of positive response on social media.

Habijan: As a new candidate in general, the campaign experience was quite a tough journey. There were a lot of battles to consider. One, I’m a newbie, so how do I make myself remarkable and consequently, standout from the rest of the candidates. Two, I’m part of the opposition, so how do I convince the voters to vote for me and my teammates, instead of the incumbent.

I’m the youngest candidate and I don’t have any experiences in Marikina politics, so how do I prove that I’m worthy of their votes.

And lastly, I’m gay. At first, my family, friends and teammates from the party were hesitant to put “bakla” in my campaign. They feared that I won’t appeal to the older, conservative market. But I was persistent (and yes, stubborn) and told that “bakla” needs to be there because it was me. It was my core.

Q: Did you encounter discrimination during the campaign?

H: I’ve encountered discrimination along the way. Like, I didn’t have to flaunt it.

Some were questioning my intergrity. Sabi nga nila “Manlalalaki lang ako sa Konseho. Gagamitin ko lang ang kaban ng bayan sa panlalalaki. Wala akong ibang gagawin kung hindi puro kabaklaan. Concerns lang ng LGBT ang pakikinggan ko. At magpo-promote lang daw ako ng kabaklaan.

It mostly came from the people who are supporting our political rivals.

When I went viral, the same negative reactions were raised.

But truth be told, there were more people who supported me because of my declaration.

Hinangaan nila ang pagiging totoo ko at ang pagiging proud ko sa sarili ko.

May mangilan-ngilan online. Meron nagpost ng swimsuit photo ko (kasi I joined Binibining ABSCBN in 2014, a gay pageant where I won) side by side with my bago, bakla campaign.

And said, ganito tayo magkampanya sa Marikina. Tapos yung mga comments, bakla! Salot sa mundo. Tama sa Pacquaio, mas masahol kayo sa hayop.

Q: How did you fare in the final election results? 

I placed 12th out of 22. I’ve garnered 28, 692 votes. But I’m happy about how I fared and proud ako. Ang mga kasabayan ko, datihan na sa pulitika, Sila yung mas kilala and familiar faces.But I managed to give them a good fight.

Ang nakakatuwa, may mga umiyak sa pagkatalo ko. Niyakap ako at sinabihan nilang ako ang pinaka-deserving sa mga kandidato.

At maraming nakikiusap na tumakbo ako ulit.

Q: How did you accept your defeat in the elections?

H: I’m happy about it!

Before I entered the race, I told myself, this is a compatition. You’ll either win or lose.

But whatever the results would be, you have to give your best. Dapat at kailangan magaling ako. Kaya ginalingan ko in every step of the way.

Ako gumawa ng concept ng “Bago bata Bakla”. Yung concept ng ilalabas kong collaterals, sabi ko dapat refreshing. Yung jingle ko ako nag-compose at kumanta.

At masaya ako kasi yung pamilya at kaibigan ko, nandyan para tulungan ako.

And now, seeing the response of a lot of people, especially online, I am more than happy and grateful. I feel loved.

Ang daming nagsasabi at nagmemessage online that they loved me and my campaign slogan at kung taga-Marikina lang sila, iboboto nila ako.

Mas higit pa yung naramdaman kong pagmamahal.

I may not have won, I’m still victorious!
Q: What does your slogan mean to you?

“Bago. Bata Bakla” came in when I was asking myself: how do I become remarkable.

Inisip ko, among the candidates, what sets me apart. I thought, isa ako sa mga bago, ako ang pinakabata, at ako lang ang bakla.

Yun ang core ko. And then I thought, from an voter’s perscpective, being young, new, and gay may deem them as weak traits.

But, I refelcted about it again, sabi ko, these are my strengths. I’m young and I can bring in new and dynamic ideas because of my competence and wit.

I’m new at ibig sabihin, wala akong bahid. I’m not tainted. In addition, wala man akong butI’m willing to learn. Hindi ako nagpapakabog bilang paandar akong tao. I always strive for excellence in everything that I do.

I’m gay and I’ve always regarded my being gay as a treasure. Nagamit ko ito sa napakaraming bagay. My charisma, my drive to excel, my desire to be a better person is always rooted from it. Ayaw ko kasing mababa ang tingin sa akin ng tao dahil bakla ako. I wanted people to respect me and see my greatness because I’m gay.

Because in life, we don’t always win. we don’t always get what we want. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be a winner and be victorious.

Ang dami ko ng stories of rejection. Pinangarap kong maging singer pero narereject ako sa mga auditions sa ABS and GMA. Pinangarap kong maging TV host/MYX VJ pero hindi ako nagqualify. Sa pag-ibig may mga taong nireject ako dahil sobrang bakla ko.

But everything happens for reason.

And when we don’t get what we want or what we desire of, it means one thing: hindi siya makakabuti para sa atin, hindi pa natin siya kailangan, at hindi siya para sa atin.

God always knows what’s best for us. Naka-tadhana na iyon.

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