Marcos eagerly awaited by the poor population after his great victory

Oxford-educated and jet-setter frequenter, Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Junior nonetheless appeared as a champion of the poor to win a landslide victory at the polls on Monday.

Now they expect results.

Residents of Manila’s poor Baseco neighborhood do not see Mr. Marcos Jr, nicknamed ‘Bongbong’, as the ultra-wealthy scion of a political family known for extorting billions, amassing designer shoes, and viewing public coffers as an all-you-can- eat buffet.

In this maze of streets, alleys and alleys teeming with street children, rickshaws and hawkers, Marcos is synonymous with hope.

“There will be a lot of changes when he becomes president,” wants to believe JR Foras, 30, who waits for his clients at a port hair salon, lined with posters of K-Pop hair models.

He foresees “lots of jobs”, enough for everyone, at the end of Mr. Marcos’ six-year term.

“Maybe I’ll find another job. Maybe I’ll become a security guard,” he says, admitting he lacks the training to do it.

Like many young Filipinos, Foras has become involved in the torrent of disinformation aimed at strengthening the image of the Marcos family on social media.

Marcos’ two decades of rule have been touted as a golden age for the Philippines, to make Bongbong the man who could restore that fantastic past glory.

– “we were number one” –

“I voted for him for what his father did,” says Foras. “We were number one in Asia. I just have a feeling he will do it again.”

The Marcos’ rebranding was so successful that, according to early results, Bongbong narrowly won at Baseco, ahead of Isko Moreno, a former actor who grew up in poverty in a nearby slum.

But economists warn that even if the Marcos government does not enter a new era of corruption and nepotism, it will struggle to deliver on its promises.

In a country where 43% of the inhabitants consider themselves poor and 39% say they are at the limit, the Covid-19 crisis was particularly hard.

Rolando Castillo, a 47-year-old merchant, tells how the long confinements deprived him of his income.

“Sometimes we had to use our store’s supplies because we didn’t have anything to eat.”

He voted for Marcos “because I want our economy to be better”.

“Filipinos expect a lot from him,” he added.

But the president-elect’s father has made the Philippines one of the most indebted countries in the world and his son will have little money to invest to revive or, above all, stabilize commodity prices.

Patricio Gomez, 50, has struggled to find a full-time job since his right leg was amputated and is currently helping his brother who runs a kiosk.

In recent years, they have survived by delivering sisig, a local dish consisting of ground beef and offal topped with soy and citrus, and other cooked meals.

But inflation, a side effect of Covid, continues to complicate our lives.

“Before the pandemic, electricity cost 400 pesos (7.20 euros) per month, now they are 800”, sighs Patricio.

Count on Mr. Marcos to correct the situation.

“He promised that rice and electricity prices would go down,” he recalls.

The elders of the Baseco neighborhood, who have seen the presidency pass from hand to hand among some ultra-rich political dynasties, hope that life will improve under Marcos, but without too many illusions.

“We’ll see what she does,” says fishwife Mary Jane Serdoncillo, whose expectations are low.

“I’ve always sold fish,” she adds, “I’m used to it. I’ve been selling fish since I was little, until I had children and grandchildren. Children.”

“I have no more dreams”.

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