Photos by: Villamor Visaya Jr.

By Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine News Agency Stringer and Philippine Daily Inquirer Correspondent

NAGTIPUNAN, QUIRINO-About 4,000 people, who are mostly members of the Bugkalot tribe and Ifugao communities in this province and nearby Nueva Vizcaya, have thrown their support behind Manila Mayor and presidential aspirant Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso who took his campaign sortie here on Thursday.

Domagoso, who is the Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer, was the first presidential candidate to formally meet with the indigenous folk of the two provinces, according to local residents. He was greeted by his supporters who gathered at the town’s gymnasium in Barangay Ponggo.

In a speech, Domagoso said he would push for the indigenous people’s rights and strengthen the tourism sector in the country, including that of forest-laden Quirino, which he described as “a desirable province.”

“If you have 15,000 tourists, you can have job opportunities.While tourists stay, they will eat, sleep, and pay for services. So if there are hotels here, they will stay here,” he said.

 Despite the “Solid North” bailiwick of rival Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Moreno said he believed he would get a significant number of votes from the provinces in northern Luzon because of what he has to offer them.

“I am always open to any concept or idea. I am offering myself…Even if bulalo ( beef shank soup) is tough meat, it will soften,” he said.

 Moreno said the peace and progress in Manila would be replicated in Quirino and other provinces once he gets elected.

 ‘Heart for the poor’

Bugkalot chieftain Rosario Camma, who is running for governor of Quirino, introduced Moreno to the crowd as the “incoming president” who has the “heart for the poor and the indigenous people” in the communities.

Camma, the former mayor of this town, is hoping to end the reign of the political clan of the Cuas as he challenges incumbent Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua, who is seeking reelection.

 Moreno, in return of the favor, publicly endorsed Camma as “the next governor of Quirino.”

“We, the Bugkalots, have an all-out support for him (Moreno) so we endorsed him,” Camma told this correspondent in an interview.

Camma served as the town’s mayor from 2007 to 2010 and from 2013 to 2016, rose to fame when he attended the State of the Nation Address of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while wearing the traditional loincloth of the Bugkalot tribe.

The 64-year-old tribe chieftain said he was upbeat that Moreno would uplift the lives and rights of farmers and indigenous folk when he gets elected.

 Bugkalot native Benito Pe-he Jr. said he believes in Moreno’s ideals, saying the Manila mayor has visions and dreams that are “attainable.”

 Moreno staged a solo campaign sortie here since his senatorial bets Samira Gutoc, Carl Balita, and Jopeth Sison visited nearby Isabela for a separate campaign trail. #