When Demetrio Granada introduced himself in Monday’s Sandiganbayan hearing as “80 years old, widower and mayor,” he left out one important description: freedom fighter. I respect Rogelio Baquerfo, who is currently in a tug-of-war with Granada on who is Tudela’s legitimate mayor, but this article about Mano Demet is long overdue.
The 1986 Edsa People Power uprising wasn’t like instant coffee. It was but a culmination of the smaller struggles waged by groups of people at different times and in various places of the archipelago during the “dark days” of the Marcos dictatorship. Among these was Tudela’s version of people power in the 1985 presidential election.
It’s unfortunate that media has left this important episode largely unreported. But blame that mainly on geography, Tudela and the other towns in Camotes being in a group of islands far from Cebu’s urban center. Geography is also the reason why government failed to deter the use of guns and gold that characterized many elections in that place.
Granada returned to Tudela, after decades of working abroad, months before the presidential election that pitted Ferdinand Marcos against Corazon Aquino. At that time the Durano clan, which was allied with Marcos, held Camotes in a tight political grip. Mano Demet was undeterred, however, and proceeded to organize support for Aquino.
That somebody would dare to challenge the ascendancy of the Duranos in the town must have inspired Tudela’s freedom lovers who eventually gravitated to the so-called yellow (Cory’s official color) movement. The struggle needed a dose of courage considering reports of goons roaming the place in every election and dictating the results.
The biggest challenge, then, was making sure that the will of the Tudelanhons would be respected. I won’t dwell on the details but the Cory partisans did succeed in this aspect. The struggle involved a stalemate at the town hall and a violent confrontation averted by the tolling of the church bell and the massing of people at the town center.
The May 1985 election turned historic for the town and signaled a shift in its political direction. Only Tudela among the four towns in Camotes gave Cory a win. Granada would go on to become town mayor, win subsequent elections for three terms then an election or two after some years of rest. He did these while battling the Duranos.
Times are different, of course. Granada is now a Durano ally, a credit to the changed leadership style of the new generation Duranos. But that does not mean that what Mano Demet and the Tudelanhons in those dark days should be forgotten.
(I wrote this for my July 17, 2008 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu)