With his penchant for badly fitting shirts, dorky hair style, and complete lack of personal charisma, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino appears the most unlikely person to win an election by a landslide. But with most of the votes counted, Mr Vanilla of Manila has galloped into Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines.
There were nine presidential contenders in this week's general election and Noynoy seized close to 40% of the vote. In a country with over 7000 far flung islands, the call usually takes days, sometimes weeks, but with a new electronic voting system and such a handsome lead, it was clear 16 hours after the polls closed that Aquino was the winner.
Not that it all went smoothly. There was violence and murder and flaws in the new electronic voting system. One frustrated election worker was even seen bashing a voting machine with a broom handle.
But Noynoy was always the favorite. Hard not to be with two such substantial parents - his late father - the assassinated opposition senator Benigno Aquino jr., is a national hero. And who could forget his mother - ex President Corazon Aquino, elevated to virtual saint hood since her death last year?
Noynoy is the comfort candidate. In a country where crooks, charlatans, film stars, sportsmen and nut jobs routinely stand for, and get voted into office, Mr. Aquino represented a steady and secure vote. He campaigned heavily on anti corruption - "If there is no corruption, there is no poverty" is a rough translation of his election logo - and has promised to start prosecuting corrupt officials with weeks of his swearing in.
His anti poverty message reveals a liberal (for the Catholic Philippines) attitude towards family planning, which has been a tough and controversial topic for politicians to navigate. He believes in "responsible parenthood. As to how many, as to what method to utilize, we leave it up to the couple, who can best decide." (The Catholic Church in the Philippines as elsewhere, has always believed it should control family planning).
Mr. Aquino says he will acknowledge the rights of homosexuals, another issue which will have him in conflict with the church. "Gays shouldn't be discriminated against in terms of occupation and other aspects," he has said, although he is "not prepared to support gay marriage."
Mr Aquino will have to tackle the problem of developing a stable middle class, who have created the foundations for economic, political and social stability elsewhere in South East Asia. Keeping the educated, the population of under 30 year olds and the floods of other Filipino workers in the country, ably occupied and properly compensated for their labor has not been solved by any President. If Mr Aquino can tackle that problem and succeed, the millions of Filipinos who queued for hours this week to vote for him shall be well rewarded.
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