Sevens keep turning up but Grace says it’s prayers

By Melvin Gascon
Northern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 04:58am (Mla time) 07/09/2007

BAYOMBONG, NUEVA VIZCAYA — Isabela Gov. Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca may not be a superstitious person, but she knows she has been blessed by events relating to her favorite number, 7.


Padaca spoke about the seemingly fortuitous recurrence of No. 7 in her life before attending a thanksgiving party on Saturday, July 7, 2007 — or 7/7/07. The affair was organized by a political supporter in Quezon City to celebrate her reelection as governor of Isabela province.


“I believe I am more blessed than lucky, and it is interesting because many good things that have come my way had something to do with my favorite number,” she said in a phone interview.


Padaca recalled growing up with a fascination for 7 because “G” — her name’s initial letter (she is known by the name “Grace”) — is the seventh letter of the alphabet.


“When I was in high school, I was fond of covering my notebooks with pages of old magazines that always bore the No. 7,” she said.


Prayers, not luck


But Padaca believes her recent successes had more to do with her being spiritual than lucky.


“As one who works hard and prays even harder, I say what’s known as pure luck has a very minor role in my life,” she said.


Padaca was proclaimed governor of Isabela on June 28, barely two days before her fresh term was to start.


This after more than six weeks of delay due to a pre-proclamation protest filed by her rival, former Isabela Gov. Benjamin Dy — which the seven-member Commission on Elections en banc subsequently dismissed.


Help from allies


For her victory, she credited the contributions of her closest allies, including Isabela Rep. Edwin Uy and Vice Gov. Ramon Reyes, who both also won fresh mandates.


Padaca noted that Uy’s first and last names totaled seven letters while Reyes celebrated his 60th birthday on July 7.


“No matter how great is my desire to carry out all the things I want for the good of the people of Isabela, I am sure that this could not be done by me alone. I thank them so much for being there always,” she said.


Poetic justice


In her inaugural speech last week, Padaca also thanked the members of her family who, she said, have been the source of her strength. She apologized that they had become the subject of attacks by her detractors during the campaign.


No. 7 seemed to insinuate itself even in the final election results. In the official count conducted by the provincial board of canvassers, Padaca won over Dy by a margin of 17,007 votes.


It turned out to be a case of “poetic justice” for her, Padaca said.


What 007 meant


“Sometime in December (2006), posters came out and were hung on the roadsides with markings of ‘007.’ These were widely known in Isabela as a teaser as it was a discreet way of campaigning for my rival,” she said.


The number, she said, actually meant, “Oo, si Ben (Yes, it’s Ben)” — an allusion to the campaign to return Dy, a former three-term governor of Isabela, to office.


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