Presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos bantered with fellow Ilocanos in Laoag City late Friday, telling an adoring hometown crowd to assert the so-called "solid north" voting bloc and that the national language would soon "go back" to Ilocano.
Marcos spoke in front of the provincial capitol during the proclamation rally of his son, Sandro, who is running for congressman. The elder Marcos had served as governor of Ilocos Norte and the incumbent is his nephew, Matthew Manotoc.
Before he introduced Sandro to the crowd, Bongbong recalled his experiences during the campaign, telling Ilocanos that his message of "unity" was well received and that he was happy to be back in his father's home province.
The crowd wore the Marcos family's signature color, red, and brought with them old photos of the former first couple, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and former first lady Imelda Marcos.
As they cheered, Bongbong said: "Babalik sa Ilocano National Language".
He then called for a "solid north" vote, saying: "Madami tayo katunggali. Gagawin nila ang lahat ng gagawin, kaya kaliangan buuin natin at ipakita natin sa buong Pilipinas kung ano ang tunay na ibig sabihin ng solid north dito sa dadating na halalan."
The Philippines, an archipelago of roughly 7,100 islands, has eight major languages, according to the National Commission on Culture and the Arts -- Ilocano, Pangasinan, Pampango, Tagalog, Bicol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray-Samarnon.
The 1987 Constitution designates Filipino as the National Language and that, "As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages."
Marcos' closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, was born in the Bicol-speaking region.
Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, is known to deliver speeches in Cebuano. Former President Gloria Arroyo, a native Kapampangan, also speaks fluent Cebuano.
Here is Bongbong Marcos' March 25 speech Laoag City speech in its entirety for context. He speaks at around the two-hour mark.