In the meantime, though, the presidential race is shaping up to be a battle between big money and big name recognition, with the country's wealthiest politician running just behind the son of its beloved late former leader Corazon Aquino, who helped topple authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos.
According to The Philippine Star newspaper, big-spending Sen. Manny Villar is catching up in the polls just under a week before the campaign officially begins.
'Sen. Manny Villar's aggressive media campaign mainly accounts for his eight-point gain from December to January in one poll, leaving him only seven points behind front-runner Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in the survey, said public administration professor Prospero de Vera.
'The respected Social Weather Stations' January survey has Aquino as the top choice of 42 percent of respondents, down from 46 percent in early December. Villar, who made his fortune in real estate, was up to 35 percent from 27 percent.
'The presidential race is shaping up as a two-pronged battle between Aquino and Villar, both senators from sharply different backgrounds but with a similar message - uplifting the lives of a third of the population who live in abject poverty and cracking down on widespread corruption and political violence.'
Our Southeast Asia correspondent also has just written an interesting piece looking at how the shadow cast by the mass slaying of journalists in the region's restive south last year looms over the contest.