5 things from 5 years ago

Reposting an article from 2007.
————————————————————————————————————-5 THINGS YOU SAID ABOUT THE ELECTIONS:

Ah, elections. You’ve seen and heard them all, you say.  And you must be tired.  Election season is that time where days are peppered with campaign jingles, catchy (translation: annoying) tag lines brandishing this or that politician as the only ray of hope of the nation, as your voice in the Senate, as the representative of your hopes, and the enflesher of your dreams. (huh?)  As if the billboards weren’t visually invasive enough, the roads now have a wallpaper of campaign posters of the candidates. Who, by the way, are not even half on the looks scale as John Lloyd Cruz in the headache medicine billboard or Dayanara Torres in the cosmetic surgery one. “Many of us would get less migraine attacks if the politicians were as good-looking as the models.” someone said. But alas… (thought fading out…)  So let’s talk about this. My colleague, Lourd de Veyra (Radioactive Sago Project) and I took a survey on reactions of the young to this month’s elections. We did this through the past six Sundays of Rock Ed Radio. (Rock Ed Radio is a weekly socio-civics talk show that we host over the Home of NU Rock, NU107 FM.)  Our respondents were listeners whose ages range from 14-45.  They didn’t realize that while they tuned in to us, we were tuned into them, too.
Here are the most popular reactions to the coming elections:

1. “It’s just a popularity contest.  Only the famous stand a chance. The ugly ones lose.”  – While that may be true, it is interesting to note that there are smashingly good looking Senatorial candidates who are bonafide celebrities but are not quite making it to the magic list.  And many– who are not good-looking at all–that make it. Does that say something about us?  Perhaps.  (aaah, hope?)  The survey we took from listeners of Rock Ed Radio reflected this response:  Many young voters now are not convinced by star status alone.  They now know that there is much to be said about ‘training for a task’ and that being a fantastic actor might not make for an effective lawmaker.  They look for integrity, experience, expertise, and vision. Several said they want to see non-wealthy politicians hold office because they understand the general plight more than the usual public official who is part of the economic elite. But many more expressed that the lesser affluent officials might be more prone to take on the dark route and steal from the coffers. (As if there was a monopoly in that field, we’ve seen rich ones do that, too ya’ know. ) Actors? Maybe not anymore, majority said. On a light note though, some joked that being a good actor will probably help one be a good politician.  (Cool! Politicians act? And there we thought they were just ‘all talk.’) Discussions flew. They said, well if it’s a popularity tilt, then even that is our doing.  Maybe we haven’t demanded enough for them to spit out concrete platforms. Blue prints of programs and plans have to be part of their campaign blast. We, as voters should require platforms before toupees and programs before toothpaste commercial smiles on posters. I know this is elementary, but it cannot be said enough. So, I’ll say it again, DEMAND FOR PLATFORMS. Many said they have a feeling we are becoming smarter voters. I say we’ll get there someday.

2. “Public office is a family affair. It’s the same last names, just the Juniors and the daughters of the same ol’ same ol’people running. Are they any different?” – Good observation! Though, it doesn’t take that much keenness to notice that. But hear this, according to an article from http://www.pcij.org (New Political Dynasties by Julio Teehankee) there are approximately one hundred and sixty (160) families who have called the two Houses of the Philippine Congress home for decades. Two or more family members have served in Congress and they count for a significant percentage of the men and women who have been elected to the national lawmaking body from 1907-2004. (gasp*)  Again, the respondents to our survey have mixed reactions.  Majority of the respondents said that these younger generation candidates cling onto their last names, ride on the laurels, or worse, the notoriety of their forebears to win in the coming polls. But – they are not necessarily better, smarter, or more equipped. In fact, many of the young voters think that “apelyido lang ang meron sila.” (“the last name is all they possess..”) approximately 20%  of respondents said that this was okay because the business of legislation is best assigned to someone whose family orientation is familiar with the task.  If one grew up in the family set-up of lawmakers, then maybe it makes them adept to the work. (Okay, you may stop scratching your head now.)  The remaining young respondents said, it doesn’t matter to them.  What’s in a name, they say. If someone is good at the job, why persecute them just because they are sons and daughters of so and so? In our society, sadly, oftentimes doors are opened for people who have well-placed parents.  It is a fact that we are often guilty or innocent by association. In a back-to-front way that can be positive because we have character references, (okay scratch your head again) but the negative side of this is obvious and apparently unfair to the individual. You’ve seen and heard this all before because I heard somewhere that 2bU readers are smart. It’s not in the last name, in as much as a product’s efficacy is not in its name nor in its marketing campaign.  Parang Choc-nut yan. Walang TV ad, walang radio jingle, walang posters o t-shirt o tagline, pero matatag kasi talagang masarap. Tried and tested and true.  The product’s consistency and integrity sold itself. So should it be with the candidates daw. (Wow, that was a bad analogy…) Anyway, speaking of tactics, read on to the next popular reaction.

3. “The tactic of ‘branding’ a candidate during campaigns is taken too far. It’s illusory! Deceptive, at best.”  – Based on an interview with Mr. Chris Belardo, a former campaign manager of massive Senatorial campaigns in the past; the candidate is the person, the tagline is the ‘brand.’  In the business of advertising, one of the top priorities of the campaign team is to have the candidate’s name remembered. Association with something positive, something the voters can recall. Recall! That’s all they want. Aba! I stand a chance. How can you not remember the last name, Badoy? (Tadah! But no, I am not interested in running for public office. Then again, with the colloquial denotation of my name, will I win? Haha.) Anyway, I’ve had the opportunity of voting twice in my life, and Belardo is right. I must admit, I just wrote down names that were familiar to me.  In fact, the first time I voted, I didn’t prepare at all. (A ghastly mistake. I regret it ‘til now.) I didn’t realize I had to vote for so many positions. Mayor, Vice Mayor lang ang inisipan ko. So at the polls, I checked out recognizable names. I thought, well, if I’ve never heard of gross anomalies about them then perhaps they are worth voting for. Ah, how wrong I was. So, please do not make that mistake.  Study the candidates. Read about them.  Find more than one source of the news. There are several angles to a story as with a person.  Look at many sides and cull for yourself your own opinion on him or her. If there are debates on TV –watch! Listen to them talk. Observe their gestures. Write down what you like or dislike about a candidate, after all, they allegedly represent you. (Ree-prezent.) Ask yourself what you like about a certain candidate’s platform.  Is he or she an advocate of causes that are yours as well? Then go! Read. Study. Research. Plus, if the candidate has a scheduled appearance in your University, your Barangay, your District, watch them. Ask them questions. Take time out. Some of them are painfully boring as a tooth-ache while watching an infomercial but by now you know that the flashy ones are usually the more suspect. Watch the news. But wait –this is where and why media integrity has to come into play, too. But that requires a whole new article altogether. (I promise to write that one again for 2bU.) And this is also where we realize the importance of media literacy.  Being media literate allows us to be critical observers of all forms of media. It is the capability of discerning, interpreting, reading, breaking down any form of media; be it print, radio, TV, cyber, roving or static. It is a skill that we should sharpen what with all the new media forms running all over us. Media literacy allows us to distinguish mere perception from, what could be, reality.  It’s no different from liking the TV commercial of a shampoo brand and knowing what it’s composed of. Read the label, sniff the bottle, check out the ingredients.  Ah! And the best step, of course, is to have the chance to test the product before buying. Maybe we won’t be so lucky on that opportunity, when it comes to elections, but like with any product —  if it’s been bought before and it didn’t work –then don’t buy it again. That point being said, let me usher you onto the fourth pervading election-sentiment on this list.
  4. “We’ve had elections before. I haven’t seen any changes. In the names, policies, projects, programs. I’m not even sure if our elections are clean! (ah hah) We still have the 2004 questions hanging over our heads and here we are again. How do they expect us to participate?” — It is easier to throw in the towel and walk away. We all know that. Especially if we’ve overheard it from conversations of our parents and relatives from the older generation. It is also very justifiable to dismiss a political exercise when we think it is useless to participate and moreso if we do not trust the structure, in general.  Many of us find ourselves right smack in that frame of mind.  But, you see, everyday the Motherland begs you for demonstrations of hope. The polls definitely fall under that category. We can be jaded sometimes because it is justifiable to be so.  But the bigger doom of our country is not in the self-serving politician nor is it in the political wheelings and the so-called evil establishment we are up against.  The more impending doom of our country is when we, the young ones, don’t even put up a fight against our own cynicism.  Let’s choose the possibility of frustration  over indifference, for now. Let’s frustrate the cynics.  Voting is not the only thing we can do during these elections.  Rock Ed volunteers have helped man the phone lines of Gabay Halalan, an election information hotline set up by the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan at the Ateneo de Manila University. (dial 101-49 from any PLDT phone for free election related information) We can report electoral violations to the Comelec. We can join and support advocacies that organize poll watching. We can engage in intelligent conversation with friends and compare our lists. Listen to other people’s opinions on candidates you aren’t familiar with and share what you know, too. Find out more from http://www.comelec.gov.ph. Let’s try to “rage against this dying light.” Whew* And now, for the last popular election sentiment on the Rock Ed Radio survey.

  5. “I didn’t bother to register because I think it’s useless. That’s okay, I’m just one vote anyway.” —- I don’t need to write the clichés here. The ones that say “your vote counts blah blah blah*” or “if all of us thought that way, what would happen na shu-shu-shu*” – because you all know that. Of course your voice counts. Of course! This is your time.  This is our time. Whatever it is you have to say on our political situation, economic struggle, or cultural wrestling matches with questions of identity, all our confusion on global and local attitude, whatever our take is on things that matter (like these elections),  –whatever it is you have to say must be heard somehow.  I know this is why you blog, chat, text, or multiply and this is why you have accounts at Friendster of myspace. It is because you believe you have something to show and say to the world through photos of your life and your daily posts. A clear and direct manifestation of your statement on the country is by voting — then do it well. If you protest the elections then I hope you registered so at least your abstention is felt. Write it on your ballot.  For as long as we are armed with the right sense and the willingness to research more on the candidates and then we guard our ballots, it will be more difficult for the shady ones to win.

Gang Badoy, First published, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 2007.


About gangcentral

My name is (actually) Gang. View all posts by gangcentral

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