Lagrimas Perdio .
WHILE the rules which apply to election campaign is still in that gray area of election period but not campaign period, the level to which radio entertainment is being elevated is hilarious. It is understandable that while restrictions do not yet apply, candidates and aspirants will and do take advantage of the availability of commercial airtime.
In truth, I hardly pay attention to radio broadcasts. They are usually background chatter as I prepare breakfast, or ride a taxi, or play softly in some office to which I must go. And I really mean that I hardly pay attention. So I was astounded, to say the least, at the venom that was spewing out of the car speakers in my taxi. Although there were efforts to engage the listener with information regarding current electoral issues, it was all the accompanying gossip and backyard-fence references which made me laugh.
By nature, we Filipinos are gossipmongers. We love the juicy bits which we chance upon because, I suppose, it allows us to peek into the secret compartments of other people’s lives. It allows us some spice in our otherwise mundane lives. And it allows us to be judge and jury without all the responsibility and accountability which such a serious action entails. Sadly, it also reveals our seeming incapacity to be objective and to focus on the important issues at hand.
If one is to believe in the importance and sanctity of these elections, it should go without saying that the persons who have thrust themselves into the limelight must be held to extremely exacting standards. We seem to have forgotten that. These newbie candidates/reelectionists all aspire to hold some public office which will directly influence us for the next electoral term. That’s actually quite an important position of power they will wield over us. And yet we pay as much if not more attention to the sordid “revelations” and aspersions cast against each other.
What is equally amazing is the fact that all the major players (apparently without exception) and their blindly loyal minions seem to be exerting such effort in the mudslinging and namecalling. As we draw closer and closer to the actual campaign period, the airwaves are filling up with exposés of boudoir secrets, alleged personality quirks.
As in every Filipino soap opera worth its salt, the namecalling is almost epic. And as every political campaign up to this point will reveal, there seems to be a repeated fascination in calling or branding one of the candidates as having homosexual tendencies. Unfortunately, this is to be expected in a culture that still is homophobic. I find it distressing that no one is offended by this reference which is used in an insulting manner.
Having many friends who are representative of the wide range of LGBTQ, I can surely attest to the fact that these individuals are certainly hard-working, principled people who are doing more than some others to positively contribute to our community. It pains me to have soap-opera generalizations tossed about in efforts to discredit certain candidates. And it pains me even more that the LGBTQ community does not feel empowered enough to defend themselves against these offensive references being made on the air or on social media.
On the other hand, there are just as many references to amorous relationships which may have (for the most part) stayed under the radar or did not merit much attention until they become political fodder. It is quite puzzling how judgment on such relationships can take a wild swing on the morality spectrum. Bear in mind that we pride ourselves on being a Roman Catholic, “highly moralistic” society who believes that sinners will burn in hell for eternity. If one paid enough attention to politics on an international scale, there have been circumstances in other countries which may or may not pass muster had they happened in the Philippines, although I tend to swing towards the “may”.
New Zealand prides itself on the excellent performance of their young female prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. She had her first baby soon after she assumed office, which baby was born out of wedlock since she and her long-time partner are not married. By choice, I might add. Italy, which prides itself as the home of the Vatican, had a former prostitute who served in its parliament. This second circumstance actually might have a possibility of happening (if not yet) in our country simply because we love a good scandal.
And it seems that everybody is a liar. If we are to believe how these candidates choose to defend themselves. At the end of the day, we are left with choosing between liars and cheats. We are left with people who (if their own utterances against each other are to be believed) lack integrity and are apparently devoid of honesty. As a matter of principle, I refuse to let homosexuality be a negative factor in my choices.
While these candidates desperately scramble for their position at the starting gate, the saddest thing of all is how we the voters are allowing them to treat us with such disrespect. Seriously, think about it. For decades nothing has changed, and we have been complicit to this status quo. We allow ourseves (eagerly) to be exposed to electoral fights and squabbles which are designed to tell us just how terrible the other person is. There is hardly anything positive that we hear, except on their political posters and billboards, which are soon to flood our environment. And for some reason, we seem to think that this is okay.
Perhaps what we need in order to become more intelligent members of society is the ability to discern between soap opera and political influence. I remember when radio time was entertainment–dramas which made us laugh, or brought us to tears, or made us afraid to walk into a dark room. At least then we knew that these programs were designed not to be taken seriously. These days, although the melodrama is more intense, the entertainment value still rates highly. Now, if only we could draw the line between gossip and worthwhile information…