Rhona Canoy .
SO… It’s been a while since I’ve been gone and before I start rambling, I’d like to thank Editor-in-Chief Herbie Gomez and Some-Kinda-Editor Cong Corrales for inviting me back. For those of you who aren’t quite clear on where I’ve been, I spent an enjoyable several months attending to my candidacy (which didn’t pan out) in these most recent local elections.
Like most other armchair political scientists, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the Filipino psyche when it comes to picking candidates and when social media (my most favorite form of entertainment and brainwashing) exploded with wrath over the reelection of Bong Revilla and several other strong-but-deemed-unworthy “senatoriables”, my ruminations turned to the culprits who committed this dastardly deed, us voters.
No matter whether it is national, midterm or barangay elections, I’ve sifted through and culled the factors that determine political outcome, to the 4P’s. Much like the government’s similarly names alms program, it seems that our election politics is founded on the assumption that the masses are stupid and easily blinded by money. Which is a sad thing, because it’s what most politicians find lures the most support. In understanding the mindset of our less fortunate brethern (actually quite a condescending term, if you think about it), politicians have figured out how to keep them in their electoral pockets to ensure victory. Hence, 4P’s.
Popularity. The most obvious factor. Of course, the most popular is going to win. After all that’s what elections are based on. The most popular winding up in office. Now, whether the most popular is the best choice will always remain questionable. As I’ve always contended, you don’t have to be the most qualified or the most dependable to get elected. You do, however, have to be the one who is believed to be approachable and the granter of wishes. Kind of like high school. Where the most popular ones are’t always the best overall, and more often than not, are popular for shallow attributes like physical beauty or athletic prowess. Seldome is it the class nerd or class activist, since mental capacity or passion isn’t deemed worthwhile assets. So, it seems, does it hold true in politics.
Personality. Well, this is also a given. Most people are going to vote for the famous, like celebrities or showbiz folks or those who have been in the media, sometimes due to some scandalous or gossippy reasons. Movie and television actors do really well. Of course, since it is their career, they can always act qualified, dignified, gentrified, and so their appeal to the masses is intensified. The ones who seem to do the wellest are the matinee idols (presumably because of their good looks), and the action heroes (presumably because they always come to save the day). How blurred must the line be between fantasy and reality for the many, since a person’s political career can spring from these platforms. I wonder how Mocha Uson with her salacious history would have fared had she stayed in the limelight. And ran for senator. On a side note, whatever happened to her?
Power. This is also understandable. It is easy to comprehend. Incumbents have the upper hand because the facilities and logistics available to them are provided by government funds. Radio, TV and online fora ostensibly to inform the public about the wonderful works which have been done by our incumbents intensify during election period. In fairness, our city hall information people are masters at this. I found it quite interesting that, while waiting in line at the City Treasurer’s Office to pay real estate taxes, there was a large TV mounted overhead looping videos advertising the mayor’s accomplishments, much to my dismay. I had hoped to catch up on my afternoon telenovelas.
Pesos. The most obvious of all. Sadly, people nowadays always assume, even from the get-go, that the one with the most funds (real or perceived) wins. There were stories floating around early in the game that Mayor Moreno had a war chest of something like P500 million which, even before the campaign period started, gave people the assumption that he and his cohorts were sure bets to win the election. Which prediction came true, by the way. So there must be some truth to the rumors. We must face the harsh reality that money and how it is used to sway elections is now a very entrenched institution in our electoral politics. It is, after all, the music to a complicated tango between voters and candidates.
And so we complain about the outcome of our elections. And yet we know how these people get into power. Even the more idealistic newbies have some P. Case in point, newly-elected Pasig mayor Vico Sotto. Even though his innocent idealism impresses me, much like his non-showbiz demeanor, it can’t be denied that his lineage can be categorized under the 4P’S. His name alone assures recognition and his parents certainly fall into the popularity and personality categories. His father’s large financial holdings can be seen as the peso factor, and the Sotto influence on entertainment media can be quite powerful. After all, his father legitimized womanizing on a national scale and made the immoral moral by finally wedding his last youngling conquest.
So call me bitter if you must. Although I actually had lots of fun through my final electoral quest, already aware of the final outcome early on. And was horrified at the things that I saw and the amount of neglect that our city government pays our more in-need “lungsoranons”, until election time comes around. But that’s fodder for my next column.
So for those of us who keep hoping that our political landscape will change, and no matter how much we keep trying to collect on President Duterte’s campaign promise of change, we the people are doing a quite bang-up job of making sure we are doomed. But then we can always hope.