The country at campaign: Where are we?
By Wilfredo G. Villanueva
If the real world mirrors general perception, if the elections were held a day before the start of the campaign for national positions, Binay captures the presidency, Escudero his VP.
We have three months to prove that people’s hearts and minds can be redirected to the truth that’s plain to see, that Binay is a crook to the highest degree, Duterte is a whacko, Poe inexperienced, and Mar, true and loyal servant of Daang Matuwid, is the one and only choice—a no-brainer of an election. Ma’am Leni, with love from Naga, is the one and only choice as spare tire, saying in effect that when she gets elected, she only starts real government work when she’s needed to fill the gap, as per job description. Unlike Binay who had to square off his territory, surround himself with finery living in a Palace of his own, and declare his passion as the next president, a breath or an election away, and don’t forget the tv crews, cameras, recorders, gaggle of reporters—presenting the Sultan of Sleaze.
Twenty-sixteen’s election copies 1986’s snap polls in drama and dichotomy, with not two but four (five if Miriam manifests herself) protagonists in an almost statistical tie at the starting line. How can the beloved country win with a minority president, cornering maybe 33 percent of the vote? With a citizenry who wears its political colors on its sleeve 24/7? With China breathing down our necks, a Muslim insurgency flushed out with the fire of Mamasapano and the BBL tossed to limbo? Yes, the republic, like in 1986, is in real danger of being torn apart, unable to find unity of vision.
We have several tools, weapons if you may, at our disposal:
One, media traditional and social. Print, radio and tv can get as near the center of the action as possible, offer opinion, but at the right moment can either deftly align itself with the perceived winner or stay at the safe zone at the most opportune time to survive as business enterprises. Traditional media, if used wisely by campaign can help propel a candidate, but only to a certain extent, knowing how some opinion can be managed. Social media, on the other hand, its reward being psychic and not financial, fights under the radar, mostly guided by principle and is therefore a rich resource for any campaign, again with healthy skepticism, knowing that paid trolls abound, diminishing instead of reinforcing messages. Media is like a bomb, properly handled it can create impact in favor of the handler, improperly, it blows up in the face of the one who wields it. In Facebook, I am surprised to get likes and shares of my political posts from people who I had thought were not with me at the start. Is it just my imagination that I am firing with small arms, but I’m picking off targets one by one, who will in turn infect their own circles of friends into their line of thinking? In stark contrast, trolls are laughable, with their askew one-liners, outrageous grammar and inability to engage in conversation. Guess what, their target audiences are even more incredulous. It’s the messenger not just the message. Character matters for the message to gain traction. In both media.
Two, the future. We may quarrel to our hearts’ content, but trot out the children, the next generation, and we sort of fall in line and be like sheep for once, so that the country will not fail—for the sake of the children. The people or a good chunk of them, will elect the one and only choice.
Three, the planet in flux. With the Fed raising interest rates and China in somewhat of a downturn—not to mention the effects of climate change—the world may be hostile to insulated mall-goers in the next six years. Who would they pick to be the next president if the other choices may not be up to it, weighed but found wanting by allegations of high crime or sheer and utter unpreparedness, hubris, deer-in-the-headlights in the face of an onrushing 18-wheeler of life-changing events?
Four, the President (belated happy birthday, Mr. President!) will be a factor in the election of his successor. He stood and delivered—gait, stutter, smoker’s cough and all. What a show, Mr. President. He is Exhibit A of Sun Tzu’s principle in The Art of War that deception is key to victory. I mean, who would have thought that a laid back son of two greats who hardly created a dent in his previous assignments—unlike the Davao mayor, unlike Binay who put on war paint at the get-go of his VP-ship to target unashamedly the highest post of the land, unlike Grace with her telegenic appearances and panache, unlike Miriam who enthralls like the Queen of England, who would have thought that he would bring the ship of state to journey through economic (GDP, investment-grade rating), military (new arms, equipment, ships, cutters, helicopters, planes), social seas and come out victorious, not your idea of crush ng bayan, yet fighting and smiling and, yes, relishing every moment of his presidency. Beware, enemies, Noynoy Aquino has got the groove. You have been warned. The guy got game.
Five, the millennials. Forty-three percent of total population, they will elect the next president. The Marcos Pa Rin fever has died down (for now), when social media was flooded a few months back with lines of undying love for the undeparted and unburied dictator. The young are extremely quiet, witness to the histrionics of the Left, witness to Binay’s sardonic smile, Duterte’s kissing spree and spitting on every value we hold dear, witness to Grace’s groundless chutzpah, witness to Miriam’s, Miriam’s, where is she? Can the young be counted on to separate chaff from grain, self-service from public service, downright evil and non sequitur from what’s obviously good—but borrring?
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, in this corner stands Mar-Leni in yellow shorts, in four other corners fellow pugilists in varying colors with no identifiable principle or position.
Aah, thank you, Holy Spirit, you led me to the key phrase: “no identifiable principle or position.” Ro-Ro is identifiable enough. We all know where they live.
“Kung may kulang pa, pupunuin ko. Kung may mali pa, itatama ko,“ Mar. Leni (paraphrased): “I will refuse a cabinet position knowing that it will be a temptation to project myself. My position is with the poor, ang laylayan ng lipunan.” (Laylayan ng lipunan, equivalent to dregs of society.)
On the other hand:
Grace: “Ipagpapatuloy ko ang sinimulan ng tatay ko.”
Duterte: “I’ll endorse Binay if I’m DQ’d, I’ll set GMA free, I’ll give due process to Bong Revilla, but I’ll kill the vermin, the low-life, small-time criminals at arrest.”
Binay: “I’m doing this for the poor, because I am poor, or I came from the poor, see I eat with my hands (scorn, smirk, smile).”
Miriam: “I am so circumspect that I picked Bongbong Marcos to be my VP.”
There you have it. Let the contest begin. May the beloved country win. The future is in our hands. My own hand? It trembles. Why?
This year’s elections are uncannily Part II of the snap polls called by Marcos in 1986.
The protagonists are the same, although one side is Hydra-headed. Mar-Leni represents the moral force, the thing that makes parents stand up for their children, the color yellow. That’s one side. The other side is where you find Poe, reputed to have former Marcos advisers with her. Chiz, Balesin, Bobby Ongpin, get it? You have Duterte, who will not bat an eyelash to talk to Bongbong, who considers Apo Ferdie the smartest president ever. You have Binay who rubs elbows with Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan people, BFF of Juan Ponce-Enrile who raised Bongbong’s hand in proclamation, Darth Vader himself. And of course, Miriam, who believes in the Marcos magic, having the son as her vice-president. Yes, make no mistake about it. It’s yellow versus red all over again, KBL red, reloaded.
I chanced upon a Binay organizational meeting in a restaurant in Quezon city. I thought it was a multi-level marketing push. It was instructional, like how do you answer this and that objective (“Show them this video.”). The ensuing video—I could only hear the audio—sent chills down my spine. It was a Binay meeting! They were professionals, no hesitation at all whether what they were doing is good or bad, just a job that had to be done, like putting up arko and banderitas for fiesta. The recruits or followers weren’t rambunctious, no wise cracks and silly laughter, college-level kids I think, they were all ears for the speaker who had the self-confidence of Seal Team Six. Can you imagine the cheek, dear reader? In a public place, on crystal-clear mic, the speaker saying: “O corruption ito, ha. Kausapin ninyo yung pook leader,” (“This is corruption. Talk to the pook leader,”) implying a pat in the back in light-hearted fashion. It’s as brazen as brazen gets. As if corruption is not the overarching issue against their candidate! Listen up, people. The Binay army is six years ahead of Mar-Leni’s. Money is flowing as in a pipeline and Binay soldiers are industrial-scale, pointed in one direction like German SS. All of them, Binay, Poe, Duterte, Miriam, are well-funded, well-coordinated, well-motivated. Not just one Marcos, but four of them. And I know some people who say they have no choice? That Mar is blah? Na pare-pareho lang ‘yan?
I just want to start hurling thunderbolts from my keyboard—zing! zing! zing!—anything, including boiling oil and kitchen sink.