The Philippines: a nation of rebels or a nation of drama fans?
We are seeing two bizarre elections this year, one in the US and one in the Philippines. I say bizarre because the candidates are saying outrageous things and promising unrealistic promises, each as if he or she were a little dictator rather than a president elected into a system of checks and balances aimed at preventing extreme behavior.
In the Philippines, one of the checks is a little more extreme than in the US. It is called a coup. Even as recently as last year, old army officers were putting their heads together after Mamasapano to see if they could get enough military mass together to throw out a president who refused to resign. They couldn’t. But the fact that old soldiers, rather than dying, were intent upon tossing out a duly elected president illustrates that the Philippines is at least one degree more . . . um, reactionary . . . than the United States.
Drama queens, these old coup artists.
We also see protesters to the left and further to the left who are always stomping about in royal indignation that any duly elected government would do things differently than they would do them. They would consider a coup, too, but no military man worth his salt would ever be caught speaking with them. So they are consigned to making the front pages of the sensationalist rags that squeeze the photos down to make 100 protesters look like the storming of the Bastille or Intramuros or whatever leftists here storm these days. Edsa, I guess. Or Roxas Boulevard.
They storm streets.
Leftists are rebels without a clue. Or solution. They are slapstick artists, rather like the three stooges.
Unfortunately, they help investors see the Philippines as an unstable nation and so the investors take their money to Viet Nam or Burma or any other place where things look a little more upbeat.
Then, of course, the leftists rant and blow up electricity towers because the government isn’t taking care of the poor. Well, the nation doesn’t have enough money to take care of the poor because leftists have sent the money to Viet Nam and what’s left has to be spent rebuilding the electricity towers and hiring police to guard them.
There is no accountability from stage left. Or reason.
Then we have a set of presidential candidates in the Philippines who bring the concept dictator to the national stage, all in the name of change or discipline. Never mind that they would have to become criminals to execute on the wild-eyed promises they put forth. I could say they are lying through their teeth, but perhaps it’s just spinach. Hard to tell from the back row.
We know they will not do what they promise, because they cannot do what they promised. They are putting on a show for the voters, that’s all. They are accountability deficient as well. We can be assured of watching lots of future presidents pointing at others to justify their inability to put their acts where their campaigning mouths were.
Finally, we look at the Philippine voters’ track record and we see that the main quality that voters look for in a presidential candidate is shine. Or sizzle. Or championship belts. Two of the last three duly elected presidents were actors: Estrada and Poe.
Poe didn’t make it to office because a cheat gamed the election. I think that qualifies as acting, too. Arroyo acted honest until the Garci tape dropped the curtain on her credibility.
Actually, when you think about it, cheating is an acceptable quality hereabouts. The ever-flamboyant Philppines likes bad guys in office to fill out the drama script properly like any good television show. We know that because there are so many elected crooks about: vice presidents, mayors, senators . . . The legal mechanisms here are so bizarre and protective of the entitled that a senator accused of plunder can get out of jail on bail, then go down to the Senate to try to destroy the duly elected President. And the plunderer’s colleagues, who don’t have the courage to put together an Ethics Committee, join the crook in hosting a kangaroo court with the President in the gunsight but absolutely no ammunition in the senatorial investigative clip.
Senator Poe, the compliant soul who did the bailee’s bidding, walked away from that session assertively wiping the egg from her face.
Bad guys and worse guys. Actors to the left and comedians to the right. I mean, a senator trailing behind a dirt-mouthed candidate cleaning up his verbal droppings for sure can’t be taken seriously. Nor can a righteous senator who gathers a former dictator’s son in her arms and gives him credibility. Who wrote that loony script?
This is a teleserye democracy, isn’t it?
Earnest people are the losers, I think. People who want things like stability and security and productivity are the losers.
Who was the last good guy president, do you figure? Well, Marcos was not. Ramos was a coup artist himself, a military general who served Marcos for a long time before he finally crossed the street with Enrile. Both had recently been demoted and had “get even” written all over their faces. You thought they crossed the street for national interest?
Ramos also is the guy who doesn’t mind undermining the OFFICE of the President by criticizing the sitting president as if HE, RAMOS, were still in office and knew better how to run things. Why, rather than authorize that screwed-up SAF operation, he’d probably have gone down to Mamasapano himself, cigar draped from his lips, beret tipped cockily to the right, to personally shoot Marwan.
I’m not sure, but it seems to me that President Marcos ripped the brains and good will out of the nation and people lost touch with reality. It’s become a zombie electorate. Voters elected the Aquinos in a flash of mushy, emotive love. It was a romance story both times. The electorate has no idea what honesty or integrity or good deeds actually LOOK like.
They can’t even see how far their nation has come in six years. They think nothing has changed and what we really need is CHANGE.
Every time the Administration tries to point out the facts and explain its achievements, the people don’t buy it. “Bragging!” they exclaim.
Because the people have come to EXPECT actors and drama queens.
They can’t handle the TRUTH. That the Philippines has gained respect around the world for her achievements these past six years.
The voters imagine themselves as heroes, too. We all do that. Batman. Rambo. Jose Rizal. They like to think they are rebels, strong minded and strong armed, putting into office a tough man or gallant lady. They imagine a president on a big white horse galloping to the front waving a sword and screaming at the enemy. “Change! Discipline! Feed the poor for free and cut taxes for everybody!”
But the voters are not heroes, really. They are not even rebels. And they for sure are not citizens of a functioning, educated, engaged democracy. They are just in the audience. Sitting there with a bucket of popcorn and pricey Coke watching a pretend television drama.
And they are cheering for . . . they are voting for . . . the best actor!
The Philippines doesn’t need an Oscar Awards show.
We’ve got the national election.