Monthly Archives: May 2007

Politics is local

I was not just a candidate for three months. I was also a blogger who became more fascinated in the particular ways of campaigning at the local level….

At 4am, a candidate for mayor of Manapla, Negros Occidental starts her campaign trail by visiting voters in the sugarcane fields. The candidate explains her platform while her team distributes hot pandesal and coffee to grateful and curious farmers. The candidate doesn’t want to campaign late in the afternoon since people will already prefer alcoholic drinks and pulutan over pandesal, coffee and a boring speech on politics.

In San Juan, Ilocos Sur, a candidate for mayor starts his campaign at 2pm. The town only has 8,000 voters so he needs at least 4,500 votes to win. Naturally, his campaign tactic is to meet, talk and mingle with all voters. He visits residents in every barangay and takes time to listen to their demands. On a single day, he can campaign in only one or two barangays.

In Tolosa, Leyte, a businessman running for councilor campaigns in the afternoon after the farmers have finished their work in the ricefields. He gathers the voters by setting up drinking tables and chairs near the barangay hall. The farmers appreciate the tuba and pretend to listen to the candidate who vows to bring change to their lives.

In Pagbilao, Quezon, a candidate for mayor has a portable sound system while he addresses a small crowd in a barangay on a hillside. He wears a cowboy hat probably to shield his face from the deadly ultra violet rays of the sun; and perhaps it was also a campaign accessory to make an impression among voters.

Speaking of impressing the voters, Muntinlupa candidates seem to have the loudest audio devices in their campaign vehicles. Truck ads with very loud election jingles are visible almost everywhere. A candidate for mayor hired dancing mascots dressed as chickens (because the candidate’s surname is San Pedro, as in manok ni San Pedro?) while the popular ditty Itaktak Mo is being played in every street corner.

There should be a survey on the most popular jingle in the recent elections. Was it Boom Tarat Tarat or Itaktak mo? I believe the latter was used by most politicians throughout the country.

In the food category, adobong baboy/manok is the runaway winner in the favorite food donation given by politicians. This makes us an adobo republic during election season. The other top choices are boiled eggs and fried galunggong. The kitchen is definitely the most active part of a candidate’s house as food is readily distributed to organized constituents, volunteers and visitors.

Laguna probably has the most star-studded roster of candidates. Are you familiar with these names: Emilio Garcia, Angelica Jones, Marco Sison and Dan Fernandez?

There were many unopposed bets in many provinces. This should not be encouraged because the people must be given the chance to choose between two or more candidates offering alternative programs. Another intriguing phenomenon is the swtiching of positions or the willingness of a three-termer politician to run for a lower position in order to remain in business, oops, in power.

The Administration claims its local machinery will deliver the votes for Team Unity. Indeed, I saw campaign materials of the Administration’s senatorial bets scattered throughout the archipelago, even in the remotest towns. I saw how leaflets, pamphlets and posters were distributed in barangays. But local politicians could not campaign for these senatoriables all the time. They could hardly find adequate time to campaign for themselves and their local slates, why would they take extra effort to campaign for national candidates? It’s not the genuine support of local candidates the Administration was boasting. It’s the cheating machinery at the local level that they were referring. This is already evident today.

One weapon used to harass incumbent political rivals is the filing of graft cases at the Office of Ombudsman. We witnessed how this legal maneuver was deployed against the Opposition in Makati and Iloilo. But many politicians have learned to value the potency of using this ploy to defeat incumbent officials whether the latter are affiliated or not with the Opposition. What amazed me was that many people, including ordinary folks, were more incensed over the timing of the suspension order rather than to the alleged crime committed. If you ask local residents, some of them may probably agree that there was merit in the cases filed against the incumbent officials.

Have we become a nation accustomed to stealing, lying, corrupt and law-breaking politicians? Have we lost the ability to be outraged over recurring commission of crimes by greedy and evil politicians? From Luzon to Mindanao, I heard many stories about how politicians stole money from selling public markets, received protection money from jueteng lords, deceived the public by approving worthless and inferior infrastructure projects, required business groups to pay extra taxes and ordered the execution or harassment of known dissidents. But most of the time, I did not detect a voice of indignation from the people sharing these stories of misdeeds. They seemed more amazed that politicians were able to accomplish these horrible things; that warlords could flaunt their illegal wealth and mistresses in public; that these trapos are untouchable, undefeatable and glamorous. I wanted to feel their fury yet I could only sense their hopelessness; that as ordinary people they feel they could not change the ‘natural order of things.’ It’s frightening.

To counteract the sinister influence of dark lords, the importance of local media should not be underestimated. ABS-CBN and GMA-7 may be political kingmakers at the national level, but local politicians are more sensitive and afraid of local newspapers and radio stations. It’s no longer surprising why many journalists in the provinces have been targeted for assassination and harassment. Their work and vigilance are real threats to the empire of local politicians. 

The local and national elections may be both dominated by guns, goons, gold and garci but they have various differences. I learned a thing or two about the perplexing intricacies and wonderful simplicity of local politics for the past three months. The future of this country of ours lies in the local. We should turn our attention to the countryside.

Related entries:

Election notes.
Vanity politics.
Election season.
Who’s your daddy?

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Burger, fries, coke and politicians

Hang on. The last days of canvassing are near. Vote padding for government-supported partylists will increase the minimum number of votes needed to secure one partylist seat. Let me thank all Kabataan Partylist pollwatchers who manned the precints and canvassing centers in order to guard our votes.

More than 140 dead in “peaceful” Philippine elections, my blog entry for Global Voices Online. There are new pictures in my photoblog: click here and here.

A few years ago, an American TV comedian wondered why it takes a long time for many people to decide what to order in their favorite fastfood outlet when they only have to choose any combination of burger, fries and coke. These days, fastfood outlets offer combo meals; but these are intended to convince customers that they are given good menu choices when they are just, in essence, burger, fries and coke. Customers are led to believe they made wise decisions in ordering their food but the unhealthy truth is, they still bought burger, fries and coke.

I think this is how our politics operate. Majority of politicans are burger, fries and coke. To use a more accurate term, majority of politicians are trapos (rags). Most likely, they are scions of local warlords, oppressive landlords and rapacious businessmen.

To win in the elections, politicians need to convince voters they are more than just burger, fries and coke. They are burgers with low cholesterol, onion fries and diet coke. They are Harvard-educated warlords, environmentalist landlords and god-fearing businessmen.

Most of the time we delude ourselves into thinking that we are not ordering burger, fries and coke. Instead, we choose to take notice of the special dressing, the new gravy or the promo dessert. In politics, we hail the entry of new politicians who fought and defeated the old trapos. We take pride in the “maturity of the electorate”, the advent of new politics, the victory of alternative agenda and the looming irrelevance of trapo tactics.

We delight the crowd with the triumph of the crippled broadcaster, the priest who defeated two “lords”, the lady who knocked out a boxing champion, the moral crusade of a new political party and the rebel soldier who is poised to become a member of the senate. We highlight these stories perhaps to ignore and forget the fact that many of our people still preferred or have chosen to stick with burger, fries and coke.

Out of one brilliant and noble successful candidate we praise, hundreds of trapos were already proclaimed throughout the country. There may be a miracle in Pampanga but for the rest of the country, its black magic that reigns. We may be enjoying our garden salad for lunch but majority of our people are still feasting on burger, fries and coke.

It’s not easy to reject burger, fries and coke especially if our tastebuds are already familiar with these items. But many of our countrymen have already proven that it is possible to crave and buy new types of nutritious food. There is still hope. But we must not maintain the illusion that trapos are a dying breed. In fact, they are still reproducing in great numbers. They have put new brands, images and labels to be more palatable in the eyes and tastes of a more demanding public. Have we not realized by now that they have mastered the art of deception?

We need to change the rules of the game. We need new fastfood outlets. We need some spark, a revolution.

Related entries:

Books for coke.
Ang batang Pinoy.
Sons and politicians.
Gameplan.

Elehiya para sa mga kabataang martir

Friends, relatives and comrades have been asking me about the status of Kabataan Partylist. I could not give a categorical answer. The canvassing is really slow and it is really difficult to ascertain the number of votes we will get. We have already documented cases of vote-shaving and other instances of fraud which may affect our standing. It is positive to note that our group has never slid down from the top 20 partylist groups in the Namfrel ‘quick’ count and Comelec canvassing.

I wrote this article back in 2003 after four members of our partylist were murdered in Campostela Valley. I am posting this article in my blog in honor of two Kabataan Partylist pollwatchers who were abducted then killed in Camarines Norte a few days ago.

Malapit sa katotohanan ang paniniwalang kapag ikaw ay nakatira sa Campostela Valley, inuupuan mo ang isang malawak na lupain ng ginto.

Subalit katulad ng kuwento ng ating bansa, mayaman ang lupain ng Campostela pero naghihirap ang mga tao dito. Ang ginto ay minimina para sa iilan habang ang marami ay nagdarahop.

Ito ang buhay sa lupain ng ginto sa pusod ng lupain ng pangako.

Hanggang sa hinamon ang kalakarang ito. At ang dominasyon ng iilang tusong indibidwal ay tinapatan ng matapang na paglaban ng mamamayan.

Mula noon, naging pula na ang kulay ng lupa sa lupain ng ginto. Kulay ito ng paglaban at ng dugong binubuwis upang maibalik sa mamamayan ng Campostela ang yamang ninanakaw sa kanila.

Silang mga walang pangalan ay paminsan-minsa’y nagkakaroon ng pagkakakilanlan upang bigyang mukha ang buod ng pakikibaka. Ipinapakita nila ang matwid ng kanilang misyon sa kabila ng walang tigil na banta ng represyon.

Sa pagkakataong ito, sila ay mga kabataan ng Maco, Campostela Valley.

Marjorie Reynoso, Jonathan Bernaro, Ramon Regase at Lito Doydoy.

Si Marjorie ay pinuno ng SK sa kanilang barangay habang tumatayong provincial treasurer ng Anak ng Bayan. Si Jonathan ay kagawad sa SK habang coordinator sa munisipyo ng Anak ng Bayan. Si Ramon at Lito ay pawang mga organisador ng Anakbayan sa komunidad.

Biyernes sila dinakip ng mga armadong kalalakihan. Kinabukasan ay nakatanggap ng tawag ang nanay ni Marjorie mula sa Military Intelligence Group ng probinsiya at sinabing hawak daw nila ang kanyang anak. Lunes nang makita ang nabubulok nilang bangkay sa plantasyon ng saging ng Selecta.

Agad tinuro ng militar ang Alsa-Maco, isang grupong vigilante na itinayo ng anti-komunistang alkalde ng Maco bilang pangunahing suspek. Sumunod ang ilang araw ay binago ang hatol: mga rebeldeng komunista raw ang pumatay sa mga kabataan bilang “sacrificial lamb” upang kumuha ng simpatiya ng tao at dumami ang galit sa gobyerno.

Hindi ako pinalad na makilala ang apat na martir subalit kaisa ko sila sa pagsusulong ng parehong adhikain. Sa kanilang murang edad ay natuto silang magtanong, makialam at lumaban. Nakita nilang may bagong mundo silang pwedeng yakapin kung agad silang kikilos. Tinalikuran nila ang pasibo, pasuko at kumbensiyunal na buhay at sama-sama nilang niyanig ang mabagal at pyudal na mundo sa Maco.

Ang kanilang kapangahasan na hamunin ang nakikita nilang mali sa paligid ang naging mitsa ng kanilang buhay.

Sa lipunang demokratiko, ang kapangahasang ito ay hinahayaang yumabong dahil kailangan ito para sa pag-unlad. Pero sa Pilipinas, isang lipunang nagpapakilala bilang demokrasya, ito ay ipinagbabawal.

Tatlumpu’t isang taon pagkatapos ideklara ang batas militar, mukhang hindi pa natututong itakwil ng estado ang multo ng terorismo.

Ang apat na pinaslang na kabataan ay pinakabagong biktima ng kasalukuyang gera laban sa terorismo ng pamahalaan. Ang gerang inilunsad ng pamahalaan laban sa kanyang sariling mamamayan ay nagbigay ng lehitimasyon sa militar upang tugisin ang lahat ng indibidwal at grupo na may kritikal na postura laban sa gobyerno.

Tulad ng karamihan sa mga binabansagang terorista, ang apat na pinaslang ay mga inosenteng sibilyan. Higit pa dito, sila ay mga hinalal na lider ng mga kabataan. Paano mahihikayat ng pamahalaan na magtiwala ang kabataan sa gobyerno kung hindi nito mabigyan ng sapat na proteksiyon ang sarili nitong mga opisyal? Nagagalit ang pamahalaan kapag hindi nakikialam ang kabataan sa mga programang hinahanda nito pero ngayong lumalahok ang kabataan sa mga programa nito tulad ng SK ay hinahayaan na lamang mangyari ang karumal-dumal na krimeng ito. Tinutulak nito ang mga kabataan palayo sa parlyamento.

Ang pagpaslang sa apat na kabataan ng Maco ay maaaring panakot para sa sinumang mangangahas pang tumayo at humamon sa interes ng iilang makapangyarihang tao na sasapitin nila kung ano ang nangyari sa apat. Pero higit itong indikasyon ng takot ng mga nasa poder at humuhuthot ng yaman ng lupain sa lumalakas, dumarami at naiipong poot ng mamamayan sa kanilang kasakiman. Duwag kung lumaban dahil ang mga walang armas ang sinisindak.

Ang kamatayan ay araw-araw na katotohanan. Subalit hindi lahat ng kamatayan ay katanggap-tanggap. Para sa ating lumaki sa siyudad at naging manhid na sa mga patayan at iba’t ibang krimen, minsan ay mahirap unawain ang pagbuhos ng emosyon para sa isang karaniwang pangyayari tulad ng pagpaslang.

Tama namang sabihin na hindi na dapat magulat sa nangyari sa Maco. Ano pa ba naman ang aasahan sa isang lipunang nasa bunganga ng bulkan ng kaguluhan. Gayunpaman, dapat kilalanin ang lalim ng kasamaan at kahayupang naganap sa Campostela.

Ang binawian nila ng buhay ay hindi naiiba sa atin. Labimpitong gulang, labingwalong taong gulang, nasa simula pa lang sila ng mahabang paglalakbay sa buhay. Tulad natin, marahil punung-puno sila ng sigla upang tumuklas ng mga bagong kaalaman at karanasan. May mga iniidolo silang artista, nangangarap ng matiwasay na buhay. May nagmamahal sa kanilang pamilya o karelasyon at nagbibigay sila ng kasiyahan sa maraming tao.

Tayong mga naiwan dito sa magulong mundo ay makakatuklas pa ng mga bagong kaaalaman, matutupad pa natin ang ating mga pangarap sa buhay, iibig tayo at tayo’y iibigin, magiging saksi pa tayo sa maraming pagbabago sa ating mundo. Ito ay magagawa pa natin dahil tayo ay buhay. Samantalang ang apat na kabataan ay pinatahimik habambuhay ng mga taong ayaw kumilala ng tama at mali. Ang mga pangarap nila at pag-ibig ay kasama nilang humimlay sa ilalim ng lupain ng ginto sa pusod ng lupain ng pangako.

Sa aking agam-agam, ang pagpaslang sa kanila ay isang di-tuwirang atake sa sigla, tapang, lakas at talino ng kabataan.

Rason Edad Medya

Friends, thank you for supporting Kabataan Partylist. Please help us secure the votes for Kabataan. Our partylist did well in many areas and our campaign coordinators are confident that we can secure one seat. However, the counting and canvassing are very slow and we fear there will be manipulation of results. We expect to know the final tally of votes next week.

I’m recommending this article: Candidates get high on media. Below is an article I wrote for Tinig in 2004 immediately after the presidential elections. I believe this is still relevant….

Nakakapagtaka’t nakakatawa pero may isang panahon sa kasasayan ng daigdig na hindi kinakain ng mga tao ang kamatis dahil ito raw ay may lason . Minsan pinaniwalaang patag ang mundo at matagal bago tinanggap ng mga pantas na ang araw ang nasa gitna ng sangkalawakan.

Sapagkat bata pa ang syensya noon, mapapatawad pa ang balikong pag-iisip ng tao. Hindi ba’t walang katapusang proseso ng pag-unlad ang paglinang ng kaalaman?

Eto ang ating paglingon sa nakaraan, paano kaya tayo huhusgahan ng hinaharap? Isa o dalawang daang taon mula ngayon, anong banal na katotohanan ng ating panahon ang pagtatawanan o ikakagulat ng mga susunod na henerasyon?

Huwag sana nilang maalala ang taong 2004 at baka tuluyan tayong mawalan ng dignidad sa nag-aakusang mata ng kasaysayan.

Halimbawa, paano natin ipapaliwanag ang pahayag ng maraming sibikong organisasyon at ng militar na mapayapa at malinis ang nakaraang halalan sa kabila ng mahigit isang daang patay at malawakang ebidensiya ng pandaraya? Tila ang sukatan natin kung ano ang mapayapa’t malinis ay hindi umaakma kahit sa ipinagmamalaking naabot ng ating sibilisasyon.

Para sa akin, ang mahigit isang daang kataong pinaslang ay signos ng malalang karahasan na kinatangian ng katatapos na halalan. Nakakainsulto ang pamantayan ng pamahalaan kung ano ba ang isang magulong eleksiyon. Dapat bang limang daan o isang libo ang mamatay para aminin natin sa ating mga sarili na ang sopistikadong paraan ng ating pagpapalit ng mga lider upang makumbinsi ang buong mundo na may demokrasya sa ating bansa ay hindi pwedeng matapos nang walang dinudukot, tinatakot, sinusunog at pinapaslang?

At kahit lima lamang ang nasawi sa panahon ng halalan, hindi nito puwedeng ipagbunyi ang pagiging “mapayapa” ng eleksiyon dahil ang pagpaslang ng tao ay kabaliktaran ng diwa ng isang proseso na may layong maglingkod sa kapwa.

Hinihiling kong mag-summer bridge program ang COMELEC, NAMFREL at Kongreso sa math at science dahil sa kanilang tuso’t kabagalan sa pagbibilang ng boto at sa pag-awit ng sintunadong awitin na walang nangyaring malawakang pandaraya sa halalan. Mayroon lamang daw mga hiwalay na kaso ng dayaan sa iilang mga munisipyo pero di naman daw ito nakita sa pambansang antas. Subalit ang kredibilidad mismo ng resulta sa pambansang halalan ay magiging kahina-hinala kung nanggaling ito sa isang dinayang proseso sa ibaba.

Walang maipapangalan sa pagkawala ng pangalan ng maraming botante sa mga presinto kundi pandaraya. Ang pagbili ng boto, paggamit ng pera ng bayan para sa pansariling interes ng mga kandidato, pagmamaniobra sa media, pakikialam at pandarahas ng militar, dinuktor na mga election return at ang pinabagal na mabagal na pagbilang ng boto ay iba’t ibang tipo ng pandaraya.

Ano ang isasagot natin sa ating mga apo kung tatanungin nila kung bakit may mga nag-isip sa atin na dayain ang resulta ng halalan huwag lamang manalo ang isang artistang walang pinag-aralan? Marahil, isusumbat din nila ang sagad-sagaring pagkahumaling natin sa mga survey at sinasalang na impormasyon ng media. Baka tawagin nilang karnabal ng mga payaso ang ating demokrasya dahil sa kalidad ng ating mga kandidato’t opisyal ng pamahalaan.

Isang siglo na tayong may eleksiyon. Tatlong EDSA na ang lumipas. Pero ang halalan natin ay pang-Ripley’s pa rin. Nakakatakot ang iisipin sa atin ng mga tao sa hinaharap.

Candidate survey

Thank you to all bloggers who supported Kabataan Partylist’s cyber fever campaign. Sa lahat ng bumoto sa Kabataan, maraming salamat po.

In the next few weeks, I will blog about my adventures and misadventures as a candidate in the 2007 midterm elections. Let me start by answering the following survey:

1. First public speech as a candidate: February 13, Liwasang Bonifacio

2. Last public speech as a candidate: May 12, Barangay Immaculate Concepcion, Quezon City

3. Best speech delivered: April 30, Masbate City (I was encouraged by a very supportive crowd)

4. Most forgettable speech delivered: March 10, QC Polytechnic University along Quirino highway (I thought I would deliver two speeches. I gave a very lousy talk).

5. Most hilarious speech mistakes: ‘Palayain si Ken Ramos’ (It should have been Ken Ambay), ‘Bumoto sa darating na Hulyo’ – Araneta Avenue, Tatalon.

6. Favorite soundbytes: ‘Ako na po ang pinakamatanda sa aming partylist’, ‘Ang katandaan ay pwede rin po para sa kabataan’.

7. Longest speech: February 24, Iloilo City (Panay regional convention)

8. Most enthusiastic crowd: Mendez St. in Barangay Baesa, QC

9. Most memorable campaign sortie: Eastern Visayas road trip (from Metro Tacloban to Catarman, Northern Samar)

10. Best accommodation: Vigan Plaza Hotel, Ilocos Sur and Calabria seminary house in Calbayog (very hospitable priests).

11. Best food: Tacloban, Leyte (oh the seafood, the seafood)

12. Longest campaign sortie: Southern Tagalog road trip (from San Pablo, Laguna to Antipolo, Rizal) and Ilocos sortie (from Naguilian, La Union to Laoag, Ilocos Norte)

13. Longest campaign day: April 26, Quezon province sortie. I woke up at 3:30am, arrived in Tiaong at 7am, motorcade to Pagbilao until 5pm, concert in Lucena until 9pm. I arrived home at 2am the following day.

14. Most amazing place visited: Manapla, Negros Occidental (I spent a quiet Monday morning in the seashore. I was alone in the beach enjoying the clear waters and fresh air)

15. Most abominable election proposal: Manila politician offering to distribute Kabataan Partylist ID cards with scholarship grants to a computer school. It was an offer we refused.

16. Memorable motorcades: San Juan, Ilocos Sur and District 1, Quezon City.

17. Memorable palengke tours: Laoag public market and Davao City’s Agdao and Bangkerohan markets.

18. Best concert attended: February 14, Legaspi City, Albay. (I also participated in a very memorable torch parade since we continued with our march even if it was raining hard).

19. Best school forum attended: March 15, Manila Doctors’ College along Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard and March 28, College of St. Benilde along Taft Ave.

20. Memorable youth assemblies: April 15, CEG national convention in Dumaguete City and April 29, NUS-Mindanao convention in Initiao, Misamis Oriental

21. Memorable barangay assembly: March16, Caloocan City, Ms. Gaywatch contest

22. Most enjoyable election media gimmick: April 8, egg hunting with Danton Remoto in District 3, Quezon City

23. Favorite pasalubong: Pingping’s tinapa in Samar and Pastel from Cagayan de Oro

24. Confession: I watched 300 at Robinson’s Mall while campaigning in San Fernando, Pampanga (March 14)

Related entry: Tibak sarbey

Senate race: A virtual campaign

Thank you MLQ3 for proposing Kabataan Partylist to your readers. There are new pictures in my photoblog: click here and here. Dear friends, don’t forget to campaign and vote for Kabataan Partylist.

Senator Franklin Drilon remarked a few months ago that campaign rallies are already irrelevant in Philippine elections. According to him, a press conference is more efficient and effective than conducting campaign rallies every evening. Such statement would have described as obnoxious, unwise and foolish ten years ago. But today, nobody dared to disagree with the former Senate President. In the era of unchallenged TV supremacy, Senator Drilon issued not just a sensible viewpoint, but also perhaps a very shrewd political statement.

Most of the candidates this year seem to share the same belief in the power of mass media. More than half of the campaign expenses of candidates and political parties were spent on TV and radio ads. There are candidates who are not even worried of having no coordinators in many provinces as long as they have regular TV exposure.

Gone are the days when a senatoriable has to campaign for many days in a province or region just to reach out the most number of voters. Now, we heard senatoriables boasting of having visited 3-5 provinces from different regions on a single day. How did they accomplish this? First, they must have a chopper or private plane. Second, a motorcade would be held from the airport to the residence of the governor or mayor. The candidates will then meet with barangay leaders and other local officials. And most importantly, a media forum will be conducted. The following day, pictures of candidates mingling with local residents will be published in local and national newspapers. Local news TV channels and radio stations will report the brief campaign activities of candidates.

It’s already possible for a candidate to ‘meet’ all forty-five million registered voters in the country. Candidates can reach out to all voters through television, radio, internet and mobile phones. Remove human interaction and replace it with tools for instant messaging and long distance communication. It’s virtual, postmodern and unreal. Ten years ago, this kind of campaigning would have been described as insincere.

But a wise politician will learn to accept this ‘new world order’ taking place even in remote (read: semi-feudal, semi-colonial) Philippines. If Ramon Magsaysay was alive today, the veritable man of the masses would have been the most active campaigner in social networking sites and text brigades.

We have a new generation of voters exposed to digital relationships and the OFW phenomenon. If friendship is possible between two people who haven’t met (in the traditional sense, they haven’t met. But in the modern sense, they have already met through viewing of their friendster profiles, live chatting, texting and emailing), a politician can risk campaigning through virtual means. If parenting is done remotely by OFW parents, young voters will not find it odd if politicians will campaign through television alone. The new generation of voters expect politicians to be less intrusive to their lives. Voters want the freedom to turn off the TV or radio if they dislike the candidate or politician; in the same way they can switch channels if they find TV programs too boring. They won’t have the same freedom if politicians or candidates are knocking on their doors.

In short, a politician must be both visible and invinsible to get more votes. How odd, yet so true. Welcome to the 21st century!

Related entries:

Cybercampaign.
Txtpower.
PC games, school and Gloria.

I left my parents in San Francisco

Thank you Billy Esposo for this Philippine Star column: What are our youth really thinking? Watch the Cebuano video teaser of Kabataan Partylist. Have you seen our TV ad on ABS-CBN? Find out why I appreciate Koko Pimentel’s TV ad. Thank you Tinig for featuring Kabataan Partylist. Check also my past columns for Tinig. UST will vote for Kabataan Partylist.

Sa aking tatay at nanay: I’m overjoyed to learn that Mama will be coming home for a one month vacation. Campaigning will be over next week so Frances and I will have more time for malling, gossip and bonding with Mama. Renee is excited to meet her Lola again. Although, I think she is more anxious to get her Barney toys which you promised to her.

Friends (and even foes) have been asking how did we raise funds during the campaign. Of course we relied on the contributions of our members and supporters. In every activity, we coalesced with other candidates to minimize costs. I also replied that my parents were the most consistent campaign contributors of Kabataan Partylist. They thought I was joking.

I could not have travelled around the country without the much needed subsidies provided by you. The money you sent was also used to print some of our campaign materials. Some of my colleagues presumed sending money was not difficult on your part since you are migrant workers living in the USA. They are so wrong. I know you are not earning that much. Perhaps you took a loan or used your credit cards. I feel guilty everytime I spend your hard-earned remittances. I know you are working for more than 12 hours everyday just to earn enough money to survive. But I could not refuse your help. We needed the money. And I thank you for your understanding, sacrifice, sympathy and love.

I feel grateful that you have always been supportive in all my endeavours; although I know sometimes you couldn’t appreciate why I remain a poor activist when I can look for a high paying job. From the moment Dad caught me reading Lenin in 1998, I knew you were hoping I was just undergoing a ‘phase’ in life. You never got tired reminding me to start thinking about the future, especially the welfare of my beautiful daughter. You had your objections on my being a radical activist. But you never, even for a moment, threatened to abandon me or throw me out of our house. You have always respected my decisions and you have always believed in me.

When I informed you about my candidacy, you readily agreed to give full support for our campaign. You check on me everyday, asking about my activities, problems and political developments in the country. You monitor the news everytime you are at home hoping to get a glimpse of me and my partylist. You are my number one fan, my most devoted supporter and to a certain extent, even financier of our partylist.

As parents, it is no longer your obligation to assist me in my political activities. You raised me well, sent me to college, and I already have a wife and kid. But you couldn’t stop giving your affection and material support for me and my advocacy. I am eternally grateful for having wonderful parents like you.

In one of our conversations, I relayed my outrage over other partylist groups receiving funding and political support from Malacanang, local politicians and warlords. While our group is forced to accept donations from our hardworking parents, other partylist groups are using taxpayers’ money to finance their campaign. With the publication of the names of nominees of partylist groups, the public will learn how certain powerful politicians are attempting to gain more power through the partylist system by fielding their own children, relatives and subordinates as candidates.

I learned so many things during the past three months. I became more disappointed with the kind of political system existing in the country. If you were with me on the campaign trail, you will also feel disheartened over the disparity of wealth in our country, the distrust of people on politicians and a general feeling of hopelessness among our youth. I became more resolute to continue with our crusade for meaningful changes in our society.

I have been an activist for ten years already. The coming elections will not affect my resolve to remain a dissenter and reformer. I’m confident that you will continue to cheer, support and love your prodigal son.

Related entries:

Dear Renee.
Family Ties.
Why partylist.
Activist son.