Welp, it’s that time of the year again. People pick sides, a lot of mud is slung and we are once more led to believe that no one will take advantage of the pork barrel ever again.
I used to say my vote was for sale, if only because I just couldn’t see the point of voting. (No one paid me, do stop clutching your pearls.) Things can move so slowly in the Philippines it doesn’t even feel like anything changes at all. Someone once suggested that only people who are employed and pay taxes be allowed to vote. I wonder what the outcome would be. We might actually have a president we can live with. The defenders of democracy will likely be out for my blood, but wouldn’t it be nice for once to not have the sensible vote be derailed by a masa that welcomes election season with glee because they see it as a giant payday and not a chance to make a difference?
Most of the election updates I now get on the Philippine front are the rather lively discussions that pop up on my social media feed. My feed is mostly yuppies working hard for the money, who begrudge being taxed and never seeing their taxes put to good use. Of these, the most vociferous contingent seems to want Rodrigo Duterte to win. (My feed is also 95% people not based in Manila.)
As I understand it, here is a guy who who whipped Davao City into shape with an iron will – no smoking in public areas, no drinking in the wee hours, scofflaws challenge the mayor at their own risk, etc., etc. My mother, a Davaoeña, enthusiastically vouches for him and his positive effect on the city. There seems to be a lot of hope that he’ll do the same thing to the rest of the country. The main complaint everyone else has is that he is too frank for his own good.
While I am quite sure someone who espouses tough love would be a force of good for the nation, I am just as certain that the very same people who are crying out for him to run for office will be the same ones crying for his blood if he wins and actually attempts to be a force of change. After all, we only want what we want until we actually get it. And then the honeymoon ends.
While election season over here just ran its course – apropos of nothing, it was hilarious seeing Canada being celebrated for electing someone handsome and charismatic, because of course that’s all that matters! – it’s heating up across the border, with dear old Donald Trump and his hair on a constant rampage (Trumpage?) among other hopefuls. The last Philippine election I was around for had politicians giving out free antibiotics and bags of rice (they of course denied they were attempting to buy votes). Is that still happening? If it is, we all need to stand up and slow clap for the state of Philippine politics. If you think the build up to the US election is a circus, they have nothing on the motherland.
Election season in the Philippines goes way beyond glad-handing and kissing babies. Enter the staged photo-ops where presidentiables do decidedly un-presidential things. Mr. Roxas eats rice out of a glass! Mr. Binay scarfs down a Jollibee Chicken Joy in public, because he’s just like us! (Yeah, no.) The paid ads! Celebrity endorsers! Promises of patriotism, change and progress! Let the mud-slinging commence!