I don’t think change is coming. I think change is already here. For years, it felt like Panem – everything important was decided by the people in the Capitol while the Districts had no say in the matter.
Gone is the air of resignation whenever the presidential elections came around. It was never about the best candidate winning; we all accepted that the decision was in the hands of whomever the masa would vote for (remember Erap?). They were always easy to win over. Grease a few palms, make a few promises, sing a few songs. Winning was easy. It didn’t matter what the rest of us had to say about it.
With social media as our Katniss Everdeen, anything is possible. No matter who may win this race, we at least know what we are capable of. While I haven’t particularly enjoyed seeing my feed constantly awash with political bon mots, it is nice not to see apathy. It’s encouraging to see the people have found their voice. Not that we never had one; it just seemed as if no one was listening, or even cared enough. But it feels different now. It’s always a good thing when people are no longer willing to stay quiet about what they want from a new government and what they expect from a new leader. This is what it means to be engaged, to want to see change and to fight for it.
While social media too often encourages us to be silly, shallow and self-obsessed, it has empowered Filipinos all over the country, especially Visayas and Mindanao to chime in and make themselves heard. The conversation hasn’t always been cordial and it certainly hasn’t been pretty, but this is what people are like when they are passionate over something and mean well (for the most part anyway). Based solely off of my news feed, some takes on the presidential front-runners:
Miriam Santiago is: Feisty. Intelligent. Well-read. Articulate. Seasoned. A champion for the ages. She is, however, not in the best of health. This seems to be the biggest drawback to her campaign.
Rody Duterte is: Tough. Smart. Canny. Strong-willed. Down to earth. A man of the people and for the people. Speaks both Tagalog and Bisaya fluently, which increases his mass appeal. Responsible for turning Davao City into, for all intents and purposes, a Utopia where everyone follows the rules. He is, however, perceived as too bloodthirsty and his diplomatic skills could use work. He might also make you eat cigarette butts.
Mar Roxas is: Politically savvy. Understands how to play the game. Endorsed by the administration. Knows how the government is run. He is, however, perceived as a bratty, entitled, ineffectual jerk who royally mismanaged the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda and only pretends to care about the common folk when there are cameras about.
Grace Poe is: Fresh. Clean. Apparently has the best laundress this side of the Pacific. She is, however, perceived as an American with very little experience.
Jejomar Binay is: Responsible for Makati being Makati. Like Roxas, he’s been in office long enough to know how the game is played. He is, however, perceived as a corrupt trapo desperate to stay in power to avoid being indicted for allegedly using government funds to line his pockets.
Is it too much to hope we’ll make a more intelligent decision this time around? The election is still in the hands of the masa but I would like to think the masa has developed a higher sensitivity to bullshit. It’ll take more than the old song and dance to win us over.