lesser evils and dubious records

This is my column today at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today.

Today is the deadline for the filing of candidacies for senators. The guessing game and the attendant speculations as to who will jump fences, stick to principles, or do a Judas Escariot and sell his or her soul to the highest bidder will finally be over. Frankly, it’s a wonder why we even bother with the whole rigodon when we know that it’s a farce. We all know that any alignment or realignment that is going to happen will be purely for convenience purposes and not grounded on principles or ideologies.

What makes the whole thing confounding is the fact that both the administration and the opposition are led by individuals with tarnished reputations. So in the end, it’s a choice between two evils. It is really sad that our choices have boiled down to a question of who is the lesser evil. I know that choosing between two evils is the supreme test of democracy, but surely we deserve better.

Nevertheless, the question that has been foremost in people’s minds in the last few days has been which side will finally emerge victorious in wooing the so-called Wednesday Group. Will Senators Joker Arroyo, Kiko Pangilinan, Ralph Recto and Manny Villar run with the administration, stick it out with the opposition, or go their separate ways? We all know that the four re-electionists are prize catches. They are sure winners, not only because of name recall, but more because Recto and Pangilinan happen to be married to two of the most popular actresses in the country. If the senatorial elections are really a referendum on the Arroyo presidency, then it makes sense for both the opposition and the administration to move heaven and earth to get the four senators to run under their respective tickets. The question is, at what cost?

If we really come to think about it, these four senators did run under the administration six years ago and that fact did not stop them from being vociferous Arroyo critics in the last two years. And even if they do decide to break up the group during the campaign, they are bound to regroup once elected.

So even if the administration does succeed in getting the Wednesday Group to run as administration senators, it will not guarantee loyalty beyond the honeymoon period. So getting all four or three or two of the senators under its ticket is a stopgap measure. The administration is really simply buying off whatever little time it can get. Having the four administration candidates in the administration ticket is simply for cosmetic purposes.


Hanggang ganyan na lang ba tayo? Is breaking world records in matters of dubious significance the whole extent of our collective goals and ambition as a people?

Last Saturday, thousands of couples were lured to the grounds of the Mall of Asia so that the country can “reclaim” the world record for the most number of people kissing at the same time in the same place. From what I gathered from the hourly updates that ABS-CBN kept on issuing last Saturday night—as if the event was a matter of life and death—the Philippines achieved the world record three years ago. Apparently, though, Hungary upped the ante in 2005. Thus, the millions of pesos spent last Saturday so that the country could once again lay claim to the record. Let it not be said that Filipinos are a poor second to any other country in the kissing department.

Spending millions of pesos to get people to kiss. Now there’s something for the record under the entry “most wasteful use of money in a country where millions go to bed hungry.”

As if to assure couples that nothing can possibly get in the way of their need to publicly express their affection for each other and their supposed willingness to contribute to the task of regaining national pride, the organizers put out ads that inventoried the number of security forces contracted for the event. The total number of policemen, security guards, and private security forces totaled close to a thousand. For an event that was held purportedly to promote peace and love, they sure sent the right message with all that security.

The organizers likewise announced that there were five ambulances, onsite clinics and first aid stations readily available as if they were expecting people to hyperventilate and suffer cardiac arrest while kissing.

Let’s cut this crap about that Lovapalooza event being about national pride. Except probably when it would involve First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano or perhaps Vice President Noli de Castro and former Senator Loren Legarda, I really have no idea how kissing in public could be an occasion of national significance.

The truth is that mass-kissing event was nothing but a major publicity stunt designed to sell more toothpaste by the makers of the toothpaste brand that shelled out the millions required to put up that extravaganza. Yes, all those who went to the event were simply suckered by corporate greed. So excuse me if I don’t feel like rejoicing at this yarn about how we have regained our status as the most romantic people in the world. Oh please, our population growth rate is a better indicator of our dominance in that field.

But corporate greed aside, what is it about this preoccupation with breaking world records anyway? It seems every town and city in this country has made it a goal to get a spot in the Guinness’ list of world records! It has become embarrassing to read about this or that town or city gunning for a record with the longest longanisa, the biggest strawberry cake, the largest bilao, etc.

If it is any consolation, attempts to break individual Guinness records have not started yet although I think it is just a matter of time before individual Filipinos start getting into the act. At the rate our government and business leaders seem to be encouraging this madness, some Filipinos will soon jump into the fray with their own crazy stunts. And the Guinness book is full of these ridiculous and stupid records!

Apparently, many people are willing to do anything to get into the Guinness books. Some eat cockroaches, sleep with scorpions, or collect ear wax (gross!).

There are bizarre record-breaking feats including the loudest burp (118.1 decibels —comparable to a plane taking off), most worms eaten (62 in 30 seconds), the greatest distance spaghetti was shot through a nose (7.5 inches). Whew!

That’s the kind of distinction we are aiming for. But then again, we seem to be doing a really good job of earning dubious distinctions without really trying. We probably hold the record as the country with the most expensive lawmaking process—I understand Congress went into recess with only a couple of bills passed. Of course we probably already hold the record as the country with the most number of celebrities in elective positions.


Sa Wari Ko said…
you are one of the best bloggers!

funny writing.
sensible thoughts.

Wag kang mapapagod magsulat!
vic said…
At least the new Record made it to Radio newscast here, and I can’t help but grin and said to myself, here we go again. We can do it here in one NBA games by asking everyone to turn around and kiss the member of opposite sex or even the same sex (that would even be a classic) next to him or her during time outs without spending another dollar, but that’s just stupid and won’t accomplish anything but tells the world the irrelevance of the events, and at great, unnecessary expense. The results of the shrinking brains maybe.

As for the candidates for this coming election, if I were a voter I just cross out my ballot as Protest. We are allowed to do it here as protest and they are tallied too.
Anonymous said…
No wonder people like Manny Pacquiao has decided to run for congress, I think he's main goal for running is to become the first boxing champion and congressman at the same time!

Hay buhay. . .
snglguy said…
As if holding a world record will solve the ills and problems that is plaguing our society...

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