Monday, May 07, 2007

Two names short

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

There’s only six days left before the mid-term elections and I still don’t have a complete lineup for senators. What I have in my list, so far, are 10 candidates; two names short of the total number I am supposed to write on the ballot.

I wanted to finalize my list and post it in my Web blog before the elections because I committed to do so a few months back to promote a more enlightened discussion about the elections, at least among those who visit my blog.

There are at least 36 senator wannabes to pick from, how can choosing a mere 12 be that difficult? But, sigh, completing the list of 12 is so much more difficult than I had initially thought.

The sad—nay, tragic—part is that my inability to complete my senatorial slate is not because I have difficulty choosing one candidate for the other. It’s not a case of the classic walang itulak-kabigin (each one is a good choice). Such would have been a more desirable dilemma because even if I were to decide by simply wearing a blindfold and throwing darts at the collage of pictures of the candidates, at least my choice would still be motivated by some desire to elect the person into office.

Unfortunately, this is not the case here. I cannot complete my slate simply because outside of the 10 that I have chosen, there is simply no one else among the current crap, I mean crop, of senatorial candidates that I find worthy of my vote.

The various candidates and their supporters have already bombarded me with all kinds of persuasive arguments as to why they deserve my vote. I have read the letters and scrolled through the e-mails many of them have sent me. I have browsed through their Web sites in the hope of finding something—anything—that would help me arrive at a decision.

Unfortunately, many of the candidates that actually bothered to establish some presence in the information superhighway seemed to have this idea that a Web site is a personal shrine where people go to venerate them. Thus, many of these sites contain nothing else but a photoshopped picture and a resumé. I am surprised they have not included a novena in their honor.

In the past month, I have not been able to read Philippine newspapers or drive through the streets of this country without coming face to face with the smiling mugs and populist slogans of some candidates. I empathize with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. At the rate candidates are abusing the virtues in the Scout’s Pledge (Trustworthy! Loyal! Helpful! Industrious!), it would take years to get the kids to unlearn the new connotations of these virtues.

My senses have been assaulted by idiotic jingles, fantastic claims of heroism and martyrdom, even egotistical and self-indulgent television ads of this or that candidate. If these people’s claims are true, one wonders why they have not been nominated for sainthood yet.

Many of these candidates have spent hundreds of millions of pesos in the name of supposed “genuine desire to be service to the Filipino people.” If these people truly want to serve the Filipino people, donating that kind of money to charity would have accomplished the deed far beyond what they could possibly achieve if elected. But I guess that kind of “service to the Filipino people” does not pose the same ego boost as being called “the honorable senator from wherever” inside the august halls of the Senate.

Of course, there’s a more logical reason why these people are running for senator, or the House of Representatives for that matter, and the irrepressible Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has already done a better job of articulating them. Let’s face it, for all her idiosyncrasies, who in this country is more articulate than she is? Simply put, many of them are in for the money. Lots and lots of money, if we are to believe the lady Senator.

So instead of convincing me of their virtues, the antics of many of our candidates have only fueled my loathing and abhorrence for them. I initially considered voting for Loren Legarda and Manny Villar until their shamelessly conceited ads became so sickening. And, okay, I will admit that my decision not to vote for them is my way of frustrating their unnatural fixation to be number one or nothing. These two candidates have become so full of themselves, they think settling for anything else other than being number one is beneath them. Both are known to have a moist eye on the presidency so I can understand how winning the topmost slot translates into validation of their worth as presidential timber, but for crying out loud, do they really need to be so brazen about it? Being ambitious is one thing, being obsessed is another.

There are times when I wish I could agree with those whose only idea of what is good for this country is kicking Gloria Macapagal Arroyo out of Malacañan Palace. Such a suggestion necessitates voting for the whole Genuine Opposition ticket regardless of how one disdains the likes of political has-been Sonny Osmeña, the renegade Antonio Trillanes IV, or the poster boys of political dynasty Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel; or the fact that the victory of the whole Genuine Opposition ticket legitimizes Joseph Estrada’s continued insistence that he is victim of political persecution.

Or, conversely, I wish I could agree with the suggestion that the opposition represents nothing else but destructive politics and consequently, one should vote for the whole Team Unity ticket. Oh please, I may not like Joseph Estrada, but I am not that dense nor am I that gullible to believe that this administration and its senatorial candidates represent nothing but honesty, good intentions, and the true, the good and the beautiful. It is difficult to keep an open mind while desperately trying to fend off in one’s consciousness the images of political turncoats, the empty posturings of Singson and Magsaysay, the political naivete of the Sultan of Jolo or the hugely talented Montano.

I’ve tried, I’ve really tried; but I think I am ready to concede that one can’t truly make lemonade out of bad lemons. So I think I will have to settle for just these 10: Joker Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino, Edgardo Angara, Martin Bautista, Chiz Escudero, Mike Defensor, Kiko Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Sonia Roco, and Miguel Zubiri.

***

For a number of weeks now, I have been campaigning for Dr. Martin Bautista among my friends and acquaintances. I’ve even made it one of my talking points in my lectures. But unfortunately, it seems he is not going to make it. There simply has not been enough time for him to make an imprint in the national consciousness.

It’s really too bad that not a lot of people even know about Bautista. If there is someone among the current candidates who truly deserves to win, it’s this guy.

Bautista is running for a Senate seat under the Kapatiran Party. He gave up a lucrative career in the United States as a topnotch doctor to be able to run for senator and make a difference in the local political arena.

So please vote for Dr. Martin Bautista. We need a new Juan Flavier in the Senate —not necessarily a doctor, but someone who embodies integrity and genuine talent.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Bong!
I have the exact same list as yours except that Noynoy is a new addition in mine while colleagues and friends (mostly women ha!) have doubts about Sonia Roco, they aren't as convinced. Probably because she doesn't project as very approachable, maybe suplada and taray and too full of herself. Altho no problem with me about headstrong women as long as they know what they're saying and mean it. We used to like Loren, those days in the senate during Erap hearings when she asked intelligent questions and looked great in her pashminas. Until she became too in a hurry to be president/vice-prez that she had to hook up with the very person whose honesty and integrity she questioned. We dropped her like a hot patatas. She never recovered in our opinion. Villar? Same, same. Almost Loren's male version.
How about Adrian Sison? I haven't heard much about him, the pros and cons. I'm still interested to know. Never mind if he and Bautista are not winnables, I vote my conscience.
By the way, we are for Agham party list and if you wanna know why there's still the website and recently, the April 23 column of Prof. Leonor Briones in the Business Mirror. I must say we are much better than most (if not all, hehe) of the party lists.
Good Day! ---MommyJo

Anonymous said...

The hubby and I were on our way to the office, driving by all the names written on all sorts of paper, cardboard, plastic,and we realized we actually do not know who to vote for in the local positions! We had been so concentrated on the national level and was completely ignoring the weekend noise of local candidates, because no one impressed us. We suddenly were alarmed because we're more likely not alone in that predicament and the danger would be to write any name just to fill out the blanks in the ballot. We again would more likely get the same set of misfits. Omigod.
Re. Cayetano, did you see the weekend paper about what his view is on political dynasties? What crap. What waste of talent. What does this guy take us for? I am totally insulted with his palusot. His late father is so much better than him, far more intelligent and articulate and suave. If he wins I hope he'll drop that exasperating, irritating "talent" to blabber his brains out with repetitions of the same point. Nakakarindi! As my colleague says.
And we had a huge laugh when another colleague described Osmena as an old turncoat who's so wrinkled and hardly corrigible, and "amoy lupa na". Of course we allow ourselves some irreverence, esp. if it involves trapos.
Good day!--MommyJo

snglguy said...

Oh yes, Martin Bautista. I blogged about the guy and am definitely voting for him...

lateralus said...

Don't you find Dr. Bautista's motivations a bit strange? It reeks of messianic complex to me. I am voting for him, but I don't really see how leaving his US-based practice puts the impetus on us to vote him.

Also, Ang Kapatiran sounds a lot like a fundamentalist christian organization. We need a more secular and politically correct state - not a stupid theocracy.

Martin D. Bautista, M.D. said...

Maraming salamat Bong for your vote. Tuloy ang laban.