Political blogging is like a sport. Like any sport, you win some and you lose some. The idea is to play like Roger Federrer, stay cool, calm and composed even in defeat. Sometimes though, one can’t help but act a little bit like John McEnroe and cry foul, especially when the opponent violates the rules of the game. As they say, he or she who cries the loudest gets the most attention. Hey, even Federrer cries once in a while. That’s what happens when you throw yourself 100% at what you do all the time. You can get carried away by your emotion whatever the outcome is at the end of the game.
Speaking of crying foul, Noynoy Aquino cried foul more than any other presidential candidate even when there was no foul play. That is precisely the reason why he got most of the attention during the campaign. Mind you, he didn’t even have to throw his 100% during the campaign but complaining did work for him as far as getting the most sympathy from voters.
Because I threw 100% of myself into blogging about the election during my spare time in the last few months, I missed out on watching a lot of films that have come out in recent times. I now have a full page with a list of films I need to see and I don’t know if I can catch up before the next round of blockbusters hit the cinemas. Since the wheels are in motion to Noynoy’s oath-taking despite electoral fraud allegations, I have had to reassure myself that choosing to write against Noynoy instead of watching a film or engaging in other extra curricular activities was worth it. The outcome of the election is regrettable to say the least. Nonetheless, writing is one of my favourite things. I don’t mind doing it, and hopefully I somehow make a difference while I’m at it.
I realize in hindsight, though, that no amount of voter education or fact-finding missions on behalf of the voters was ever going to be appreciated by the voters themselves. There were too many obstacles that stood in the way of significantly capturing their attention. Whether it was laziness or arrogance on their part I, and the rest of the Antipinoy.com bloggers had no chance of penetrating the defensive walls Noynoy’s supporters had put up. Still, the whole exercise was an eye opener for me personally. I’ll have to keep changing my strategy for the next game or else face the same fate again. That’s all I can do. That’s all we can do.
Perhaps it was my own idealism that blinded me to the real political situation in the country. Or perhaps it was my naive trust in the Philippine media to publish the truth in the past that led me to think that it was possible to dream. Whatever it is, I wasn’t the only one who thought that real change was what everyone wanted. Even seasoned politicians like Richard Gordon, and rookies like Gilbert Teodoro and Nick Perlas dared to dream of applying new politics in the Philippines.
Lucky for me I’m only worried about finding the time to watch the films that I missed out on. Spare a thought for those people who routinely miss out on meals on a given day, or the people who don’t even have a roof over their heads, or those who neglect to put any clothes on altogether for lack of any kind of ensemble to wear. Their lives after the election remain the same as it was before it. I doubt if they have even seen a film yet. I can’t help but think that it could have been me, born to a family who lives in a tiny shack without any chance of making it out of that stink hole.
I can’t help but wonder too about what goes on in the minds of the people who can really make a difference to the lives of the underprivileged majority. With just a few simple changes in government policies, the likes of Peping Cojuangco and other members of the Philippine oligarchy can give everyone equal opportunity to better their lives. How much money does one need to be able to say: “Ok, I’ve had enough money, time to relax and let others have a go at making some”. It’s the same sort of question we ask each other after watching one of those Star Wars episodes: Why does the Emperor have such a strong need to dominate the entire galaxy anyway?
People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett treat their profession like a sport. The less emotion involved, the better the bottom line. And money is the best score keeper. Now that Bill and Warren have a lot of money, they can sit back, relax and venture into philanthropy. We all know that giving time and money is a thankless job so it’s best that people who have time and money like them do it more than anyone else. As Howard Buffet (Warren’s son) once said, it could have been him born in some remote village in Africa or India. Life is just the luck of the draw, so he is spending his time and money doing what he can to uplift the lives of the poor in some remote part of the globe.
Eradicating poverty is only a dream. People who try and help keep it at bay in real life like Bill, Warren, and Howard can only do so much. There will always be some crazy bozos who will seek world domination or want everything for themselves. They achieve this by keeping other people dependent on their mediocre services or by keeping people from being self-sufficient. That, in essence, is what the Philippine oligarchy is doing to the rest of Philippine society.
Now that the election game is nearly over, I want to review the strategies we used in our efforts to crush the Philippine oligarchy’s influence by way of putting the right leader in the country. These pointers might help in 2016:
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1. Campaign platforms
For months before the election campaign officially started, some of the veteran bloggers here at AntiPinoy.com and a newbie like myself have been engaged in debates on line with other prominent bloggers like Abe Margallo and Manuel L Quezon III about presidential platforms. We tried to elevate the discussion to a higher level by convincing Noynoy supporters that it is not about popularity but rather about what you bring to the table. Benign0 and BenK even came up with their own table of presidential platforms to help voters compare which candidate came up with the best. No one came up with a credible platform but at least some candidates came up with something we can hang on to for the next six years.
Abe Margallo from Filipino Voices kept telling us that voters don’t care about platforms. He famously said that “If your gut tells you it’s Noynoy, go for it!” We all laughed at him for quite some time and his gut spiel became the butt of jokes on line. It turns out, Abe knew Filipino voters like the back of his hand. Voters don’t care about platforms. They care about Noynoy’s love life and what he does in his spare time.
Voters were also smitten with the “Aquino Legacy” and are convinced that Noynoy will continue whatever it is they think that Ninoy or Cory could have achieved but for whatever reason did not. The voters don’t even have a clue what a platform is. You have to wonder now how they plan to evaluate how Noynoy sticks to his campaign promises during his term of office.
Lesson learned: Filipino voters are and forever will be, star-struck ignoramuses. If you want to run for the presidency in 2016, get an image makeover or try to appear “good” and “humble”.
2. Surveys and Polling firms
For some reason, we paid little attention to the election surveys in the beginning. I realized too late that Filipinos were dumb enough to think that if a candidate is popular, it necessarily means that he should be voted in as the president. We also failed to realize up until the last week before Election Day that the polling firms conducting the surveys were closely linked to the presidential candidate leading the polls. Likewise, despite the number of candidates allowed to run, people were actually just choosing between two candidates. You have to wonder why they still allow more than two candidates to run in the first place.
Lesson learned: Next election, call for more transparency around poll survey questionnaires; clamor for more polling firms to conduct surveys and be vigilant and critical of Media’s interpretation of the poll results.
3. Media Bias
Another thing that slipped under our radar was the fact that Noynoy Aquino was given more exposure by prominent media outlets like the Philippine Daily Inquirer during the campaign period. It didn’t matter how trivial the news was; Noynoy Aquino was always on the front page. Broadcast networks such as ABS-CBN also helped expose Noynoy to the masa through shows that flagged the “Aquino Legacy”.
Lesson learned: Media outlets owned and operated by members of the Philippine oligarchy will give more exposure to whoever presidential candidate offers concessions they can benefit from.
4. Religious endorsements
A week before Election Day, the leader of Iglesia ni Cristo announced that they will be endorsing presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. It has been said that this religious group actually waits for the last minute before announcing their endorsement because they want to ensure that whoever they endorse actually wins — presumably with the aim of making a few deals with the president once in office. It was also said that Noynoy’s party was secretly courting that leader’s guarantee that the INC votes will be in their favor.
Lesson learned: The endorsement of religious leaders depends on which candidate is popular; religious leaders can make or break a presidential aspirant; Filipinos will vote for whoever their religious leaders instruct them to vote for.
5. Election Day thugs and vote buying
It seems that all of the above exercise with the possible exception of item number four will have no bearing on Election Day to the majority of voters because of the presence of thugs in the polling stations. As previously mentioned, police and military personnel who have no business being in polling stations and who are under the payroll of candidates, hang around to intimidate voters. If the Police and the military themselves are involved in this illegal behavior, to whom can the voters report the irregularity to?
The illegal activity called vote buying involves the buyer and the seller. They both are accountable for their actions. In this case, both parties won’t be willing to report each other because they both benefit from the activity. Unfortunately, the voter who sells his vote will only benefit in the short term.
Lesson learned: As long as irregularities like this happens on Election Day, any efforts at educating the voters will just go down the drain.
6. Automated Machines
It turns out that automated machines are not foolproof. Reports abound of machines malfunctioning, machines found kept in someone’s shed, the discrepancies in time lapsed, and allegations of malicious software installed in the machine itself.
Lesson learned: Filipinos cannot be trusted with both manual and automated election. Filipinos are very resourceful at finding a way to cheat.
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Given the above summary, we can therefore conclude that any efforts at helping Filipinos elevate the level of discussion about politics in general is futile. Any sound arguments will fall on deaf ears and will be met by glazed pairs of eyes. Perhaps the voters already know that anything can happen on the Election Day itself and as it happens, every irregularity under the Philippine sun did happen.
Political blogging is like a sport. There’s just an entirely different set of rules in the Philippines that only the politicians with an army know how to play. Cries of foul play will likely be dismissed as sour graping.