An unshaded oval: Elections, Filipinos & their Manang ideologies

Have you ever been in a jeepney where a manang stranger would start a heated, politically injected conversation with another manang stranger about their favored presidentiables? And from the other edge of the opposite row, a manong stranger who they don’t know at all would throw in his two (more like 20) cents about who he thinks can sway the country’s future. All their passionate talk, but deep inside you’d find yourself giggling either because of their willingness to push their bets down each others throats or because of their admirable yet old, ill-informed & stubborn convictions.

I’m not a manang, not yet a manong. But I do have my two cents.

A bystander

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Being a Filipino young adult who’s still in the process of figuring out life as it unfolds, I’ve never been one to have strong opinions (good or bad) about our government. It’s not that i ain’t affected, but mostly throughout my not so young 27 years, I was, for a lack of a better word, a bystander to how it’s been run. I’ve lived through 5 different presidents with each their own differing administrations & I can’t pinpoint what anyone in their terms have done very good. Though short of the finer details, I admittedly am more aware of their worst moments in office… as you know: it’s easier to remember flaws. Sure, people might say that I was just too young, or that I wasn’t observant enough, or that I probably just didn’t give a fvck. They’re all valid assumptions & probably were all true at certain given points of time in my life.

Too Young

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I was born in 1988 & was a four-year old when Cory Aquino left the helm. I can’t remember what I did during those years but I’m sure I didn’t spend them rejoicing her ascension to presidency. I perhaps was too busy NOT minding my own poop. I was a bit more grown up with Fidel Ramos’ years in Malacañang & I do have some recollection about them. Unfortunately, they’re limited to: 1. The Philippine centennial independence because we were tasked at school to dance to Filipino folk songs & wave around art paper made Philippine flags. 2. Sarah Balabagan & how the government & subsequently, TV Patrol talked about her so much. 3. The movie Titanic & Kate Winslet’s boobies.

Not observant enough

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It was not until Joseph Estrada‘s term that I was more aware of how our republic was really like. Not without help from my parent’s hatred of him though. In fact, I still carry the same sentiments i had for him then for every single one of his family members that for some reason Filipinos just keep on voting for. I can’t help it. I used to always hear how corrupt he was or how he was so unfit to lead our nation. But I’d be the first one to admit that i don’t really know the specifics of what he did wrong. All I remember is the name Jose Velarde & that a bank account under this moniker had Jueteng money. It’s also probably at his tenure where my disinterest (or total lack thereof) started. No matter how few my facts are of his run, I’m pretty sure my dislike for him has some sort of validation as this guy was forced out via another People power revolt. We just love our revolutions, don’t we?

Gloria Arroyo & how I remember her administration wasn’t any better. Stats do indicate that economic growth was better with her, but it did little to improve the country overall. I may not have the credits or expertise to claim this, but I know change & improvement when i see it. That or maybe I was just too busy wandering around P. Noval with my half face emo bangs while Taking Back Sunday burst through my earphones during my college years. Ultimately & unfortunately, Her Hello Garci tapes are my best recollection of her tenure, aside from the neckbrace & the wheelchair. And yeah, Ate Glow.

Didn’t give a fvck

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Well, I actually did at firstPerhaps with a hint of naivety, I really felt good having the responsibility of choosing a president in 2010. Yeah, Benigno Aquino III won & my bet lost (Gibo), but honestly, I was still enthusiastic about the guy as he had this calm demeanor that was promising. He came out guns blazing with the no wang-wang policy which was gimmicky really, but this was a president who made the move to make Filipinos feel like they’re on the same level as he was. Sadly, that was probably one of my finer recollections of him in office as after several years, I just didn’t bother. In my opinion, Noynoy was mediocre at best. But then again, maybe so was my interest of his administration… & Bimby.

Bystanding no more

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So here I am, now 27 years of age & just a few days away from casting that all important vote. Now 27 years of age & just a few years (or months!) away from life’s awakening face slaps. Now 27 years of age & just awhile away from helping decide who’ll be the president when those face slaps finally hit me. Thus for the first time, I feel the urge to be better aware & more analytical of whoever’s administration will take charge at Malacañang this coming May. Call it coming of age (about time!) or perhaps just out of necessity, I feel the need to be very critical of who I should bet on.

To simply put it, no matter how cheesy: this time, my future depends on it (or at least, will be affected by it). The same future that the manang & manong strangers inside the jeepney were debating upon is the same one where I draw my two cents from:

Manang ideologies

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We should do our darn-hardest to avoid a future where we ourselves become those jeepney manangs & manongs. Or more specifically, we must do away with their MANANG IDEOLOGIES starting now. With no disrespect to anyone who we refer to as the elderly, I do NOT in any way generalize the older generation to be all the same nor have the same POV to politics. I also am NOT dissing anyone personally nor their opinions & am only sharing mine in regards to why I think Filipinos should change their old mindsets when it comes to voting for all government positions. Perhaps poorly named on my part, I am referring to these traits as Manang Ideologies only to point out their old-fashionedness. Plus my several jeepney ride debate encounters.

noranians/vilmanians syndrome (aka diehard fandom for politicians)
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Second chances make for good movie plots (but not sequels as I recently found out) but why the hell do Filipinos keep on re-electing politicians who have been proven guilty in one way or another to have another go at it? Joseph Estrada resigned his presidency term & was found guilty of plunder “beyond reasonable doubt”, yet this guy came in second out of 9 hopefuls in voting in the 2010 presidential race. It should be common sense that you don’t be best buds with a robber right after he takes your money. He won the Manila mayor post in the 2013 elections. Sure, he was born there & it isn’t as big of a position overall when compared to the presidency, but still. This is all too common with us, specially for the senatorial seats. With 12 positions to fill, it’s awful that with every election, Filipinos somehow always vote-in the past seat holders regardless of their previous performances just to fill their list. You guys know we don’t need a complete cast of the apostles, right?

Showbiz & politics as Coke & Pepsi (aka celebrity politician fascination)
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Knowing how fanatic our nation can be (just think of all the 1/8 Filipino blooded foreigners we “adopt” to be our own or how much we go crazy for AlDub or JaDine. I am solid SpencAiz BTW), it’s sad that we carry this trait even with our leaders. The prime example within the Philippine political arena is again Joseph Estrada & his massive following. Through his alpha male portrayals within his acting career, he was able to garner such a huge fan base that propelled him to become a mayor (twice), a senator, the vice-president & the president. The list goes on: Bong Revilla, Fernando Poe (I do believe he had the best intentions in mind, but I think it would’ve been a disastrous tenure had he won), Herbert Bautista, Lito Lapid, Tito Sotto, etc. I would have no qualms if one is able to prove himself worthy of the position, but in my opinion, most of the time, these celebrities just aren’t. Fun fact: If I list down all of our celebrity politicians, it would fill me an entire paragraph on this blog post!

Seeing the survey as an x-ray (aka riding the Bandwagon)
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Apparently, we Filipinos not only vote for celebrities, we also prefer whoever is leading in the polls if we’re undecided. This trait can be a hit or miss specially here in our country where we somehow keep a fondness for the disgraced & are very easy to forgive past mistakes. It’s a hit if the popular vote is for a true & proven politician, but is a very bad miss if a poll leader is on top only because they’re famous, or in our case, infamous. Let’s leave the bandwagon-ing debate to the Lebron lovers & haters, shall we?

Safe vote life boat (aka settling when undecided)
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In a way similar to joining the bandwagon, this trait was very evident in the 2010 elections. I probably would’ve been able to buy myself a PS3 then if I had a peso every time I heard people say that they’d vote for Noynoy Aquino only because they didn’t like Manny Villar. It isn’t so bad to settle for the safer candidate, but it does eliminate the not-so popular but perhaps more qualified choices. I’ll admit that this thought also lingered in my head back then as Aquino just seemed like the less riskier choice against Villar’s very ineffective (to my social class at least) & pathetic plea to appear like a man for the masses. Like Cherry Mobile hiring Kris Aquino to endorse their phones. No kidding.

Doing the [dy]Nasty (aka encouraging political dynasties & voting by last-name basis)
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A bit tricky for me as I do see a scenario where family continuity can be beneficial for a region. When good intentions within good leaders are in place, it’s a way for continued progress to prosper no doubt. But here with us locally, it appears it’s just a means for some political families to take hold of power & money for as long as they can. It’s more common within provinces/cities where wives or husbands or sons or daughters share the primary seats, but I’d say it’s just as bad as a bad dynasty when Filipinos vote for family members of politicians only because they’re related & enough government experience becomes a secondary criteria. With the way it’s been in the Philippine senate the past decades with Nancy, Cynthia, Loi, Bam, etc., I wouldn’t be surprised if Heart gets her own seat one day.

Vice as rice (aka dismissing the vp position)
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Filipinos have made a habit of simply voting for tandems for the president & the vice-president, which is not ideal at all here in our country. We somehow dismiss the 2nd highest position as simply a choice of Jolly Crispy Fries or Jolly Sundae to our Champ, thinking the vote as irrelevant. Where have you been the past 3 decades? I would even go as far as to say that picking your VP might be the most important one as we Filipinos just love to gather at EDSA every few administrations.

captain complainer (aka not voting at all)

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Too much have already been said, reiterates Bamboo.

we reap or we yield for the ovals we shade

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In perhaps three weeks time, barring our usual vote count hullaballoo, the Malacañang seat all the way down to the barangay monoblocs will have new or familiar asses to cushion. No matter how dark or light, flat or plump, sweaty, moisturized or dry, well-intentioned or downright bad these buttocks are, whether we like them bums or not, we’ll have them to stare at for the next few years (not literally, unless you want to). All the amusing TV debates, campaign ads, shameless car stickers, candidate’s wooing facades, jeepney manang stranger comments, cab driver opinions, and yes, your Facebook friends’ rants that have been thrown at your face the past six months will all finally stop.

It’s laughable how puny what all the millions of money thrown away & years worth of work & energy wasted on campaigns boils down to in the actual election day. A very simple action of the hand yet one that is worthy of your very best comprehension & close-to-perfect judgement. It’s real easy to get caught up & get swayed by all the distractions, but at the end of the day it simply comes down to whose ovals you shade.

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Vote clean“, “Dapat tama” or whatever reworded advocacy of “vote wisely” we’ve been bombarded with IMHO has run past it’s expiry. We know the phrase by heart, but I think it has become a similar case to 2nd graders memorizing the multiplication table: knowing the answers without fully understanding how. Thus the advice I believe Filipinos need be best told come this 9th of May: Learn from the past & “Do away with manang ideologies“.

And yes, it’ll probably take several months or even years until we can truly judge if we made the right choices. Straightforward ironic as it maybe, we can construe our votes as downright blind guesses. No one can teach us how to be a better judge of character nor how to read a person’s inner thoughts. Again, I believe that what we have with us all along, though often overlooked & dismissed, is already the best aid in choosing who to vote for: Our country’s past mistakes.

Within the next few days if you do find yourself inside a jeepney with manong & manang strangers talking about the presidency with the similar stubbornness I’ve mentioned, do yourself a favor: Be better.

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