It does not take much to attract media attention in the Philippines. You just need to do something “special”. Fortunately for Filipinos, their society had set a low bar for specialness. For many politicians, simply taking a bus or a train along with the peasants makes them special enough to be elected to government posts that put them in charge of hundreds of millions of pesos in public funds.
My colleague Chino recently wrote about how this might be a symptom of something seriously wrong with our society citing as an example Leni Robredo, wife of the late and beloved former Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Jesse Robredo, who was depicted waiting for a public bus in a photo that had recently gone “viral”. Indeed, it is disturbing. When “achievement” and the hollow kudos that accompany it is seen to be so readily-accessible, even to the talentless, society is in trouble.
Celebrity magazines pretty much got exploiting this psychological nuance of human beings down to a science. Celebrities are regarded as gods. Nonetheless fans of celebrities still feel like they could relate to them — even if the lifestyles and worries of these gods are far removed from the ordinary people who look up to them. Celebrity magazines exploit this need to relate with the gods by cutting the gods down to size — highlighting character flaws (psychotic behaviour is a favourite), skin blemishes (telephoto images of cellulite rippling in thighs and sagging butts keep mags flying off shelves), and failed marriages (no, seriously?).
Which brings me to my point.
All that pretty much forms the groundbreaking idea underlying The New Testament that made it such a huge global bestseller. The Good Book cut down no less than Abraham’s God himself to size — turning the image of the crucified Son of God into history’s most powerful symbol: an image that launched wars, inspired the building of great nations, and incited humanity’s worst acts of genocide. The New Testament turned Abraham’s God from a pathologically wrathful, insanely jealous, and inconsolably vindictive god into a human being — someone’s son — who spent much of his public life on a PR blitz to convince people that his father is everything but the monster the Old Testament painted him to be.
So the lesson we can take away, thus far in this piece, is that The New Testament at a fundamental level is really not too different from a celebrity magazine like People or Hello.
The bigger lesson here, however, has more to do with political strategy, specifically around, say, Bongbong Marcos’s image problem. He is the son of a reviled former god who is rumoured to have done really bad things. Say, for argument’s purposes, Bongbong Marcos decides to run for president in 2016. What would he do? What could he do?
Bongbong Marcos could start by reading The Holy Bible.
Jesus Christ set out on his preaching career with a similar brand liability — his father. Abraham’s God (Jesus’s father) was the architect of an atrocity the cruelty of which dwarfs anything that any human that followed it has been able to perpetrate thus far. Jesus’s father annihilated all of humanity in a Great Flood. Not even Adolf Hitler and his impeccably-engineered Holocaust could have beaten that. Indeed, the combined efforts and results delivered by every mass murderer the world has so far seen will still have paled in comparison. The power Abraham’s God wielded with a wave of his wand to effect that deadliest of non-natural planetary extinctions makes the most fearsome of human military technology look like peashooters.
But Jesus Christ took up the challenge to repair that image problem and succeeded. He’s gone down in history as the founder of the world’s mightiest religion — in the name of his father. His is the Mother of all public relations coups. Catholic theology should be a required course in the pursuit of business and politics university degrees. Everything we ever learned about public relations we learned in Bible school. We can learn to sell ice to eskimos using Jesus’s teachings. Indeed;
People now love God thanks to Jesus Christ.
If Jesus could do it, Bongbong Marcos could do it.
Funny enough, a much-hated man, current Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, is now on his way to becoming President of the Philippines. A whole bunch of people are whining about this eventuality. How can this popular man be beaten? Simple. By fielding a candidate who can present himself to the electorate as someone lovable. The call to action for the Philippines’ Premature Opposition is, thus, quite straightforward. It’s time to get back to the basics. Politicians and their strategists who aspire to beat Binay need to turn to Jesus for their salvation. Jesus saves. His example will work even for the most challenging and hopeless of cases.
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