The catch-phrase administration of President Noynoy Aquino

Score so far in this game of clever marketing that Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is playing on the Filipino people — three. As in three catchy slogans that have so far proven to be effective in its stickiness to the Filipino psyche:

– Use of the Yellow pedigree platform and its symbols — the “L” hand gesture, Laban rhetoric and, of course, the colour yellow — during the campaign;

– Putting up of the kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (“no corruption equals no poverty”) catch phrase to represent his cornerstone strategy upon ascent to his office in Malacanang; and,

– Coining of the wang-wang (literally “police siren”) metaphor in the recent SONA as an encapsulation of the culture of impunity that infects Philippine society.

On the merits of the above, the Second Aquino presidency will go down in history as a brand marketer’s case study of catchy persuasion hooks used on a people starved for meaning as they scratch out a chronically wretched existence. A few other historical figures easily come to mind in this Hall of Fame of empty-symbols-driven style of leadership. I’ll leave it up to the reader to name a few.

Note how the following propaganda techniques were respectively used so far over the last 12 months of Aquino’s Malacañang:

Transfer: In this technique, an attempt is made to transfer the prestige of a positive symbol to a person or an idea. For example, using the American flag as a backdrop for a political event makes the implication that the event is patriotic in the best interest of the U.S.

[…]

Faulty Cause and Effect: This technique suggests that because B follows A, A must cause B. Remember, just because two events or two sets of data are related does not necessarily mean that one caused the other to happen. It is important to evaluate data carefully before jumping to a wrong conclusion.

[…]

Either/or fallacy: This technique is also called “black-and-white thinking” because only two choices are given. You are either for something or against it; there is no middle ground or shades of gray. It is used to polarize issues, and negates all attempts to find a common ground.

And while we are at it, let us cite the persuasion device at work in Aquino’s quaint persistent use of the Tagalog dialect in his public “speeches”…

Plain Folks: This technique uses a folksy approach to convince us to support someone or something. These ads depict people with ordinary looks doing ordinary activities.

We will note that the above Plain Folks is also the technique he applies in his insistence of not using motorcades when traveling by land to and from his office in Malacañang. Quite effective it has so far proven as it continues to be his saving grace today (thanks to his many apologists in Media) even as the lack of substance in the positions he takes and claims he makes on most things pertinent to steering the country towards prosperity becomes more and more evident.

Indeed, the fact that use of the Tagalog dialect seems sufficient to articulate the President’s views speaks of the intellectual payload of much of these views. As I wrote way back, the English language — and not the Tagalog dialect — holds the key to a rich world of knowledge and insight that can potentially be literally at the fingertips of most Filipinos today…

Command of English provides instant access to a vast knowledgebase accumulated by the English-speaking world over the last 200 years. It is a knowledgebase to which knowledge is relentlessly being added at an ever increasing rate — far faster than our Tagalog-articulated knowledgebase is being augmented by both original material and translated material. Considering the English-proficient Philippine elite’s mastery over the language of this knowledgebase, it’s the old concept of the rich-get-richer-while-the-poor-get-poorer gone ballistic!

Many “cause-oriented” groups trumpet the practicality of the Tagalog language as a key ingredient for progress and nationalism. Yet they fail to provide any solutions to the dearth of knowledge material to lift Philippine society out of its intellectual bankruptcy. Are we going to continue denying the poor basic access to what the elites of Philippine society already monopolise — a monopoly they use to further their dominance over the dynamism of our society that all Filipinos are entitled to?

Taking the above into consideration, what does all of this amount to, basically? Just one very basic principle that has so far proven quite applicable and wielded shrewdly by the communication team of Malacañang:

Dumb down the message.

Dumb it down, shield it from critical thinking, and hook mere sympathy from the audience for an imagined “cause” by encapsulating it in slogans, catch phrases, and meaningless symbols. It’s a good survival strategy for an administration that has so far been unable to demonstrate an ability to give direction to the nation.

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29 Comments on “The catch-phrase administration of President Noynoy Aquino”

  1. An English translation of his SONA address was provided immediately, so nothing was lost there. I don’t know. Politics is the business of misleading, so I don’t know why you hold him to such a pristine standard. Senator Santiago’s well-known rants are another form of propaganda, righteous indignity at the top of the lungs. Ms. Arroyo had her face plastered across the nation at every road construction project, at considerable public expense. At least I think the fans of yellow have to buy their own shirts. Marketing is rather the business they are in, convincing we ignorami to fall into line. President Assad of Syria does it with tanks, so it could be worse.

    Still, yes, awareness of the mild deceits is important. It is just not, in my book, a legitimate reason for saying “you bad president you!” I’d rather look at laws enacted and that Transparency International benchmark you highlighted. And economic progress, for sure. He is, in my book, failing to give women’s rights their proper emphasis if his vision is a modern Philippines. That is meat. Marketing is sizzle.

    1. The difference between Crazy Miriam and Shorty compared to this guy, however, is that they have something concrete – as in something which physically exists, and not just some general idea (or worse, something someone else was actually responsible for) they can point to as an underlying basis for their self-promotion if someone who’s smart enough comes along to call them on their b.s. Say what you like about Gloria’s face all over the place (yeah, it used to annoy me, too), but at least all those signs were planted in front of some sort of recognizable activity – a road, a new market building, what have you. 13 months + into the term, and this guy is still running for office.

      1. Yes, the SONA read too much like a campaign speech than a forthright analysis of the state of the nation. How could any state of the nation address miss the point of the HR and Divorce bill, and backward treatment of the nation’s women? Not to mention no punishments or recourse re. deadbeat dads.

        To some extent the lack of action from President Aquino is being translated as stability and fiscal responsibility. Call it an anti-matter approach given the matter of Ms. Arroyo’s conniving (midnight raids on the Constitution, which is worse than running for office, and occurred at the end of her term).

        I’ll ask you the same hypothetical question that Ilda refused to deal with. If, in 2016, by hook or crook, we had Arroyo running against Aquino for president, who would you back?

        I shudder at the thought of Ms. Arroyo, or someone with her values, back in office. It is worse than politicking. Worse than marketing. Worse than lackluster.

        1. Jeez, Joe Am, this fixation on that hypothetical question of whether one would vote for Arroyo or Noynoy in 2016 is starting to look more like a sad last ditch effort to fight your way out of a logical corner you’ve painted yourself into.

        2. Some people just can’t take it as well as they give it, unfortunately. They resort to name-calling in an effort to appear superior. Sadly, they just end up looking desperate.

      2. Joe,

        You claimed:

        “Call it an anti-matter approach given the matter of Ms. Arroyo’s conniving (midnight raids on the Constitution, which is worse than running for office, and occurred at the end of her term).”

        How about some facts?

        “I shudder at the thought of Ms. Arroyo, or someone with her values, back in office. It is worse than politicking. Worse than marketing. Worse than lackluster.”

        Yeah, I also shudder every time I encounter your dishonest comments. I shudder the thought that you might accidentally convince somebody who is lazy like you in performing some critical analysis of a situation. You are worst than Penoy. You’re incorrigible.

      3. I agree with others that the question goes beyond hypothetical into the realm of the ludicrous, but I’ll bite. I would not have to weigh the choices for more than a nanosecond to back Arroyo.

      4. @Joe

        “Fascinating” that’s it?!?

        Ilda was right. It was a pointless question. Gees. What a waste of time and space.

        I think PNoy supporters are very defensive.

      5. @Joe

        No. If you are going to participate in a public forum like this, you need to make yourself clear otherwise, people like me will assume that you are just full BS.

      6. Joe,

        I am making ALLEGATIONS that you are a LIAR and DISHONEST. Yes, you are a LIAR and DISHONEST.

        Unfortunately for you, they are factual and I can always prove them. (Or I already have proven them.)

        Do I have an obligation to you to prove them? Heh…what do you think?

      7. @observer: don’t mind joe. he is indeed full of that. and it’s evident in every single grpost blog that has pnoy in it. besides, he knows he really can’t go head-to-head with benk (or ilda or benign0) without resorting to what he’s full of. that’s why “fascinating” is all we get out of him.

        @trosp: don’t let him get to you. i’m joe’s best friend in hell, and he’ll be serving me drinks in an apron. pnoy will bring the video games.

        so keep your cool, enjoy the back and forth, and help joe REVEAL himself for what he really is. and yeah, links help, especially those that illustrate how he contradicts himself from time to time. for instance, when he says you’re irrelevant, it actually means the opposite because he took the time to tell you.

        cheers!

      8. @Parallax

        Actually, Joe the American’s arrogance is beyond tasteless as to his malicious version of his truth.

        I can’t consider him as a factually confused dude. He can’t differentiate speculations or opinions from facts.

        I can’t even accuse him of purveying misinformation out of ignorance or incompetence. That would be a compliment in his favor. I don’t want to sound as being to be too patronizing with him.

        For him, never mind the facts as long as there is the feel of truthiness about anything then that’s it.

        Joe, as long as you are dishonest and lying with whatever you’re harping, I’ll always be around to refute you.

      9. @trosp:

        well, that’s the thing with being a pnoy-or-bust kind of guy – the dude ends up using all sorts of spin, logical fallacies, manipulative rhetoric, and flat-out bovine droppings. creatively expressed, impassioned even, but always burning his pants in the process.

        take a look at lacierda. a dude with credentials. kinda rude, but he wasn’t always that way. with him usually designated to come up with lame excuses to tell the press at malacanang for every screw up pnoy makes, most of the time he’s really got nothing to work with. his job, like valte’s, is to b.s. the entire nation every single day. anyone who doesn’t resign from that kind of job will HAVE to b.s. his way out of each day at the office.

        joeam isn’t doing anything different from lacierda. every day too.

        but guess what. lacierda, after all the indignity and loss of credibility among THINKING people, gets paid to do what he does. and joeam? hmmm.

        patriot or idiot? i leave that up to you.

        stay cool.

  2. Its like a bucket list of logical fallacies, ugh.

    He relies too much on the halo-effect to maintain his public image. I’m not expecting much from PNoy, one cannot expect him to solve all the problems he inherited from past administrations, but I hope he at least solves one or two major social issues before he steps down. If he cant stab the systemic corruption, at least sana yung FOI act, RH Bill, or even the divorce bill man lang matapos nya sa term nya.

  3. Politicsl Gimmicks and hiring Public Relation Firms to mislead the minds of the Filipinos, will never solve our pressing problems…Noynoy Aquino simply has no Vision, of where he is leading the country. We have many pressing problems; but, he does not have the guts and the mental caliber to solve them. So, he resorts to : blaming people; and diversionary and distraction tactics. To put our minds away from him, and our country’s problems…

    1. mukhang may “matibay” po kayong ebidensya. Bakit di nyo ipresent kay Pnoy at nang maka “usad” naman ang kaso laban kay CGMA?

      Mana sa walang kwentang nanay na si tita Cory.

    2. TROLL HARDER.

      You want social change? Let’s go for CHARTER CHANGE! Sa totoo lang, he doesn’t have balls and he’s not in league with Lee Kuan Yew or Mahathir Mohammed.

      Sorry, but Noynoy is the perfect example of utak wangwang which is ironic. So what do you vote him for? An exhibit of Pinoy stupidity? 😛

  4. paulit ulit ka na lang, n0ytard. Kahit anong ipresent sa yo. Yung P723B kupit nga di mo madepensahan.

    Talagang ganyan. Hanggang Nike factory lang experience ng idolo mong palpak.

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