Success is relative in Philippine politics

What’s the big deal with political dynasties? Why try to legislate their existence from the face of Philippine politics? That’s the same as trying to pass a law banning bad manners. Try that and ninety five percent of Filipinos will end up in jail.

Spitting image

Spitting image

You wonder why such ironies as hate campaigns against political dynasties simply fly above the pointed heads of most Filipinos. On one hand you’d have people huffing and puffing about powerful scions running for office — and winning at that. Que horror! The humanity! Such injustice! So much power in the hands of so few!

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Then on another breath you’d hear triumphalists waxing poetic about how Pinoys are so “Family-oriented.” Well now, what do we have here. Since Pinoys find intellectual exercises like connecting-the-dots so daunting, I will need to spell it out here:

Quite obviously;

The character of the politics of a nation merely reflects the character of the voters of said nation.

In a nation of family-oriented people, what is then so strange about the existence of family-oriented politicians?

The Philippines after all is a society where almost extremist practices of deference to “elders” and bias towards blood relatives over and above any other bases for decent regard for what is right passes off as normal behaviour. Filipinos cherish their family ties. They routinely sacrifice systems, rules, and personal trust on the altar of “family-orientation.”

What then is politics other than the ultimate Filipino game?

Try to control who runs for office and specifically design the framework of this control around that most sacred of Filipino traditions — worship of relatives — and you are setting yourself up for failure. Even the most brain-dead of Pinoys become instant Einsteins when it comes to finding workarounds and loopholes to get relatives and friends — and themselves — into positions of unfair advantage. Queue-jumping after all is a renowned talent Filipinos wear with pride. Just look out the window of your car on a drive down sunny Aurora Boulevard and you will see the grassroot origins of this fiesta tradition.

You can’t really blame “activists” for trying to get their presumptive “representatives” to “activate” moronic laws that presume to “ban” political dynasties. The existence of such laws are a testament to the unspoken acknowledgement that Filipino voters cannot be relied on to do the right thing — even for themselves. Good thing there are people out there who see themselves as knowing better than Da Pinoy Vote.

You wonder though: How consistent are these “activists” when it comes to framing their thoughts around “anti-dynastic” electioneering? Well, hopefully they do practice what they preach and not themselves decide to vote for their favourite bozo on the basis of, say, handshakes, for example. Just saying.

If it ain’t Baroque don’t fix it. If I was Mr Typical Pinoy Politician, why should I change the way I campaign when my good looks and exquisite charms alone get me so far? Oh yeah, having a powerful father — or well-branded uncle — works as well.

It’s good for business as too. Having a Showbiz Government is good for the economy. What’s retail marketing after all but an on-going effort to keep people in that sort of festive mood that makes it easier to persuade them to part ways with their hard-earned OFW cash?

Life in the Philippines is really all about being on the right side of the equation. When you are a mere voter, you are on that side everyone says is where the power emanates. Indeed.

29 Replies to “Success is relative in Philippine politics”

  1. Circa 100 – 150 million pesos for a senatorial campaign.( jack enrile said last week that he has already spent 30 million and the campaign season hasnt even officially started)

    1. It maintains a high barrier to entry and ensures only the same families compete/share the spoils.

    2. It promotes/almost forces corruption and ‘payback’ to campaign contributers.

    Certainly bam the sham aquino is being sponsored by cojuangco-aquino and hacienda luisita. ( they even sit on the board of hapinoy !?)

    Opportunism and self interest at the forefront. Experience and achievement irrelevant.

  2. Author,

    Another way to interpret your title and article would be:

    “Success is relatives in Philippine politics.”

    No doubt this is one of the meanings you were trying to get across 😉

    1. I intentionally kept the word “relative” in the singular. After all, you only need one really “good” relative to be successful in the politics of Da Pinas. Ask Jack Enrile. 😉

      1. And Jack is living proof that it is relatively (pun intended) to get away with murder in the Philippines.

        Four times.

        In any other country, he would be considered a serial killer.

  3. Nothing’s new hear but at least GRP delivers a good and jam-packed message on the true face of some of these crooks. At least that is a positive action to help the masses to wake up!(hopefully)

    P.S. Kudos to the post.

    1. But the masses don’t read GRP much less find ways to gather info from alternative sources. If it’s about telenovelas and those shrieking news anchors polluting the air with noise, our masses are very much up-to-date.

  4. Ultimately, it is still up to “those who beg to differ” — those who should know better — to deliver an unequivocal message that we reject politicians who aspire to public office for a chance to raid the treasury and use their position to further personal or family interests. We have to do our part in making sure that we do not elect dead weight whose only claim to fame is the fact that they share the family name of trapos currently in power. The Senate and the House of Representatives should not be run like family businesses at the taxpayers’ expense.

    1. The term for what’s going on with all this presumptive legislation is “iatrogenics” which describes the ‘naive interventionism’ by the well-intentioned that ends up causing more harm than good.

      Activists calling for more control rather than just stepping back and allowing the process to run its course are contributing to the problem.

        1. A parliamentary system would improve it because you’ve got be able to withstand a debate. That would consign the products of the shallow end of the gene pool to the backbench and keep them away from ministerial positions.

          Also, the need for a party to draw its ministers from its pool of parliamentary representatives would eventually mean that the party would start to clean out the dead wood otherwise it could result in not enough viable ministerial candidates.

          Can you think of any way that a parliamentary system would make it worse?

        2. A parliamentary system will only improve matters in the sense that there will be one less body — one less layer of bureaucracy — to waste the taxpayers’ money. In the end it will still be the quality of leaders that we elect which determines whether we build a society we can live with.

        3. That took over an hour. You parliamentary fanboys are slipping.

          Nothing about a parliamentary system would prevent exactly the situation we have now, except for (maybe) eliminating the Senate. “Withstanding a debate” and (what I assume you mean) “being able to provide competent ministers” wither as arguments in the face of the fact that the majority party under the current system can, in fact, withstand debate because there really isn’t that much of an intellectual challenge being offered, and does actually believe it has supplied competent ministers/secretaries. One big difference — a possible difference — is that perhaps Abnoy wouldn’t be the head of the government, and Mar Roxas would be instead. WOW. That’s a real upgrade. And that depends, too; popularity and vote-drawing power has a lot to do with who gets to lead a parliamentary party, so we might be right back where we are now.

          To answer your question, no, a parliamentary system wouldn’t make things any worse. But if that’s your realistic expectation (if it isn’t, why’d you ask?) then why bother changing?

          This country is too immature and too poor to worry about the form of government right now. Work on what you have at least a remote possibility of changing — the economic issues, which are several orders of magnitude more important — and leave the rest until a majority of the people have a reason to care about it.

        4. You’ll recall that the Philippines had already experimented with a parliamentary democracy. The 1973 constitution, apart from a series of cosmetic changes — Departments were renamed “Ministries,” for example — was significant in that it abolished the Senate and replaced the House of Representatives with the “Batasang Pambansa” (National Assembly). Didn’t work out so well. The Batasan amounted to little more than a rubber stamp for Ferdinand Marcos. The dictator on the other hand retained much of the executive power he wielded upon imposing Martial Law instead of relegating this to parliament under the Prime Minister. We still suffer from some of the ideas Marcos came up with under his dictatorship. Like the Party List System or sectoral representation. Far from giving a voice to the disenfranchised, the system has become more of a means to bilk the national treasury.

          If a charter change results in a unicameral parliamentary legislature, the quality of our lawmakers still leaves much to be desired. If we abolish the Senate tomorrow, I wouldn’t miss it. We’d save billions of Pesos and we’d lose a bunch of bozos who contribute nothing but hot air.

          The sad thing is most of our electorate take this issue about as seriously as a tele-novela.

  5. “A democracy is a place where numerous elections
    are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable
    Gore Vidal , “Gods and Greens” (1989)

    “Politics is the entertainment industry for ugly people.”
    Mark Turpin

  6. Having a Plastic surgery to look like, your idiot Uncle; who died protecting his Hacienda Luisita, is idiocy. It is not your looks. It is what your can offer for the solutions to our problems. Political family dynasties will always be here. These people stole from their Pork Barrels. Then, use the funds (our tax money), to finance the campaign of their: sons, daughters, wives, husbands, relatives, etc…you will never legislate this. Don’t vote for any Aquino; Aquino relatives or any of their candidates. They are rich and lazy; greedy and selfish opportunists.

    1. Opportunist bam aquino has a track record of taking credit for the work of others and not really getting his hands dirty preferring to swan around than do a real job – the aquino tradition. Never a paid job, just a private income and token jobs on committees!

      Now he is quick to take credit for hapinoy – he is token pr – and mark ruiz is the brains and powerhouse having given up his senior job at unilever to start it.

      And bum who says he is for the youth only recently joined facebook and twitter for his campaign. Opportunistic

      He even said that he got married to help with campaign! How romantic

      Another aquino fraud trying to create a myth.

      If he was really an entrepreneur nothing could be worse than being in politics. The personality of an entreneur could not stand it.

  7. This a funny article, it proposes that the elected are a characiture of those who elect them. Really?
    The elections are all rigged and it is a reflection of the people who rig the elections rather than anyone who waste’s their time voting in one of these fraudulent exercises in futility, Wake-up mang!!

  8. I suggest that we should vote for politicians base on their ideologies. A law which prohibits someone to run in the office due to circumstances like family(or bloodline) infringes his/her political freedom.

  9. “The irony of being compared to my uncle is that I never
    met him.”
    Bam aquino 2003

    Now he milks it for all its worth!
    Can he go a sentence without mentioning ninoy!

    What a superficial idiot. Mmmm. Just like p-noy come to think of it, and look at what he didn’t achieve in his hibernation in the senate

  10. Review of LP candidates for 2013 elections – team p-noy.

    Hontiveros – Mistress of the commie in the cabinet, political prostitute, and no fashion sense. Desperation personified. A leech.

    Legarda – A political butterfly who sits on the fence so much she must like it up the bum. Reading a teleprompter was her finest hour; thinking for herself is clearly beyond her. Am sure the botox doesn’t help either.

    Bum bam aquino – who is not only wet behind the ears but as workshy as p-noy. An insult to voters that someone in short trousers even thinks he could be a senator. An arrogant opportunist, and despicable for that alone. Get a job! ( am sure tanada was pushed aside to make way for the ‘ family business/brand’ – even sadder because tanada is good.)

    Angara – who got on the slate after his father sold his vote and soul during the corona impeachment. Sad because he has potential, but not independence. Needs some backbone.

    Escudero – the womanising alcoholic who sees life as a joke, when life sees him as the joke. Thats alcohol for you – whisky for brains. A car crash in progress.

    Poe – adopted by her ‘father’, adopted by LP, any port in a storm.
    As weak as san miguel light.

    Pimentel – most probably the best of the bunch. Just a bit naive.

    Cayetano – not to be trusted. Self serving, and there is just something creepy about the guy.

    Trillanes – hero or villain. I don’t know, but stupid is as stupid does, that i do know, and failure seems to be his middle name

    Magsaysay – i thought he was dead. Things must be desperate to resurrect political dinosaurs, and his communication skills belong to childrens tv

    Magridal – the longest name – Maria Ana Consuelo Abad Santos Madrigal Focfuquita Valade – and thats about all you can say

    Villar – WTF!. Husband was a crook of the first order, and she wants to keep the family hand in the cookie jar. Amazing, the gall of some people.

    Wow. Thats the best the country/LP can offer!. No wonder SWS and brillantes are needed to ‘fix’ the results. Nobody in their right mind would vote for such mediocrity.

  11. UNA candidates – 2013 elections

    Jv erjecito estrada – a good person and hard worker. Capable and charming. Best in the family

    Nancy binay – like bam aquino. Only reason/claim is name, and a motive to further family business. An insult to the voters. A black mark on binay to promote her in such a despotic manner. VP Binay would be just as kkk friendly as p-noy – not an opposition, not a future president

    Dick gordon – proved his political credentials. Also good job at red cross. There in times of disaster when govt is not. Good administrator.

    Jack enrile – a lazy thug and a trapo, and a high non attendee in congress.
    Like father, like son -Untrustworthy, and unworthy

    Mitos magsaysay – opinionated, but often speaks sense. Hard working and better than most.

    Migz zubiri – i would give him a chance. I dont think to blame for 2010 cheating. Handled it well.

    Ernest maceda – experienced and knowledgeable but had his opportunities. Should find another way to fund his pension

    Honasan – enrile’s ‘batman’. A weak follower, and never a leader.
    No room for passengers.

    Tingting cojuangco – enough cojuangcos destroying the country. They have no agenda but their own, and no allegiance but the family business.

  12. The choice for 2013 senate

    The best of a bad bunch:

    Teddy casino – only quality independent candidate

    Dick gordon

    Migz zubiri

    Mitos magsaysay

    Jv erjecito estrada


    Ernest maceda



    Bottom of the barrel:





    Independence – in thought and action

    Industriousness – hard working- for the people, not themselves

    Intellect – capacity to understand, analyse and provide creative solutions

    Integrity – both personal and professional. A role model with gravitas and who can earn respect

    Ideology – passionate and principled. A platform for change, not a change of parties for personal gain/ political convenience

    Improvement – people who have an attitude of lifelong learning and self-improvement

    Innovation – forward thinking, and not rooted in the past

  13. democracy will not flourish in the land of fools…because it is always the majority who will decide WHO they want to lead them, sadly, majority of Filipinos are poor, uneducated and are incapable or unwilling to think critically..
    and the intelligent minority always suffers to their foolish mistakes

    1. I agree
      But that is the same in many countries including the US.
      It does not mean you accept it, or you continue to pay the price of having criminals and popular athletes/film stars rule your life, and steal from your children.

      In fact is is the responsibility of those with better education to do more, rather than retreat into a middle class cocoon of non-involvement and self serving ignorance, and to have some genuine passion and for what is right and wrong, and respect for others.

      Without the basics of humanity it remains a 3rd world country with little international respect, simply a dumping ground for unsold designer brands and chinese copies catering to the greed and consumer aspirations and tge provider of cheap labour/prostitutes to the world

  14. Laoag – incestuous families and uncompetent politicians

    Nothing epitomises the stupidity and incestuous nature of philippine politics more than the debacle in laoag where the farinas family fight amongst themselves for power, and claim they have a god given right to rule, despite their well publicised corruption, and complete incompetence.
    Any contender, however capable, would soon be ‘removed’ from the reckoning, one way or another.
    People do get what they deserve, if they have a genuine democracy, but not in feudal laoag where choice is not even an option

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.