It is never too early to think about the next elections in the Philippines

It is never too early to think about the next elections, if you’re a politician. After you get into power and are in a position to either do the most good for your constituents or yourself, you have to think about keeping that streak of “doing good” going for as long as you can. You make sure people never forget who you are by putting your face everywhere you can, and by being more “visible”.

eenymeenymineymoIt is never too early to think about the next elections if you’re a voter. When that person on stage who just told you what he/she plans to do once elected in office has done a song and dance number, or given you that freebie sack of rice or pangkabuhayan (livelihood) showcase, or convinced you that he/she is the least evil of the lot, you go to the precinct, do your “civic duty”, and gleefully await the next opportunity to repeat the cycle.

Your responsibility ends once you cast your vote – or so the conventional thinking during elections here goes.

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For the typical politician, one bad, or over-hyped incident can make or break one’s chances in the upcoming elections. The challenge for him/her is to increase exposure, usually by plastering his/her face everywhere he/she can, while avoiding situations in which he/she opens his/her mouth and says something stupid, like in debates, for example.

For the typical voter, the thought process more or less is defined by a certain set of questions:

“Who among them has done the most for me?”
“Who among them is the least corrupt?”
“Who is the most winnable?”

The common denominators that define the questions that a typical voter would ask revolve around the concepts of the lesser evil and of “winnability”.

The above, in a nutshell, currently describes what an election scenario eventually amounts to in the Philippines. If you, as a Filipino, see nothing fishy with the way things unfold as stated above, then your country deserves the quality of leaders, and thus the overall fate, that it gets every time.

It is time to look for an alternative. An alternative to insanity – doing the same thing but expecting different results.

When some wannabe pundit comes along, makes a case for not considering certain potential candidates, but ultimately discusses personalities and events instead of issues, that should be a sign to you that there’s something very wrong with the way certain Filipinos think.

Whenever a certain politician is criticized, the first question that many Filipinos ask in forums is “If not politician X, then whom would you have in that position?” What a way to miss the point. For those same Filipinos, it is about defending their choice of manok (one’s preferred bet in a cockfight). It is about the other party being sour-grapes because their own manok did not win in the last elections. It is about “moving on” and “support na lang” instead of “bringing politician X down with criticism.”

It is about kampihan (taking sides), and yes, more often than not, the loyal followers of current president Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino III are the ones doing this.

The very concepts of “kampihan”, “lesser evil” and “winnability” indicate an inclination to settle for something less.

Pwede-na-yan, those are the only ones available and worth considering anyway.”

Here’s something Filipino voters might not be able to think of: they don’t necessarily have to choose only from among the names currently being thrown around.

When are they going to discuss issues instead of people? When are they going to focus on evaluating platforms?

Filipinos should ask themselves this: they feel that they are certain about what they don’t want, but what is it that they do want?

If only there were some way to inculcate the practice of corporate buyers into the rest of the electorate, because there’s no way people can vote wisely if they buy stupidly. The electorate would have a list of requirements that includes both quantitative and qualitative requirements. They would have to include a little bit more detail than they’re used to; they just can’t say “he/she must not be corrupt”. Neither would it be appropriate to say, though, that “he/she must build our barangay a basketball court”, or “he/she must support a given number of scholars”.

Ultimately, the power to shape the opinion and minds of many lies in the hands of the few. And thus continues the struggle with media outfits that perpetually dumb down the electorate and make them mindless zombies with the drivel they espouse.

The first step is to change the thinking process. Problems cannot be solved using the same thinking that created them.

Indeed, it is never too early to think about the next elections in the Philippines. However, Filipinos should have started the thinking eons ago. The wretchedness of their society today is the outcome of the utter lack of it.

[Photo courtesy: Little Dollhouse on the Prairie]

27 Replies to “It is never too early to think about the next elections in the Philippines”

  1. I wish someone would translate this to Filipino, that way a lot of people might be able to have a rude awakening about the current status of elections.

    I can’t rely on local media since 1)Political mongrels own it and 2)Local media only care about ratings so people won’t mind watching the same rehashed telenovelas/other dumbed-down shows without any morals whatsoever.

    The problem is that who are those responsible individuals who can educate the masses instead?

  2. It shouldn’t be building better roads, or other such wasteful projects, that should be considered as the top priority of our nation. We should also stop prioritizing our image.
    What we should be doing, prioritizing, is the education of not only the youth but adults as well.
    While the youth are busy being educated in schools, adults should likewise be educated while in the home.
    What I mean by educated in the home, is that what is broadcast on television or presented on the radio should be something of substance, it is the media that educates adults after all.

  3. It takes alot of hard work and dedication to become a candidate in the elections, and alot of support from the community. No one would ever vote for people not deserving, or unrecognized by the electorate,

    If you don’t like the choice of candidates, put someone forward that represents GRP ideals and do all the relevant work the other candidates do to promote awareness.

    That would be a way to see how accepted grp’s views are, see how much of the vote you get.

    That would be some real work, with real world consequences!

    Use the negative energy from everyone here to put into work that may have a positive outcome!

    That is, unless you do not have faith your kababayans will support your views and platform. Just whining about the lack of choices is not going to do anything.

    I am skeptical, but it is a nice dream if you did run a candidate and the voters voted for grp views and platform..

    But the reality is I don’t think most filipino will accept anonymous people from the internet who have done no recognised work in the community..

    You need to find people of substance and standing in the community to voice your views… Good luck with that.

    1. “No one would ever vote for people not deserving…”

      Beg to differ. Noy-noy Aquino — arguably the most undeserving, unqualified lout ever to have entered Philippine politics — was voted in.

      “But the reality is I don’t think most filipino will accept anonymous people from the internet who have done no recognised work in the community.”

      Again, like so many misguided yahoos, you assume that GRP writers and contributors desire recognition and accolades (like Noy-noy Aquino). Did it never once occur to you to reflect on the IDEAS being discussed on the site? Or is it your objective in life to maintain an unprecedented level of ignorance?

    2. Bubbles,

      Are you assuming that running for office is the only valid way to make a difference? But that highlights one of the fundamental flaws of thinking in the Philippines: that one necessarily has to be in government to fix the society it governs. However, it doesn’t make sense for a political solution to be applied to a social problem.

      I beg to differ that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a candidate in the elections in the Philippines. As time has proven again and again, all one really needs to be here is popular. It’s true that the electorate will vote for the most recognized, but the most deserving? Then why did Noynoy Aquino get to the post? Compared to the other candidates his resume was much much thinner.

      You’re also assuming that GRP has or is a political entity. Read the “Our Mission” under “About Us” and you will see that it is the farthest thing from one. What binds the members of this community is not a set of dogmatic principles but rather the shared approach – critical thinking – to evaluating the issues that are currently found in Filipino society. The closest thing to dogma you’ll find (but not quite it) is the hypothesis that has been put forward that certain aspects of Filipino culture prevent Filipino society from progressing. So far, this hypothesis has been holding true from the way Filipino society has progressed over the years.

      It would be the easy thing to do to simply give a list of candidates that GRP endorses, but if we do that, what will make us any different from any other “pundit” who claims that he/she knows what is best for our country? Filipinos must learn how to fish; they’ve been given fish for years that they’ve become addicted to it and feel entitled to it.

      GRP merely shows the door; ultimately, the Filipino electorate has to enter it by themselves. Change has to come from the bottom up, not force-fed from the top.

  4. It was just a suggestion. And I don’t think I am ignorant, I don’t define someone being ignorant just because they don’t agree with my views.

    Nevermind I get it, GRP will never have anyone in the community represent them or their views in a election.

    It was a nice thought though, but I can see that it’s not going to happen.

    Please re think before calling people ignorant because they have differing views because I think it would alienate even some that share your views.. It’s a big world, and we are all entitled to have different views without being insulted, right?

    peace out

  5. You need a populist message! VOTE CLEAN SLATE:
    !. Do not vote for anyone who has held office before (they all seem to be corrupt.)
    2. Do not vote for their relatives.
    3. Do not vote for anyone who is wealthy or their relatives.
    4. Do not vote for a celebrity (beauty queen, athlete, media person.)

    Why do poor people keep voting for the same self serving oligarch family dynasties that have been screwing this country over? Vote buying? Why not pick community activist or academics?

    1. @ Sea Bee

      Philippine election laws allow 90 days campaign period for national offices and 45 days period for locals. In this day and age where money and media are king, what are your chances of winning if you are a total unknown…zero. That’s the reality and change is not coming any time soon.

      The late Pres. Macapagal, VP Binay and Ex.Sen Villar were poor when they started in politics. They run on populist message and won, but were all tainted by the filth politics has to offer and became corrupt themselves. Don’t you think people with money seem to be more attractive candidates than the average guy?

  6. Some politicians probably think far ahead indeed. By shooting their opponents dead way ahead of time. Probably that happened outside NAIA recently.

  7. It is not enough to point out the shortcomings of Aquino. Why don’t the staff or guest editors of GRP put forward the names of persons that they would like to see run?

      1. Why shout down Sea Bee? Di naman unreasonable ang tanong niya ah.

        My own recommendation is Dick Gordon, given his track record as an administrator.

      2. scarletpro,

        That was rather uncalled for. There’s no harm in reiterating your political preferences on an open forum.

        That being said, Filipino politics has, for the longest time, revolved around “personalities” and populist “messages.” Rarely do our elections reflect critical thinking or principled leadership. It’s almost always about getting elected. Moreover, there is NO guarantee that “duly elected” officials perform any better than “unelected” ones. Penoy Aquino being a glaring example. Erap Estrada is another.

        The responsible thing to do is focus on the ideas and principles you would like to see in the country’s leadership and move away from personality-based politics. People will vote their political stripe accordingly whether or not GRP writers and contributors publish their own list of candidates.

  8. Fallen Angel…point taken. I must say I admire your writing ability and your analysis of “the big picture.” I was just looking for some guidance. There are a bewildering array of different parties and one is not sure what any of them stand for.

    1. As you may have found out the hard way, political parties here exist in name only. Political ideology? You will most likely get the same old tired, cliched motherhood statements.

      A lot of them are merely alliances of convenience, and in effect, election winning machines.

      In the end, they’re all the same.

  9. Elections in our country are like fiestas. or, sabong. One “manok” against the other “manok”. Forget about the issues of the country. Sometimes it leads to violence. People dying for their candidates.

    The “live happily ever after” thinking is still in the minds of Filipino voters. This is the reason: actors, actresses, comedians,show biz personalities, etc… are elected; hoping that their roles as entertainers will be translated into reality. They can do Superhuman acts, or heroes in film stories. Voters who vote for these people, are just Deluding themselves. Some of these film stars are barely educated. Most have no college degrees.

    Until voters are informed well, that voting is a duty and responsibility of citizens. That whom they choose as leaders, affect the country and their lives, as a whole. I see no change in the future.

    1. There’s more to changing a nation than what leaders and followers have to do. History, culture, global economy, and geography all contribute to the evolution of a nation. What a prudent thing to do is to not put a lot of pressure on people. Sometimes change comes in the most unexpected way. While people must stand steadfast on wisdom and virtues, they must also remain humble to the others forces at work. Most of all, in change, time must also be taken into consideration. Nation’s maturity comes in different age. People must be patient and respect each other due chance to change in time.

      1. In other words, you’re proposing a “bahala-na” approach to changing the nation?

        Umm, that’s what’s been happening for the past 30 years. Look where it’s gotten us now.

        There is such as thing as “changing the elements one has control over”, you know. Filipinos might want to try that sometime. And fast.

        1. The question is whether the audience is ready to listen, and willing to do something about it.

          Take note that “willing to do something” may not even be the intended action.

        2. It is a mistake to underestimate the effect of history on the mindset of a nation. After living through centuries of direct colonial tyranny, their minds have been conditioned to forget change. Their mindsets are perpetually resigned to the idea that “change never happens anyway”.

          Almost 400 years have been stolen away from them. As a result, they are always playing catch up. First they have to find their identity. In time, they can join the nations of advance states. Then, their habits and attitude will be more in-line with the world conventions.

          In the meantime, with our patience, let us not rush them catch up. With our kind words, reassure them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After all, we know that if a student is only a few days behind with homework, things can get really chaotic: marks go down, room don’t get clean, sleeping less, skipping breakfast, skirmish with emotions, and so many other mundane and non-life threatening inconveniences appear.

          As it is difficult and inconceivable for any advance nation to abandon their high living standards and do away with the conveniences of daily life, it is even more difficult for any under-developed nation to leap forward to the age of enlightenment, especially if the benefits of history and time are not on their side.

        3. What do you suggest, then, to snap the nation out of the “mind conditioning to forget change”?

          Yes, this nation is playing catch-up, because it is already at the bottom or very near it and it has to do double time just to keep up with even the lowest acceptable standard.

          Reassure them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – pretty much sounds like “makakaraos din tayo”, pretty much that “bahala-na” attitude which Filipinos have been propagating for decades. In fact, your student example is a very good one of someone who didn’t think his/her priorities properly. So why is he/she behind with homework? Why did he/she not plan the other activities accordingly? Why would he/she wait until the last minute and/or wait for problems to become unmanageable before doing something about it?

          It is only difficult for under-developed nations to leap forward if they don’t have the will, the ethic, and the frame of mind to do it. You’re forgetting, our Asian neighbors were driven to compete and to succeed with the West. Why weren’t we?

          Filipinos have long wanted to be seen as part of a great country, but it is debatable if they want to make the Philippines a better country. They supposedly have democracy and freedom, all right, but what did they do with it? They squandered every opportunity they had to improve their plight.

          There is obviously one benefit of history and time that Filipinos have not been able to take advantage of. This is called hindsight. They keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

  10. Strong national identity is the engine that moves a country on the road to progress. Great nations came first before great civilizations and progress. It is a mistake to prospect great progress in the midst of a nation building process.

    The Philippines does not posses a strong national identity. This is fact not an excuse. How can one expect the Philippines as progressive as its neighbors when it lacks the very engine of progress: strong national identity? One must be truly oblivious, unfair and short-sighted, to compare the social progress between the Philipines and its neighbours, Korea in particular, without taking national identity into considerations.

    It may very well be that the Koreans had experienced far worst at the hands of their foreign rulers than the Filipinos had with theirs. However, it is not the experience that determines outcome, it is the national identity. Koreans had came out positively from their bad experiences because they have a robust national identity to begin with. To advise the Filipinos to measure and compare themselves with their neighbours is unfair as this denies the critical role of national identity in progress. Only those who can’t see the forest for the trees dispense such an advice with reckless abandon.

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