People who are considered physically attractive can get away with a lot of things. Some of them don’t even have to work hard at landing lucrative jobs. In fact, a recent study revealed, “taller men earn more money than their shorter counterparts because they are seen as more intelligent and powerful”. Whether they are actually competent at their jobs or not is another story.
Because humans are visual creatures, we tend to favor someone who is more pleasing to the eyes because we equate beauty with good genes. It’s a product of evolution and part of our survival mechanism. We instinctively choose someone who we think will pass on good genes to our offspring. This is precisely the reason why people who are considered “ordinary” or less physically attractive have to work harder at getting noticed. They have to compensate for their shortfalls.
Take the case of Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay. In a society obsessed with people with fair skin (a lot of Filipinos actually spend money on skin whitening products and idolize people with Caucasian features), VP Binay who is short and has dark skin is considered by most in the Philippines as “ordinary” or run of the mill. Truth be told, many tactless Filipinos openly mock his physical appearance calling him nognog Tagalog lingo for sunog or burnt in reference to his skin. Ironic, yes considering most “pureblooded” Filipinos are short and have dark skin.
VP Binay obviously did not consider his physical appearance a handicap. Against the odds, he managed to work his way up to the Vice Presidency and is still eyeing the highest position in the land – the Presidency. Now aged 72, Binay was in powerful posts in government throughout his political career. Most notable of all is his stint as Mayor of the country’s central business district Makati City, twice from 1986 to 1998 and, again, in 2001 to 2010.
While he is financially comfortable now with a number of mansions in Makati City, among other properties – I counted ten in total according to his Statement of Assets, Liability and Net worth (SALN) in 2011, life wasn’t always a bed of roses for VP Binay. He was said to have been poor growing up. He was orphaned at a young age and lived with an uncle from when he was still in primary school. Despite this, he managed to obtain a law degree, which came in quite handy in his government posts.
Indeed, his knowledge of the law has more than likely helped him wriggle his way out of a number of complaints filed against him for graft and corruption throughout the years. It remains to be seen if his lawyer skills will save him from the incessant attacks against him during a Senate hearing investigating whether or not the construction of the Makati City Hall during his stint as Mayor was overpriced. The hearing is being dubbed as “Oplan Stop Nognog 2016”. So far, he is wise enough to avoid attending the hearings.
Binay’s move to snub the Senate hearing has made him look guiltier in the eyes of some people. But they are the same people who are unlikely to change their minds about him even if he does face his accusers in the Senate. The fact that these people still think the senate hearing is still worthy of their time despite past hearings not resulting in anything significant says a lot about their gullibility. The fact that the hearing is being conducted by a convicted mutineer and a potential rival for the 2016 Election says a lot about the agenda – that it is not for legislative purposes. No one in their right mind would go to a Senate “hearing” knowing that it would only give the senators an opportunity to grandstand. It’s not even a court hearing and Binay is not obliged to attend it.
A video of Senator Antonio Trillanes emerged recently showing him speaking at the launch of the SunChamp Agri-Tourism Park and thanking the owner, his “good friend” Tony Tiu. This is further proof that Trillanes doesn’t have any qualms about acting like a turncoat since he has lately been insisting before the media that Tiu was being used by current Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay as a “dummy” or “front” to conceal his “ill-gotten wealth”.
Senators like Trillanes have simply turned the Senate into a courtroom. The legislators do not legislate anymore. Instead, they devote their time conducting “hearings”, which is just another term for persecution – the persecution of their political enemies. It’s only in the Philippines where Presidential candidates engage in mudslinging instead of debating the current issues plaguing the nation, and there are a lot of them. It’s like, because there are too many problems in the country, the public servants would rather avoid discussing them.
The more intelligent way to try and defeat Binay would be to engage him in a debate on how he intends to solve the most pressing problems facing the nation today. This includes the energy crisis, public transportation crisis, traffic congestion on the roads and the flooding problem on the roads, which is now becoming a regular occurrence even with medium amount of rainfall.
Unfortunately, Binay and his political rivals are probably avoiding a public debate because it could expose their incompetence to the voters. Frankly, the voters should demand that all Presidential candidates join a political debate. Their conduct during the debates would be a good basis for them to either vote or reject the candidate.
What is it about VP Binay that makes members of the Liberal Party act like a bunch of sociopaths? A recent poll published by the Manila Times and conducted by Laylo Reports revealed that Binay would get 62 percent of votes against President B.S. Aquino’s 36 percent. And Binay would get 69 percent if he ran against Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who would only get 29 percent. That is quite outstanding given that the Aquino government’s resources are already being utilized to bring Binay’s popularity down.
Binay’s high popularity is perplexing, indeed. What is it about him that the masses like? It could be what I call the Nora Aunor syndrome. The veteran Filipino actress quite often played some kind of martyr in her films and she’s got a strong following. Most people always go for the underdog. Because Binay looks like the average Filipino, the average Filipino thinks Binay is just like his next-door neighbor. Members of the lower classes probably admire the way an average looking guy like Binay made it to the top against all odds. The masses love a success story like Binay. And as a matter of fact, the persecution Binay is enduring lately could endear him even more to teleserye-loving voters who view the “elites” as evil. They will always root for the regular guy who beats his matapobre enemies. The bid to impeach Binay could only strengthen his lead. Former President Erap Estrada’s comeback after serving time in jail should be proof enough of this theory.
The masses probably want to emulate Binay’s success. They are even prepared to turn a blind eye to allegations of corruption against Binay and that fact that he has created a political dynasty with his children, all currently holding lucrative posts in government. That is not surprising considering most Filipinos see nothing wrong with family members joining the family business. They even equate it to having a strong family bond. Never mind that the existence of dozens of political dynasties in the Philippines is part of the reason the country cannot progress. It will take a long time to convince the voters that political dynasties is wrong.
Those who prefer Binay naturally do not want a haciendero like Mar Roxas. For all the effort Roxas makes in trying to appear one with the masses – driving a pedicab, directing traffic, fixing a school chair, lifting a sack of onions on his shoulders – his public relations still bomb compared to Binay’s because of who he is. Roxas and his supporters don’t realize that he will never have what Binay has – dark skin and a short stature. His physical appearance make him appear maka-masa. That in itself can be considered quite an accomplishment in a society obsessed with people with fairer skin. We can credit that to Binay’s skills in compensating for his “ordinary” looks.
Let’s just hope Binay has the country’s best interest at heart when he wins.
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