Saturday, May 12, 2007

Theater of the absurd

Pinoy Politics came to roost on our doorstep last Friday. Literally, as the administration's Team Unity closed off a sizable portion of Pasong Tamo in Makati City, including the block fronting the Inquirer office, for their miting de avance.

Whoever organized the affair must have imagined himself a latter-day Cecil B. De Mille. A projected cast of thousands of Makati's dispossessed and Binay-disenchanteds was to have occupied the rows and rows of white monobloc chairs that stretched from the corner of Vito Cruz Extension all the way to Kalayaan Avenue. Scaffoldings with giant screens and loudspeakers were set up at every other corner. The side streets, which bore the brunt of the traffic gridlock all day, were simply closed off with steel barricades.

Friday is the day we close the Sunday Lifestyle issue--always the thickest issue of the week. I didn't have time to see how the rally was going until around 8 p.m. when we took a break for dinner. I looked down from a third-floor window, and the street below was already near-overflowing. Assorted starlets and no-name singers were warming up the crowd with bad Celine Dion impersonations.

I had thought my part of Makati--the shabby part, so near Ayala Avenue yet beset with squatters, bad roads, filthy dumps and chronic floods--was solid Binay country. This extravaganza was for Lito Lapid's candidacy as mayor and Oscar Ibay for congressman of the city's first district. Maybe the free sandwiches and fast food boxes distributed just across the Inquirer driveway did the trick?

Among those running in their ticket for councilor were two show-biz names: Monsour Del Rosario and Nonoy Zuniga. The youngest candidate, Ton Genuino, should not be in City Hall if only for his crime against good taste: his campaign jingle, a knock-off of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" ("Ton. Genuino. Idol ko. Sa Konsehoooo!") was the dumb campaign ditty that woke me up every frigging morning without fail.

So it was just as well I wasn't downstairs yet when Team Unity's senatorial candidates were introduced one by one. Because when Ralph Recto ascended the stage, his campaign jingle was... "Eye of the Tiger."

Can someone head-butt the gnomes behind this, please?

The host, a bombastic speaker with a gift for laughable hyperbole (he introduced the only woman in the councilors' ticket, Jessy Trinidad, as "ang Angel Locsin ng aming partido"), spent a good 20 minutes lambasting Ibay's opponent for the congressional post, re-electionist Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Locsin, he thundered, was "maputi, pero maitim naman ang budhi!"

Not only that, he claimed, Locsin also beat his spouse. "Ano ang tawag natin sa nambubugbog ng asawa? Supot!"


When it was his turn to speak, councilor-aspirant Genuino couldn't summon the same elevated language. He proved to be a halting, rather nervous speaker with nothing remotely interesting to say.

"Kapag nanalo ho ako sa eleksyong ito--mananalo ho ba ako?!--at magha-house-to-house po ako para pasalamatan kayo, huwag niyo na ho akong tawaging Konsehal, Ton na lang po. Dahil po di naman ako tumakbo para maging boss o amo niyo, kundi para mapagsilbihan ko kayo. 'Yan lamang po ang gusto kong iparating sa inyong lahat. Pero bago ako bumaba... Gusto ninyo ba akong marinig kumanta?"

And so he did.

Angel Locsin, er, Trinidad, wasn't about to be upstaged by the pipsqueak vocals of her co-matinee idol. Called to say her piece some time later, she reeled off the same talking points, then: "Pero bago po ang lahat, gusto ninyo ba akong marinig kumanta?"

"'Wag na, 'yan na naman!" shouted an old woman behind me. Then the first bars of "Kailangan Kita" blared from the speakers. "Ay, buti naman iniba niya!"

Mike Defensor took a leaf from Ninoy Aquino circa 1978 for his appearance in this rally. He let his very young daughter campaign for him. A charming touch, except that, in her memorized spiel promising that her father would help build houses for the poor, the kid was made to ask the horde in front of her: "Sino po ba ang mga walang bahay dito?"

Of course, real stars were on hand to lend some glitter to the affair. Strictly low-grade, it turned out.

Ruffa Mae Quinto appeared in a dangerously low-cut black top and jeans, cracking jokes, warbling two songs and using her jiggling mammaries as a visual punchline. When it came time to endorse the ticket, she sidled up to one the older candidates, Dick Javier, and told the crowd, "Wag'po ninyo kalilimutang iboto si Nick... [Pause] Ay, Dick pala!"

Pokwang came next, followed by this starlet who tried to top the crudeness of the host's "supot" comment by engaging in a racy game with two spectators, one a young dancer and the other a thuggish-looking guy. The game, she explained, was "Habulan ng Kiss." While she sang, she pointed to a part of her body and asked the two men to attempt to peck at it while she slithered away. The older guy got so carried away that he managed to land smacks on the girl's neck and cheek. To which the girl shrieked, "Ang mamang 'to, ang libog!"

Rachel Anne Go, giggly and addressing the crowd as "Mga kapamilya, mga kapuso," served as the icebreaker to the rally's penultimate major moment, Ibay's speech. The candidate, a charter member of the Nanggagalaiti School of Public Speaking, promptly launched into a fiery harangue against his mayoral rival.

"Tapos na ang maliligayang araw ni Binay," he gloated. "Sa Lunes, may bago na kayong congressman, si Congressman Oscar Ibay!"

Few clapped, until he came to the part the audience was apparently waiting to hear.

"Pag ako na ang nakaupo sa puwesto, yang pabahay ninyo, aayusin natin yan! Ang mga gamot, titiyakin kong makakarating sa inyo! At libreng edukasyon para sa lahat!"

Ripples of applause.

I had to restrain myself from shouting, "Oy oy oy! Kausapin mo ang ingrown mo!"

But seeing that I was surrounded on all sides by possibly hostile elements, and fearing that I was about to lose my wits at the overwhelming tackiness, banality and bizarreness of the proceedings before me, I fled back to the office and cowered in my desk until after Lito Lapid had said his speech and the last of the concluding fireworks had been spent. It was 1:45 a.m. when they began packing up.

I laughed so hard I ended up crying.

Waiting for Godot

PLUS: Pinoy elections in living color!

[Photo 1: Rudy Esperas, copyright © Philippine Daily Inquirer]


amateur misanthrope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annamanila said...

Tama. Kausapin nila ang in-grown nila at ang mga patay na kuko ng paa.

You really got an eye and earful ha. And what a splendid mouthful. Such nerve to hold it near PDI. So I hope there will be also be a pageful.

Sensya na .. inis din ako eh.

mitsuru said...

that's nothing compared to the miting de avances in the provinces.

obviously, ur not exposed nor exp first hand phil politics that much. masyado ka ksing sheltered while grwing up. he-he.

sa bicol pa lang padi mas grabe pa dyan esp in the barrios. lol.

nobody really listens to speakers with substnce in miting de avances. but the more vulgar words that you can dish out against your opponent the more ka nila i-rah-rah!

snglguy said...

"Pag ako na ang nakaupo sa puwesto, yang pabahay ninyo, aayusin natin yan!" - At saan naman niya kukunin ang pera? ha? ha? ha?

BTW, was Lito Lapid on horseback when he made an entrance? :-D

erasmusa said...

in the political carnival, issues are not even sideshows. so sad!

Swipe said...

WTF! Isn't Lito Lapid contented with what he amasses during his terms as Governor of Pampanga that he now has to run for the post of mayor in Makati. Oh well, I suppose being Mayor of Makati will be so much more lucrative than being Governor of Pampanga was.

Anonymous said...

reading your blog is always a blast. such sensibility and wit (particularly for this entry)! if you're up for a [hopefully] good conversation over coffee, you may reach me at 09063470446. Chris here.

Horny Peter said...

Kelerkey! Buti nakatagal kang "makinig" ng coma-inducing speeches ng mga candidates na yan?!

True, kailangan talaga nilang makausap ang mga ingrown nila at yung makakapal nilang cuticle sa paa! Tama ba namang manlait ng kalaban sa pulitika? And what's with supot thing? For sure, mas supot pa yung nang-iinsulto kay Teddy Locsin kasi he can't even face the guy. Maybe he doesn't have enough balls to face Cong. Locsin.

And with Lito Lapid, haayyy! For sure, gusto lang niya maranasan yung feeling ng may magandang city hall. In fairview po, ang shala ng city hall ng Makati, may gym pa! Wahehehe!

If you'll ask me, kay Binay pa rin ako. Mas totoong tao naman siya kesa kay Lapid. Tsaka, baka magkalahar sa Makati pag si Lito Lapid ang umupo sa pwesto! Puhleeeze, senator na siya, tapos lalaban pa siya for mayor porke pwede pa rin siyang umupo as senator pag natalo siya! Dapat talaga i-revised na yung mga rules ng Comelec kasi ang daming flaws! Haaaay!

Mickey said...

what a distressing sight, nakakapangilabot ang mga mangmang at mga jologs!!!! state of calamity na talaga tayo.


sheilamarie said...

oh. my. gawd.

what an experience it must've been =P i mean, you were even moved to tears. LOL! just kidding

i hope i never get to watch anything like that

gibbs cadiz said...

ey ANNA, actually i enjoyed the experience of wading through the crowds and snapping pics while hearing the candidates puff themselves up on stage. it was only later that i realized how empty the whole exercise was. :)

padi MITS, of course i know how it's like in the provinces, we're both from bicol, we know how acrid bicolano can sound in a tirade, right? hehe. but i had naively thought that, with cameras all around and the technology to beam one's words everywhere in a second, that politicians would conduct themselves with more dignity and decorum. plus, this was makati. ganun pa din pala! :)

hehe, SNGLGUY, the joke was, lito lapid would ride on a horse from prc, site of the sta. ana racetrack. dunno how he actually made his entrance. :)


hi SWIPE, the administration just wanted so much to get its hands on the country's richest city, kaya it fielded lito lapid--a guy blessed with both name recall and pliancy. :)

hi CHRIS, thank you for the invitation to coffee. let's see what we can do about it. :)

hi HORNY PETER, buti ka pa nakapasok na sa magarbong city hall ng makati! 6 years na ako resident dito, di ko pa nasisilayan ang loob nun, hehe. :)

ey MICKEY! ooops ooops ooops, 'wag naman natin kutyain what you call 'mga mangmang at jologs.' that they don't know any better is a tragedy, but the greater misfortune is that politicians and the elite of this country would rather that they never get out of that state. they're more useful that way. so i think someone else bears the bigger blame here. peace! :)

haha, SHEILAMARIE, at least once in your life you should experience the pits! :)

Maryanne Moll said...

Gak! I remember they used to close down a part of Evangelista street, right outside our building, to build a stage in the middle of the street for their gimmicks, when a perfectly good, large concrete stage sits permanently on the other side of the road, away from traffic flow.

I was so incensed that night.

Sidney said...

It looks like fun !
I guess politics in now more entertainment than substance...
I will link you!

rmacapobre said...

the people's faces .. show theyre watching something entertaining like a show .. what is politics in the philippines

rmacapobre said...

we need to professionalize our government by having steeper requirements besides being able to read and write. one should have a degree. one should have experiences down up. one cant have a record .. you would think these things are common sense ..

karlo mikhail said...

I wouldn't mind if the politics is low grade. At least we are given quality entertainment. =) (Well, never mind that it's our own tax money that they're fooling us with.)

gibbs cadiz said...

ey MARYANNE, a side stage wouldn't do, they have to have maximum visibility! :)

hi SIDNEY, thanks for the link! :)

uh, i have to think hard about the requirement to have a degree, RMACAPOBRE. it's not the fault of many poor people that they're illiterate or can't go to school, right? they're born into that system. besides, i don't think a degree alone guarantees intelligent choices during elections, nor good governance for that matter. practically all our top officials have degrees, right? :)

hi KARLO MIKHAIL, uh, which quality entertainment is this? :)

Anonymous said...

oh so sad you keep on messing aroud with people.dont you have a life to mess with? i mean if you were in their place what would you do? well, what do you want them to do or say? loser...

Anonymous said...

and besides, before you judge do you really know what these people have been doing even before entering politics? Mr. Ibay have been giving scholarship to less fortunate people long before, through his MASAKAF foundation and through his DATAMEX COMPUTER COLLEGE. and i can prove to you that! i am one of his scholars. and now i have a good and high paying job! put that in your face ok?

ateinoz said...

sure is a metaphor- people drowning in....chairs

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