One thing I do not miss in the Philippines is the politics. The last time I voted for a president was when I just turned 18, and was excited to exercise my right to vote for Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the feistiest and most outspoken woman I have ever heard, not afraid to say it when it needs to be said. No one could beat her inherent love for the law and the country, and her intelligence showed her knowledge of local and international politics and policies. Despite this, the nation preferred Fidel Ramos (I did not say “elected” because he never was), who then ravaged the Philippines, by auctioning every single piece of land in the country, including Fort Bonifacio, and called it progress.
After Ramos came Joseph Estrada, who was, of course, voted because of who he portrayed in the movies – the hero – despite his womanizing and five concubines . He was usurped by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who everyone thought would save the country with her brilliant economics, only for her to pillage the village, and call it a day after ten years in office.
And Noynoy Aquino? I can’t say I know the guy – except that he was impolite enough not to give an audience to the media here in Vancouver when he came last year.
And now, the circus is back in town.
Rodrigo Duterte seems to be the crowd favourite. This, of course, is because of his vigilante-style of getting things done, very movie-esque, and exciting to the Filipino population looking for another hero. Unfortunately, he is all bark who won’t have a bite unless he declares martial law once he is elected. I don’t understand the fascination for Duterte. He is all the things I don’t see in a president. He is uncouth, vulgar, rude, a sexist, undiplomatic, and a male-chauvinist, who says that his wife is in another country and proudly says that at least he doesn’t deny that he has mistresses! People take him seriously because he is honest. He curses at Pope Francis for delaying his trip, but holds a Rosary in his hand, eyes closed, in a pretend, deep prayer. His spin doctors are definitely working overtime to make him look good.
Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas. Two trapos, just like Duterte. Binay has been in the business too long that his roots already placed themselves strategically in the political arena even before daddy became president. And Mar Roxas, just like Ferdinand Marcos, will be destroyed because of his wife, Corinna Sanchez, who doesn’t seem to be popular with her housemaids and staff. I feel for the guy because he seems nice, and his running mate Leni Robredo is also a keener. I would actually vote for Roxas, because I admire his late father, Gerry Roxas, and his grandfather Manuel Roxas, and I believe his direction will take flight from Pnoy’s brand of administration. Despite his wife, the Roxas-Robredo team seems credible.
Grace Poe was a seatmate in my SocSci1 course in UP Manila in my freshman year. We used to share a pack of Skyflakes on our break, but we separated ways when I transferred to Diliman. Even back then, she was a smart cookie, and her convictions were intact. She may be young and inexperienced, but her love for the country and what she wants to do for it is very evident in her fight to stay in the race. If one person is willing to sacrifice much to be able to race against the giants, she’s the David to the Goliaths Israel has been waiting for.
And my Miriam, sweet Miriam. I still enjoy her speeches, her intentional spews of flames from her mouth, and her ability to tell it like it is. I wish I had her gumption. She is advanced in her years, though, and I’d rather see her writing her memoirs and enjoying her grandchildren. I still wish she became president when I voted for her, but fate (or political machinery and money) was not on her side.
Yes, Philippine politics is exciting, unfortunately, it’s the sick man of Asia. Gone are the days when my fascination for the presidency went beyond my pneumonic device for it in grade school and high school so that I can remember all of them – AQLORQMGMMA. I even wanted to be the President someday. It all ended when I cast my ballot for someone who didn’t win because she was not the one the Philippine political machinery, the World Bank-IMF, the US, and whoever dips their hand in the business of the country wanted. It’s a scar that has left me distrustful of the whole electoral process, and one that would keep me skeptical of the idea we call democracy.