Tuesday, December 29, 2015

An Unconventional Holiday Season

Well, it certainly has been an eventful holiday season. Grace Poe is fighting an ongoing battle to legitimize her claim of being a natural born Filipino as well as a qualified presidential candidate. Ms Philippines was also able to bring home the title of Ms. Universe to the delight of millions of Filipinos. The NBA has been full of story lines from Golden State's dominance to Kobe's retirement tour. While PBA playoffs have been really exciting lately.

Whether you're a follower of everything politics or sports or beauty pageants, which should encompass most Filipinos, I'm sure you can label your holiday season as "eventful" or "exciting". As for me, it's been rather different.

For the past few holiday seasons, I just simply did my thing. My birthday falls within the season and I have multiple Christmas parties to which I usually look forward. Getting drunk and adding to my already burgeoning waistline was the norm.

This particular holiday season has been anything but normal though. Never mind that a couple of my close friends got married. It's been different because of one name: Nona.

Typhoon Nona really packed a punch. Though it did not affect us here in Laguna, it really did a number on my parents' home province of Oriental Mindoro. My relatives in Calapan live in well-built homes and were relatively safe. It's my mother's town of Victoria that really felt the power of Nona.

Typhoon Nona's winds ripped away roofs of the kubos of Victoria. It left trees bent and plants uprooted. Power lines were devastated leading to a power outage that has lasted until today, around ten days later. Crops were destroyed and animals were exposed to crippling weather. My aunt and uncles' small farm suffered quite a bit as their trees were destroyed. They lost a few ducks, chickens and a couple of piglets. Those are pretty substantial loses considering they only operate at a small scale. But then again, their luckier than most who lost all their livestock and crops not to mention a relative or two.

Typhoon Nona was really strong. It may not have been as strong as Yolanda or Sendong but it was strong nonetheless. My aunt, a former cop, relayed information that the town of Baco is withholding their true death toll which according to her reached the hundreds. The mayor of Victoria which is a distant relative apparently won't accept help from NGO's in an attempt to save face for the elections. Hopefully, she received wrong information and Baco is safe. Hopefully, my distant relatives are doing what's best for the town of Victoria even if it goes against what my family sees of that clan.

Nona has turned my family's holiday season upside down. Because of the destruction in Victoria, my aunt and two uncles there celebrated their Christmas here in Laguna. I had to help out as our helper was given the holiday off. One of my aunts came home from Vietnam and my sister came from Singapore to celebrate with us along with my other relatives here in Laguna. It was fun. It's not what we usually do for Christmas but fun nonetheless.

Today, my uncles and aunt return to Victoria as they attempt to get their lives back to the way it was. Their eight hour travel time won't come close to the journey they are going to take back to normalcy. But hey, they've done this their whole lives. We, as Filipinos, have done this our whole lives.

This may have been an unconventional holiday for me personally. But in the sense of being Filipino, what is a conventional holiday season? We got hit by Yolanda, Ruby and Sendong near the holidays. Some of us lost loved ones during the Christmas tsunamis a few years back. Remember the Rizal Day bombings? If Nona didn't hit, I'd be treating a hang over right now after a long night of drinking with my brothers and sister or my friends. But sometimes, more often here in the Philippines, the holiday season is as much about vacations, consuming or loving each other as it is just getting through life.

Happy holidays everyone

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Problem with Celebrities Endorsing Politicians

I don't watch teleseryes voluntarily. My only exposure to them is brought about by my mom's incessant "tampo" whenever I change the channel. She would always say "ito na nga lang kaligayahan ko (this is my only source of happiness)". Of course, I have no choice whenever those words are said and simply surrender the remote of our living room TV even if she has a TV of her own in her room.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, teleseryes can be entertaining. But to enjoy them fully, you have to endure tons of advertising. That's the deal breaker right there. I was tempted to watch Pangako Sa'yo because it brings out a lot of memories of the early 2000's when I was forced to watch it because of my mom. But the commercials really sucked the enjoyment out of watching the show.

Commercials suck. They ruin shows for me. But I won't go as far as saying that I hate them. I mean, they do serve a purpose even though I frown upon certain types of commercials like the ones promoting medicine. They inform us of new products and to top it off, the salaries our talented actors and production crew receive mostly come from them. They have their benefits. I don't like watching Alden Richards and Yaya Dub promoting Mcdo three times in a span of five minutes. But at the same time, I understand it.

However, this level of understanding I have for celebrities endorsing products is not present in political endorsements. I usually hate it when celebrities endorse political candidates.

Now, don't misinterpret me here. I love that celebrities are politically aware. I understand that they have a voice and they have the right to promote someone who they believe can mold this country into a prosperous land. I don't blame these celebrities at all. There are just some things about some celebrity endorsements that screw up our already flawed democracy.

What do I mean by "these celebrities"?

My biggest problem with celebrities endorsing politicians is that we don't really know which ones are genuine endorsements and which ones are mere advertisements. The Brgy. Ginebra basketball team can endorse gin-bulag without me expecting them to actually drink it. They earn millions of pesos a year and we're supposed to think they actually drink gin-bulag? Come on.

Celebrities endorsing products do not require any defense. Anne Curtis can say she likes GSM Blue. Bela Padilla apparently likes San Mig Light. But in reality, these celebrities were chosen by the products. These products believed fully in their endorsers. The endorsers, on the other hand, only believe in the product up to a certain level. That belief in the product won't keep Bela from drinking whatever beer she prefers.

This lack of belief is what irks me whenever I see celebrities endorsing politicians. I don't mind celebrities endorsing products they kinda believe. But once they endorse people for positions that would change the country, they need to be completely behind the person's ideals. They have millions of fans following their lives and they have the ability to influence a few voters. They should keep that in mind when endorsing politicians and only endorse if they are fully aware and fully behind the candidates.

If you think I'm hastily antagonizing the practice of celebrities endorsing politicians, here's a video:

 Juday:And I for one also maybe one way or another believed in her also

Why did Juday endorse Madrigal when she herself is not sure if she completely believed in Jamby?

Celebrity endorsements should not be taken seriously. Unfortunately, it's hard to set aside the fact that these celebrities have strong drawing power. I mean, there's really no study showing their efficacy in getting a politician elected. But if campaign masterminds are willing to pay millions of pesos, just as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism once reported,  to get these celebrities then who am I to tell them they are wasting money? 

I love it when celebrities become politically aware. I love that Jim Paredes is very open about his belief in the Liberal Party even though I don't fully agree with the LP leaning so hard on PPP's when it comes to major infrastructure. I love the conviction Chito Miranda has when tweeting or posting about Duterte even if I don't appreciate the lack of respect Duterte has for human rights. These are the political endorsements I can appreciate. They are fully behind their candidates and there's no doubt that they are gonna vote for these politicians. Even though their criteria in choosing the candidate are different from mine, at least I know what they are.

Unlike Paredes' or Miranda's endorsements, the ones  we see on TV seem like any other commercial for snacks or appliances. They are hollow and perfect metaphors for our ailing democracy. If celebrities really want to support candidates, they should do it like Paredes and Miranda - void of cheesy song or meaningless one-liners. If they are willing to go on TV and promote their candidates, they should be willing to go on TV to explain why and be scrutinized justly in the same way Miranda and Paredes have exposed themselves on social media. But of course, their parent TV stations won't risk their stars' image being damaged by potentially looking foolish on TV.

Celebrities have political power. They exercise it whenever they tell us which brand of milk to buy or which food joint to check out. Once they exercise it in the realm of governance, their views need to be scrutinized just like the views of their candidates. If their managers won't allow them to go on TV to discuss political matter, at least they must share their views on social media so we can scrutinize them.

The risk for celebrities in endorsing should be correlated to what they are endorsing. If they endorse a brand for something as simple as washing the dishes, then the risk for them should be low. When they endorse someone for something as important as the person who will shape the present and future of the nation, the risk for them should skyrocket.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Reactions to Rodrigo Duterte's Profanity-Filled Proclamation Speech


Putang ina. This particular expression was the go-to-move of aspiring presidentiable Rodrigo Duterte this November 30 when his party PDP-Laban proclaimed him as their standard bearer. It is an expression many find taboo and hurtful. That being said, it is a common expression being used by many of us Filipinos.

Aside from the constant appearance of "putang ina" or any of its varieties, Mayor Duterte also sprinkled some "Fucks", "Fuckshits", jokes about marijuana usage and a reference about masturbation in his speech. It was certainly a colorful, be it, disjointed speech. A portion of the crowd certainly thought so.

That being said, many were not pleased with the mayor's speech.

Gabriela did not appreciate how Duterte nonchalantly admitted having several partners. According to them, "womanizing and treating women as objects are an affront to women and it should not be flaunted".

People from the Roman Catholic church certainly did not appreciate him cursing the pope and making light of how he kills criminals in Davao. Archbishop Oscar Cruz was quoted in a report by GMA saying Duterte is dangerous. He says Duterte only acknowledges his own rights and he is worse than a dictator. As expected, CBCP president Socrates Villegas was also not pleased.

MAYOR DUTERTE?What the world desperately needs now is leadership by example. We have so many leaders in office and...
Posted by Socrates B. Villegas on Monday, 30 November 2015

Mayor Duterte was really on a roll yesterday. He made enemies out of a lot of people. He may have even turned off some of his supporters. It was crazy. Mar Roxas' own "PUTANG INA!" moment paled in comparison to this one. This profanity-laden speech was something special. I can't imagine anything like this happening again in the near future.

That being said, I find the reactions to Duterte even more reprehensible than his actual speech.

Duterte is a breath of fresh air. Here is a guy who doesn't give a damn about politicking. He's very vulgar like most of us. And like all of us, he has a basket full of flaws pulling him down. His style is certainly more palatable to me than the clean-cut trapos spewing generic gibberish in their campaign rallies.

In saying that, I will not endorse Mayor Duterte for president. It's not because he's a foul-mouthed old man who has four women satisfying his sexual needs. It's because he prefers to have bilateral talks with China and in doing so, killing our political leverage. It's because I can't see him handling International Policy effectively. It's because I don't agree with his style of enforcement where civil liberties are not respected. It's because his reasoning can be flawed sometimes like how he justified his adultery by saying if he can love an entire city, he can surely love four women. It's because he has yet to speak of certain issues I feel strongly about like the PPP law this administration is silently getting done. It's because he changed his stance on taxation from calling for the exemption of poor families in June to being against lowering tax rates in late November

Hopefully, people voting for him don't see a tough guy who will solve all our problems. Hopefully, they vote for him because of his stance on same-sex marriage or feudalism or iron-fist enforcement. Hopefully, they vote for him because they are willing to compromise some of their beliefs because in their view, Duterte's ideas can lift our nation instead of Duterte himself lifting our nation.

Mayor Duterte can call Pope Francis whatever the hell he wants. If there is a God and He decides to banish Duterte to hell for his remarks, that's on Duterte. But that should not have any weight on his style of governance.

Politics is the art of making people believe in what you are saying. It is up to us, the people, to judge ideas based on their merits and not on the merits of the ones who came up with them.