AFTER THE CAMPAIGN
November 4, 2007
I took this picture as my family hit the campaign trail during the recent Baranggay Elections in San Francisco, Iriga City. I saw something in that little girl’s shy temperament. Poverty might just take-over it, and how would the baranggay be of help to her?
So we did not just vote, we had a candidate, my father. We thought his credentials and experience would qualify him for grassroots legislation. He is a college professor and finished the undergrad and master’s for business administration, and being an LLB, he also served for the Baranggay San Francisco Lupon. My father does not drink or smoke and has no vice except UFC and boxing. Like me, he likes war films but it is me who is into different kinds of swords and firearms. So peace-loving, he’s never been in a fistfight.
We figured that the baranggay is of utmost importance to the country. For one, it is the government’s frontline, acting as executive, legislative and judicial body. Nothing beats proximity in effecting significant projects and laws. If governance is honest, credible and efficient at the baranggay level, we have a fighting chance for national progress.
However, I observed that ability and credibility are not enough for a candidate to win a seat as a baranggay councilor. He must have a campaign strategy for the following kinds of voters:
- Apathetic Voters. They don’t vote. They think the baranggay is so insignificant to national progress. The candidate needs to visit the residence of this voter and convince him/her to vote. It would be better if the candidate would do some homework and provide him/her the precinct number. Some candidates would leave a letter with platform of government, sample ballot (and cash).
- Just for Kicks Voters. They go to the precinct unprepared. They don’t know the candidates and rely on the pamphlets given by supporters near the precinct. It would be better if the candidate would be at the roadside to flash ‘pogi’ smiles for these voters.
- Partisan Voters. They will give solid votes for their neighbor, family member, classmate/batchmate, drinking buddy or barkada regardless of ability and qualifications. They smirk at other candidates and would ignore their campaigns. But most of them would still accept cash.
- Voters for Sale. They always expect dole-outs from a candidate in cash or in kind. And they would really vote for the candidate.
- Transcendental Voters. They look forward to the electoral process as if it’s going to the Sunday Mass. They do research on the candidates and keep a list ready come election day. They look into the candidate’s track record and ability. There is a chance that they would accept cash but only to punish the candidate because they certainly will not vote for him/her. They may even keep the cash as evidence (among others) if ever they decide to file a complaint. A good candidate does not even have to spend much on a campaign if there is a high number of ‘transcendental voters’ in the population.
Also, a candidate must have the following in order to win a slot:
- Balwarte. The candidate’s zone must give him/her a solid vote. Meaning, they have to leave the six more slots blank. This is for the partisan vote.
- Funds. The Baranggay Elections ought to be non-partisan but some political parties would meddle anyway. It would usually come from the mayor, perhaps ensuring that he/she has control over the baranggays. This would be a great help if the mayor would like to seek reelection for the same or higher office. A rich candidate would appeal to the ‘for sale’ and ‘apathetic voters’.
- Lots of Relatives. With this, a candidate can expect solid votes from partisan voters.
- Credentials and Excellent Track Record. You will never know how many transcendental voters there are. Besides, it is hard to be a councilor if you can’t read.
- Doable and Significant Platform of Government. Again, for the transcendental voters, for the baranggay—and the country. Without this, please don’t run.
So far, this is what I have observed with regard our baranggay politics. And it is not so unlike Philippine politics in general. This is because even though we have different cultures, the baranggay is a miniature of the Philippines.
What do I recommend? I should say lots of literature. If more of us would read and read, we would easily become transcendental voters. Reading enhances mental discipline, critical thinking and helps develop the conscience.
And so please read my poem printed in Home Life’s October 2007 issue (albeit with the usual typographical errors). Let me reprint the correct version here:
ISANG GABING GANITO
Kagagapas na parang
ang maitim na langit.
Patid na gintong kuwintas
ang mga bituin.
Nakatarak na yatab
ang buwan sa punit
na ulap na may bumalong
na dagta ng pulang tala
at gumuhit na bahid
ng pulang bulalakaw.
Hindi ko pa antipara
I also got info that three of my poems in English will be printed in the book ‘Crowns and Oranges: An Anthology of New Voices in Philippine Poetry’ edited by Cirilo F. Bautista and published by Anvil. This is definitely something to look forward to.