‘Change is coming,’ give change a chance
“CHANGE is coming” was the campaign slogan of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. With his landslide victory, change has already occurred, at least in a cultural sense.
Duterte was elected to the presidency even if he is “wa-class.” He speaks English with a Visayan accent. The norm in our society is that one who speaks straight English without any “Filipino accent” is a class above the rest. This ability (to speak straight English) implies that one studied or is studying in one of those exclusive expensive schools (here or abroad), for which only the elite can afford.
Duterte was elected even though he used cuss words. Of course, just about everyone does, but not in public. Well, he got elected. So the lesson here could be that it is better to curse than to be cursed. See what happened to his closest rival.
Duterte was irreverent toward the Catholic Church, which other candidates or politicians dared not, lest they get the ire of the Church hierarchy and lose the votes of devotees. Duterte openly supported LGBT issues and same-sex marriage. “Susmaryosep!” for the Church. Its pastoral-electoral guideline, in fact, was short of saying, “Do not vote for Duterte.” Still, Duterte garnered more than 16 million votes which surely included votes from Catholics.
The supporters of Duterte must have identified with him—fashion-wise. The campaign period coincided with summer at its height; so he wore ordinary collared shirts and his signature checkered polo—tucked out. Administration candidate Mar Roxas had his yellow
T-shirt neatly tucked-in and used “decent language” (meaning, no curses). But his boast of record GDP growth and high credit ratings from lending institutions was “duh” for the masses. Sen. Grace Poe presented a lineup of good programs but would not have gotten more votes even if she campaigned wearing a duster. Just that, perhaps, the people saw in Duterte his promise of providing more for basic needs (health, education and homes) and his anticrime program as more realizable.
Duterte declared himself a “leftist” and a “socialist.” To counter this, Roxas used Red-scare tactics, spooking the people of the specter of communism in a Duterte presidency. Perhaps Roxas inherited this antileftist attitude from his grandfather Manuel Roxas, president of the Philippines from 1946-1948. Lolo Roxas and his Liberal Party allies maneuvered to disqualify six elected congressmen from the Democratic Alliance party, a group of workers, peasants and intellectuals opposed to the Parity Rights Amendment. (The Parity Rights Amendment gave US citizens and corporations the same rights as Filipinos with regard to the economy.) Later, he outlawed nationalist organizations like the Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan and Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid.
The Red-scare tactics did not work, nor did the branding of “Du-dirty.” Duterte won and won big-time. Indeed, that is a change in the attitude of the electorate. Now, with guarded optimism, it is worth giving change a chance.
—JULIE L. PO, Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino,firstname.lastname@example.org
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