Simmering ‘sangkucha’ politics | Inquirer Opinion

Simmering ‘sangkucha’ politics

/ 05:01 AM November 13, 2021

It must be the climate change, or the pandemic, or the midnight soliloquy of President Duterte on TV. It beats me, to be honest: I am trying to uncover what’s causing the political world to spin wildly like it has broken free of its orbit, and the players in it to act funny and stagger around, looking bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.

I have not seen so much confusion on the electoral stage as this one I’m seeing now. Confusion among parties, among candidates, their supporters, among their respective campaign strategists—and the voters.


There is a culinary word in Filipino that aptly describes how our political world is simmering in madcap fashion, with us not knowing the outcome but hoping that when the dust settles everything would be just fine. The word is sangkucha: You throw into the cooking pan diced garlic, onion, ginger, pimiento, and whatever else you can scrounge from the pantry, and finally add to the mixture the star of your culinary concoction—a nice cut of ox tongue. Stir with a few strokes of wooden sandok, and then leave a while to simmer and give the ingredients time to bite at each other.

While waiting for the comestible to get cooked, do sit back and feed on the latest of Mr. Duterte’s jokes as retailed on TV by Malacañang tooter Harry Roque.


The ongoing political melee looks like, yes, the kitchen concoction sangkucha. You have major candidates riding on parties previously never heard of, long forgotten, or are being roused from years of hibernation and flogged into action by aspiring leaders wary of or ashamed to be identified with their old parties for some reason—like the martial law party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. The parties are adding to the confusion by such tomfoolery as loading their respective Senate slates with candidates common to all or a number of parties—further confusing voters on the distinctions, if any, in the so-called advocacies, platforms, and political alliances of the candidates.

Let’s talk of the presidential candidates. Leni Robredo looks earnest, carries no baggage, and has shown resiliency and grace in defying and withstanding the relentless bombardment by the Duterte administation and its minions as well as by Bongbong Marcos’ social media army. Despite roadblocks and a minuscule budget, her office has produced a clutch of scintillating achievements. Will her honesty, work ethic, and practical mind measure up to the demands of the presidency? What’s clear at this point is that she remains unbothered by political noise and acts like she knows what she’s doing,

The same cannot be said of the other presidentiables. Manila Mayor Isko Domagoso’s much ballyhooed success in clearing the chaotic Divisoria of vendors and other traffic obstructions gives him—he and his supporters think—the credentials to aim for the presidency. Isko is a nice guy; he looks gung ho, energetic, dynamic. But he comes off as rushing his ambition. He needs more seasoning—hilaw pa, mababaw, a dish half-cooked at this time. That’s why when confronted with issues that required both nuance and clarity, he was left bewildered, lashing about and eventually parking his butt on a nearby fence. No great leader is born of fence-sitters.

I want to segue to the other presidentiables and how their campaign strategists must be having grand sleepless nights at this tumultuous time, but I myself am addled enough and will have to take a breath and wait for further developments. More sangkucha moments are sure to come; this is Philippine politics, after all.


Mart del Rosario ([email protected]) is a retired advertising-PR consultant.

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