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Falling for the old campaign bull

/ 05:02 AM January 09, 2022

The start of the official campaign period has not yet been signaled by the Commission on Elections, but already candidates of varied makes, worth, and aspirations are off madly working their legs and jaws to inveigle voters into joining their respective camps. Their campaign spiels are basically old, tiresome repeats of the bull with which they had tortured our ears before, or pie-in-the-sky pledges that you know are as distant from happening as the boast of a one-time presidential candidate to jet ski to the Spratlys supposedly to show the Chinese trying to claim it who is boss.

I don’t know how an unbelievable number of people, as survey outfits claim, could get taken by the braggadocio and self-sell fiction by aspirants to high posts using the techniques of snake oil salesmen. It’s hard to believe that at this time and age of great strides in human sophistication, there are still many of us who would fall for the yarns and alternative facts peddled by power-grab wannabes, and give them that most precious gift: allegiance.

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Candidates this election have upped the ridiculousness of their pledges that you can’t help but laugh and yell out presidential-caliber cuss words to duet with your mocking laugh. One aspirant, for example, has unveiled a portfolio of plans he has promised to execute once he gets to sit as the nation’s top banana. It’s a mishmash of undoable goals and doltish dreams, among them building bridges between major islands a la San Juanico Bridge to physically unify the country, and basically continuing the legacy projects of the outgoing President’s “Build, build, build” policy, which would sink us deeper into debt and chain us to a neighbor colossus coveting our western frontier. Also, he said in a campaign sortie that he would bring down to 50 percent of the current price the cost of electricity and oil products. But did I see him wink moments after saying that?

While the rhetoric of today’s candidates elicits chuckles and outright laughs, some fill me with a mix of trepidation and horror. One candidate in particular made me run a slight temperature, like sweating through a nightmare, after hearing him reveal on TV why he wants to be the nation’s next Supremo: “I aim to bring back the Golden Age of the ’70s and ’80s, the Camelot we once enjoyed,” he declared as a recording of the “Bagong Lipunan March” broke into the air.

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Golden Age? Camelot? What is this man talking about? Half of my age that I spent living in this so-called Camelot I beheld no society wallowing in prosperity, no mushrooming of job-generating businesses or export-creating factories. What I witnessed or experienced were curfews, multitudes of young boys and girls bludgeoned by truncheon-wielding soldiers while gathered in protest rallies, travel restricted to a select few, and the poor peso eventually flying south.

I mentioned to my political analyst friend Alex my disgust about this golden age nostalgia, and he related this anecdote to cool me down:

Traveling one day from Manila to his hometown of San Fernando, Alex fell into conversation with a lady who inquired where he was going.

“To San Fernando to deliver a talk on ‘Traumatic Years of Bagong Lipunan,’” he said.

“Ha! I’m an unbeliever of the Hate Marcos Cult,” the woman said.

Alex was silent for a while, then asked:

“Have you read Primitivo Mijares?”

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“No,” the woman said.

“Arillo?”

“No.”

“Sionil Jose?”

“Who he? No.”

“Dr. Maslog?”

“No.”

“Some Are Smarter Than Others?”

“No.”

“Then, Madam, you are not an unbeliever, you are just ignorant.”

* * *

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

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TAGS: Commentary, Ferdinand Marcos, Marcos martial law, Mart del Rosario
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