Friday, September 21, 2018
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At Large

Same old, same old

They called themselves “The Three Musketeers.” But what struck the casual viewer was that the trio of former President Erap Estrada, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Vice President Jojo Binay, far from a swashbuckling troop of swordsmen, resembled more a gathering of old foggies, out for a stroll in a mall.

Of course, they were not window-shopping. Rather, they were gathered to join the senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), what this paper described as a “minimally opposition” group, in filing their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections on Monday.


In fact, the entire UNA roster for the Senate itself resembles a gang of re-treads: if not reelectionist senators, then defeated candidates in the last elections, and others who are banking on familiar political surnames to sweep them into office.

One who would have stood out from the field of former and current senators and congresspersons was Joey de Venecia, the son of former Speaker Joe de Venecia, who, while a losing senatorial candidate in 2010, is better known as a businessman-whistleblower. (Remember his role in the NBN-ZTE case?) For still-unclear reasons, Joey backed out at the last minute Monday, leaving the UNA lineup with a glaring vacancy.

Of course, the same could be said of most of the names and faces in the lineup of the administration party, a coalition of the Liberal Party, Nacionalista, NPC and a mix of newer, smaller parties like Akbayan.

“Same old, same old” could likewise be applied to them, mainly reelectionists and seeking another chance at serving in the Senate. Of course, there are a few “new faces” as well, like Bam Aquino who is better known as an NGO stalwart although he bears an “old” political name; Risa Hontiveros, even if she ran and lost (a heartbreaking 13th place in 2010) in the last polls; and Grace Poe Llamanzares, who last served as MTRCB chair but bears a storied lineage in both politics and show business, her father being the late “Da King,” Fernando Poe Jr.

* * *

The names and faces in the dueling lineups compose a mix-and-match of political figures who have joined and left political parties so often it’s difficult to keep track of their loyalties, ideologies and even identities.

The “name of the game,” we’re told, is name and face recognition. This is why incumbents have a decided edge, occupying TV screens, radio time, Internet space and newspaper column inches in the years they figured in one political activity or another.

Of course, being visible in other fields is a plus, too, especially in news media and movies. We have had our share of movie stars and news anchors in the Senate, the House or local government. But experience has shown that credibility based merely on visibility is a fragile commodity. All it takes is one controversy, one misstep and one can kiss a political career goodbye.

How, then, are voters to make their lists come election day? We may not like the way nominees are chosen or the way parties calculate their chances. But we do have a choice among at least 24 wannabes. If party leaders eschewed individual qualifications and adherence to party platforms (if any) in forming their roster of candidates, nothing prevents the individual voter from coming up with his/her own list based on more than just familiarity and likeability.


Of course, this demands more of us voters than just keeping track of the names and faces and taking part in political rallies (although we may pay more attention to the gyrating dancers than to the candidates’ spiel).

But if we aren’t willing to put in the work, then we don’t have the right to complain. Until 2016, that is, when the entire circus rolls our way again.

* * *

You have until Oct. 7, Sunday, to bid for selected (more than 70) pieces of art made by renowned artists in design, furniture, art and jewelry for a good cause. The Unicef “Auction for Action” went live on Monday at 6 p.m. on eBay Philippines and will last the entire week.

The online auction is curated and presented by Daphne Oseña-Paez, Unicef special advocate for children, as an expression of her commitment to children while promoting Philippine art and design. “Whenever I go to the field with Unicef, I am heartened to see that we are doing a lot to improve children’s lives all over the Philippines. But there is always more to do; that’s why I support Unicef,” Oseña-Paez said.

The theme of this year’s auction, which also marks the 20th year celebration of Children’s Month, is “the right of children to play.” As Oseña-Paez observed: “Playing is a basic right of every child, and its importance to a child’s well-being and healthy development cannot be over-emphasized. It also lends itself well as a theme for our premiere artists to work with.”

Unicef’s Auction for Action offers art lovers and collectors from all over the Philippines the chance to bid for high-quality items at discounts starting at 40 percent off. Items such as the Bloom from designer Kenneth Cobonpue, Fly Up from artist Michael Cacnio, and a golden strand of South Sea Pearls from Jewelmer will be offered from Oct. 1-7 only. The highest bidders win the item on offer.

“Buy a beautiful item, and help children at the same time, what could be better? Many people don’t realize that Unicef relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, companies and governments, and the funds raised from the auction will go towards education, health and nutrition, protection and emergency programs for children who are the hardest to reach and most in need,” said Unicef Country Representative Tomoo Hozumi.

For more details visit

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TAGS: `new faces’, artworks, children’s month, politics, Rina Jimenez-David, traditional politicians, unicef `auction for action’
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