Who’s Taking Advantage of Whom?

Slow pedicab rides would lend to a meditative atmosphere; especially on late afternoons or early evenings. In one such circumstance, my ride passed by the barangay covered court where an inter-zone basketball game was being played; prompting the driver to comment on such tournaments suddenly start early in the campaign season, and how easy and quick it is for barangay councilors to provide for jerseys. I do notice that the kids play their hoops relatively earlier this time; and to think some of them just wore their graduation toga and caps a few days ago. Don’t they usually do this in May? The three-wheel biker further relayed how their PODA returned their new sewn uniforms to the tailor because they were smothered with names of candidates. I could imagine a collage of campaign stickers on a shirt. Really? They refused to accept the shirts? Those were some strong moves there. This reminds me of a teacher commenting on how extraordinarily early they received the materials for the school awards and recognition which are subsidized by the local government; only to remark later that the paper was not good enough for the programmes. Oh well.

The next morning, I passed by that same hall; and amid the sounds of squeaking shoes on the floor, the ball bouncing off the board, and children randomly running about, I heard someone took note of the familiarity of the names plastered on posters which presumably is attributed to financial resources. The elderly observer laments the consequential obscurity experienced by qualified candidates without sufficient funds. Now, if only there was a way to even the playing field.

It is nothing short of interesting how the community converts in the campaign carnival. Candidates suddenly take on the form of charitable benefactors, oh so willing and ever ready to dispense any desired donation demanded by the denizens in this democratic demonstration. All of a sudden, contenders portray the epitome of everything that is good, benevolent and efficient, and even… entertaining. Nature observes seasons for vegetation to bear fruit; a time when flowers bring out their sweet and shiny bounty. So, I guess, in the same way, this is the season for them to take this form. They now have become pseudo-superheroes who are set to supply what society seeks, faster than a speeding bullet to save the day towards a peaceful coexistence of humans and mutants alike, and would yell “yes’ to every yearning even if what they had in their hands is actually nothing. They have become people pleasing pledgees placing the attention of the requesting party, when the actual request is unreachable, and direct the attention to something they can practically provide, without the articulation of the word ”no” or any equivalent expression of inability to deliver the goods, just to ensure the prevention of frustration among the voting population. Oh, no. He can’t say “no”. He has to say ”yes”. Even to the point of the solicitation is in the situation of much question, the application will be faced with redirection to something that he has in his collection. A group of petitioners visited a candidate asking for assistance in a problem with some real property. He didn’t say, “no”. Instead, he offered scholarship grants and medical assistance. Petitioners were pleased.

Well, at least, to some extent, we expected that.

But what about the electorate? What has become of the community around the candidates? In this campaign carnival, the constituents convert to clever plotters of prospect. Months before the circus came to town, the population has prepared to take advantage of these advancements. Their manners have been managed to maneuver the openings and opportunities to the optimum. Even before the filing of certificates, voters have set their sights and proficiently prepared their proposals for profuse provisions. A group of employees has diligently submitted solicitation letters for an educational tour to candidates across camps. Clearly, it has nothing to do with advocacy or political stand. It’s all about which side could show more money. It doesn’t matter if they both do. If both camps do, that would be so much the better. Another community requests for assistance in a land dispute, with a company of children coached to sing admirations and promotions to the tune of a popular song, in the audience of a political aspirant. Applicants for scholarship grants, financial assistance, and donations of every sort have embraced that state of awareness of the manners to manipulate this to the maximum. Sadly, I have heard youngsters chanting amid laughter, the receipt of money along the name of a certain candidate. It has become a common gag to get some three to four digit bills from candidates and their cohorts. The public has become clever carpetbaggers in this carnival we call the campaign season; that I wonder who is taking advantage of whom, the candidate or the constituent?

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” James 4:1