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It’s the voice of the Populi, but not the Dei

If we woke up one morning, after the onset of Photo Lab, to faces of our friends and enemies all rendered beautiful like gods and goddesses who have lost their franchise of their respective celestial abodes and were now here, grounded, to subject us to their pulchritude, then this coming barangay election, had us rising from our sleep and beholding new faces of politics, the servant-leader ever youthful but not necessarily pure of heart.

But who looks for purity of heart in the dirty, savvy world of politics? But why not? This is a barangay election and, for many reasons, the candidates tend to be young. Youth is a fairly new phenomenon and in a youth-oriented society like ours, being young presupposes a person who is idealistic. The person is updated, with time being on his or her side. He or she can read and write. This candidate knows other things beyond being voted into office.

Now, that is the ideal image I have in my mind.

Certainly, when a person is in his or her late 20s, that individual has still memories of the classrooms, the utmost idealized place where life’s lessons are taught with the hard facts about science, arts, and the other disciplines. That person is almost a warrior fitted with all kinds of strength, including the force not to compromise. Selling one’s soul to the devil is not an option primarily because we assume the Devil and his minions are busy in the bigger political outposts - in the city, in the provincial administration, and, the national government.

The barangay - give and take uncollected trash, dirty and clogged canals, loud karaoke at hours distinctly clarified as the time to sleep for tired people, and roads that go up and down around and all over and end dead - is presumed to give a pastoral scene, a certain warmth for those living in the area.

This election therefore is familiar as families are involved and familial, because proximity and neighborliness contribute greatly to the dynamics of candidacy and the ability of the voters to choose their leader.

Can they maintain a critical stance or will blood relationship and kinship take over?

Having said all those, I am looking back now to what I have written above. Am I for real? Is this essay realistic? Or am I in the realm of possibilities?

When the campaign began, online posts materialized and they were all gems of wisdom, wit and sarcasm.

The first acerbic statement I read from a netizen was this: “Why do these faces of alcoholics now grace the tarpaulins on walls?” Closer to this acidic inquiry was this: “I just saw him yesterday drunk. Now he looks powerful on my wall!” A blunt comment from a classmate needs no explanation: “Can he even write one sentence in straight English?” We can rephrase that and ask: “Are they ever conscious of Bikol orthography?

There are historical references as when a mother says: “I never got any help (ayuda) from him. Now he talks as if he has always helped me in the past.” She follows this up with a caustic: “I didn’t know she knew me!”

If we are to measure the goodness in the heart of these candidates, there are hardcore facts abundant out there on the street each day.

Online, scenes of young men and women, with a lookout, remove the posters of the rival candidates from the walls and change them with the posters of their own. This is appalling as we have always imagined the young people as having a natural tendency to be fair and transparent. Apparently not.

Given that the very obvious giveaways like shirts and cigarettes are visible to observers and election police, it is being talked about how the internet and social media technologies have taken the place of these gifts. A free internet connection? Why not? Free Netflix? Free games? These are alluring campaign materials that will appeal to the youths of the land.

Gone are the candidates with the tacky chalecos. I still have to attend a miting; thus, I am wondering if fiery and bombastic speeches are still fashionable nowadays. Do young people believe in oration and declamation? Or would they go for the self-effacing, the understated?

Questions and more questions.

Every morning, when I wake up and when you wake up (depending on how conscious you are of the noises around your life in the barangay), the taped voices of fish vendors are still there but something rowdier, sometimes fiercely festive, raucous sounds have dominated the airspace. These are vans and jeepneys and tricycles with louder sound speakers with music blaring. From Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” to the Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” - all types of music are fair game. But, let me ask this: do these campaign managers with their contracted composers ever ask if they need to pay copyrights for their use of those catchy sounds meant to irritate and remind as well everyone that noise is still the best reminder of one’s presence in this town?


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