5/16/2013
The difference between black and white

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll do the very thing I frown upon and complain about the people you voted for.

Nancy Binay. Yes, like everybody else who's blogging about the elections, I'm writing about Nancy Binay.

Sure, I'm with you. I did not vote for Nancy. I just wasn't convinced that she's the person this country needs. Yes, she does not have political experience. Yes, she's running on the strength of her surname. By my criteria alone she wouldn't make it.

But I also knew she would win. I could see why. To ordinary Filipinos, the Binays are a political family that can do well - look what they did to Makati! It's a progressive, cosmopolitan city. Who wouldn't want their towns to be the same, or at least something like it?

Sure, some of you would say that the Binays aren't exactly the cleanest of political families. No, wait, let me play your game. The Binays aren't exactly the cleanest of political dynasties. I haven't seen anything on this, but people, especially those in Makati, say that there's some magic happening there. I'm not saying they are or aren't true; I'm just saying that some of you say that. I don't like in Makati. I don't spend all my waking hours scouring the Internet for articles on such things. I wouldn't know.

Anyway, I'm saying that, since to the ordinary, not-clued-up voter, they're not tainted, and they're good people, then it's a no-brainer to have one of them in national government, regardless of experience or legislative acumen. So what if she refuses to join any debate amongst candidates? So what if her platform isn't exactly clear, apart from comparing herself to a caring mother? The ordinary voter would go, "malinis ang pangalan ng mga Binay. Saka magaling sila, tignan mo yung Makati! Saka mabait sila. Sige, iboboto ko si Nancy."

So she won. She finished in fourth. She was just proclaimed. She didn't show up, sure, but she was proclaimed anyway. And in my side of the world, it's as if the world has ended.

Stage one: fear. I'm scared for our country if Nancy Binay wins! you'd say. She does not have experience and, thus, will do nothing in the Senate! So, you try your hardest to push more feasible alternatives.

Stage two: panic. The partial results are out and Nancy is in fourth place. The world is going to end! Shit! The world is going to fucking end! Yeah, that is a little despairing. I wasn't surprised, sure, but I felt a little terrible. I mean, she did get herself a shortcut to national government. I was afraid she'd just be a puppet to some bigger party's cause, because you know how the Senate is of late - a bunch of votes to pass one thing or overrule another.

Stage three: blame. Nancy is not going down, and you start to get irrational. Eleven million stupid Filipinos! This is your fucking fault! You are stupid! You are ignorant! You have no education! You have no class! You have no right to vote! You have no right to screw this country up! Fuck you! Fuck you all!

Stage four: a slow descent towards denial. Miriam will get a new domestic worker, err, PA! As if jokes based on a person's skin color was ever funny. Well, if you're a kid with no idea, sure, temporarily, perhaps.

More than ever, this year's elections was portrayed as the one where you take control of your country's fate. I guess it's something to do with our renewed vigor towards the country. We're supposedly out of a dark patch and there's no other way to go but up. Your vote will determine this country's direction. So we voted according to what we think is right for us. But some of us chose those with a solid, progressive legislative background. Some of us chose those who seem to have good character. And some of us chose those who we believe can really help us personally.

I'm not saying one's preferable to the other; I'm just saying nobody makes a wrong decision. Nobody believes they're making the wrong decision. Whether they do their research or wait for someone to pay them, they do what they think is right for them. Will what I know help me? Perhaps. Will accepting this money guarantee that I'll get more help in the future? Perhaps.

The gall, then, for these supposed enlightened people to be angry at those who voted differently from them. The eleven million people who went for Nancy - they did what they did was right. If that's not what you think, fine, but the gall for suggesting that they're stupid. The gall for suggesting that they should not have the right to vote because their thought processes are different from yours. You don't want a part of this? Then go on, leave the fucking Philippines! Follow your friends who have all migrated to Australia or Canada. You don't fucking deserve to be here.

I mean, think of it. What makes you so sure that you did not vote like the very people you derided? Let me guess. (And this is going to be very predictable of me.) You didn't vote for Nancy but you voted for Bam Aquino. Why? Because he's not tainted, and he's a good person, so it's a no-brainer than you put him in national government. Yeah, sure, he's got some political experience, and maybe his platform is clearer, but is that enough? I mean, did you even do your research? Or did you spend the weeks before election day posting photos of yourself in Boracay?

What have you done for the country?

I should ask that question myself. What have I done for the country?

There is a renewed vigor towards the country. We feel we're out of this dark patch and have no other way to go but up. And it seems that way. You have healthy economic indicators and you have more foreign celebrities heading out way. But of course you barely pay attention to the fact that these blessings don't affect everyone. The stock market is hitting record highs, but the money's only going to shareholders, and not translating to actual, tangible results. Those record highs are not even entirely because of this administration. You drive across Makati and lose your way and find yourself in a slum area, and you feel scared because someone might smash your car window and rob you of your shiny new smartphone.

And our politicians are using all of these things as pawns to further themselves. And you, the enlightened one, the one who supposedly knows what's best for our country, put more of the same sort there.

But yeah, you made the right decision, and they didn't, right? Because they're stupid and you're not.

The reality is, we're far from enlightened. There's this scene from The Devil Wears Prada that, surprisingly, explains all of this. "You think this has nothing to do with you," Miranda Priestly tells a chuckly Andy Sachs. "You go to your closet and you select, I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back." And then a history lesson on how one designer decided to do a cerulean outfit, and then everybody else is doing cerulean, and then it trickles down from the high echelons of whatever to you, and then to them.

"It's sort of comical that you think you have made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing a sweater that was selected for you, by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff."

We all think we know what we're doing. We all want to be elitists, but alas, the difference between black and white is all the gray in between.

And your responses...

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