10/15/2015
The past is terrible, but isn't the past so much better than the present?

Miriam Defensor Santiago chose Bongbong Marcos to be her running mate in 2016.

In an instant, people hate her.

Well, I'm just judging from the usual social media avenues. I'm judging from this one millennial who, just two days ago, was all praises after Miriam announced her bid for the top position in the land. At last! I now know who to vote! Today, said millennial is all, I don't know you anymore.

Just two days ago, Miriam is the best chance the country has for salvation - well, if you're not pushing Rodrigo Duterte to the brink, and if you're still pissed at Grace Poe for tolerating a religious tantrum. Today, her decision to pick Bongbong Marcos - fellow senator, and arguably, someone who's in the same intellectual wavelength as her - has made her some sort of pariah. Why the hell, after all, would someone as smart as her pick an apologist for the atrocities of martial law? Why the hell would she pick a man who, naturally, is proud of his father's achievements? Why the hell would she go for Marcos?

That's it. I'm not voting for her.

The official campaign season has yet to begin, and already most of the election-related conversations I found myself in have involved one person exclaiming who he'll vote for. Would you vote for Grace Poe? Too inexperienced. Mar Roxas? Too smarmy. Jejomar Binay? I want to see him fall down the surveys and never recover. He must lose at all costs. Who, then? Well, if Duterte runs, I will vote for him. But he won't run. Oh, he will.

So why are you voting for Duterte, then?

Because he put order to Davao. The country needs someone like him.

But he may have done so in bad ways. The so-called Davao Death Squad?

It's not like he'll do a Marcos and kill anyone that crosses him, right?

Wait, wait, so what are you looking for in a president?

Someone who'll make my life better, and someone who isn't corrupt.

So... who is that?

Duterte...?

It's funny seeing people panic over who's running and who's not - and at the same time, it's sad. These are the people who claim to be educated voters. They'll be the first to get angry when they see someone like Binay in the lead. "Ang bobobo talaga ng mga Pilipino!" they'd go. "Nagbebenta ng boto ang puta!" But here they are, already making such pronouncements despite not really knowing much about the candidates. All the things they say are based solely on what they've seen before - of Miriam being snarky in the Senate floor, of Rody being tough-as-nails in Davao's streets, of Mar believing what he wants to believe in Tacloban's ruins. Sure, what came before is arguably as important as what lies ahead, but you can't make a decision with only the latter. That's not an educated decision; that's putting heart over head.

But, to be fair, this isn't entirely the fault of the so-called enlightened ones.

Among the crop of (arguably) credible candidates for president, only two have expressed a vision for the country, in one way or another. Mar Roxas has it easy: he only has to say the words "tuwid na daan" and he'll be understood - I will continue the reforms that Noynoy started. Grace Poe, on the other hand, is also latching on to the legacy of the current president, but has presented some sort of alternative way, and has also moved to own some issues, like her interest in public transport and her support for freedom of information.

That's a good place to start, but that's not how they sold themselves, at least not to the majority of voters. Despite his vast experience in government - and the fact that people in business do trust him - Mar Roxas appealed to voters not through any vision for the country, but through the spirits of the dead. Specifically, inevitably, Ninoy and Cory Aquino, who, arguably, is just another power couple in Philippine politics. To boot, they also invoke Jesse Robredo's name: a quiet worker who died too soon is suddenly a hero for political purposes. Sure, Leni Robredo may have had long-standing advocacies before being thrust into the political scene, but she sold herself primarily as Jesse's widow. He's a good guy, and I'll try to be a good gal, too. Somehow, that works.

Grace Poe has it harder, because she does not have much government experience, having only worked with the censors before spending three years in the Senate. Her declaration speech, to her credit, was relatively comprehensive, and perfectly laid out her intentions for the country, but still she sold herself by invoking her adoptive father, Fernando Poe Jr., action star turned disgruntled politician turned, well, (questionable) hero for political purposes after his death. I believe in what I believe because my father raised me that way, she said. I will continue my father's legacy. Somehow, too, that works.

Here we are, in a country that badly needs a vision, and here we are, faced with options that deliberately obscure it under tubs and drums of sentiment and nostalgia. The past is terrible, but isn't the past so much better than the present? Come, join us and move our beloved land forward by dwelling in the past! Let's go to the future by staying in the past! And what's more comfortable than what we already know - that the Aquinos are good, that the Marcoses are bad, that somehow FPJ stood for good politics, that Miriam is smart, that Duterte is tough, that Binay, at all costs, should never be elected, like that idiot Estrada and Arroyo and whoever else I think of in the future. Or the past.

Yes, the campaign period will roll in and we'll get some glimpse into the future, but it will be obscure and it will be carefully selected. Curated, if you will. You only have to know that the future will be better, for as long as we dwell in past glories, somehow. I will make questions that need answering and I will be disappointed that I won't get any, and I will just settle for what makes me feel better at the end of the day - and somehow, that won't be a clear set of values, principles and views, because apparently that is a very bad thing. Just ask the Communists and how they're always the bad people in parties. To hell with what you believe in. You just have to be nice to everyone.

And your responses...

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