My View on Philippine Politics
Philippine politics has always been dirty. Allegations of corruption are being thrown left and right. It used to be surprising, now it seems to be a weekly if not a daily salvo. Politics seems to be synonymous now with fraud.
Let me lay first my own definition of politics. I do not have a major in Political Science or any related degree so my definition is most likely that of a layman. Politics to me mostly refers to the responsibility or the job (or any doing) of an elected official. I think that is why an elected official is called a politician because they do politics. I also call the job of an elected official’s cohorts as politics. Politics also largely means “gaining favor” from a higher official (elected, appointed or whatever) to me. This always involves hierarchy. I have not worked in an office devoid of politics. I have done politicking to gain favors at some point. This article though would discuss more on my first definition of politics.
I remember when I was a kid that campaigning meant stickers and making paste. My family had always been supportive of a friend’s bid for the city (then municipality) council. We would go around town just to post up stickers on walls or hand out stickers and flyers to voters. During the 1995 campaign period (it could have been 1992 but I was too young then), I learned that paste was made of baking soda so somehow this became educational for me. Although the excitement would only last until the night of the election, I somehow got interested in politics through this experience.
My very first solid interest in politics was during the impeachment trial of Joseph Estrada. I was an avid viewer of the live broadcast of the trial. I was in high school then and there was this television set in the dormitory that could only receive one channel. I would always be the first one to sit in front of it after school, eat dinner for a while, then be back to watch the trial again diligently. When I would come home, I would watch the same thing. People were watching because I think people really wanted to have a change in the system. It was a real-life drama. Erap won by a landslide but most of those who voted for him felt he failed them. He turned out to be this corrupt president and was having difficulty in speaking English, which later translated to stupidity. However bad a president he was, I don’t think he was/is stupid. He became rich on his own accord, and I don’t think a fickle mind could help him do that.
The People Power Revolution of 2001 became the climax of that drama. Everyone was happy because the country was spared from a terrible president. Everyone thought that another female president could save the country from total poverty and right the wrongs done by the ousted administration. All activists against Erap were now solidly supporting Gloria Arroyo. They cheered and shouted her name during her first inauguration. Most of these activists would later turn against her due to another bout of allegations of corruption.
Arroyo’s administration had been plagued by dozens of demonstrations, and even a few coups. Personally, I do have mixed feelings for her. I was a student of the University of the Philippines in Diliman for two years. And the student activists over there are done so relentless. During my sophomore year, never was there an issue of the school paper that did not contain anti-Gloria articles. For a time, I became anti-Gloria on my own simply because I was influenced by the demonstrations done all over the university all year round. But then I became so fed up with the Collegian’s articles that it prompted me one day to send them a text message that was definitely against them. That of course was met with pissed reactions from the paper’s administrators.
I believe that no matter who the president is, activists would persist. And these activists would almost always be the same ones. These anarchists call themselves watchdogs but this “watching” that they do almost becomes paranoia sometimes. One very good example was when Hillary Clinton visited the country. A lot of these demonstrators were speculating before she arrived that Clinton was on a mission here to gain more advantages from the Philippines especially with the VFA. I personally believe that US presence in the country is advantageous for Filipinos. We need to get help from any well-developed country because the Philippines is way too underdeveloped. There may be bumps and tragedies along the way, but will we not get that from or fellow countrymen?
This election coming up is definitely not going to fall short of a spectacle. Already, Filipinos can see a lot of circus going on. One senator even called it “political prostitution”. Enemies become allies all for the sake of unity and common goals they may say. But it was almost an act of desperation. One wanted the kind of the other (never mind they had opposing views in the past), so they awkwardly politically copulated. People who witnessed the fall of Erap could never forget the names and faces of the senators and some congressmen who went up against and for him. Most of them had switched positions during the last couple of elections. If you have been to a political rally, you definitely have heard how most of these politicos trash talk each other. So they become hypocrites in their own rights. It is hard to believe that someone had a change of mind and heart at the age of 45.