I don’t think there ever has been a presidential election in which the candidates could be so easily grouped into two categories: the Fake and the Real. These are the present candidates genres, not some cockamamie types imported unthinkingly from the US, such as Reform, Authoritarian, or Pragmatic candidates.
The Fakes are the two candidates President Aquino has fielded: Manuel Roxas 2nd and Grace Poe Llamanzares. The Real ones are Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao City Rodrigo Duterte.
Let’s start with how they look. Roxas unfailingly wears yellow, the now sickening color of his boss, Aquino, and his cabal, first adopted upon the advice of American PR men who had assisted his mother in the 1986 elections that led to the EDSA I revolt.
Llamanzares always wears white, and she reportedly always brings with her in her sorties a dozen of these tops, so she never ever wears one with even the minutest dirt.
Why do they wear these colors? Because they are really costumes, the yellow to dress up Roxas not as Roxas but heir to the Daang Matuwid kind of politics; the white to claim, subliminally as is often done in movies, that Llamanzares’ soul is pure, without a taint. It also enhances her mestiza complexion in this twice-colonized nation, in which the masses were brainwashed to think of fair-skinned people as superior. Has there been a Black Virgin?
In contrast, Binay and Duterte wear their everyday working clothes, other than the barong Tagalog, that kind of polo-shirt popular for men of their generation, which looks like the 1960s synthetic-yarn Banlons. Duterte also often wears that kind of checkered camp or cowboy shirts popular in the South.
In short, Binay and Duterte are telling voters that this is how they look day in and day out. WSIG – what you see is what you get. Unlike Roxas and Llamanzares (and Leni Robredo, as well), Binay and Duterte are not in costumes, which by definition are attires one wears to pretend to be a person other than themselves.
And in this case, the clothes make the man (or the woman). These reflect their inner nature. What are they telling voters about why they should be elected to the highest post of the land?
Binay and Duterte are saying basically the same thing: They will govern the nation in the same way they governed Makati or Davao City for decades, which they claim have been exceptional, and this track record is evidence of their capability to be President. Those are real claims, although one, of course, could validly question whether, indeed, those cities were run as well as they claim they were during their time. Binay, of course, says he has had experience on the national level, being Vice President and given the task of seeing to the welfare of OFWs.
The two fakes, in contrast, are making fake claims.
In Llamanzares case, she declared in her speech announcing her candidacy in September last year: “When I first asked for your help, I said that I wanted to continue what my father FPJ had started. His decision to seek the presidency was anchored on a simple principle. Eleven years ago, in this very same hall, he declared that he wanted to help the poor, fight oppression, and forge a prosperous and just society.”
She wants Filipinos to vote for her so she can continue what her father started.
That’s as fake as can be: FPJ was a movie star all his working life, showed little interest in politics or social causes, not even in charity work. He ran only because his bosom friend, former President Joseph Estrada, who was in jail at that time being tried for plunder, told him that only if he became President could he avoid imprisonment. What Llamanzares seeks to continue is her father’s candidacy for President. Or the aspirations of her father’s movie persona as hero of the people. Period. Where in Llamanzares’ adult life did she ever show an iota of interest in serving the people?
Check out Llamanzares’ speeches and remarks, and it’s all motherhood statements, clichés, and emotional lines, which I suspect a team of movie scriptwriters has been churning out.
And Roxas? You really hear very little from himself about what he did to be proud of having been secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications and then of the Interior and Local Government. Obviously, Roxas himself knows he had been a disaster in these two departments. MRT-3 has lurched toward total disrepair because he didn’t handle well the transition from a well-managed system run by two of the world’s best engineering firms, Sumitomo and Mitsubishi.
The two deadly disasters that have marked this yellow government’s term – the mismanagement of the aftermath of the Yolanda Supertyphoon and the criminal command negligence over the Mamasapano massacre of 44 police troops – were all during his watch as head of the DILG.
So what is he mainly telling Filipinos on why they should vote for him as President? His yellow costume tells it all really, but he himself has been declaring it in his political ads, that he will continue Aquino’s Daang Matuwid type of governance that he and Aquino say pushed this country forward over the past six years.
And that is the most fake thing anybody could ever claim to be a champion of. Look around you. In the past six years, the country has fallen back politically, economically, and even culturally. I would have believed him if he just declared outright that it his rightful place in history to be Philippine president, since his grandfather was and his father would have been if not for Martial Law. Or if he just honestly admitted that Mommy wouldn’t stop nagging him unless he became President.