It seems that Mar Roxas’s campaign team is heeding the advice of many who feel for the man who could’ve, should’ve, been President in 2010: reimagine him, sell him, as a separate entity from the current President.
Because despite Roxas’s failures in Tacloban, the MRT and public transport, the airports, and so on, he is so much more than Aquino, and one must concede the fact. They are not hewed from the same tree, but they sure are bound to the same Liberal Party – which is a crisis in itself.
One does wonder if it is the Liberal Party that’s in control of these campaign videos and materials that we’ve been seeing of their standard bearer, because if yes, then they might need to work a little harder at creating images of Roxas that might stick, or at the very least, that are not so unbelievable that these become laughable.
No rhythm, a lot of blues
The decision to use RnB as the perfect genre for a Roxas jingle seems uninspired. For one thing, RnB is not quite a genre that has gained traction in this country; for another, daang matuwid and all that it connotes is not stuff for RnB.
RnB is supposed to be sexy. You imagine a swagger. At the very least, you expect a rhythm, because it actually does stand for rhythm and blues.
Suffice it to say that between that strange chest-bump between Roxas and James Yap, and the swaying to the song’s final chorus, it’s clear that rhythm ain’t one of Roxas’s stronger suits.
Ah, but maybe they thought never mind that, since the artists who are part of the song will provide the rhythm and blues, the swagger and the sexy. And then one watches JayR, Billy Crawford and Kris Lawrence performing “Fast Forward,” and one can’t help but wonder how they might get their sexy back.
Because there is nothing at all sexy about the old dance steps that they put together for these three, and what does shine through in that video is how uncomfortable they looked, with huge smiles on their faces, dancing maski-paps (maski papaano) on their own. At some point you see Lawrence doing the scissors – backwards. And Crawford holding Lawrence’s flexed muscles as he sings “hindi ako aatras, hangga’t mayroong lakas.”
You know that can’t be good, right?
The dangers of speed
And then there’s just the concept itself of using fast forward, a technological term that we equate with moving a cassette or VHS (yes, very dated!) forward to where we want it to go, skipping anything that we deem irrelevant or useless, or what we’d like to ignore already because we’re done with it.
That does not bode well for Roxas’s tuwid na daan, does it?
Because what it does tell me is that it does not mind leaving so many behind. It does not mind uneven development. It does not mind the majority who are impoverished, as long as there is a minority that’s moving forward, faster than ever.
This is far from what we need in our country at this point, when we’ve proven that in fact matuwid na daan, for all that it claims about change, the improved economy, and unprecedented credit ratings, just does not translate to any benefit for the poorest of the poor, and has even made life more difficult for a majority of us.
To even think that going fast forward at this point in time, to even assert that the concept of pressing fast forward on daang matuwid is what we need at this point, is to fail to acknowledge the need to take stock of the past six years under Aquino’s government. It is to tell us all that how we’ve lived, what we’ve gone through, where we are at this point, no matter how difficult, is not a valid reason to stop and reconsider what might have gone wrong with the current leadership.
It refuses to acknowledge the traffic crisis, the underemployment of our graduates, to large population of unemployed, the high taxes that the low-income earners pay, the continued migration of our service workers, the contractualization of our workers, the lack of basic health services, the low wages and unsafe working environments for our workers. One can go on and on.
Roxas, on fast forward, will ignore all these, because speed is more important than compassion and kindness.
This fictional community
There was a carelessness in the imagination of this video as a campaign strategy. The concept is unstable, and falls apart in the face of analysis. But also on the superficial level, it is clearly selling us a fictional world, one that is only real to a specific social class that is removed from the rest of the Philippines, living as they do within high-rise condominiums and business centers.
For whatever reason, there were vendors of street food in this wealthy community, as there were construction workers smiling widely under the heat of the sun with Ramon Bautista, children who were playing with KathNiel in an unseen playground, graduates throwing their caps into the air, a group of manongs playing dama on an unnamed street, a sari-sari store of Christmas lanterns where Maricel Soriano gets herself a Santa hat.
One realizes that where the disconnect is clear to us, within this fictional world of Roxas’s matuwid na daan, is the gaze of the rich and wealthy that is being used to create images of poverty and need, of struggle and want. In the eyes of Roxas’s social class, this is what the Philippines looks like, and the inequality is okay because it is all happening in the same space where the sun is bright and yellow is the color of hope.
I tell you, I have a feeling someone within LP’s campaign is doing Roxas in. Because for him to promise fast forward, they forget that for many of us, what we want is to do a rewind. We want to backtrack to that day when we all were duped into believing Aquino and the Liberal Party could run this country.
Six years after, all we know is that matuwid na daan is mostly a myth.