Welcome to the elections, Philippine style in 2016. As a lifelong spectator in an extremely politicized country in all these years, I can say that nothing much has changed.
Politics had gradually vanished into a world of obscene, big money and bad manners. The early presidential campaign undeniably and gravely takes on a survival of the fittest. The surge of the interest in the personalities of the presidential candidate has migrated into the very air we breathe.
It is a season of poisonous backbiting once more. Pandora’s boxes are opened in a panoply of overblown multiple plots, minute by minute drama that you can’t deride to a side show. Tabloids ooze with offers, sacrilegious insinuation and blatant unapologetic approbation.
In a season of false hopes, candidates head for bigger hurdles and comparisons become inevitable.
Presidency sends aspirants dancing on pin heads. Running for president is like running for your life. Any help is welcome as one finds himself in a midst of a campaign that brought out the worst in men, where nobody was even in control of events. But campaigning is a sweating that every candidate has to go through, to get to the noble business of governing. Nothing has jerked the jaundiced eyes of the nation into a sudden incredulous force, as is continues to watch the elections closely, with unbridled enthusiasm, investment and curiosity — perhaps even with anger and disagreement.
The candidates’ jaded appetite for campaign combat (given their angry reactions to mutual pig sty politics which feed tawdry headlines or particularly unflattering stories) are far from genteel tones. In other times, the media will be hooting and hollering, having a great time, while gloom descends on the other camp.
There will be news that was rooting an insurance case, woven into that prurient journalism jargon. But in every journalist’s heart, the unspoken dictum not just being “first” but also getting the report “right” remains.
It will always be a competitive time frame among news reporters. Nobody blinks. For the record, I have covered three presidential elections: the late dictator Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos, Mrs. Corazon Aquino and former President Fidel V. Ramos. The demands were real, be it for a delightful little ditty that emerged, or I am probably guessing, even a meaning look or the ambush of running interviews, parched for quotes—whatever it takes to craft an interesting new story.
The only thing missing were crystal balls, incense and some charm bracelets. Insiders form both camps are uncharacteristically never close mouthed unless it was a bad leak that blew on their faces. Deep in their hearts, the weary voter craves for the one who can fight impossible odds, in the name of peace and good governance. No more blood, bullets, caskets for the orphans and the media will just do what we are supposed to be doing.
And we don’t have to recoil and take a shower, after that!
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