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Monday, March 25, 2013

The Philippine Election Campaign...Olympics Of Hypocrisy Part IV!

(Part 4 of the series)
A Scientific and Modern Election Campaign
Photo courtesy of news.nfo.ph
Political pundits have been asked numerous questions as to the most important component of modern political campaigns that will assuredly impel victory for election candidates. Until today, the query remained unanswered as we have received many varied and equivocal answers to a seemingly difficult question. Most political experts will say, having a ”win-able” candidate, some will stress successful fundraising to source out enough campaign funds. Others will respond for candidates to “get out and get the votes” (GOTV). However, most election campaign specialists agree on one thing they believed to be the most important aspect of the modern campaign, that is ”targeting.” Any candidate can be considered ”win-able,” only if campaign managers  are capable to target voters  who will support that specific candidate and those who have contributed to similar political campaigns in the past, in terms of fundraising.  Nevertheless,  it should be crystal clear that any candidate will not win an election without converting the support of the “target “voters into actual votes in the polling precincts on election day.  
 The Role of Mass Media in a Political Campaign
Photo courtesy of 2010 presidentiables.wordpress.com
Political strategists have the use of numerous materials for their campaigns, however, most if not all consider mass media as the most potent campaign tactic. Almost every stage of a political campaign is carefully planned to obtain the fullest media coverage, from fund raising, press announcements, staged campaign rallies, major radio and TV interviews and political debates.
In political campaigns of today, candidates necessitate newspaper, magazines, radio, television and now the internet to reach the voting public with their political aspirations. For this reason, political analysts say that candidates who are deficient in effective media strategy are predestined to meet failure in the elections.
Analysts added that advertising oftentimes distorts essential information and positions while the predominance of polling by news conduits turns elections into popularity contests and causes candidates to follow the opinions of the voters on contemporary issues rather than their own. Whatever its positive or negative effects, the fact remains that exposure to the news media does influence public awareness and opinion, significantly. 
Many articles have been written about the effect that the mass media have upon the presentation and outcome of political campaigns  however many censors have insinuated that media communications  ignores the important underlying issues in the election and focuses on the superficial factors such as personal characteristics, family influence and popularity of candidates.  
 This is probably the reason why, nowadays, we have a lot of elected government officials who are luminaries from the fields of sports, show business, Tri-media and even from the religious sector. The long list started with the late Senator Rogelio de la Rosa, who was a matinee idol before he was elected to the Senate in 1957 and later became Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia, Netherlands and Poland, among other assignments. There were unverified reports that Senator de la Rosa could have won the 1961 presidential polls mainly because of his popularity not to mention his respectable qualifications.   While in the middle of his campaign, Sen. De le Rosa withdrew from the race in favor of his co-Kapampangan brother-in-law, Diosdado Macapagal, who eventually won the election.
Former and current elected government officials coming from these fields include Joseph Estrada, Noli de Castro, Loren Legarda, Grace Padaca, Ramon Revilla, Robert Jaworski, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Vilma Santos, Isko Moreno, Herbert Bautista, Joey Marquez, Alma Moreno, George Ejercito, Mark Lapid, Father Eddie Panlilio, Manny Pacquiao and the long list goes on and on. 
Election Campaign Paraphernalia
Photo courtesy of jacoimages.com
When the campaign period for Senatorial candidates for the mid-term May elections started more than a month ago, Filipinos have seen varied kinds of campaign paraphernalia around the country. Posters and tarpaulins of candidates can be seen in houses, electric and telephones posts, trees, public utility jeepneys and buses, “sari-sari stores, “tri-sikad” and tri-cycles, ice cream carts and many more.

With all these paraphernalia of different shapes, sizes and colors scattered around cities, municipalities, barangays and puroks, the whole landscape seem to bear semblance to a carnival, circus or “fiesta” in the whole nation. With the campaign period for local positions scheduled to start on March 29, expect a more colorful terrain and festive atmosphere everywhere.

Aside from the tarpaulins, posters and leaflets and flyers, candidates have to spend huge amount of money to provide voters with “giveaway” gifts such as hand fans (abaniko), lighters, calendar IDs, Tee-Shirts, Caps, ball pens, coffee cups, beer mugs, among many other items as far as one’s imagination can stretch. Of course, all of these gifts are personalized with the name, photo and “catchy” phrases and puns of candidates. It is still vivid in our minds the slogans of; Ramon Magsaysay’s “ Magsaysay is my guy” Diosdadado Macapagal’s “Poor Boy from Lubao”,  Ferdinand Marcos “ This country can be great again”, Estrada’s “ERAP sa Mahirap”, Pres. Aquino’s “ Kung Walang Corrupt Walang Mahirap” Gibo Teodoro’s “ Galing at Talino”, Manny Villar’s “Sipag at Tiyaga”, Joker Arroyo’s “ Kung Bad Ka, Lagot Ka”,and  Pichay’s “ Itanim sa Senado”, among a lot of others.

Political Jingles
By nature, Filipinos are music lovers. An entertainment magazine described Filipinos as the “Italians of Asia” because we love and appreciate music just like the Italians do. It is very true that in houses, offices, coffee shops, malls, stores, public utility and private vehicles and markets, listening to music is a part of daily life of Filipinos.

Many of our professional singers have invaded foreign shores and made good as international entertainers. This first Filipino talent was showcased with the front act of the Reycard Duet at Las Vegas in the early 1960’s followed by Pilita Corrales and Jun Polistico of the Society of 7, a band based in Hawaii.  Lea Salonga who rose to world fame with her stage performance of Kim in Miss Saigon, was asked to perform for Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, former US Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. Lani Misalucha is now permanently based in Las Vegas doing front acts in hotels and casinos while Arnel  Pineda  vaulted to international renown when he became the lead singer of  the American rock band Journey in 2007. And who can miss the young Filipino lady with a powerful and magnificent voice, Charice Pempengco, who made waves in the US, Asia and Europe and even did a concert with the famous Celine Dion at the Central Park in New York after enthralling the audience and TV watchers worldwide in the Oprah Winfrey show, and the number will continue to grow. Today “karaoke” singing is a favorite pastime of Filipinos, from the smallest purok to the biggest urban center in the country.  

When democratic elections in the Philippines began in the early 1930’s, music became a part of every political campaign to attract the fancy of the voting public.  In one election campaign report, George S. Caparas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) wrote,

“A jingle is basically a candidate’s musical score, but its usefulness lies in its being a mnemonic device that compresses name, program and platform into a 2-minute rhyme. The best ones play endlessly in one’s head. Blaring relentlessly from motorcades and speakers, a jingle enlivens the crowd before a big speech. Its mission is simple. Disarm the voter with a good harmony before drilling the message home. Speeches are all the same and easily forgotten, but a great jingle lingers.”

I was still in the elementary school when the late Ramon Magsaysay run for President in 1953 and I cannot forget the many times I and my classmates would sing and dance to the “ Magsaysay Mambo”, amazingly composed by the late former Sen. Raul S. Manglapus.

Many believed that the jingle became an irresistible song that made the Filipino people “swaying and dancing” to the mambo rhythm of the jingle, with an upfront Pilipino-English lyrics ;

                  Everywhere that you would look,,,  was a bandit or a crook,
                  Peace and Order was a joke,,,, til Magsaysay pumasok,
                  That is why,,, That is why,,,, you will hear the people cry,
                  Our democracy will die,,,, Kung wala si Magsaysay,

(click for the Mambo Magsaysay Jingle)

The perceived effectiveness of the political jingle as a campaign strategy was reinforced when Magsaysay won the Philippine Presidency by a landslide. Magsaysay garnered 68.9 % while incumbent Pres. Quirino got 31% of the total casted votes, an unprecedented margin in the Philippines political history.

It makes me wonder why until now the ditty still lingers on the back of my mind and I can still sing this political jingle to the tune and rhythm of the song as I believe most Filipinos of my generation can.  

But before that, archives recorded a successful political jingle known as the “Lacson Mambo”, a campaign strategy used by the late Manila Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson. The political song that was based on the sensual African drumbeats and Cuban rhythm was reportedly instrumental in Mayor Lacson’s election victories in 1951, 1955 and 1959. 

 Goons, Guns and Gold in Philippine Politics
While it is true that Filipinos have long endured election-related violence in the country, the use of “goons and guns” by politicians have dwindled since the Martial Law in 1972. Carnage brought about by political elections become dominant in the 1950’s to 1960’s where hostilities are almost daily occurrences. Powerful political clans coming from the oligarchic national and local clans maintained “private armies” to pursue political ambitions. Once elected into public offices, these political warlords boost their capacity for violence and intimidation purportedly to counter the NPA rebels or Muslim insurgents.
The deadly clashes of political clans are most prevalent in the local government units where fraud and violence became a daily ritual. Among the many political “warlords” that were always vying for supremacy in their communities are; the Montanos and Bocalans in Cavite, the Josons and Perezes in Nueva Ecija, Crisologos and Singsons in Ilocos Sur, the Cojuangcos and Aquinos in Tarlac, the Dimaporos and Quibranzas in Lanao del Norte, and the Ganzons and Carams in Iloilo. Then, the preponderant “political  warlordism” created armed groups in Mindanao like the “Barracudas and Blackshirts fighting against the Christian “Ilagas”. Another political armed group “PUSA” was organized by powerful political clans in Mindanao, an ellipsis for Pendatun, Udtog Mattalam, Sinsuat and Ampatuan. 
However, a most recent poll-related violence jolted the nation with the mass murder of 57 people in a politically volatile province Maguindanao, Mindanao on Nov. 2009. It  is not only the  outrageous number of fatalities that eclipse previous acts of  election-related violence that is mindboggling but also the extent of the senseless bloodbath since the victims included relatives and supporters of a would-be gubernatorial candidate of a rival clan, as well as women, 18 journalists, and travelers innocently passing the scene of the barbaric murders.  A powerful political clan, acknowledged to be a close ally of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the suspected perpetrator of the senseless massacre.

Most Filipino traditional politicians (trad-pol) dispense the “gold,” or huge amounts of cash, to buy votes. But they also recruit “goons with guns,” or private armies, to take on equally militarized political opponents. All of these show the grim reality of the deteriorating stability of the democratic state of the nation.

 The Political Campaign “Barkers”

In Philippine politics, a political “barker” is a name given to a person who acts as a “mouthpiece” of a candidate or a political party. Usually, political ”barkers” come from the broadcast media of the local radio stations in the provinces and cities and are adept in portraying their candidate’s profile to attract voters attention. Political analysts have observed that the main issue of political “barker”  is credibility. While there are political “barkers” who campaigns through the radio broadcast consistently for a party or candidates, it is common to see political “barkers” campaigning for a candidate in one election and against the same candidate in another election, depending on who pays them. “Barkers” of this type can lash demeaning and derogatory diatribes against a particular candidate on one election year but can sing praises to high heavens to the same candidate in another election. Jestingly, a local politician compared some political “barkers” to a jukebox, a musical equipment that plays the kind of music selected by the person who drops the coin money in its slot box. While I find this statement humorous enough, yet many will find this accurate and relevant. As an example, one highly-paid presumptuous political “barker” in a local government unit reportedly humiliated himself by tendering a public apology to evade conviction of a libel charge filed against him by an election candidate and former city official.

Maybe for this reason, political strategists should be fastidious and cautious in choosing their political campaigners and “barkers” in order that irreparable damage to the chances of their candidates in winning the election will be circumvented.
(To be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, there really isn't any sort of magical way to win a political campaign every time political campaign strategies