Tag archive for "2010 presidential candidates"

JOKE THE VOTE, PUN THE BETS

Current Affairs

JOKE THE VOTE, PUN THE BETS

No Comments 17 May 2010

By Camille de Asis, Ivan Lim, Mark Tare and Angela Poe

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Barring last-minute surprises in the election count, the Noynoy-Nognog tandem will lead the next casting at Malacañang Palace in the next six years, according to funny-boned Filipinos.

Nognog, dark-skinned Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in real life, will also be installed as the country’s “first black vice president,” they say.

But before he could become president, Noynoy, who goes by the full name Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, may need to convince closest rival Joseph Estrada to concede.

Estrada can’t and won’t, supposedly because when he voted, his victory had been guaranteed. Proof of this, and so the tale is told, was that after Estrada fed his ballot into a PCOS machine, it popped this message: “Congratulations!”

In the most serious moments, trust Filipinos, acclaimed to be among the world’s happiest peoples, to joke and pun and laugh at themselves.

The last elections, a historical moment for being the country’s first national automated balloting, sparked a bumper harvest of humorous tricks and treats across media old and new. The jokes have been played most often on the candidates for national office by jokesters of all political persuasions.

It is not that poverty and politics are a laughing matter. On the contrary, these are matters so serious with implications so grave hence the resort to humor by some Filipinos.

For one, through jokes anyone could fire off sharp commentary without inflicting real or serious injury.  For another, because jokes are made to provoke laughter, the jokester is allowed to submit the most acerbic opinions with minimal accountability, or even complete anonymity.

Painless, faultless

Criticizing in a painless, faultless manner – that could well be the reason why Filipinos resort to jokes in the era of elections or other acute political debates, according to anthropologist Dr. Clemente Camposano, director of the Institute of Political Economy in the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P).

Jokes, he says, allow people to talk about real problems “in a manner that does not create tension.” In a sense, the lightness of jokes allows Filipinos, deemed to be generally non-confrontational, to engage in political debate with minimal complications.

And because hard political talk is the acclaimed domain of the intellectual, the affluent, and the elderly jokes have turned into an accessible platform for political discourse for those much younger and with less money and education. The problem emerges, however, when to the average Juan and Juana, the joke remains just a joke, a laughing matter.

Dr. Maria Rhodora Ancheta, who has studied patterns and images of humor, says, “the comic’s object… as people will remember it is really just (to elicit) laughter. Parang as soon as I laugh, okey na ’yung joke na ’yan.”

Public conversation

But political jokes in particular are an important public conversation, except that its content values are too often eclipsed by facetious form, she says.

For instance, she says comedians tend to always play on the periphery to mask the seriousness of politics, leaving to their audience a big burden: how to sift the serious messages from a comic rendering of the big issues.

Ancheta, a professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, also studies the cultural context of images in literature. Sometimes, she says, political jokes veer away from folk precepts well established in literature.

She says: “Sabi nila, ’pag may dwende sa bahay, swerte raw at masagana ang buhay. Eh bakit may dwende sa Malacanang pero mahirap pa rin ang ’Pinas?” [They say that a house where a gnome dwells is a lucky and blessed house. But there is a gnome at Malacañang, so why is the Philippines still so poor?]

Dwende sa Malacañang is a moniker that some Filipino comics have bestowed on outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in reference to her Lilliputian frame.

In this instance, Ancheta notes that the joke suggests that Malacanang Palace and the home are parallel concepts, poverty is the problem, and that Arroyo is to blame for the people’s destitute state.

Yet aside from Arroyo, those who seek to succeed her have found themselves too often at the receiving end of jokes.

Bigo, C-5 at Tiyaga

Online, jokesters have christened administration candidate Gilberto ”Gibo” Teodoro Jr., who championed the campaign ”Galing at Talino,” as ”Bigo” Teodoro.

Nacionalista Party candidate Manuel B. Villar Jr. had proclaimed himself as the aspirant with ”Sipag at Tiyaga.” In the jokesters’ book, that reads as ”C-5 at Taga,”  in reference to a controversial road project that supposedly benefited Villar’s real estate project and earned a huge right-of-way payment for his family-owned company.

Liberal Party candidate Benigno C. Aquino III, thrust to national prominence by his pedigree as son of democracy icons Cory and Ninoy Aquino, did not have a personal pitch. He got this from the comics: “Mama at Papa.”

Impersonator and satirist Willie Nepomuceno likens jokes amid a heady political exercise to popping candies because “it perks you up a little, pass it on and delete and it’s just a thought.”

Nepomuceno has parodied nearly all male Philippine presidents from strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos to Fidel V. Ramos to Joseph Estrada. These days, Nepomuceno parades on television as “Noynoy Palaboy,” his comic styling of winning presidential candidate Aquino.

While candies offer a sugar fix or a virtual adrenaline shot, Nepomuceno says jokes amid the confusion and noise that mark elections are also “a way of letting off steam… of (making) you think.” This seems especially true, he notes, for two groups of citizens – the most politically aware and the most unhappy about the country’s state of affairs.

Decade of jokes

The past two decades may well be considered the halcyon years of political jokes in the Philippines, judging by the volume and speed of spread of jokes, across old and new media platforms, vented at political personalities.

And it is probably not only because Filipinos have gotten funnier. Greater assertion of freedom of speech, text messaging, as well as blogging, social networking, and a slew of freeware applications on the Internet have all allowed a downpour of comic content online.

What used to be the domain of trained professionals, online publication has become accessible to anyone with message or content to push in a jiffy, thanks to Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and blogs.

Without any firm standards of quality, the Web has allowed everyone to post or upload funny or serious commentary, and instantly, it spreads virally — exponentially, unpredictably — through networks of readers across the globe. This is also the route that has been charted by the untraceable, if virtually unstoppable, group text.

The May 2010 elections yielded jokes of varying shades of green, black, brown and dark. During the campaign period, social networking sites and popular blogs meshed caustic commentary with piping pranks.

On Facebook, fan pages poked fun at the presidential candidates. One of the most popular was the anti-Villar fan page called “Sige MANNY VILLAR ikaw na ang MAHIRAP.” It has enrolled 126,082 members.

Other popular pages include the “Sige Noynoy, Hindi ka na Magnanakaw at Anak ka na ni Ninoy at Cory,” and the “If Erap Estrada is elected president again, I’M LEAVING THE COUNTRY!”

On these fan pages, the edited images of the candidates have been uploaded beside which fans could post their own quips and status messages.

‘PCOS’ tweets

Twitter has also become a playground for political satire.

On Election Day, tweets by an anonymous twitter account named “PCOS machine” started to draw traffic. It posted tweets on the glitches and mishaps in the automation process such as, “Please don’t blame us PCOS machines. We’re doing our best. Just shade the bilog na hugis itlog and I’ll do the rest for you.” Another read: “@CF card – I’m not talking to you. You almost ruined my career.”

Three days after the vote, the authorities found 60 PCOS machines at the house of a technician in Antipolo City. The incident sparked this tweet from the “PCOS Machine”: “f I find out that they’re actually having an outing in Antipolo and I wasn’t invited, somebody gonna get a hurt real bad.”

Political humor has become a staple fare of bloggers. “The Professional Heckler,” a popular blogger, has become an even bigger name on the web for his relentless bashing of politicians. YouTube has hosted a smorgasbord of funny video clips, including spoofs of the candidates’ political advertisements. Villar’s “Dagat ng Basura” ad has morphed into various jocular versions.

But it is not only the candidates who have commanded top billing on the humor mill.

Toward the end of the campaign period, Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra grabbed the punters’ attention after he issued a resolution absolving two members of the Ampatuan clan from the Maguindanao Massacre. For his action, he became the “Agra-vating” or “Agra-byado” weekly special on the web.

Aquino’s youngest sister, television star Kristina Bernadette Aquino, earned her fair share of jokes as well. This happened after Kris’s younger son Baby James Yap blurted out the name of “Villar” when asked at a campaign rally about his choice of presidential bet. An abundance of online jokes has also focused on a supposed plan by Aquino to hire Kris and showbiz buddy Boy Abunda as Cabinet members.

The top TV networks that are incessantly locked in a ratings war were not spared, too. The so-called hologram technology that ABS-CBN Channel 2 and GMA7 separately claimed to be their cutting edge in the coverage of the elections triggered this comment from “Professional Heckler”:  “GMA News and Public Affairs ushered in a first on Philippine television. Howie Severino became the first Filipino to be beamed in ‘a hologram’ on live TV. But rumors say it wasn’t really Howie but his boss, Jessica Soho, who was supposed to be beamed first during the coverage. There wasn’t just enough ‘beam’ to make it possible.”

Always with zing

Truth is, according to impersonator Nepomuceno, political jokes, while meant to entertain, “always offer purposeful commentary, message or comic object.”

As a matter of course, he says he puts a light touch to important news so he could help raise awareness without alienating people.  “I’m just a facilitator… More or less okey na sa akin basta may naiwan na akong seed of thought.”

While all media platforms have been invaded by jokes during the elections just concluded, Nepomuceno says text jokes are his favorite because these are “simpler and raw, easily digestible, nothing fancy.”

“I’m not a techie, and (gets) easily bored with too much text copy. They’re too fancy for me,” he says, adding that “too much jokes in one serving gives you an overdose and makes the whole thing bland.”

They are fun and light but there is a downside to jokes, according to UP’s Ancheta. Sometimes, after a good laugh, she rues that ”nobody thinks about thinking.”

Camposano of the University of Asia and the Pacific says that as much as Filipinos love to laugh about politics, they also take politics seriously. “People die for their candidates. People kill for their candidates. People spend billions [on] their campaigns…. Why would you invest 220,000 pesos for a 50-second spot on TV?  It’s serious.”

Still and all, he sees a need to distinguish between a serious discussion of politics and the way Filipinos take politics seriously. “Elections are very much a personal enterprise,” he says. Whether it is some kind of reward, relationship, or opportunity, elections affect the future interests of individuals, she notes.

In her published studies of the hugely popular comic strip Pugad Baboy (Swines’ Nest) of cartoonist Apolonio “Pol” Medina Jr., Ancheta illustrates why the fictional Pugad Baboy community appeals to Filipinos. In the comic strip, “distant things are internalized, we share our personal struggles with the community, the micro and the macro are deeply intertwined,” she says.

Politics matters

Adds Ancheta: “Remember the parallelism within the Gloria-dwende joke?  Apparently, in the Filipino mindset, we liken any space we occupy or value to our concept of home.  Thus, politics matters to us.”

Camposano laments, however, what he calls the lack of a civic culture, hence the lack of “inclusive and serious political discourse,” in the Philippines. To candidates and voters, politics seems to be built largely on selfish interests,” and this, he says, may explain why many Filipinos end up trivializing politics rather than becoming involved.

In Ancheta’s view, it’s a chicken-and-egg situation. It is said that Filipinos should consider themselves “lucky” if they could get honest public officials elected. If luck remains the arbiter of elections, how is anyone supposed to trust the public sphere enough to do more than laugh, and finally work for change? “We have yet to see a reward for good citizenship,” she says.

“Much of the laughter that we have is really a lack of space. We laugh a great deal because we need to survive… to cope with pressure,” adds Ancheta.

“[And because] we’re not a talk-about-it people… we’re the culture that says, ‘Sorry, yeah, hayaan mo na lang, bahala na, bahala na s’ya’… given the misery of our situation, joking becomes our outlet.” (The authors are interns at PCIJ.)

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AQUINO OPENS UP 9-POINT LEAD OVER VILLAR

Politics

AQUINO OPENS UP 9-POINT LEAD OVER VILLAR

No Comments 28 March 2010

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” C. Aquino III has opened up a nine-point lead over his nearest rival for the presidency, fellow legislator and Nacionalista Party bet Sen. Manuel “Manny” B. Villar, Jr., based on the results of the latest BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations Pre-Election Survey.

Aquino picked up a point to score 37% and further benefited from a six-point loss for Villar, now at 28%, in the March 19-22 poll conducted just before campaigning for local posts began last March 26. The gap between the two frontrunners was just two points, within the error margins used, a month earlier.

Former President Joseph M. “Erap” Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, meanwhile, gained four points to 19%, narrowing his gap with Villar to nine points from 19 previously.

Administration candidate Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro, Jr. of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD remained in single digit territory with his score staying at 6%.  FULL STORY

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TRACKING THE NUMBERS

Politics

TRACKING THE NUMBERS

1 Comment 15 March 2010

The shifting moods of the electorate are mirrored in the results of the surveys on the presidential and vice presidential preferences in the May 10 elections by the country’s leading pollsters, Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, from late last year up to end of  February. With two months to go before D-Day, Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar are locked in a neck-and-neck battle. It remains to be seen which weapon will prove mightier in the end – Cory’s magic or Manny’s millions. (See related story – Too Close to Call.)

PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES FOR 2010 ELECTIONS

SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS

Nov 4-8

Dec 5-10

Dec 27-28

Jan 21-24

Feb 24-28

Benigno Aquino

47

46.2

44 42 36

Manuel Villar

20

27

33 35 34

Joseph Estrada

12 16 15 13 15

Gilbert Teodoro

3

4.6

5 4 6

Ed Villanueva

1

1.1

1 2 3

Richard Gordon

0.5

0.9

0.5 2 2

Jamby Madrigal

0.4 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.1

PULSE ASIA

Oct 22-30 Dec 8-10 Jan 22-26 Feb 21-25

Benigno Aquino

44 45 37 36

Manuel Villar

19 23 35 29

Joseph Estrada

11 19 12 18

Gilbert Teodoro

2 5 5 7

Ed Villanueva

1 1 2 2

Richard Gordon

__ 1 1 1

Jamby Madrigal

__ __ 0.5 0.3

VICE PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES

SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS

Nov 4-8 Dec 5-10 Jan 21-24 Feb 24-28

Mar Roxas

31 43 49 45

Loren Legarda

__ 32 28 28

Jejomar Binay

__ 10 16 17

Edu Manzano

__ 3 2 3

B. Fernando

__ 2 2 2

Perfecto Yasay

__ 0.1 0.4 0.4

PULSE ASIA

Oct 22-30 Dec 8-10 Jan 22-26 Feb 21-25

Mar Roxas

37 39 47 43

Loren Legarda

23 37 28 27

Jejomar Binay

13 14 13 15

Edu Manzano

__ 2 2 2

B. Fernando

1 2 2 4

Perfecto Yasay

__ __ 1 1

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MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

Politics

MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

1 Comment 07 March 2010

By Randy David

In more ways than one, Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar and Erap Estrada—the current front-runners in the 2010 presidential race—represent the three distinct faces of Philippine politics. Aquino draws heavily from the charisma of his illustrious parents. Villar banks on the power of his personal wealth. And Estrada continues to rely on his movie hero charm. They also embody, respectively, the three dominant institutions that shape political fortunes in our society: the family, the economy, and the mass media. Each one of them brings to politics a different kind of admission ticket—lineage for Noynoy, purchasing power for Manny, and star appeal for Erap. READ FULL STORY.

IN PHOTO: Manny Villar

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2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

Politics

2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

2 Comments 24 January 2010

By Joe Rivera

This coming national election in the Philippines will not be an ordinary one. While a successor to incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be crowned, the election can also be a prelude to a possible shift to a parliamentary system of government if Arroyo wins her congressional seat in Pampanga and becomes the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. READ FULL STORY.

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LEADERSHIP CHANGES AND UNCERTAINTY IN 2010

Politics

LEADERSHIP CHANGES AND UNCERTAINTY IN 2010

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Isagani de Castro Jr.    

The Philippines will see changes in political leadership in 2010, with an opposition president and vice-president likely to take over by noon of June 30, 2010. However, the political transition is paved with a lot of uncertainty brought about by an untested poll automation technology and most voters still unfamiliar with the process. READ FULL STORY.

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