Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama in the Philippines

I missed the live TV coverage of President Barack Obama's Inauguration last night.

After waiting around two hours for it (switching between CNN, Fox, and BBC), I found myself fighting vainly against what would become the irresistible pull of sleep.

I snored through the first black US President's inaugural address and now have to content myself with just reading the text of his speech.

It is a great speech and from the snippets being replayed on TV news, I can gather a sense of how truly thrilling his delivery was.

The question now on my mind is what this historic US Presidency will mean for the Philippines.

Being great at mimicking or aping whatever fad there is in the US, I am sure our own politicians will present us with their INNER OBAMA and certainly, they will find a way to make the masa lap it up or at least, make it seem that they are lapping it up.

Will the Philippine Presidential Elections in 2010 be like a talent show where the winner will be the candidate who can come up with the best imitation of Obama?

It was a joke then and still is now, but Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay referred to himself as the first Black Filipino Presidential candidate. He refered to himself as Jejoma and the joke got a few laughs before people got tired of it.

Other politicians who are eyeing the Philippine Presidency are trying to project an Obama-like image, with some blatantly claiming to represent change. From the top of my head I can cite at least Loren Legarda and her pagbabago TV Ad, Mar Roxas and his Oras na campaign (Our time has come), and perhaps even Chiz Escudero.

Survey frontrunners Vice President Noli de Castro and Senator Manny Villar haven't associated themselves or their looming candidacies with the message of change. De Castro is or was largely seen in TV ads hawking Pag-IBIG Fund (though it was unnecessary to spend tens of millions of pesos sourced from contributions of members on a tri-media campaign just to have his face all over the country). Villar crows about helping OFWs (about a few dozen out of the 8 million Filipinos that have sought employment abroad).

Bayani Fernando, the pink loving MMDA Chairman, was last seen on TV hanging on the barong sleeves of Former President Fidel Ramos. As to what this signifies is something that I have yet to decifer.

Former President Joseph Estrada is still peddling the idea of running again for the Presidency and it seems that this is gaining some traction in the surveys.

Given the way things are, I doubt if we will have a President like Obama with the way a great number of our people think about how the political game ought to be played.

Politics in the Philippines, for the most part, is not based on values or ideals but opportunism -- which some times is brazen and sometimes is well camouflaged as a sincere bid to help people out.

If there was someone among our politicians who is truly like Obama, I doubt if people will vote for him.

Filipinos in the Philippines love having it easy and having their way (even if it is the wrong way) about things. Filipinos here will vote for a politician depending on what they can get from the politician whether it's a few hundred pesos for voting for them or a job after they are elected or a fat government contract.

(More later, I have to give my kid a bath)

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