Step back, for the time being, from that specific example and regard the bigger contextual frame. We are a society imprisoned and impoverished by dynasty politics. A tiny handful of feudal clans and oligarchs own an astoundingly huge chunk of the Philippines’ capital base and, as such, rake in a scandalous pile of the national product. So it is not surprising that one of the most obvious “solutions” to reducing the crushing poverty that Filipinos suffer is to build a more egalitarian society — one where wealth is more equally-distributed and where the “playing field” for business is more level; i.e., open to competition from both foreign enterprise and small domestic players. One of the biggest roadblocks to seeing that vision through is the country’s entrenched business oligarchy. Unfortunately for Filipinos, the very oligarchs that block any effort to create that aspired-for egalitarianism also monopolise another key aspect of Philippine society — its politics. Look no further than the names now being thrown around in the lead-up to the 2016 elections. It’s a who’s-who of familiar names: Aquino, Binay, Roxas, and Poe. Well, okay, let’s add Escudero. And Cayetano even. Who gives a flying frig. The Philippine public — including its most eminent “thought leaders” — is lapping it all up and, in the process, shrinking the political discourse to an idiotically small square. Think outside that proverbial square, and you will find yourself outside of the range of chatter most Filipino pundits have tuned in their pointed ears to.
On those six names, Filipinos (led by those ‘thought leaders’ they are beholden to) are playing a girl’s game: matching primary colours. My grasp of college math is a bit rusty, but six names, I believe, yields about 30 pairs of possible combinations — what presidentiable speculators call “tandems”. That is, there are 30 possible ways these six bozos can pair themselves with one another. Because President BS Aquino cannot run for president again (but can run for Vice President), we can remove five of those possible pairs — those with PNoy running as president. So we’re left with 25 possible pairs. So far the leaders of this infantile “debate”, have explored three out of those 25 so far: Poe-Escudero, Binay-Poe and, recently, Binay-Roxas. There’s two years to go so there is still time to explore the remaining 22.
In essence, Filipinos and their “thought” leaders are spending their time toying around with six names that, in an irony that flies over their pointed heads, collectively embody the very singular fundamental problem of Philippine society.
So much for all the talk about ending political dynasties. And to think most Filipinos see their politicians as the sole cause of their wretchedness. The above thought experiment alone demonstrates the core nature of the Philippines social cancer — the way even its most educated citizens think.
To be fair, a National “Debate” focused on pairing six dynasties into a lineup of “tandems” over the remaining two years of BS Aquino’s term is likely to take up 99 percent of Philippine society’s stunted cognitive faculties. No less than a neural boost like the one Lucy (played by Scarlett Johansson) experienced in the film Lucy can elevate the quality of this “debate” to anything above simian levels. So let’s not hold our breath hoping for a debate on the issues and platforms anytime soon, plez.
Back to Bongbong Marcos then. For now, he really seems to have no chance of being president in an environment where such is the “debate”. Because he is the son of reviled parents, he is severely handicapped even before he begins such a journey. And because he only has his ideas for the future to table if he decides to set forth on that journey, what he has on offer is unlikely to resonate with the Philippines’ famously vacuous electorate.
After all, the good senator did say, “[…] there’s no use being a president if you’re not going to be a good one…”
And that is why Filipinos need not be worried about a Bongbong Marcos presidency anytime soon. It is unlikely to happen in a country like the Philippines.
[Photo courtesy Sydney Morning Herald.]