Playing Politics


By Oliver Geronilla


Ask the children around you what they know about Bulan politics. I’m dead certain that you’d get the same answer that my childhood friends and I used to give: it’s all about the bigwigs plus their phalanx of entertainers and never about the nonentities.

Not a bad answer. At least they, or should I say we, know their names and the good and the bad things associated with them. What worries me is that these innocent children might have the notion that politics is all about these politicians, the external and internal struggles that they face, and how they paint reality according to their own world.

But why be bothered by these kids when they have no direct stake in the upcoming local election?

Well, we were all once like them. And we knew how amusing it was when election seasons kicked in. There were endless sources of entertainment to look forward to. Political junkets made us feel like we’re in a circus where music, dance, and other similar tricks were dime a dozen.

We didn’t care; we just took pleasure in all these jollities which went on and on like eternity. Then without us noticing it, the time came when we could start exercising our right to vote. Sadly, we’re no longer amused with their old tricks. But…oh yes, we still remember the names that entertained us every election season. And lo and behold! They’re still part of the “numbers game.”

Of course, there are some variations. For instance, when I was 16, it was Mr. Guillermo De Castro who was at the helm; and now that I’m 31, it’s his wife who’s there. She’s running for office again, and many say that she will once again win.

I was told about the many fine accomplishments of the De Castros: they’ve done these and those and have made our town more attuned to the times. According to my high school classmates, the signs of progress are everywhere. In fact, they enumerated quite a lot. Good tidings, aren’t they?

Bulanenos won’t forget these things. For sure, such accomplishments can help the incumbent mayor win the race again. That’s a good track record that’s hard to beat and the best launch pad she can ever have.

Are these things due to her efforts and of those manning the LGU? Or is it because of what we call “concurrent development” which might result in progress trap if not properly carried out?

I think it’s mainly due to concurrent development wherein we don’t have much of a choice but to forge ahead; otherwise, we’d be facing problems that are difficult to solve due to lack of resources which can of course halt further progress. It does not really matter who is in control. Progress in our town is inevitable given the kind of people that we have, not because of the kind of politicians that we have.

Remove them from the office, and the whole state of affairs will continue. A new set of  leaders will come to the rescue, and things will get back to normal. No one is so indispensable.

The opposition members will certainly have the “burden of proof” for they have not proven anything substantial yet. They’ll be articulating their promises, their aspirations. And you and I know that these are the main fares of election banquets. Partake but never be fooled for most of them are just empty roughage meant to satiate us temporarily. Forewarned is forearmed.

The official campaign period for local posts next month is nothing more than what we call “cramming.” Political candidates make themselves busy with all kinds of sorties conceivable just to get the figures that they need to win the battle of bailiwicks.

Do Bulanenos still get amused with the candidates’ old tricks? What I know is that nowadays, people cast their votes not based on these last- minute efforts to make the electorate vote for them. They cast their votes based on how these candidates –novice or not–measure up to their expectations from childhood to the present.

That’s their gauge. No more, no less.

My question is: What are these expectations? Well, they come in full spectrum.

I’m no longer a kid, and I know what’s right and what’s wrong; who are sincere, and who are not. And election season is not really about entertainment and the bigwigs. It is about making the right choice.



3 thoughts on “Playing Politics

  1. Oliver,

    We all grew up with the notion that politics is about the politicians, some were good and some were bad. Only that the bad one seemed to have dominated all the time and they badly ruined the Philippines- more than all those typhoons, floods and landslides combined for they ruined the Filipino perception.

    Remember Marcos the dictator and plunderer, Estrada the gambler and drinker and Arroyo the opportunist and warlords breeder? If politics is all about entertainment, then it was and is all about bad entertainment, even very traumatic one like the recent Maguindanao massacre.

    So what are the expectations of a ruined perception? The same, I think. For people grew up with and have been made to believe the notion that some politicians are indispensable for their survival.

    We surely need good politicians but in the first place we need electoral reforms to change this rotten political system that we have since it hinders democratic growth and progress. Within a good system, good politicians would shine and do better, bad politicians would be at a loss- also in accordance with your “concurrent development” principle.

    Yes, in general, development (or progress) is a collective effort, not a product of a single constituent or leader. It is in the people and in the Zeitgeist or spirit of the time. This concurrent development within Asia, notably China, sets the pull or the momentum of growth of the localities within the whole region – in varying speed, naturally. But the pull is there.

    So Bulan is also being pulled by this pull of progress in the region. I have always believed that Bulan can only progress with time, that’s really the most logical way. So there is hope.

    Of course, we give credit to the works and accomplishments of our local leaders for these also contribute to this pull- as they themselves are being pulled by the greater principle. It’s just a question of the degree of sensitivities to this Zeitgeist among our leaders and these could either hasten (catalyze), slow down or even miss this momentum of growth.

    That’s why we need high quality and growth-sensitive leadership in the Philippines for this year. And electoral reforms.

    Thanks again for your interesting commentary!

    jun asuncion

    • Jun,

      You’ve made things as clear as a bell, and reading your comment can, without a shred of doubt, make Bulan observers put their thinking caps on.

      It’s just too bad that we’re far from our hometown to actually help change the course of politics that we decry. The only thing that we can do is to wield our “mighty pens” to institute change.

      For all the good things that my hometown has done for me, this is the best way I can give back: write and write and write to bring about change in the way we perceive politics.

      Well, at least we’re not out of step with the rest of the world. We. can. write. and. we. can. do. it. well.

      Carpe noctem!

      • Thanks Oliver. I had time last weekend to expound a little bit more your concept of change so I ended up with this new write- ups, again actually intended as a short reply to your comment. It ended up with a few more words after a few cups of coffee.

        It is actually a stripped down version of my original concept to avoid being academic. I wrote the Part I, for I wish that some readers might want to start writing the Part II.

        Again, pardon the errors, for as usual, editing comes after publication!

        Carpe diem!

        jun asuncion

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