No Reputation to Protect

What if Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV declares straight to my face:

You have no reputation to protect.

What else should I say?

I am praying that it would not happen to me. And now I am still hoping that the Filipino nation had not heard such arrogant line. In silence, I have entertained another hope – that Sonny Trillanes hadn’t become (elected) as senator of this country. (My apologies to the your Senator and his family.)

But what if Sen. Trillanes was our god – all knowing, all powerful?

What the world would become if Trillanes, our god, tell us that we don’t have “reputation to protect”?

Let us give thanks to our Lord that some people hadn’t wanted to teach. Because if the former military man, Sen. Trillanes is teaching our children and in one of his inquiry tell a young boy that he has no honor and reputation?

The Philippine Senators, in their celebrated investigations, had long been shaking us – emotionally and mentally.

I asked one friend who have witnessed a senate investigation of the past congress. “It feels like you’re grilled”, my friend told.

What had our Senators accomplished so far from their physically, emotionally, and mentally draining investigations and inquiry?

I have nothing against on Senate investigations. It may be necessary – I am not sure enough. But I am hoping the our Senators accord respect to all people they have invited.

When Sen. Trillanes thrown his hard hitting line: You have no reputation to protect. He had not only traumatize us but had also caused pain (and destruction) to intricate social web (of family and friends).

Who has the reputation?

Can our Senators, specifically Sen. Antonio Trillanes, generously share who still got reputation?

Everyone deserves respect because everyone has honor and dignity. Who are we to tell someone that his “reputation” already gone?

What’s next?

I learn (by heart) the great lessons on the stories from the Senate. The lessons from Senate investigations – from the melodramatic acts to antagonistic verbal attacks – to the famous line of Sen. Trillanes, you have no reputation to protect can be enough.

Should we hurt each other more?

Lessons from the story “Piece of String”

I remember a story “The Piece of String”. It was a story about a peasant who was accused of stealing. He was too disturbed that he wanted to get everyone believe that he really hadn’t stolen the pocketbook but has picked a piece of string instead.

But who will believe a peasant like him? For a poor man like Maitre Hauchecome (of the story) reputation and honor was more important. Perhaps, more important than sparkling stones and metals.

Hauchecome went out of his way to explain to people that he was innocent and that he only picked a piece of string. But he got mockery, insults!

You can read (re-read if you have heard this in your literature class) this classic from Guy de Maupassant by searching, The Piece of String.

Interesting enough! The last part of the story says,

Toward the end of December he took to his bed.

He died in the first days of January, and in the delirium of his death struggles he kept claiming his innocence, reiterating:

“A piece of string, a piece of string–look–here it is, M’sieu the Mayor.”

Perhaps the story could have different plot and characters if Guy de Maupassant lived with us today. What do you think?

An Election without Vote Buying

An election in the Philippines without vote buying happened recently. Thanks to the people who continue to believe and continue to have faith. Thanks to God.

I used to believe that vote buying cannot be eradicated unless people are totally wiped out. I’m felt so sorry for this wrong thoughts.

When I saw the video on the case of Calidngan. I felt the shame to myself. There was a moment of guilt. Then, I was inspired and felt blessed.

Calidngan is a mountain barangay nine kilometers away from Carcar City, Cebu and 40 km away from Cebu City. The main way of living there is farming. The people in Calidngan prove that an election without vote buying is possible. Please watch this video.

Small beginnings – The Calidngan Story Part 1

Small beginnings – The Calidngan Story Part 2

Let’s continue to believe on small beginnings. Now tell me, it is possible that we can have an election without vote buying? Yes, it is. Yes we can.

Go out and vote on May 10

In less than 30 days we will go out and vote. Will you vote?

Most of the people I know say yes but many others say maybe and some no. All of them have reasons.

Many of us are sick and tired of the vicious cycle of Philippine politics. We elect new officials because we want change. We want election because we want change; and the people we have just elected are not satisfactory. This will be repeated and seems never ends.

The Philippine elections have always been intense political exercise, journalist Sheila Coronel observes.

As the call for change was highly audible before the start of election 2010 period, many Filipinos expect some changes on the way we conduct our elections. I personally expect that we shall actively discuss on platforms rather than personal issues; that we will tackle more on real social issues rather than the usual mudslinging and personality assassination.

I am dismayed because the 2010 election is still the same as the 2004, and 2007 elections. These are the elections that I have closely observed. Just the same. In fact, this election is worse as more trash are thrown, more dirty tricks than before.

If this is the case, should we stop electing officials? Should we lose our faith to election?

We should not because in our democratic society, it is during election that we are given equal rights. Whether you are rich or poor, schooled or unschooled; you have only one vote.

A very good friend, Novell Tagailo has a striking line. He said:

We are the reason, why there is an election, they, the candidates are not the star. We are the principal characters here. Let’s take this privilege, use this right and exercise our duty.

He is right. The principal characters during elections are the voters. And the power are within the voters.

As voters, let us use this power to start the change that we are dreaming for.

Aquino and Villar: too much on mudslinging, tell us your platforms

The two leading candidates are the two leading mudslingers in the 2010 election campaign.

Before the campaign and after weeks of campaigning , we heard many exchanges of harsh words, intrigues, gossips, and many other trivial things than the most important which is the platform of government they are planning to.

To Noynoy Aquino, what is your platform? Why I always hear you blaming, ranting, intriguing than talking about your vision for this country. It seems to me that I am looking at the a grade 5 student who catch his teacher’s attention by always shouting that everyone in class cheats!

It’s not bad for a smart grade 5 (if he is really smart). But not good for a man who seeks to become the leader of over 90 million people. It’s not bad to condemn but if you make it a habit and make it a loop – that’s not good.

To Manny Villar, how will you realize that message in your advertisements that you envision to end poverty in this country? We would like to hear that than your jingles. We would like to hear real plans.

The 2010 election campaign is much the same as 2004 campaign. I still see the campaign as a tari-tari (cockfight); it’s still like a horsefight.

While the word change become the buzzword, I don’t see any change at all.

Bias in media’s 2010 campaign coverage?

There is an active discussion on how media cover the 2010 elections. Even before the campaign period, there were already talks that some journalists, and even media network are bias to certain candidates.

I have noticed this too. And this practically happened in 2004 election coverage. Everything has just been replicated, and worsen I think.

I did not stop myself to share my observations to my Facebook friends. As expcted, I got different reactions especially when I mentioned the word bias.

The word bias is bias in itself. It is very difficult to prove. But it can be easily felt by viewers and readers. Bias is a highly disputed word.

A good friend reminded me that I might have found certain journalists as bias because the story angle is not favorable to my candidate. In part, he is right. But of course I should not be complianing if I feel there is a balance treatment. Again, the balance treatment that I mention an equally disputed word.

This reminds me of Cesar Baldicantos, the editor of now defunct Tingog Misamis. In a talk to reporters and student interns, he told the story of the frogs in the well. It was really relevant so let me share it here.

The frogs in the well

There were frogs inside the dried well. They were talking how the sky really looked like. It was daytime so they saw the clear blue sky. Some of them believed that the sky was more than just a blue thing, so they initiated an investigation.

They asked one frog to climbed to see what the sky really looked like. When the frog came back he told the group that the sky was not really a circular blue thing but a very wide blue space with some white cotton and foamy things on it.

It was unbelievable to other frogs so they sent another one. When the second frog came back, he told that the sky was really very wide but not really a blue one. It looked like a darkened space with some part looked like bloody painting.

As expected, other frogs doubted. The third frog was sent to investigate further. When the third frog came back, it was furious because the things he heard from other frogs were different from what he saw. The sky was actually a big black space dotted with sparking white thing with a big white circular disk.

This cause heated argument among the frogs inside the dried well.

What is the relevance?

Well, you know that each of the frog was telling the truth. The truths they knew were just not enough.

We can learn many lessons from the frogs. And I think this reminds you of the story, The Blind men and the Elephant.

There differences are that our journalists are not frogs nor the blind men. Of course they are neither omnipotent to see everything. But they know how to play with information and present them to us meaningfully. That’s their profession and that’s a very noble profession.

Why I am saying there is bias? It is because my biased belief is strongly pointing that the reporters who are reporting bias reports know that they are favoring something or someone. I can understand it if there is no spinning of information. And if the cause of that bias is human limitation.

Another point that I wish to convey is the disclosure of media. This will surely stop the accusation if being bias. For example, some TV networks and newspaper are claiming that their news is balanced; that they are for the truth; but their reports are highly favorable to a particular candidate and political party. So where is objectivity there? If they only reveal to public that they are supporting that candidate, why should the public accuse them as bias?

I contribute to Blogwatch.ph. All contributors are asked to disclose political affiliations and whom they are supporting (not necessarily campaigning for). The reason is very logical. It help readers to intellectually sift information. No one can claim that Blogwatch is bias towards one candidate. Here is my disclosure at Blogwatch.ph.

What we want?

We simply want one thing from our media during this election coverage. No spin. No bias.

Of course I know that this is not simple as it is. Media also need to survive. Media has owners and some owners are political backers. So what can an ordinary reporter do when the owner is wanting something else? This is a very difficult question and less-tackled one.

You can accuse me of being bias here if I am the only person who tells you about this observation (on media bias). There are lot of us. But please check also why some journalists and networks are not accused of being bias. I think, it makes sense to ask why FROG A is tagged as bias and why FROG B is not tagged as bias.

But again and again, we are not frogs and we are not blind men. And we don’t have elephants here. We have many dried wells. Share your thoughts!

Gibo Teodoro to Cebu supporters: Uphold the principles of positive campaigning

Gilbert ‘Gibo’ Teodoro, Jr. always remember to remind his supporters and friends to continue to uphold the principles of positive campaigning. During his proclamation rally, Gibo Teodoro vowed to launch positive campaign. And he is really doing it.

Gibo Teodoro. Photo courtesy of Melvin Alcarez Banzon. Used with permission.

In his recent visit to Cebu, Gibo Teodoro told his Cebuano supporters.

I reiterate my stand once again that this election campaign is […] run by us on a positive note without any negativism as much as possible except to answer. […] We know our platforms; we know our capabilities. Our track record is before the people to scrutinize. We don’t need to bring somebody else down to bring ourselves up.

As the  former Defense Secretary delivered this message, supporters (mostly wearing green T-shirts) gave him the loudest applause.

I was stunned with what I’ve heard. He is indeed not the usual pulitiko that I know. Gibo’s message was more than enough to inspire everyone at the times when severe negative campaining (mud-slinging) continues.

Gilbert Teodoro was in Cebu last Sunday to meet and greet his supporters, the Green Team Cebu (G1BO2010) (a group that supports his candidacy), and other groups and individuals.

Upon hearing him, I proved once again that we are on the right path and never been wrong in choosing Gibo to be the next president to lead the country.

Negative campaigning as way to win in Philippine elections

In Philippine politics, negative campaigning is synonymous to pamulitika. It is very easy to tell if someone is namumulitika or not. Characterized by personal attacks, tagging of opponents (as evil, corrupt, dishonest) and doing other dirty tricks; negative campaigning has always been believed as way to win an election in the country.

We are used to negative campaigning. So, it is no longer surprising if many candidates are running negative campaigning (read as “hate” campaigning) as way to win in 2010 elections.

But not Gilbert Teodoro. He has faith on positive way of getting support and votes. As a presidential aspirant who advocated for national reconciliation, Gibo focuses on his platform of government and avoid ‘down-grading’ someone. Many of those who observed the 2010 election campaign notice this.

Negative campaining can be anywhere, not only in the Philippines

In the age of online media, negative campaigning in the country worsen. For example, pictures are edited making the candidate look either horrible or hilarious. Attacks, personality assassination are shared through social networks, micro-blogs, emails, and blogs. Because of worsening negative campaign strategy, the real issues, articulation of platform of government are always less tackled.

Enough on negative campaigning

Filipinos are now sick and tired of negative campain tricks. I am one of those who wishes that election discussions shall be focused on crucial social, economic, and security issues, and on how a candidate views and addresses these.

So what is positive campaigning?

Positive campaign focuses on platform of government. It is putting political bickering in the back alley; it is getting through the election without division; it is carrying this election on positive notes. Teodoro told these as reported by ABS-CBN News reporter Karen Reyes-Caringal.

Supporters of Gilbert Teodoro, Jr. has a clear definition of what a positive campaign is through the Manifesto for Positive Campaigning.

Part of the manifesto says:

We, the supporters, volunteers and friends of former Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro, vow to uphold the principles of POSITIVE CAMPAIGNING this election season.

We recognize, we believe, we affirm:

  • that our VOTE is sacred
  • that this is a CAMPAIGN that does not stop with our candidate, nor does it end on Election Day
  • that we align with POSITIVITY rather than negativity
  • that we are in this endeavor because we love our COUNTRY, and we are eager to find our true place in the world
  • that the ENVIRONMENT is the most pressing underlying factor behind the exigency of our present cause
  • that GOD, or a Higher Power, inspires us in all these things

You can read the the full text of Manifesto for Positive Campaigning in a Facebook account and in an article of the same title published in Filipino Voices.

What can we do?

Whether you support Gilbert Teodoro or not, you can take part in encouraging positive campaign. There many simple things you can do. If you got an email with horrible and hilarious article or picture of a candidate, try not to forward it. If you see a ‘hate’ video or evil-looking pictures of candidates shared on Facebook, try not to share it.

If you hear rumors and you know it’s a fabricated one or just part of dirty tricks in election campaigning, simply try not to re-echo those things.

Simple things count!

Photos by Melvin Alcarez Banzon and Anya Rodriguez Unchuan. Used with permissions.

Noynoy Aquino’s promises

Sen. Benigno Aquino III, in his TV ad, promised: Hindi ako magnanakaw. To which a friend commented, well not now!

Just for today, I don’t believe Noynoy will steal taxpayer’s money once elected as president. I am not sure tomorrow, of course. But I have doubt if the people around him won’t steal. Remember that the people around Noynoy’s candidacy (mostly) are the same people around previous leader. I think you have hints on what I mean to say.

Promises. Promises. Noynoy’s promise don’t make different from a seasoned politician. We hear the same thing.

I don’t seriously take his TV ad promise. It sounds like a claim of a herbal medicine to cure all disease in this world.

Noynoy, in response to pressures about issues in Hacienda Luisita, promised to distribute the land to poor farmers. Promises. Promises. Another promise. It sounds good. Thanks, but seemed to be unbelievable. If former President Cory Aquino had not convinced herself and her family to distribute the land through her very own Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), then what can we expect from Noynoy?

As Senator, did he voted in favor of CARP extension? And as congressman, he did not do anything about land distribution nor help the farmers. Promises can be empty, that is!

I mean to be light today. Actually, I just read the news, Aquino promises to quit smoking if he wins from Manila Standard. Hilarious! Why did he give conditions?

So this means, if he lose in this election, he continues to smoke? Well, that’s none of my business. Whether he will quit not or tomorrow or when elected, I don’t really care. He is big enough to know his responsibilities as leader. That is if he knows.

Does Noynoy says, vote for me so that I will quit smoking if I won? Because his recent statement sounds like that. The same Manila Standard report says,

Aquino said the pressures of the campaign would be different from those he would face as President, saying he could deal with pressures in office by “doing the right thing.”

I wonder if he is “doing the right thing” now. Hala!

This is what I have always told my friends, even in small things, the acts and words, and reactions, of presidential candidates can give us enough hint and picture of what kind of president he would be.

As voter, I can promise to “do the right thing”. Promises. Promises. Let’s make many promises.

So, what is your promise?