No Finale From The Fat Lady

It has been 180 days ago since the road show began on December 8, 2006. And now after the day of vote casting, we begin the painful stage of vote counting. The journey as the courting was an event in itself, surpassing the destination of final choosing. But in the counting we have the freebie of some catharsis. We root for some favorites and vicariously enjoy the trepidation of the underdogs. Captain Trillanes gave us the surprise of our lives. He filled up and placed some meaning to our quiet desperation and meandering conversations the day after.

After the courtship, the shift of the contest to the election agency and the courts.

This again is an eyeful spectacle. Electoral contests lag until the next elections. We see winners proclaimed on the wee hours of the term enough to change the portraits hanging on the walls. The whole yards of three years look just 100-meter dash, over and over again, until we realize we lost a generation. By next year, we celebrate the 22nd anniversary of People Power.

We get rid of a homegrown dictator, and we reap a thousand mini tyrants. One human rights lawyer said he despised martial law because of the physical presence of thousands of soldiers in various ranks mixed with the population. In other words, martial power is felt in the town talipapa, in public transport, in media, in practically the whole gamut of human activities. The dictator however is safely cordoned off in Malacanang, away from the line of vision of the public. Upon the dismantling of the autocracy, we see the mushrooming of petty autocrats, loaded with billions of local taxes, pork barrel, and internal revenue allotments. But we see them in the barangay halls, municipios, capitolios, and city halls.

People Power gave us a glimpse, however fleeting, of nationhood. Inexplicably, the horizon was replaced with the narrow tribal, clannish, familial vision. While we relish the security of the familiar like the family, it becomes an economic endeavor.

The ensuing elections were transformed into pompous family reunions. The biblical exhortation of the man (shorn of kinship) for the people is lost and replaced by the son/daughter/father/mother for the family. Broadsheets chronicle the saga of family struggles. Dynastism is an aberration in a poor country. Being an aberration, like jay walking or smoking in public or polygamy or female mutilation, it needs corrective legislation. it simply does not wash to say that ultimately it’s the people who decide.

A sampler is the fight for supremacy in Davao del Norte between the Floirendos and the del Rosarios who are close relations. It looks like a Floirendo scion was playing coy in making his run for the governorship. On the other hand a scion of the del Rosarios made himself available for the position way ahead of the Floirendo’s feeler. As is typical in families speaking in gestures and assume that every member understood the message loud and clear, courtesies like preference or equity of seniority give way. It looks like the del Rosarios have to defer where the Floirendos, being matanda sa dugo, cast moist eyes: the governorship. A columnist took notice and hammered away at the family feud. Naturally, we become spectators to the kins’ squabbles. What is good for the family is good for Davao del Norte, and so on and so forth just like in Makati, San Juan, Quezon, Cavite, Cebu, the Ilocos.

The trouble with dynasties and this is lost to our people, is any challenge against the leadership or fresh ideas from outside the circle of the family, is an affront against the family. The inequity aggravates our national development because the family holds the public resources in trust. It becomes even more criminal when the family with strong belief in destiny appropriates the resources as part of the family heirloom.

Imperial Manila is now a myth. The 1987 Charter is nothing but the emasculation of the presidency. There are many provisions that limit the power of the Executive. With the local autonomy act local leaders are surprised by the magnitude of their prerogatives. There is more preference over local elective posts now than a congressional seat. Before congressmen were revered as local leaders. Now it’s the city mayors and governors. In 1992, for instance, two congressmen from Quezon with national prominence, Benny Marquez and Oca Santos, went down to contest the governorship in Quezon. Local politicians fortify their grassroots organization for any eventuality. Bets for national posts woo these datus. The enviable organization acquires monetary equivalent in the Asset section of the Balance Sheet. There is this story in Quezon in the late 50s and early 60s where the cabezera is reserved for the deputado. The gobernador had to move his chair alongside the alcaldes, once the deputado, who came in usually late to stress his importance in the heirarchy, showed up in a political caucus.

The morning after of May 14 we heard Edgardo Angara confidently telling the TV anchors that he is certain to land on the 3rd or 4th slot in the senatorial slate. He said that he owed this to his track record in the Senate, and went on ticking his legislative record. He was cut short by the male anchor on why he failed to back up the law on electoral computerization and avoid the same agony of tedious voting and exasperating physical count. If he commiserated with the teachers why not computerize and lighten the load of the tired, hungry, and sleepy mentors. Angara pretended to miss the question.

In 2004, the President declared that never the elections be done manually again and vowed the immediate use of current technology. That was three years ago. Angara was elected senator in 2001. He engineered the entry of FPJ in the 2004 elections to scare the bejeesus out of GMA.

In all likelihood it was all part of mending fences with an old friend. Angara saved some of his scalp from lawyering when he joined Gloria’s Team Unity. His winning again is a good preparation for his son, Sonny Angara, or give or take, Bella, Baler’s governor and deputy, respectively, to inherit his throne in 2010 banking on name recall.

On the other hand 45M of us for six long months get amused from the fiesta, waste a day agonizing in the oven-like precinct, dissipate another sixty days on who the next presidential wannabes are.

In the meanwhile, building the blocks of nationhood is put on hold. The sage was right when he said that “time goes you say? Nope, time stays. We go!”

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