Monday, May 20, 2013
SOME of the residents of Lualhati Barangay just in front of Mansion House went home from Manila and the provinces just to vote. In fact, election is another family reunion for most of us. And so it was a shock to them when they went down the stairs to Wright Park and into Rizal Elementary School that rainy Monday night only to find that they cannot vote. Their ballots were sent to Compostela Valley instead.
It was another shock to them when they watched on TV the Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes that this was no failure of elections as there was no goons or guerrillas who burned their ballots or prevented them inside the classroom. it was just dumb luck that their ballots were sent to Mindanao.
Some of the Lualhati residents were told to come back the next day. Another shock to them when they were told that their votes won't matter. It was too small to affect the mayoral, vice-mayoral and council races.
Clearly they were disenfranchised but, to borrow the favorite term of the elected mayor, we cannot do anything.
At least with the Compostela Valley, their vote will be needed and a special election was scheduled for them.
The SWS and other surveys will not do a survey about this but many voters (like the voters of Lualhati Barangay in the 2016 presidential elections probably) did not vote last Monday because of their fear of PCOS.
Many are afraid that their ballots will not be read by the PCOS machines. They are afraid that the information in the particular ballot they filed will be traced back to them so that they would know how you voted. Many are afraid that their ballots were, as the new term would have it, pre-shaded.
Fear of technology and the unknown is not strange to many Filipinos; that's why they don't have cellphones and Facebook accounts. That's why they are afraid of PCOS.
They find it easier to have manual voting. They preferred the long nights spent watching each ballot being read and marked on blackboards, then filed by the teachers and then sent back to the ballot boxes.
Who can blame them? The first time PCOS was introduced the CF cards were corrupted and it took a week to replace them all. Many said that gave the "brokers" enough time to corrupt the elections.
This time, 200 PCOS were corrupted. And 200 out of 70,000 may be a credible enough margin of error but still that is 200,000 votes assuming it is 1,000 votes per PCOS.
Although these were replaced, the suspicion of technology cheating remains. At least with the Kilong Elementary School in Sagada, when the SIM card for transmission was busted, the voters were told to fill out their ballots as usual and trust the teachers to not tamper them and they will count the ballots manually.
With other towns, some villagers were told they have to come back when the problem is fixed and they simply did not come back.
Also the centralized national counting was stalled because of poor transmission. Many started commenting in Facebook and other social media that "cooking" has started.
Filipinos have been cynical about our elections because of massive cheating. Of course with computerized elections, counting time has been drastically reduced and the window for corruption has also been lessened. But as they say, the chance for grand cheating is now easier and more systematic.
We can say that with PCOS, winning has been faster. But winning the faith of the Filipino voters will take a much longer time.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
The Semiotics of Baguio's Political Posters
I decided to walk from the house to work, a little more than a kilometer long, to look at the political posters along the way.
Now there are 66 official candidates in Baguio, including 50 councilors. Only a few posted in New Lucban and T. Alonzo Sts. I only saw a few in Magsaysay Ave up to Otek St. and most I saw at the common poster area in T. Alonzo.
I did not help in any of the posters and I am doing this out of style and layout so please no "letter to the editor" from a former editor please.
Before I start my tsugi, let us bring into our minds the sociolinguistic profile of Baguio. This is what I got: Almost half (44.5 percent) of the household population in Baguio City classified themselves as Ilocano. About 20.4 percent considered themselves as Tagalog, and 11 percent as Kankanai/Kankaney/Kankanaey. Other ethnic groups included Pangasinan/Pangalatok (4.8 percent), and Ibaloi (3.9 percent).
So the safest language to use in your poster seems to be Ilocano. I only saw two Ilocano posters though. Many are in Filipino and English.
Many of the posters use the standard layout: The usual huge face on the left, the position and the party on the right and the motto below.
Bilog did not encircle his face although his close-cropped hair almost resembled a circle. Olowan put his half body on his poster instead of his face, his "Wan Olo" only, which he used to do then. Maybe because the two are veterans and no need any mnemonics anymore.
Many of the Timpuyog candidates carried their whole slate on their posters which made them unselfish probably but they lost out on selling themselves.
The two top honchos of Timpuyog raised both their right hands, with that of Vergara spread out so that the Burnham palm readers can read his political future easily.
He used the motto " Wala Nang Iba" which means he is the only one of his kind, folks. It is also a tacit put-down on the Independent Baguio Alliance or the IBA, which is a loose alliance of Baguio politicians as well. Is that still around?
Domogan, I think, recycled his "TT" tag or the "tried and tested" which is just as well because he is indeed running again. But a caveat there as voters may love to recycle their trash but hate recycling political tra.. whatever.
Because look at that! His rival used the motto: Sukatan ti Zigzag a Panagturay. This, of course, refers to the now famous/infamous speech of PNoy at Burnham where he criticized the "zigzag governance" of the two incumbents.
Aliping was less confrontational, putting only ".1" beside his face. Those who are Number 1 alphabetically should exploit their being Number 1 but sadly, no one in Baguio did. that ".1" in Aliping of course refers to the circle you have to shade but if you are not wary, you might get the wrong signal.
Bobby Ortega of the Ortega Clan of La Union is back to Baguio with his half-body and the number 1 on his right hand (but he is not Number 1 in the balota. Hmmm). His motto is "For Peace AND Order" with the "AND" a forceful memento of his Bungo days. I was thinking why didn't he use instead an Xray of his face to show his bungo?
The two better posters layout-wise that I saw so far were that of Art Alladiw and Ron Perez. Alladiw had his side view and his qualifications ALL CAPS. Ron used the green layers nicely.
Gaerlan had his round face and the motto "Ganap na Ginhawa para a Lahat." What a comforting thought but that's not what comes to me when i see Gaerlan. Maybe it's the use of alliteration (the G sound) that he was gunning for.
Phillian was the most flowery of them all with flowers all over her poster and a not-so-focused picture. "Basta Weygan-Allan Mapagtelkan" is a better motto than his other poster with "Serving Baguio." And that other poster, Manang ha? Ang haba ng hair mo.
Tabanda used the WIFE as acronym for her motto. But then being a wife is not what you would think of Lulu as well.
I like Wasing's e-Asing-mo although I don't really know what he meant. His other BIDA stablemate, Perfecto Itliong Jr, should avoid the stencil or the dot-shading because his face will really resemble a full moon if he does that.
Derek's motto "Matatag na Pundasyon Para sa Susunod na Henerasyon" does rhyme but it's too long. I like the looking-at-the-clouds-where-hi
Mandapat has a winner with the "Ibalik at Iboto ang Karapat-dapat. Mandapat" because it is a mnemonic and it rhymes.
Datuin's Sa Turismo Tayo ay Panalo" would have been better if he was not facing the camera full front. Instead he should have posed like the Baguio Lion to remind the voters that he was a Lion.
Roam Manuel's checkered posters freaked me out. They were coupon bond sized because they were Xeroxed and really hand-made. This congressional candidate then scribbled weird words which reminds me of artist Mark Tandoyog's work. Check them out.
Maybe the next week's I pass through other streets and see the other posters. But as of now, it was worth looking at these exhibits.
Part II of The Semiotics of Political Posters
I have with me a fan from one of the senatorial candidates, which I use to fan myself when it's hot and when I want a laugh. This is a fan by Tingting Conjuanco which have her and daughter Mykee Cojuanco-Jaworski in old-style terno in an almost embrace. Tingting is still beautiful after all these years and Mykee, I noticed, incorporated a horse head in her signature. How cute!
Except for the terrible walis tingting with a yellow ribbon. Of course, I got it: name recall. But still ridiculous. Does she give away walis tingting in her sorties?
If there's one local party which should have used walis tingting, it should have been the Timpuyog ti Baguio. The logic is: one stick can easily be broken but hundreds of them together is unbreakable. But that was already taken by Mondax's "Timpuyog ti Iit."
A study of common posters showed that at least in the US, most of the posters used the red, white and blue of the American flag because of the voters are patriotic and put flags on their lawns.
Filipino politicians have red, white, blue and yellow to choose but almost no one do so. They have party colors: red, white and blue for KBL, predominantly blue and yellow for LDP, Lakas has all the flag colors, PDP Laban has black and yellow, NP has red, white and blue and LP has yellow. There are new colors though. Risa Hontiveros also uses purple to how that she favors the RH Law.
The anti-RH should use the pontifical red but they don't. Nancy Binay wears pink in her posters and a perfect smile. Perfect where you show your teeth and the whites of your eyes otherwise... Villar, although she is NP, should not be seen in green because it is the color of nursing, a sector she already infuriated.
Timpuyog uses green though it gets so boring because many of their background scenes also show green so that they look likes ads for rubbing alcohols. Again, Datuin should not wear red on his green shirt because it will remind voters of Christmas.
Mark Go is yellow all over his poster. Which puts him in a conundrum because "Yellow" means "caution" and Go should be "green." So that symbol is out.
The US study also recommends strong types of fonts. So no Comic Sans even if you are a comedian like Tito Sotto. Bagbagen should have used strong type fonts of his name breaking a wall but he didn't do so. Bam Aquino used the exploding frame for his poster though.
There is also a penchant of putting the Baguio City Hall in the background in some of the posters. It is a way of saying, I will be there soon. But the photo should be inside the mayor's office or the council hall. Otherwise, you're just like someone getting a cedula.
But Aliping was more imposing by putting his whole body inside the Congress. It makes him a giant figure and if you noticed, his cowboy boots is stepping on the roster where those congressmen named "V" were staying. Ha ha ha.
And anyway, shouldn't Balisong also feature a balisong in his poster just like Tingting? Or give away balisongs? That would be fun.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
30 things to tell a book snob
It is World Book Night next week and World Book Night is a good thing, because it is fun and helps get books into the hands of people who wouldn't otherwise read them.
And people should read books. Books are good.
But many are intimidated. One of the reasons people are put off reading is snobbery. You know, the snobbery that says opera and lacrosse and Pinot Noir and jazz fusion and quails' eggs and literary fiction are for certain types of people and them alone?
There is something innately snobby about the world of books. There is the snobbery of literary over genre, of adult books over children's, of seriousness over comedy, of reality over fantasy, of Martin Amis over Stephen King. And it is unhealthy. If books ever die, snobbery would be standing over the corpse.
So here is my message to book snobs:
1. People should never be made to feel bad about what they are reading. People who feel bad about reading will stop reading.
2. Snobbery leads to worse books. Pretentious writing and pretentious reading. Books as exclusive members clubs. Narrow genres. No inter-breeding. All that fascist nonsense that leads commercial writers to think it is okay to be lazy with words and for literary writers to think it is okay to be lazy with story.
3. If something is popular it can still be good. Just ask Shakespeare. Or the Beatles. Or peanut butter.
4. Get over the genre thing. The art world accepted that an artist could take from anywhere he or she wanted a long time ago. Roy Lichtenstein could turn comic strips into masterpieces back in 1961. Intelligence is not a question of subject but approach.
5. It is harder to be funny than to be serious. For instance, this is a serious sentence: 'After dinner, Alistair roamed the formal garden behind this unfamiliar house, wishing he had never betrayed Lorelei's trust.' That took me eight seconds to write. And yet I've been trying to write a funny sentence for three hours now, and I'm getting hungry.
6. Many of the greatest writers have been children's writers.
7. It is easy to say something to people who are exactly like you. A bigger challenge lies in locating that universal piece of all of us that wants to be wowed, and brought together by a great story. There isn't a human in the world who wouldn't enter the Sistine Chapel and not want to look up. Does that make Michelangelo a low-brow populist?
8. It does not matter about who the author is. The only thing a book should be judged on is the words inside.
9. Martin Amis once moaned on the radio that there were too many writers talking across the table to their readers rather than down to them. This was the point I went off Martin Amis.
10. You don't have to be serious about something to be serious about something.
11. You don't have to be realistic to be true.
12. You are one of 7,000,000,000 people in the world. You can never be above all of them. But you can be happy to belong.
13. The only people who fear people understanding what they are saying are people who have nothing really to say.
14. Books are not better for being misunderstood, any more than a building is better for having no door.
15. Shakespeare didn't go to university, and spelt his name six different ways. He also told jokes. (Bad ones, true, but you can't knock him for trying.)
16. Avoiding plot doesn't automatically make you clever. (See: Greene, Tolstoy, Shakespeare.)
17. Freedom is a process of knocking down walls. Tyranny is a process of building them.
18. There can be as much beauty in short (words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters) as long. Sparrows fly higher than peacocks.
19. Snobs are suckers, because they have superficial prejudices.
20. The book I am least proud of, that I didn't work hard enough on, was my most ostentatiously highbrow one.
21. Reading a certain book doesn't make you more intelligent any more than drinking absinthe makes you Van Gogh. It's how you read, as much as what you read.
22. Never make someone feel bad for not having read or not read something. Books are there to heal, not hurt.
23. Imagination is play. Snobbery is the opposite of play.
24. I used to be a snob. It made me unhappy.
25. Simple isn't always stupid. When I write a first draft it is complicated. There is mess. The second and third and fifteenth drafts try and get it to make sense, to trim away the frayed edges.
26. Stephen King was right. Books are 'portable magic'. And everyone loves magic.
27. Inclusion is harder than exclusion. Just ask a politician.
28. The brain can absorb many things. So can a novel.
29. For me, personally, the point of writing is to connect me to this world, to my fellow humans. We are all miles apart. We have no real means of connecting except via language. And the deepest form of language is storytelling.
30. The greatest stories appeal to our deepest selves, the parts of us snobbery can't reach, the parts that connect the child to the adult and the brain to the heart and reality to dreams. Stories, at their essence, are enemies of snobbery. And a book snob is the enemy of the book.
DURING a Senate forum last week at the University of Baguio Gym, all so-called "new blood" senatorial candidates were asked the Miss Universe question: What makes you special and what difference would you make if you make it in the Senate?
Most of the senatorial candidates gave your platforms and programs from the lofty to the down-to-earth. Some gave their lofty qualifications and educational attainments.
But one candidate turned around the question and answered, What makes me special is my ordinariness.
Then he gave the reasons why: his being raised by a single Mom, his insistence on using public transportation and his vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.
He got the loudest applause, considering his name did not ring a bell until the debate. Even his name gathered only a page in Google.
Now come to think of it. He calls himself "ordinary" but he is right in saying he is actually special because he is "ordinary."
This is the only qualification where most of the other senators fit in: A Philippine Senator must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least thirty-five years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.
This exempts, among others, Manny Pacquiao. But once he puts himself in the senatorial ring, Pacman is ordinary in his "specialness."
First, if we go by the "vow of poverty," it would mean that any Juan, Pedro and Maria can be President. But that was never the case. how much does it take to get a senatorial seat? Latest estimate said at least P100 million. Failing that, you need rich backers.
One candidate once said that he went to eight provinces in one week. How did he do it? He claimed a "friend" lent a helicopter. Other candidates have their own private helicopters and jets.
Compare that with a "new blood" candidate who was so tired and hungry before the Senate Forum that he was seen eating ensaymada while being asked a question. He later said that his team just came from Tuguegarao. What constitutes his team? Two vans.
One senatorial candidate owns a fleet of buses. How can this new blood compete with that?
Vow of chastity? You gotta be kidding! Even PNoy, who's single, can't claim that. Most of the marriages of potential candidates were arranged, meaning they are married to other political families. If they only dream of ruling their province, they are married to another political family within that province. If they plan to rule the country, they have to marry in a far but vote-rich province. Even mistresses are chosen that way now.
Vow of obedience? Who are you fooling? There is no longer party loyalty; politicians turncoat to the ruling party or whoever can bring the goods. They easily disobey if their wishes were not granted.
So when this new blood mentioned his three vows, you can almost hear the snicker from the other candidates all over the country. The tragedy is that the whole country laughed at him as well.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
That mono-brow wouldn’t work today.
Girls wax the in-betweens, the ups and
downs, smooth, smooth. Sometimes,
the greenery around the hacienda
itches so much we sneeze and tickle,
create unnecessary frowns, a slippage.
There’s always Dr. Death, of course,
his bright smile, that happy mouth
inviting us to pout and make kiss shapes.
Kiss, kiss! Kiss, kiss! he urges. His short needle
makes cushions of our worries. Little prick here,
another there, there, there,
it’s all right darlings, growing old
needn’t hurt so badly.
The hairs remind us, marching to link brow
to brow, shadowing our lips.
We want to be Frida, earnest with hair,
mocking Dr. Death's short needle
before it punctures our flesh.
Old, old! we shout the words he hates,
loose and old, not tight and old!
Senses, raging, in need of colour
as we behold ourselves, mirror-wise,
the women we always were,
just older, looser, still there.
by Mary O'Donnell
from The Ark BuildersArc Publications, Todmorden, 2009
from The Ark BuildersArc Publications, Todmorden, 2009