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The Race to the Philippine Senate

The May elections are upon the Filipino people and the media is flooded with political advertorials. This is their best season yet. I sat through an hour of national news and found the political ads more entertaining than the noontime shows and Pinoy Big Brother.

Filipinos love babies and toddlers because they’re cute and irresistible. Several candidates are quite aware of this and are banking on the cradle. They have made a point of carrying a little kid with one arm while the right hand is shaking hands with a voter. The candidate is usually followed by a crowd of admirers while campaigning at the local barangay or the public market, in schools or at a construction site and in open fields where Loren Legarda is planting rice with farmers. Miss Legarda’s posters say she is “No.1 sa Senado” but according to a recent survey, Kiko Pangilinan is at the top of the list of 12 Senatorial candidates. It’s not difficult for “Kuya Kiko” to head the list since his wife is megastar, Sharon Cuneta. Mr. Pangilinan could well stand on his own merit if only because he has chosen to run as an independent, foregoing the solid support of a well run party machine.

How about those dancers of Ralph Recto? I’m sure Ate Vi (Vilma Santos, the Star for All Seasons and a candidate for governor of Batangas) is pleased with her husband’s ad. Recto’s catchphrase is “Ko Recto sa Senado”. Does this mean there are things to be corrected in the Senate or that Mr. Recto is the right person for the Senate? Manny Villar didn’t hire any dancer to do his ad. Perhaps he should have. Mr Villar is his own dancer. Looks like he didn’t take heed of his own “Sipag at Tiyaga” slogan. Great dancing is precisely about patience and hard work.

If you don’t care much for dancing, then tune in to Edgardo Angara’s commercial. He has no less than Sarah Geronimo singing his candidacy for Senator. She croons, “Angara ng Buhay”. Really? And apparently no one told Miguel Zubiri that Boom Tarat Tarat is out of date now. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought this is a Christmas song. Regardless, Zubiri appeals to the voter as the “Amigo ng Bayan”.

Showbiz personalities spice up the airwaves like Chris Aquino who’s appealing to the people to vote for her brother, Noynoy. She says, “Deal?”. And Mr. Aquino responds, “Game na”. Both are referring to the popular shows hosted by Chris, “Deal or No Deal” and “Game ka na ba?”. How unoriginal! And poor Cesar Montano has got off to a shaky start. He has just realized how expensive it is to run for public office. His wife, Sunshine Cruz, said in a TV interview that she would pawn her sizable engagement ring, if necessary, to help his campaign. How sweet.

Certain candidates are asking voters to give them a chance because if they win, most Filipinos will have a relative in the Senate. Take Vic Sotto’s ad. “Buti nalang may Tito ako”. Or Mike Defensor’s “Panalo ka, ′Tol” (′Tol is short for utol, brother). Defensor is also the “boses ng Kabataan” (voice of the youth). Manny Pacquiao has a Manong, "Si Manong Chavit (Singson) ay idol ko". Mr. Singson is the "boses ng Probinsya" (voice of the provinces). In the absence of relatives, you have Chiz Escudero who is the “boses ng Bayan” (voice of the country). How wonderful to see Mr. Escudero smiling and relaxed for a change!

If a relative or a voice is not enough to represent the Filipino people, not to worry. Just vote for Joker Arroyo, the “Pipol’s Dragon”. I've only seen dragons during Chinese New Year celebrations and they are quite colorful. Maybe this is what the Senate needs especially during those long hearings and inquiries which seem to lead nowhere. But don’t joke with Joker because “Pag bad ka, lagot ka!”.

Ping Lacson’s ambition to return to the Senate is based on HOPE (Health, Order, Peace, Education). And who will get this done unless you plant Prospero Pichay in the Senate (“Pichay, Itanim mo sa Senado)? Pichay’s jingle promises to fulfill the hopes and dreams of the Filipino people, “Ang pangarap ko ay tuparin ang pangarap ninyo”.

Nowadays it’s hard to determine who belongs to which party since many candidates have crossed party lines. The question is who will be the real opposition when the Genuine Opposition (GO) party is opposed in the Senate?

Dull isn’t the word to describe Philippine elections. Showbiz meets politics for an entertaining season. It seems senatorial candidates have all the bases covered and the Filipino voter can’t go wrong by selecting a relative (Kuya, Tito ′Tol, and Manong), a friend (Amigo ng Bayan), a plant (Pichay). If this fails, there’s the Pipol’s dragon, a watchdog (Ko Recto) and 3 voices (boses ng bayan, boses ng kabataan, boses ng probinsya). These candidates would like us to believe there’s HOPE after all and life is good (Angara ng buhay). Wishful thinking anyone?

It’s game na for Senatorial hopefuls. Let’s pray the voters will carefully consider their candidates of choice before deciding it's a “Deal”.

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