By Sensei Adorador
The pink wave all over the Philippines has become a testament to unity for a better country and electing a new leader that will carry the aspirations of the people and their insatiable hunger for good governance.
However, the rallies and supporters did not turn out to be a boon for Vice President Leni Robredo. Thus, the burning question is why on earth did Leni lose despite the aggressive campaign of her supporters? The following analysis was made during my fieldwork while I was talking to the townsfolk in the rural areas.
I asked the townsfolk and the barrio people what kind of leader they believe can lead the country. Most of them answered no one else but a man. It brought me to another question: who do you think among them suits your taste? Some of them answered Bongbong Marcos, while others answered Ping Lacson. For them, they believe that a man as a leader would discipline most Filipinos who lack the same. They further believe that a woman like Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot lead.
According to some analysts, the administration of these female presidents encountered a lot of turmoil, such as government scandals and attempted coups d’états. People in the 40 and up age bracket believe that only a man has the iron hand and sheer will to serve without his constituents dictating what to do. Cory and Gloria did not have that kind of leadership. They believe that a female president is too soft, inconsistent, and weak to lead the nation. Thus, Leni does not suit their taste.
In most of the interviews, they said that Leni could not even answer the questions well, and if ever she was a President, the oligarchs would easily control Leni. This kind of mindset still prevails since most Filipinos still believe in man’s supremacy to lead, premised on the culture and tradition that a father must be the head of the household and that a man must act tough because the opposite leads to being called a “bakla.” The radical love tagline and signature color pink did not sit well with these people’s beliefs.
ELITIST, BULLY, AND RABID KAKAMPINKS
I asked some first-time voters who their president was, and they answered BBM. Most first-time voters in rural areas did not vote for Leni. For them, Leni supporters are rabid. I asked Joan, a college student and a first-time voter in the presidential election and she said, “They tend to embarrass us whenever we throw our support to BBM. They call us bobo, tanga, nagpapaniwala sa fake news, magnanakaw enabler.” Although some of them had some thoughts about changing their decision to vote for Leni, the rabid supporters allegedly discriminate against them. I asked her what she meant to discriminate, and she said, “The campaigners of Leni are too elite. The way they treat us at the marginalized level is not genuine.”
Jose, a coconut farmer, told me, “My father wants me to vote for BBM because he said BBM is good like his father. I was too skeptical at first, but when I read on Facebook that Kakampinks bullied a BBM supporter, the latter became depressed due to online bullying, and I started to choose BBM. Like BBM, he doesn’t retaliate. He accepts; for me, this is the kind of president my country wants. The supporters are not rabid like kakampinks.”
The online feud of political supporters divided the people. Many family members, friends, and colleagues started to have rifts. Rabid supporters on every side became evident in how aggressive they are in switching to their candidate of choice. Kakampinks are correct in debunking disinformation and countering the trolls. However, for others, it is a sort of arrogance.
Gino, a father of two, said, “They think of us as dumb or easy to trick. I know that I am not that smart like those who have access to information and a college degree, but they are toxic for me. Toxic that I always see on Facebook that BBM supporters have a tiny brain.” He added, “Even though BBM didn’t attend debates, he is still number one for me because BBM is a kind of person who doesn’t want to throw mud in public. What BBM taught me is humility; he knows how to choose his battles.”
Merlinda, a middle-aged woman told me, “If BBM does not have a college degree, so what? He still has a heart for the poor just like his father, unlike pink supporters who have a degree, but they belittle us. Leni and other lawyers continue to bad-mouth BBM. I don’t like her.” Although BBM supporters are like Kakampinks as they are also bullies, the difference between Kakampinks and BBM is that Kakampinks are middle-class-centered and urban while BBM is on the rural and marginalized.
THE POWER OF LOCAL POLITICS
Not every voter realizes this, but the story of national politics is the product of local politics. Hence, all politics starts with the locals. The logic here is that the powerful political clan or political leader has a huge influence in their area and has the power to endorse their president to win. The reason is that they invested in their people; thus, whoever they dictate as president, people will follow. Such has been the game ever since.
Norma, a barangay health worker, became a purok leader. Their barangay captain and the mayor told them to campaign for BBM, gave a list of the names of households, and marked them. She said, “Days before the election, we will gather their name based on the precinct where they will vote, then we will see if they will vote, but the assurance for them to vote for the candidate that we dictate is 100%”.
This method has been a maneuver of politics below, and people fear retribution. Thus, they will vote for the person on their sample ballot when they accept the money. For example, people in the rural areas voted for BBM, whom their barangay captain endorsed. Their barangay captain threatens them that if BBM loses, their mayor will punish them for not voting for the president they endorse. Thus, they will lose the trust of their political padrino.
They will not be a priority in the budget; worst is, the powers that be will sanction their municipality. Bert, a former councilor, said, “Our loyalty is with the people and not politicians. We always shift our support based on who will have an edge to win. Our reason was simple. We are the frontlines of public service in our area, not the president; thus, we opted for BBM because he had a high chance to win.” All, barangay captains swore their allegiance to BBM because that is whom their higher-ups said that they would support. No support for BBM means no support for the barangay election.
Although troll farms that peddle disinformation contributed greatly to the success of BBM, majority of OFWs voted for BBM also due to social media exposure. The academe also became a fertile ground for breeding disinformation, such as teachers who are peddlers of fake news and promoters of Ferdinand Marcos’ golden years, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines who choose BBM as president to continue the benefits they enjoyed under Duterte.
It is not a surprise that the NTF-ELCAC became a success in rural areas, whereas the MAKABAYAN bloc became the poison and final nail to Leni’s failed presidential bid. The association of Leni to the left has been an effective strategy for rural areas under the military control to convince them not to vote since Leni will make CPP-NPA wreak havoc in rural areas as they see NPA as social vermin in their area.
Our social problems anchored the victory of BBM. Most of the voters in the rural areas don’t have cultural capital similar to urban areas. National politics has not addressed most of their problems. Another point that I have noticed is that politics is cultural, and the campaign must be cultural. The idea of radical love is alien to most Filipinos, whereas being radical is associated with the left and the State demonizes the left. In such a manner, the word radical may have been a downfall as Leni Robredo’s tagline. Radical is so middle class where unity is understandable by the masses.
Leni lost because of disorientation and disconnectedness, while BBM triumphed because his camp knows what the people in the lower-class language speak.