Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Nothing But Stunt
Our very own political scientist hailed from Mamburao, the late Prof. Remigio E Agpalo had long ago conveyed a political picture through his book “Pandanggo sa Ilaw : The Politics in Occidental Mindoro” published in 1963 : “The elite exploited these (Filipino traditional) values and brought them into play, together with their material potentials, to their own advantage. The unsatisfactory economic situation, the general poverty of the population, the insufficient education … as well as broadening gap between the elite and the masses…” (pp. 83). And even today, there are geographical, demographic and social factors responsible for the dominance of a prominent clan over the masses of the Occidental Mindoro population in favor of the interests of the few elite businessmen and politicians. Agpalo taught at the University of the Philippines (UP) for almost 50 years and was laid to rest in February 10, 2008. He succumbed to prostrate cancer. He was 79.
“Pandanggo sa Ilaw” (literally “Lamp Dance”) is a traditional Filipino folk dance said to be originated in Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro, where dancers balance oil lamps on their bodies by skillful maneuvers while the audience watches spellbound. In Agpalo’s mind, the “Pandanggo sa Ilaw” was a symbol of dominance of the political elite in our province. Seemingly it's a dance and a stunt, rolled into one.
From our local (academic) hero let us go to my favorite martial artist and movie idol. Allow me to share you an anecdote : A young fan of the 1967 television series “The Green Hornet” named Vicki had written to Bruce Lee whether the martial art that Kato (Lee’s character) used was karate and what was the best way to break a brick with her hand. And here’s the response of the late actor: “The art I use on TV is not karate and is known as gung fu, which is of Chinese origin (so is karate). Breaking boards and bricks are mere stunts and are not recommendable for anyone, especially a girl like you. Techniques are the main goal you should work at. If you want to break something, use a hammer.” A stunt is defined as “a feat displaying unusual strength, skill, or daring and something done (just) to attract attention or publicity.” The electorate need concrete results and not mere stunts.
In the Philippines, election is a superficial merriment that is why political stunts paved the way for the Big Circus. Media coverage of Philippine elections focused more on personalities rather than issues and platforms. Including Occidental Mindoro. Our local media is more powerful during elections. According to a seasoned media man , “The power of the media should be used in setting the agenda for the elections. The media should promote the kind of debate that generates light, not the kind of debate that generates heat.” May we,-media people in Occidental Mindoro, always remember this.
This is what the people are dreaming of : people have access to information that would enable them to make intelligent choices; there is a free and dynamic exchange of discussion on different issues related to elections; and, people who previously violated the election laws and procedures (no matter from what camp they belong) are to be exposed and opposed. Only through this media initiatives the electorate can go for a candidate with good track record in his/her involvement in public or private office. A tested leader who is always ready to serve who has a good record of public service and has the personal competence for the position he is running for. His/her life is a living testimony of his/her beliefs. This is our dream,- we, the “silent majority”.
The many challenges the situation poses before us boils down to the challenge Jesus handed down to Peter : “Put out into the deep water and lower your net for a catch.” (Lk 5:4)Jesus is asking us to be true to our actions and not be overwhelmed by cheap stunts of politicians, and the media men that bark around them …
(Photo credit : deviantart.com )