Friday, July 3, 2015

Tarps for Turfs: Its Ecological and Political Hazards

Political season is near and the early birds are displaying, albeit prematurely, their tarpaulins all over. Only last Friday, while on my way home from Sablayan, newly-posted tarpaulins caught my attention. In it is a picture of a certain political figure from San Jose who had been a candidate seeking a slot at the municipal council in more than three elections in the past but never won. When I first saw the tarp, I have mistaken it for an advertisement of Globe/TM for the political (I am sure of this) material likewise carried the red, white and blue theme but instead of “TM” what was printed in the trap is “TL” which suggest his future campaign slogan, an acronym for “Tamang Leader”. “TL” too stands for the beginning letters of the man’s given name and surname. But allow me to refer to him simply here as TL and understand why I like to just keep to myself the reason why.

If my memory serves me right, TL filed his last candidacy as member for the local legislative council of Municipality of San Jose in 2007 under United Nationalist Opposition or UNO. I was informed that TL is a registered voter of Brgy. Central, San Jose. I was told too that our main man is only visible during election season and also connected in an accounting firm in Manila. Other than this information, I have nothing more to say about TL, his true love or whatsoever. I have seen his campaign posters before and he is neatly wearing a coat and tie. But TL is a pariah in the mainstream political landscape in the province. But since I only saw his tarps in SAMARICA Area for I do not have a chance to travel to MAPSSA lately, I have a hunch that TL is vying for a shot for provincial position, either as board member or governor (or maybe as a congressman). Let us forget about TL momentarily but in due time, when the campaign period is on, we may consider listening to him.

Tarpaulins proliferated everywhere in Occidental Mindoro. Political tarpaulins of the incumbent officials are ever visible projecting their good image. But no doubt we are now entering the new era of what I call “Tarp for Turf”. Practically almost everything needed to be printed for public information were in tarp, signage and everything. In every activity, replacing the old cut-outs and curtains, the tarp took centre stage, literally and figuratively, as backdrop for the platform. The political contenders and pretenders, with their promise of good governance and certain advocacies employ tarpaulins. Political tarpaulins are ugly manifestations not only of the politician’s, but the system’s prevailing culture of lack of delicadeza. Tarpaulins, both the business and the thing, grow like mushrooms in the haystack but sadly, finding the true political leader during election time is as torturous, if not as impossible as finding a needle in a haystack!

But going back to tarpaulins per se, tarpaulins are non-biodegradable for they are xenobiotic so they are ecological hazards. According to experts, due to its high plasticity it takes approximately 500 years to degrade. Take note of this fact: Kahit magka-apo na sa tuhod kolehiyalang grumadweyt na cum laude at kalansay na ang patay na mga minsang ginawan ng tarpaulin na isinabit sa punerarya at sa paaralan (kung minsan kahit na gate ng bahay ng cum laude, na may nakasulat pa na “with love from Papa and Mama”), hindi pa rin matutunaw ang tarp at madaragdag sa libong toneladang basurang nalilikha ng buong lalawigan kada buwan! We know that tarpaulin or tarp is a broad sheet of cloth cover made from a water resistant or waterproof material. Original tarpaulins consisted of a cotton based cloth material. Most modern tarps are made from a polyester material coated with latex or PVC, largely due to cost effectiveness and also strength and longevity gains. Sad to say, it seems that political promises would also take 500 years before they are fulfilled.

But not unlike politicians and political issues, tarpaulins can be re-cycled.  In this tarpaulin (read; garbage) oriented and infested country, while both sitting and aspiring politicians  consider themselves as tamang lider, the informed voters considered them as May Tamang Leader. Tamang Leader and May Tamang Leader are contradiction in terms but ordinary voters could not easily differentiate the two…



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