How the local media cheapened the coverage of 2010 elections

I am now beginning to question the wisdom behind blow by blow accounts of the election process all over the Philippines conducted by the big three television networks. Yes, the coverage was comprehensive, in fact it was hyperbolically comprehensive that they all hardly left minute details unmentioned. In fact sometimes, viewers would get an idea that the contents of news did not vary, only the place and the people involved.

The three big networks, ABS-CBN, GMA7, and ABC5, all fell in the shallow puddle of mere events reporting. Although it is worth mentioning that ABS-CBN went a bit against the grain by including a small analysis of the candidates. But this was an exception rather than a rule.

Yes, the Commission on Election was, as it has always been, sloppy and inept in doing the only thing it was supposed to spearhead and supervise, thereby giving our overeager journalists a field day reporting about malfunctioned PCOS, flying voters, disorganized system, and other election related incidents such as massive vote buying, killings, intimidation, and cheating.

The problem was that nothing got past the already negativistic and cynical perspective taken by the media, a point of view they take usually by default.

Little was reported about the quick and efficient conduct of polls in other parts of the archipelago. Little was reported about the heroic deeds done by our public school teachers who have been plunged in such dangerous places doing responsibilities no one would be willing to undertake in exchange of 1500 pesos allowance. My mother, a public high school teacher in South Cotabato, who chaired a cluster, can not even answer my calls until this time. I wonder if she has already eaten her dinner. Little was reported about the people who braved it all — fatigue, heat, hunger — just so they could vote and despite this still maintained their calm because they know they are doing something for the future of this country.

But reporting about long lines, overheated PCOS machines, irate voters who until this time have not even voted, and the grim future that lies ahead, it appeared to me, was local media’s very definition of newsworthiness. Boring analyses made by experts do not rate therefore a waste of precious airtime.

The networks and the reporters have chosen the easier way, a methodology that requires nothing much but stating the obvious.

Local media survive in redundancies and repetition. It is mind blowing how they do these. They do not get tired hearing themselves saying things they’ve already said moments ago. For a reporter, to be an effective election reporter in the Philippines he must love how he sounds so much so that he would not mind hearing himself saying the same thing every fifteen minutes in a 24-hour cycle.

Watching television coverage of election in the Philippines had been a traumatic experience. One will simply bleed in the shallowness of reportage.

A field reporter reporting live from Naga related that there were 16 ballots rejected by the machine; someone from Commonwealth, Quezon City reported about seven ballots rejected; from Davao City 11 ballots. But who cares? Should we owe it to the public to spare the people these unnecessary information?

Or that Noynoy Aquino got 237 votes from a precinct in Tondo, Joseph Estrada got 212 from the same polling cluster, and that Binay lead by 36 vote over Roxas who only got 17? Do we waste that same precious airtime on the pettiness of these pieces of information?

I say no. But I was traumatized to learn that the local media’s response was a resounding yes.

The new technologies, instead of empowering the public and involving the people in the exercise of democracy are cheapened by pseudo-journalists who parrot mindless reporting, predictable storytelling, and unverified reports which only heighten public distrust on our institutions. Forgetting that although there are parts of the process that are found wanting, in general automated election is better than manual. If only we get over our fear of technology.

If one entirely based his assessment of the election on the news he is getting from the media, he will without doubt think that the Philippines is the worst country in the world, even worse than little heard and hopeless countries in Africa such as Mozambique, Somalia, and Rwanda. If he believed in everything he hears and sees on TV, I’d be wondering why he had not committed suicide until this time by slitting his throat, licking the indelible ink on his index finger until high silver nitrite content poisons him, or simply running amuck until the military shoots him dead.

Good thing the Filipino is left with a little sense and maintains an almost unconditional and supernaturally-inspired hope for the future.

I’m still wondering what has happened to my mother. She has not returned my calls until now. I’m worried.

2009 Presidential Candidates

From 99, which was eventually narrowed further down to 20, and now the official presidential candidates: eight people who can afford to wage a full campaign to get the highest seat in the land.

Why history will treat Gloria Arroyo in the same way it is treating Cory Aquino now

Gloria Arroyo and Cory Aquino

One of the headlines of the tabloids being sold in a newstand in Quezon Avenue MRT station is Marcoses In, Gloria Out. I did not anymore bother to waste my ten pesos buying the paper because the headline, as it should be, is clear to anyone even with amateurish knowledge of Philippine politics. He only has to connect the dots, relate this with Cory’s death, and he can already come up with a good conclusion, even without the help of a master’s degree in political science – that the Marcoses are allowed to attend the wake of Mrs. Aquino for the sake of forgiveness and reconciliation but that Gloria Arroyo, the incumbent president is left to wallow outside Manila Cathedral because Cory’s youngest daughter is sulking after Mrs. Arroyo “unknowingly” relieved the two faithful bodyguards of her mother. And so Kris’s conviction cannot be moved; she will never allow the incumbent president to touch even the first few steps of Manila Cathedral.

Mrs. Arroyo, the country’s most powerful person is barred from attending the wake. Not that she can’t because she can simply give order to the the Armed Forces to cordon the area, kidnap Kris Aquino, then have a photo-op with a Cory-inside-the-casket as a backdrop. She may not. She is a persona non grata in the wake. She’s like a bully in the neighborhood whom everyone decided to ignore and was not allowed to participate in the other children’s games, no amount of bullying can convince them to let her play with them ever again.

And I believe delicadeza has not altogether deserted Mrs. Arroyo. She has remnants of it, we are made to believe, although whatever is left is miniscule, as small if not smaller than her mole. Seeing her doing a photo-op with the casket as background is highly unlikely this time if we consider the passionate anger Kris and her siblings have regarding the way this administration treated their mother.

If we go back to the subject the title of this essay is suggesting, the Marcoses have long gone past that degree of forgiveness and acceptability that will allow them to expose themselves to public without any fear of being bludgeoned. Cory Aquino on her part was also found wanting when she was also the president of the Philippines. For why would the junior officers stage coup de etats, nine based on my flimsy historical readings, if they did not find irregularities during her term?

The recent association of saintly virtues with the former president is partly because she was dying. And for Filipinos death is a stage in one’s life where forgiveness is bestowed, sometimes even to the point of idealizing the person.

Ferdinand Marcos never reached this point because of the short time it took him to die, two years after he was deposed. Not enough. But this is transferred to Imelda Marcos. It will not anymore surprise me if one day I’ll see myself getting stuck in traffic caused by a procession of Imelda’s remain in Ayala Avenue.

This will definitely apply to Mrs. Arroyo. Now you see yourself hating her to the bones but give her enough time to regain that certain level of repectability and you’ll see yourself romanticizing the good ol’ days of being under Arroyo’s term. In fact Joseph Estrada who was found guily of plunder all of a sudden became a man of virtue and restraint after Kris mentioned that he tried not to publicize his visit during Cory’s dying days.

How easily we forget. How gullible we are. How as a nation we  all became a bunch of laughable fellows who do not have the ability to learn anything from what we have gone through.


As societies advance or believe themselves to advance, to the degree that there is civilization, progress, so the cult of the dead, the respect for the dead diminishes. The dead person is no longer revered as a living being who has entered into the unknown, consecrated to the formidable “je ne sais quoi” of that which is beyond life.  In modern societies, the dead person is simply zero, a non value.

I’ll cast my vote this time

I am a registered voter in Barangay Calansanan Badiangan, Iloilo. I registered with my grandmother in 2004, traversing streams and rice paddies and riding a tricycle swarmed by young elementary school students just to reach the municipal hall located on the other side of a mountain. Although I am a registered voter, I never voted in any single election since I turned 18. Some crooks might have already used my name to vote for some corrupt politicians who can afford to pay, as is always the case in Philippine elections.


This barangay, located several kilometers from the nearest high way, is blocked by ephemeral streams from roads that would have connected it to other barangays for trading and other commercial endeavors, so until this time civilization is still at bay wondering when it will be allowed access. The place exists in a dream-like painting by Amorsolo minus the smiling lasses and able lads basking in a golden afternoon sun because the place is poverty incarnate. And the smiling lasses and able lads are either forced to leave and find a living in the city to send back money or they endlessly manufacture, so long as their hormones allow them, smiling lasses and able lads like them and hoping that these replicates of themselves go to the city and send back money someday.

For if somebody in the field of anthropology wanting to conduct a research using hermeneutics to live in a place where cycle of poverty mindlessly cycles or a biology major finding evidences to support the theory of spontaneous generation, as in this place babies miraculously sprout from any available space like mushrooms after a shower and thunderstorm, then the place is perfect.

I was asked by my lola to register in that place because my uncle, her son, was running during that time for municipal councilor. I agreed. He won without my vote because I chose to volunteer then for a radio station to cover the election in a district of Iloilo City.

I was not able to vote in the succeeding election as well. That time my grandmother’s son found himself at the bottom of the list. By the third time, he failed to occupy a position. The last time I heard he was wallowing in memories of his failed career as a politician but was contemplating to do a grand political comeback in 2010.

I read in the news this morning about the forum organized by the businessmen of Makati that invited aspirants for the presidency in 2010. In the forum, the presidential wannabes we’re asked to give a presentation of their platform of government. It must have been a riveting gathering of five men and a woman. Both Noli de Castro and Manuel Villar declined. Ping Lacson (for reason that he has already given up his bid) refused the invitation.


Gilberto Teodoro is an untested yet imperious, cocky is a better adjective, guy from the Armed Forces who has deluded himself that he can win the election despite him standing in the shadow of Arroyo’s corrupt administration and his name that spontaneously appeared from a virtual anonymity. This, of course, is with the help of his wife whose take on being ambitious can only be described by the word overkill


Loren Legarda, a broadcaster turned senator tuned griping vice presidential loser has said nothing concrete in her entire life and who has mastered the use of politicalese to a high level of efficiency that nobody understands her anymore, not even she. “The absence of an integrated, unified, and coherent road map is the culprit for the snail-paced Philippine economic and security development. We need to fuse national economic growth with national security in the development of an integrated plan.” By integrated plan she means…

Dick Gordon

Richard Gordon needs to seriously consider changing his nickname, Dick. He is an idealist who speaks in sweeping and stirring declamatory style. I first heard him speak when I was fourteen, and I was awed, but after several times of listening to him my eardrums started to show signs of exhaustion. He delivers his speeches like a televangelist, which explains why he was the most applauded during the forum. He’s a cross between Bro. Edddie Villanueva and your favorite Amway sales representative. (I am considering voting for him, though.)

Manny Villar

Manuel Villar is hounded by scandals of corruption even before he has held office. His paid interview with Boy Abunda that could have cost him millions is too long to be effective and too dragging to be entertaining.


Noli de Castro has not proved anything during his short stint as senator and his accomplishments as vice president are forgettable. He lacks enough political experience to run a country that is as complex as most complicated definition of the word complex is.


Manuel Roxas lacks charisma which explains his strongly advertised engagement with news anchor Korina Sanches, a case of basking in the newsreader’s masa appeal. He inspires in me an image of a henpecked husband once his union with Korina is officially consummated. Any of Mar Roxas’s accomplishments was obliterated by his Padyak ad; he should think of means to undo the damages the ad has caused in the viewing public’s psyche.


Francis Escudero may have exuded confidence and youth, somebody who can usher new politics in the country, but based on his recent media interviews on his platform of government, this man is all but empty rhetoric and vacuous monotone.

Bayani Fernando

Bayani Fernando is a man who never strived to be popular in exchange by and give up the hard changes he viewed necessary. Manila may not be as organized or as livable as say Singapore (kidding) or as any Southeast Asian megalopolis but as chairman of MMDA he has made major strides to lessen the traffic jams and to make the people abide by the rules. Still so much is needed to be done. But Fernando is a no non-sense guy who walks the talk. (I’m also considering him.)

Joseph Estrada

Former President Joseph Estrada. We cannot allow this country to be run by a thief, again.

The election in 2010 is as crucial as any other elections in the past. I do not agree that this is more important that the previous ones. This will simply give us a chance to change the way our country is governed that for the next six years. If we botch this one, it means another six years of again waiting in vain. That, I believe, is something we cannot afford.

A single vote, that is my vote, will hardly matter, but I am willing to tread several streams again, with my lola if she is still alive by then, to cast my vote this time.

Never again, please

If Joseph Estrada wins in the 2010 presidential election in the Philippines, whatever attempt we try to change the country will just be in vain. The victory will be an act of absolution by the Filipino nation of former president. It also means that we have gone too desperate as to install once again a corrupt leader in the country’s highest seat. It’s not that we lack choice, for we have if only we look further.

Estrada’s victory will be a proof that we’ve gone numb and accepted with full resignation our fate as a hopeless nation. It is an act of acceptance that anyone who plundered us once can come back to rape us again and again given enough time for us to forget once more.


Estrada who was convicted of plunder in 2007, in an interview made by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said that he could still run for the post because his civil and political rights were “fully restored” when President Macapagal-Arroyo pardoned him. A statement made by the same man who used to question the legitimacy of the current administration.

And in fact it is not impossible that he’ll win the election given his lead in the recently released poll results where other presidential wannabes trailed behind him. According to him, if the opposition cannot have a standard bearer, then he’ll place the burden upon himself to unify the opposition by running as president and Senator Loren Legarda as her running mate because she has “beauty and brains”. Legarda, on the other hand also plans to run for president.


I was 14 years old then, a second year high school students in the southern most province in the Philippines. I was watching on our old television screen how people in EDSA, united in one purpose to seek justice in peaceful way, successfully overthrew a plunderer out of the Malacanang. Eight years later, the same man who left the palace via Pasig River looking defeated, with then first lady and now senator Loi Ejercito with their son Jinggoy who is also a senator now, is now as close as ever to the most important post in the country.

We are a nation of amnesiacs. An amnesia caused by repeated battering that left all of us in forced forgetfulness. In a way this makes us a happy nation where problems are easily forgotten and calamities easily overcome. But this also makes us commit the same mistakes over and over again. We never learned from what history taught us because our definition of history encompassed anything that happened from yesterday to last week. Anything beyond that is of non import, immaterial.

Older generations of Filipinos have repeatedly failed us; now it is the responsibility of the new generation, the twenty-somethings, to change the course of events and do something different-all for the sake of the Philippines. The 10 million strong vote of the youth can make a big difference. Let’s not make the same mistakes that our parents have committed. Let us make them know what the 10 million votes mean. Let the 10 million votes be a statement that we’re heading for change and that we will not let a plunderer or any crook lead the country ever again.

You’re a twenty-something if…

This is one of those flop days. A flopped day is when I can’t think of anything sensible and cerebral. However, I am not saying that most of my days are inspired and I can always think as intellectually as I would want. The weather this time just adds to the gloom. The temperature outside makes someone like me who is used to the Philippines’ tropical climate of humid and hot days to be sluggish and sleepy.

So here I am writing about something that in a way is the reason why this blog exists – to celebrate life as a twenty-something. For most of us, it’s nice to go back to the past and remember the thing’s we’ve been through, laughing at the atrocious piece of clothing we wore before, being nostalgic about the better days that had been, or simply reminiscing the simple pleasures of life then.

I’m listing them down here for my readers who grew up during the same time as I did in the Philippines. Please feel free to add.

You’re a twenty-something if…

You were born between 1988-1979


You know the melody of this chocolate commercial:
Wanna see what happens to a bag of Nips?
What goes on before they touch my lips?
A Choco Rainbow, Chocolate Nips.
Nips, Nips.

You know what these acronyms stood for: WOW, SIGA. These were policies in the early 90s of Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (then DECS now DepEd) on school beautification and food sustainability.

It was possible to go to school with a 5 to 20 pesos baon.


You collected stickers of Lion King from Maggi Rich Mami Noodles and pasted them on the door of your fridge, to your mother’s horror.

You know Julio at Julia, Kambal ng Tadhana, enjoyed watching this mid-morning program, you can even sing the theme song of this anime.

You know who Pong Pagong was.

You memorized the lyrics of Sineskwela. Sa daigdig ng agham, tuklasin ang kaalaman, halina’t lumipad sa daigdig ng isipan…

You either watched Gimik or T.G.I.S. on lazy Saturday afternoons.

Your elementary school teacher was the first to have an analog mobile phone which was as big as an uncut bar of laundry detergent.

You saw on television Erap’s (Joseph Estrada) ouster or you were at EDSA that time.

Your notebooks had pictures of local stars on their covers.

You know who Judiel was. You were fascinated by the “dancing sun”, and your entire class had to go out to stare at the sky to witness the apparition of the Virgin.

You still had to go through the CAT (Citizen’s Army Training) and had to march under the sun every Thursday or Friday afternoons.

You watched TV Patrol with Noli de Castro, Mel Tiangco, and Ka Kiko as anchors, and Ernie Baron as weatherman.

You know who comprised the Apo Hiking Society and that they had a noon time show Sa Linggo na’APO sila.

You know who the main characters of Villa Quintana were.


Kapamilya and Kapuso didn’t exist yet. They were the Sarimanok Network and the Rainbow Channel respectively.

You had to suffer blackouts that lasted for 12 hours or for as long as two days.

You played Chinese garter, sipa, sungka, snakes and ladders etc.



You know how a five-peso and ten-peso bills looked like. You even used the big one peso coins and the octagonal two-peso coins.

You had a Nintendo Family Computer in your house with the huge cartridges you insert into it to play Super Mario, Pacman, or Bomber.

And the list goes on.