COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Election and centennial
That 1998 should be the centennial year and election year in one presents to us a vivid description of the dichotomy of the Filipino psyche. One part shows this penchant for display through ceremonies and rituals, the other part shows the real life tupada.
The celebration of the centennial of the Philippine Independence has been marked by display—as if in an attempt to search for meaning. There is this display of flags; properly and improperly, decently and otherwise. There is this display of native dresses by women on Mondays; and they quipped, “kay centennial” as if being made to wear a dance costume.
We have art exhibit, trying to depict and unravel the past that one exhibit in Manila shows paintings of Philippine women revolutionaries. We have seminars, historical or otherwise, just to celebrate the centennial. Books have been launched, landmarks have been placed, and old houses and structures renovated to complete the preparation for the big open house.
Exhibits, exhibits, and from the looks of it, we don’t even know what to display. There is this lack of feel, of meaning, of sincerity.
This may be because we don’t feel a hundred years independent and free. We are not. We don’t even have in our hands a historical relic to be independent about; the Balangiga Bells. While Andres Bonifacio, the father of Philippine Revolution has been reduced by an American Glenn May to a mere figment of the mind of our local historians; hence, only a myth. And the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines is in the offing.
As you may observe, what we have at this point in time are small remnants of the past, like the descendants of our heroes who gathered together to research and document their forbears. Like the Madonna and Child relic that has now found its way to the church of Borongan after staying a hundred years in America.
We are merely at the gathering stage, in the step towards retrieval, of those elements that will make us a nation; so the recourse for exhibits and presentations in the centennial celebration–all for mere display.
Unlike the election fever; we feel it, we live it. We don’t need any national directives to be in the heat of it. It is ingrained in our system.
The political parties, even though how the Comelec streamlined the electoral process, always manage to violate election procedures, from the mere posting of campaign materials on the wall. Some candidates even managed to circumvent the ban on political ads. While others are becoming so methodical in the distribution of money to voters in an attempt to buy votes, threats included. Political opponents and supporters of a few have already been killed in a desperate attempt to exclude them from the race.
Again, the campaign trail has been filled with antics from the running candidates and hysterics from the viewing crowd. People move—campaigning, organizing, gossiping, rumor-mongering, betting, switching candidates and alliances, among others. It’s a cockfight arena; with all the hustlers, bettors, fixers, watchers, runners, among others, in a frenzy commotion.
Election watchdogs are mobilized and organized, in an effort to straighten an all too rowdy Philippine elections. Like a helpless cop trying to pacify a maddening crowd, they remain at the periphery of people haggling votes, cheating on the polls, passing bucks to different hands, and resorting to violence when things get out of hand.
Election bites, for it is real. We don’t need to celebrate it. We simply go through it and get done with it. Good or bad results, money won or lost, blood spilled or not, reputations destroyed or not, all in the name of the game.₪