The social media, notably the Facebook, for the 2016 Philippines Presidential election have turned into a political version of the competition-based TV Reality Shows with the combined features of the “Survivor”, and the “the Big Brother”. The theatrical semblance of the rhetoric, demeanor, and actuations displayed by the presidential aspirants, speak well of the criticisms expressed by millions viewers. That these TV Reality Shows is not “reality” after all, but merely a reflection of the changing taste for an entertainment phenomenon.
The presidential aspirants, in their separate ways during election season do their campaigning in one time frame. By the same token that the “Survivor” participants are brought together in an island for 30 days. In a challenging environment, the participants’ endurance against the elements, their interaction, and the dynamics of secluded living are tested. The “Survivor” participants make alliances, invent schemes, exudes charm, and do battle. If one is not voted out, the participant would win the one million dollar prize. For the presidential aspirants, the one who remains standing gets the “Malacanang Palace”.
The “eviction” concept of the “Big Brother” applies well, too, to the ongoing election fever in the Philippines. The “Big Brother” participants, called housemates, would be herded out to a secluded house with no contact from the outside world. The house they stayed in is equipped with cameras and microphones and would record every bit of housemate’s actions, compels them to reveal their hidden thoughts, and explode their emotions. Then, the “Big Brother,” who acts like God oversee and give direction of what activities the housemate should do, and required them to nominate a fellow housemate for eviction.
The “Big Brother” here, is the equivalent of big campaign contributors, avid supporters, or tycoons of big businesses, who have big stakes to be put on the line to protect their interest. Like a puppeteer, the “Big Brother” pulled the string who they want to get evicted from the presidential race to make sure it is their chosen one who will be beholden to them that will capture the “Malacanang”.
These dynamics, with the concept of the “Survivor” and the “Big Brother” put in place, and with the aid of interactive Facebook used as a platform, reaches and captures the tabloid like entertainment enjoyed by the D & E Class voters, (bobotantes) After all, they have the biggest voter demographics. All the presidential aspirants would have to stoop down to the language and nuances of the tabloid entertainment to get these votes. Never mind, if it cheapened themselves doing so, like Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, or if they are already cheap, like Alma Moreno – so, be cheaper.
Three types of the presidential aspirant that can be a fodder for tabloid like entertainment: Mudslinger, flaunter of virtues, and pitcher of bullshit.
The presidential aspirants can be all these types. If not themselves, it could be their respective operatives.
The mudslinger type is the conflict generator. They are the schemer, the dirt digger, and the gossipmonger. They are the type that makes the “Survivor” and the “Big Brother” clicked. The mudslinger is the AC-DC’s of politics. They Attack and Concoct, and when cornered and got a flak they Defend and Contract. Take the case of Digong Duterte. He indirectly attacked Mar Roxas, an administration’s candidate through the traffic mess caused by the Pope’s visit. In so doing, he curses the Pope. It ignited big condemnation from the Catholics hierarchy. Duterte retaliated. He said to the effect, “Don’t be so pompous, as your ranks have sinned too”. Then told, he was molested by a priest when he was young. But mellowed afterwards when he said, he will donate 1000 pesos for every curse he makes on his speeches.
Flaunter of virtues. Every one of the presidential aspirants have been guilty of this. Their do-gooder videos ventilated, parodied, and debated in Facebook. These spawns partisan warfare from the netizens. But if you are a keen observer you would realize them as all propaganda. Each aspirants wrestle and outdo each other to score brownie points. And you get sick of it. Jejomar Binay, in spite everybody knows he’s corrupt he played himself in video as if he’s the paragon of trustworthiness. Purporting himself to be a pro poor is the most revolting, because it’s right in your face that he is a liar.
Pitcher of bullshits. Duterte’s and Grace Poe’s camps are its worst offender. On the subject of monstrous traffic and labor contractualization, Grace Poe used lip service and motherhood statements void of contextual moorings. Alan Peter Cayetano of Duterte’s camps, on the other hand, opted for decentralization, moving the vital infrastructure out of the National Capital Region. Huh! People know that that’s all bullshit. Because, they don’t have concrete and doable plans of how they would build a consensus amongst the myriads of stakeholders.
The 2016 Philippines Election campaign mirrors the criticism against the TV reality shows. It’s not real. It’s entertainment.