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Don’t insult your friends

“If you can’t ignore an insult, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh it off; and if you can’t laugh it off, it’s probably deserved.” Russell Lynes

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We don’t need to lose quality friends only because of friction and animosity during the election season.
While there are heightened emotions brought by partisan politics, a friendship can only be shattered if we insult one another especially in the social media.
We can crack jokes for the sake of discussion, but if we resort to insults and belittle our friends, egos will be bruised. Relations will turn sour.
If our friends don’t support our candidates, we don’t denounce them and assassinate their character for supporting another candidate. Vice versa.
Our friends don’t have “poor choices” only because we don’t agree with their candidates. Vice versa.
They are not “stupid” or “idiots” for insisting that their candidates have the best and better platform of government. Vice versa. Some words hurt like daggers especially when they come from friends.
Respect begets respect. When we heap insults, they will boomerang. The law of cause and effect.

COME AND GO

Election season come and go. We keep friends, the good or quality ones, come hell or high water, if needed.
Even before Grace Poe had thought of running for president, friends have been “tagging” each other with many interesting videos, website links, quotations from Buddha and Shakespeare, etc.
Even before Mar Roxas filed his candidacy for president, friends have been swapping ideas and suggestions involving apolitical issues.
Even before Rodrigo Duterte disclosed his intention to seek the highest post of the land, friends have been “liking” each other’s posts with added emoticons.
We can always cast aspersions on the candidates we don’t like. That’s normal in the dirty world of politics. The candidates themselves won’t mind the slander.
Positive or negative publicity is still a publicity. Public Relations 101.

ATTACK

Politicians are accustomed to attacks, verbal and written abuse; mockery is part and parcel of being a candidate for an elective office.
Political rivals engage in mudslinging and pull each other down to improve their rating in the surveys.
Politics, after all, is nasty. We can’t expect the voters to look up at all politicians as role models. There will always be offensive remarks and bashing in mass media.
But let’s spare our friends who support or campaign for another candidate. Let’s respect their choices.
When emotions simmer down after the election of our new set of public officials from municipal council to the president, friends will always be friends.
Let’s hear the speech of Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Election fans, fanatics clash; burn bridges

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Winston Churchill

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Days or weeks after the May 9, 2016 polls, Mar Roxas, Rodrigo Duterte, Jejomar Binay, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Grace Poe will greet each other when they meet accidentally in the airports, hotel lobbies, government offices, and other public places.
Let bygones be bygones. Let’s now put the furor whipped up by intense politicking behind us and move on, they will gamely tell each other.
Life must go on. Live another day. Laugh and the world will laugh with us. Cry and we cry alone.
How about their followers? Some of them are also currently at each other’s throats, bitterly and violently.
Others have burned their bridges; some have declared Armageddon.
Friendships shattered permanently because of partisan politics.

JOKE

“Magbiro sa lasing, huwag sa bagong gising” (play jokes on a drunk, not with someone who just woke up from a sleep) was a popular but succinct warning given us in jest by friends in the Philippines.
The caveat is loud and clear: it’s easy to handle a drunken master than a person whose temper can’t be tamed even by a dose of spirit of ammonia.
This goes also to the two warring camps in the blue and red corners in this election season: the fanatics and the fans.
The rift among supporters of candidates in the May 9 presidential and local elections has gone from bad to worse that the warning level has been optimized to “(you can) argue with fans, (but) shun the fanatics.”
Some people find it more healthy and lively to converse with a fan of a particular candidate and more risky and deadly to engage a fanatic in a debate.

AFICIONADO

A fan is merely an aficionado or admirer, while a fanatic is a person who is zealously enthusiastic for some cause, especially in religion and now politics.
A fan can afford to smile, relax and understand the standpoint of another person. A fanatic is always seething with anger, reluctant to admit his shortcomings, and is willing to kill or even die for his candidate.
A fan likes or admires a certain candidate because the candidate amuses and makes him happy.
A fanatic is a fan to the point that he is obsessed with the candidate he is a of and he might even try to hurt someone who is not a fan or is a fan of a rival.

DEBATES

From round-the-table intellectual discussions among friends to heated debates in the coffee shops, barber shops, including the social media, fans and fanatics clash like warriors in the Battle of Arbela.
While it’s not yet certain who will win the electoral contest, both the fans and fanatics should slow down and refrain from releasing hurting words, or throwing verbal expletives and insults that’s hard to heal and difficult to forget.
Jose Mari Chan has a good suggestion: “Can we just stop and talk a while?”

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Debate cruel

“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.” – Margaret Thatcher

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – Historians say that the major reason for Richard Nixon’s dismal defeat to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 US presidential contest was because JFK clobbered him in the “live” TV debate.
Nixon’s body movement and “farcical” facial expressions became his Waterloo.
In a “live” TV debate, candidates can’t hide their expressions and mannerisms; the aesthetic reality prevails.
Television camera is so cruel it can capture even the number of times a debater’s Adam’s apple gyrates.
In TV format, a nervous candidate becomes an ugly sight.
His eyes watery and panicky like he is about to be hauled into an Inquisition, a nervous debater can produce a hailstorm of confusion among his followers and admirers in the audience.

SEPARATE

The beauty of a “live” presidential debate actually is that the chaffs are easily separated from the grains.
Because all candidates are isolated on stage without immediate assistance from subalterns and campaign strategists, charlatans and nondescript debaters are immediately exposed.
They can’t be rescued by their spin doctors, image builders and propagandists who are off limits in the debate.
They are on their own, thus they better skip the debate if they aren’t prepared, or if they think they don’t belong there in the first place.
What the audience see is what they get.
One official debate can spill a disaster for any leading candidate who performs ludicrously.
After the “live” debate, the wheel of fortune changes so fast for any candidate who leads in independent surveys, or a candidate who lags behind.

NARROW

It can narrow the gap among those wearing the yellow jersey in the surveys and those breathing behind their necks in quick succession hours after the debate.
Debate unmasks the pikons (onion-skinned) and those who are grandstanding.
A candidate should have no stage fright as it automatically disqualifies him or her from the program unless he or she wants to commit hara kiri.
In the last debates for the presidential and vice presidential races for the May 9 elections in the Philippines, we’ve seen how a leading vice presidential aspirant melted down as shown by the feedback in the social media because of a “robotic” style of speaking and his virtual lack of depth and substance on other major issues.
In the most recent presidential debate, we’ve seen how a candidate known for a gung-ho style dodged a question about foreign relations by resorting to argumentum ad verecundiam to camouflage his ignorance.
And so and so forth.
Debates are often a spectacle, but voters still look to them as a primary source of information where there is a democratic competition anywhere in the world.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Surveys don’t elect candidates

“Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?” Robert Orben

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I don’t believe in surveys.
I have covered presidential and local elections in the Philippines since 1992, and I can absolutely declare that many surveys conducted by different “independent” firms months–or even weeks-before the election day, didn’t match the final results.
Surveys–depending on who “sponsored” them– were sometimes used to condition the mind of the public.
Or confuse the undecided voters.
Election 1992 winner Fidel V. Ramos of the Lakas–NUCD (People Power–National Union of Christian Democrats) was never a front-runner in various surveys, but edged Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (PRP)–5,342,521 million votes or 23.58% against 4,468,173 million votes or 19.72%.
Survey leaders Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. (3,316,661 million votes or 14.64%) of the Nationalist People’s Coaliation (NPC) and Ramon V. Mitra (3,316,661 million votes or 14.64%) of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Struggle of Democratic Filipinos) wound up third and fourth, respectively.

ERAP

Cojuangco’s runningmate, Joseph “Erap” Estrada won over Mitra’s runningmate, Marcelo Fernan by more then two million votes.
The only difference was the 1998 presidential race where Estrada clobbered Jose “Joe” De Venecia by more than six million votes (Erap got 10,722,295 votes or 39.86% against De Venecia’s 4,268,483 million votes or 15.87%).
SWS and Pulse Asia surveys consistently showed Erap in the front seat from day one during the campaign period.
Also making difference was De Venecia’s runningmate, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was consistently ahead on all the surveys against LDP’s Edgardo Angara–12,667,252 million votes or 49.56% against 5,652,068 million votes or 22.11%.
Survey networks couldn’t make a “profit” because Erap’s and Gloria’s victories were exceptional.
They were extremely popular at that time and their respective rivals were perceived to be “pipitsugin” or weak.

GLORIA

Election 2004 winner Macapagal-Arroyo was way behind Fernando Poe Jr. of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (Coalition of United Filipinos) in SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, but romped off with a slim margin–12,905,808 million votes or 39.99% against 11,782,232 million votes or 36.51%.
Surveys were split between vice presidential winner Noli de Castro and Loren Legarda, who lost only by less than a million votes, 15,100,431 against 14,218,709.
Election 2010 winner, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr. of the Liberal Party (LP) was also making waves in various surveys owing to the popularity of her late mother, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, but SWS and Pulse Asia surveys showed his closest rivals were Manny Villar of the Nationalista Party and Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro of the Lakas Kampi-CMD.
In fact, many survey outfits saw Villar the winner weeks before the elections on May 10, 2010.
The former speaker of the House, who reportedly had P20 billion war chest, finished third with 5,573,835 million votes or 15.42%.
Strangely, Teodoro, who was the most popular candidate in social media, especially in Facebook, wound up fourth with 4,095,839 million votes or 11.33%

POPULAR

The most popular candidate in the May 9, 2016 elections in Facebook today is Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte.
He also topped the recent SWS and Pulse Asia survey followed by Grace Poe.
They were followed by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) bet Jejomar Binay and LP administration candidate Mar Roxas.
The Comelec, however, has declared Binay’s party as the dominant minority party in this year’s elections, while LP is the dominant majority party.
The poll body’s declaration means that LP and UNA shall be entitled to the following privileges:
–get the fifth and sixth copies of election returns (ERs), respectively, to be produced by the vote counting machines;
–receive electronically-transmitted precinct results;
–get the seventh and eighth copies of the Certificates of Canvass, respectively; and
–assign official watchers in every polling places and canvassing centers.

MACHINERY

Philippine elections are won not only by popularity but more importantly by machinery, as shown in the past presidential races.
A candidate may be popular, but his popularity can’t be translated into votes automatically.
Also, national candidates are usually being carried by party candidates in the local elections for governors, mayors, and provincial, city, and municipal councilors.
Most of the voters not reached by survey organizations are loyal to their villages chiefs, who are mostly loyal to their mayors and governors.
The LP had boasted that 67 out of the 82 incumbent governors showed up at the three-hour gathering known as “show of force” at the historic Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City recently.
A total of 169 district representatives and 74 city mayors were also in attendance.
Will LP change the course of history once more by proving both the SWS and Pulse Asia wrong?

 

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Philippines’ Pericles and Draco, donde estas ahora?

“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.” George Bernard Shaw

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It is believed that the best-ever Senate in the Philippines was the Sixth Congress in 1966-1969 headed by Senate President Arturo M. Tolentino.
The batch produced some of the country’s greatest statesmen and brilliant lawmakers like Alejandro D. Almendras, Gaudencio E. Antonino, Magnolia W. Antonino, Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. (President Noynoy’s father), Dominador R. Aytona, and the marvelous Jose W. Diokno
Sixth Congress also saw the rise of the “Stormy Petrel of the South”, Iloilo City’s Rodolfo T. Ganzon, idol of the timawa (poor).
There was also Eva Estrada Kalaw, Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Wenceslao R. Lagumbay, Juan R. Liwag, Genaro F. Magsaysay, Manuel P. Manahan Raul S. Manglapus, and Camilo Osias.
Cebu’s Sergio Osmeña, Jr. was a member of that illustrious batch along with Emmanuel N. Pelaez, Leonardo P. Perez, Gil J. Puyat, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Gerardo M. Roxas (Mar’s father), the eminent Jovito R. Salonga, human rights behemoth Lorenzo M. Tañada, Lorenzo G. Teves, and Tecla San Andres Ziga.

WAVES

The Senate Seventh Congress (1970-1973) led by Senate President Gil J. Puyat was also making waves, what with the presence of comebacking Ambrosio B. Padilla, team captain of the RP basketball team that placed third in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, who first won as senator after he resigned as solicitor general under President Ramon Magsaysay in 1957.
But Martial Law cut short the senators’ tenure in 1972.
President Ferdinand Marcos subsequently phased out the Legislature as the country’s new Constitution transformed the system of government from presidential to parliamentary.
When democracy was restored after EDSA Revolution in 1986, the Senate Eight Congress (1987-1992) led by Senate President Jovito Salonga produced yet the country’s most dynamic and prolific leaders like Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rene Saguisag, Edgardo Angara, Wigberto Tanada, Teopisto Guingona Jr., Joey Lina, Orlando Mercado, Heherson Alvarez, and the lone survivor from the opposition, Martial Law architect Juan Ponce Enrile.
Now Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. was the lone casualty from the President Cory Aquino-blessed administration senatorial ticket that nearly scored a sweep (Enrile bumped off Defensor for the 24th slot).

PRESENCE

It was in the Senate Ninth Congress (1992-1995) led by Senate President Neptali Gonzalez where film comedian and action stars like Vicente Sotto III, Ramon Revilla Sr. and Freddie Webb started to make their present felt.
PBA playing-coach Robert Jaworski and putschist Gringo Honasan followed suit in the Senate 11th Congress (1998-2001) headed by Senate President Marcelo B. Fernan.
To add insult, action stars Lito Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada completed the Senate 13th Congress (2004-2007) led by Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Another putschist Antonio Trillanes IV made it in the Senate 14th Congress (2007-2010) led by Senate President Manuel Villar.
And finally in the Senate 16th Congress (2013-2016) currently headed anew by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Ma. Lourdes “Nancy” Binay stole the limelight.

ARRIVAL

To compound the matter, the Senate 17th Congress is heading for another “disaster” with the “imminent” arrival of former bold star Alma Moreno and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
When Pericles died in 429 BC, the Greeks mourned the loss of arguably the most prominent and influential statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age.
When Draco died in 600 BC, the Greeks wept the departure of Ancient Greece’s first recorded legislator who laid down Greece’s first constitution known as Draconion Constitution.
Donde estas ahora or where are you now, the Philippines’ Pericles and Draco?

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in ELECTION, HISTORY, POLITICS

 

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How to win an election: Tips from Cicero’s brod

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” Philip K. Dick

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — With election days fast approaching in the Philippines in May and the United States in November this year, we are lucky to have Harvard University’s Dr. Philip Freeman, who translated the text of the Commentariolum Petitionis from Latin to English and included it in the amazing book, “How To Win An Election”, an ancient guide for modern politicians.
For US $3.98 (plus $.35 tax), I was lucky to secure a copy of the book from the Salvation Army in Queens recently. Its unit price was actually $9.95 excluding tax.
Commentariolum Petitionis (“little handbook on electioneering”), also known as De petitione consulatus (“on running for the Consulship”), is an essay supposedly written by Quintus Tullius Cicero, 65-64 BC, as a guide for his brother, Marcus Tullius Cicero, in his campaign in 64 to be elected consul of the Roman Republic.
“I have tried to make my translation accessible, colloquial, and as clear as possible to modern readers, while remaining faithful to the sense of the original text,” writes Freeman, who holds the Qualley Chair of Classical Languages at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

IDEALIST

The book tells us that in 64 BC, when idealist Marcus Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator, ran for consul (the highest office in the Republic), his practical brother Quintus decided he needed some no-nonsense advice on running a successful campaign.
“What follows in his short letter are timeless bits of political wisdom, from the importance of promising everything to everybody and reminding voters about the sexual scandals of your opponents to being a chameleon, putting on a good show for the masses, and constantly surrounding yourself with rabid supporters,” explains Freeman.
Freeman describes it as “unashamedly pragmatic primer on the humble art of personal politicking is dead-on (Cicero wins)–and as relevant today as when it was written.”
Like Machiavelli’s Prince, this short treatise provides timeless and no-nonsense counsel to those who aspire to power.
Idealism and naivete are left by the wayside as Quintus tells his brother–and all of us–how the down-and-dirty business of successful campaigning really works.

PRICELESS

Freeman says the letter is full of priceless advice for modern candidates, but some of the choicest gems are:
1. Make sure you have the backing of your family and friends. Loyalty begins at home. If your spouse and children aren’t behind you, not only will you have a hard time winning but it will look bad to voters. And as Quintus warns Marcus, the most destructive rumors about a candidate begin among closest to him.
2. Surround yourself with the right people. Build a talented staff you can trust. You can’t be everywhere at once, so find those who will represent you as if they were trying to be elected themselves.
3. Call in all favors. It’s time to gently (or not so gently) remind everyone you have ever helped that they owe you. If someone isn’t under obligation to you, let them know that their support now will put you in their debt in the future. And as an elected official, you will be well placed to help them in their time of need.
4. Build a wide base of support. For Marcus Cicero this meant appealing primarily to the traditional power brokers both in the Roman Senate and the wealthy business community–no easy task since groups were often at odds with each other. But Quintus urges his brother as an outsider in the political game to go further and win over the various special interest groups, local organizations, and rural populations ignored by other candidates. Young voters should be courted as well, along with anyone else who might be of use. As Quintus notes, even people no decent person would associate with in normal life should become the closest of friends during a campaign if they can help get you elected. Restricting yourself to a narrow base of support guarantees failure.
5. Promise everything to everybody. Except in the most extreme cases, candidates should say whatever the particular crowd of the day wants to hear. Tell traditionalists you have consistently supported conservative values. Tell progressives you have always been on their side. After the election you can explain to everyone that you would love to help them, but unfortunately circumstances beyond your control have intervened. Quintus assures his brother that voters will be much angrier if he refuses to promise them their hearts’ desire than he backs out later.
6. Communication skills are key. In ancient Rome the art of public speaking was studied diligently by all men who aspired to political careers. In spite of the new and varied forms of media today, a poor communicator is still unlikely to win an election.
7. Don’t leave town. In Marcus Cicero’s day this meant sticking close to Rome. For modern politicians it means being on the ground pressing the flesh wherever the key voters are at a particular moment. There is no such thing as a day off for a serious candidate. You can take a vacation after you win.
8. Know the weakness of your opponents–and exploit them. Just as Quintus takes a hard look at those running against his brother, all candidates should do an honest inventory of both the vulnerabilities and strengths of their rivals. Winning candidates do their best to distract voters from any positive aspects of their opponents possess by emphasizing the negatives. Rumors of corruption are prime fodder. Sex scandals are even better.
9. Flatter voters shamelessly. Marcus Cicero was always courteous, but he could be formal and distant. Quintus warns him that he needs to warm up to voters. Look them in the eye, pat them on the back, and tell them they matter. Make voters believe you genuinely care about them.
10. Give people hope. Even the most cynical voters want to believe in someone. Give the people a sense that you can make their world better and they will become your most devoted followers–at least until after the election, when you will inevitably let them down. But by then it won’t matter because you will have already won.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in EDUCATION, ELECTION, HISTORY

 

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Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Dignity)

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Posted by on April 7, 2016 in EDUCATION

 

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