My Two CentsBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
A FEW months ago, I received a call from the editorial staff informing me of a meeting at our headquarters. No reason was given about what was to be discussed but all I knew was they wanted me to attend.
In the glassed conference room were seated all those in the newsroom with a youthful exuberance for an immediate brainstorming meeting.
Its aim: To identify ways in which the paper could attract a more youthful readership.
As of now, the paper has mainly garnered an audience with older faces. This may be great for the short-term but as long-term prospects are concerned, an audience would be harder to achieve over time, if you know what I mean.
Mr. editor-in-chief, Lito, was concerned if we veered too far from our present readership and forgot about ways of luring newer ones. We would slowly lose readers and progressively run out of steam. And that definitely wouldn’t be good.
Now, it’s not like Lito and his cohorts haven’t tried anything before. At times, many times even, we’d have features based on the Filipino American youth, from musicians, pop stars to singers.
But technically, there has never been a way to acquire a sustainable youth section.
Everything and anything that could possibly have some relevance to the kids of our generation was placed on the big board. Technology to women’s issues. You name it… we wrote it.
At the end of the hour, we had a broad spectrum of topics to choose from. One topic did disturb me though. Politics.
My first thoughts at the prospect of a youth political section: O h*ll no. If I’m not mistaken, it was Lito who thought of putting that topic up there.
From the onset, my obvious opposition toward the political realm was simple.
There was no need for another political section in the paper. Enough of the op-ed is covered already by our columnists, Emil and Rodel, among others. Another section would have been overkill.
I did not explain it in that way when I asked that it be removed but it was removed at my request. No long-winded justification required.
Now that I come to think of it though, my decision that the youth ignore the political aspect would be wrong
One of our Filipino American teachers at San Francisco State, Prof. Daniel P. Gonzales, suggested that, even as American Filipinos who grew up here in America, ignoring the Philippines, as it presently stands, would be folly.
We mustn’t forget that the very reason Filipinos immigrated here to America is greatly influenced by the political landscape of our home country. How policies are made and rotated within the island’s political system, has a direct impact not only on the Filipino communities in Saudi and the Middle East but also on the very make-up of our own community.
So even though politics may not have the attractive appeal that other topics may garnish, it still is important, even for American Filipinos who stay on this side of the Pacific coast.
So, what’s my two cents on the political landfill which is the Philippines? We’ll, I’ll tell you.
If the Philippines was in any way going to be the “showcase of democracy” that America wanted it to be, let me just say, we’ve done quite a fine job following through with it, becoming a model of how a real democracy should be when placed in high gear.
It’s easy to dispute that, I’m sure, and claim the total opposite. I mean to the world, Philippine politics resembles a circus of clowns and cronies neither stable or worthy of any recognition whatsoever in mainstream newspapers.
Such a disgraceful show of ignorance of the people’s needs and only looking out for number one would make Filipino, home or abroad, abhorrently ashamed of heritage.
But how could anyone blame their actions when the Philippines just happens to be following America’s lead? If America could land a B-actor as president, the Philippines could do one better and elect an A+ actor.
If California could recall their head of state, the Philippines could do one better and recall not one but two of them by massive upheaval.
And let us not forget the incredible long time it took the Philippines to finally get the results of our last election. Hanging chad or no hanging chad, the state of Florida wasn’t needed for our election to be as fraudulent as ever.
No wonder Filipinos living in America have good reason for trying to get involved in Philippine politics.
Their hope is that through their efforts, they would be able to sway undecideds back home to consider the right candidate for the country and that in the end, would prove to be more fruitful for their kababayan in the PIs.
In the short term, this may very well be helpful for the country for the correct candidate may have been chosen. But in the long run, such meddling would prove disastrous.
Their decision on who would be their next leader would always need to be blessed by foreigners looking in before their judgment could have a hint of validity.
We would have reinforced the idea that the masses are just a bunch of ignorant voters who have no idea, election after election, who the real candidate should be and must always need to be lead hand-in-hand to the correct choice.
As for me, watching the election fiasco proceed is important but to get involved in it to make an impact would be wrong.
Let them make mistakes. Mistakes are human. Only through their mistakes will the masses come to understand what to look for in a candidate and also what not to look for.
But to continue to lead them in their choice of candidates from the outside only invites them to never believe in themselves.
It is perhaps the loss of confidence of the masses in their own electoral system that is the worst thing that has happened in the Philippines and this will only be perpetuated, not diminished, by the influence of outside involvement. What you would have in the end is a populace that will never learn to do the right thing and always rely on massive, disruptive rallies to fix another foiled election.
Perhaps the unrelenting pork-barreling, the down-right-dirty politicking and our affinity for being one of the banana republics will never cease to exist.
It may very well be in our country’s nature to be the corrupt capitalist that we are, a habit that is also practiced in vigor among the nations that surround us.
But the thing that separates us from those countries, is the fact that only internal forces within their countries determine the outcome of their elections. They may also have hoards of money being pocketed left and right, but never is there a need for their candidates to plead aboard to garner votes.
Even countries like Indonesia that rank even more corrupt than ours (though the Philippines ranked in as the fourth most corrupt country in Asia, our behemoth friend to the south still beats us for the gold) may have all the bloody riots they want, but they still could achieve an improving economy thanks to a smooth electoral process.
Restoring the faith in the political system may be the biggest challenge the Philippines will face. Poverty and corruption may always exist on the islands but with a confident electorate, changes could be enacted to alleviate those pains.
And that’s my two cents. - PDM
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