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Campaign entertainment

By: Editorial December 23,2015 - 10:11 AM


Though she’s a newbie in the electoral campaign scene, former justice secretary and now Liberal Party (LP) senatorial bet Leila de Lima, who visited the Cebu Daily News editorial office recently, is familiar with the unspoken “song and dance number” requirement.

While  she would rather speak about  her advocacy for human rights and speedy justice, de Lima can carry a tune well.

And she said she doesn’t mind performing   if only to hold the attention of masa voters out there.

With a population raised on noontime TV variety shows and karaoke, the countryside is a wide open audience.

The fiesta tradition is alive and well.

So urbanite candidates have to brush up, not just their oratory skills, but their role as entertainers.

Everyone who’s elected had their turn on stage in some far-flung barangay and town.

In the 1960s and 70s, former first lady and now congresswoman  Imelda Marcos often sang “Dahil sa Iyo” and other duets with her husband, Ferdinand, whose strongman rule ended in 1986, even as the tradition of entertaining voters lives on.

Even Ninoy Aquino had his signature song, “The Impossible Dream”.

Filipino voters have come to expect, rightly or wrongly, for candidates to be  smiling celebrities  on stage and not just  serious leaders.

The “miting de avance” is designed as a dramatic platform, with speeches, songs and visual appearances specially timed to close with a dramatic finish, accomplishing top-of-mind retention of one’s name  and one’s smile, even if voters can’t remember the details of the action plan that promises to lift everyone out of poverty.

Such rallies can stretch beyond midnight, providing a test of stamina for only the hardiest of candidates.

Even US presidential candidates know the value of TV as  entertainment. They are not exempt from the lure of low-brow popularity.

Former first lady and senator Hillary Clinton guested on the comedy show “Saturday Night Live”. Donalt Trum went on talk shows and comedy programs as well as his reality show “The Apprentice” that kept him high on surveys.

In the digital age, it’s  Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who’s  invested early in a multi-media presidential campaign and parlayed his folksy Bisaya homor in memes and “hugot” lines that has made him a viral topic online.

Mar Roxas, with his stilted, “burgis” image has a lot of catching up to do. Will he suddenly acquire talents in singing and dancing?

Despite the Filipinos’ love for  entertainment,  we hope that after  voters enjoy the laughter and music,  they will step back , and in the exercise of their conscience, choose their leaders with more seriousness than the temporary amusement provided during the campaign.

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TAGS: Elections, Leila De Lima, Liberal Party, politics

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