May 10th is election day in The Philippines. While I was there last year I was lucky (or unlucky, depending on your sense of humour) enough to witness the campaign advertisements of the presidential candidates (or presidentiables, as they are called back home). I always find something to laugh about in political advertisements here in North America. The smiling faces, the kissing babies, shaking hands with construction workers and nurses, children reading, the politician standing with arms crossed and a satisfied smile as fighter jets fly over head, waving flags, promise, hope, and the possibility of a brighter future. The perfect world. It's all a little cheesy for me and not in the stevie wonder kinda way. Well, the campaign advertisements in The Philippines are almost similar except take that perfect world and place it in the midst of grinding poverty. The irony is too much.
I came across this skit called Rich Kids by the Bubble Gang. The Bubble Gang is a sketch comedy show from The Philippines on the GMA network. This particular skit depicts four kids from the upper classes sitting on a cafe patio (a scene I got used to seeing in Manila). One guy comes out and brings up the Election campaign ads of the politicians in the country. He asks his buddies if they ever notice that the politicians only ever address the issues of the poor. Every time you see a politician they're carrying a poor baby. They all agree, WHAT ABOUT US? Why isn't there a candidate that's for the rich? The four go around the table listing several problems suffered by the rich that aren't being addressed.
Here are some of them:
-One brings up the issue of rich people always getting kidnapped. "I want some peace of mind. Poor people sleep whenever they want, wherever they want. You ever heard of a poor person getting kidnapped?"
-"My driver's wife, she has a fake LV (Louis Vuitton) just like mine! HOW EMBARRASSING DUDE!"
-"I'd commute, but the transit, it's only for the poor. There's too many people, it smells. They should build one just for rich. One that's cozy and more comfortable."
-"and when you're driving. There's always those people with their motorcycles weaving in and out causing traffic. It's about time that they build us a GOLDEN LANE." (note: the actor starts laughing a little as he says this. it's hilarious if you know what traffic is like in Manila and you think about how terribly frivolous this request is and that it sounds like something they actually would build.)
-"at least when we go to the mall we spend money. the poor, what do they do? they go to the mall to get out from the heat and eat french fries."
It's the sort of political satire I was not used to seeing in popular Filipino humour. They're able to make it work without being too controversial (it's easy to be controversial in The Philippines) by exaggerating the Taglish (Tagalong + English = Taglish) the guys are speaking. It's a blend of Tagalog and an annoying mid-western American accent that is probably learned from TV because they only use cliches. It pokes fun at the way (a lot of) upper class (and balikbayan- me included) kids speak. So like any great piece of satire, nobody is safe.
The four decide that they should start a rally. They decide to call it "Rich PEOPLE POWER." Referring to the People Power movement in the 80s. One asks where their placards are and they call on their maids and drivers to fetch them; "Mang Dalphin, come here!" The skit ends with the crowd chanting "Let's make baka, don't be takot!" Which means "Let's fight, don't be scared." (Possibly a jab at Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero.)
This year's elections, however are no laughing matter. There are (as expected) some MAJOR problems. But we'll have to wait until May 10th to see what really happens, until then read a report from our buddy Alex Felipe who is there right now: http://projectbalikbayan.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/elections2010/
And one here by the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/world/asia/07iht-legacy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
Also, here are some examples of Campaign Advertisements from this year.
Noy Noy Aquino
Mar Roxas (who got bumped down by his party to the running mate for Noy Noy. But I find his old ads to be particularly ridiculous.)
Richard 'Dick' Gordon