Publicity for the sake of publicity  

Posted by Laya in

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full."
-Luke 6: 32- 34

I promised myself that come the 2010 elections, I will not believe what TV, print and radio ads say about the candidates. It is hard to avoid these ads. They are everywhere: on TV in between segments of my favorite Koreanovela, on the radio when I'm in the taxi going to work, in the papers, even pasted on lampposts and hanging from street corners everywhere I turn.

So-and-so Congressman is a sponsor of this educational opportunity, such-and-such Councilor is the sponsor of this purok fiesta, this Senator is a pro-poor advocate, that one is the hope of the nation. Even the president is lauded as the benefactor of such-and-such livelihood program and scholarship. When the name of the politician is way bigger than that of the program / project / event he or she is supposed to be sponsoring, I end up wondering whether the said program / project / event is nothing more than a publicity gimmick to make that politician more visible to the public.

I guess that deep down, I believe that a candidate's track record and public life should speak for itself when it comes to elections. I am more inclined to be suspicious of and avoid candidates who never miss the opportunity to get themselves front and center of the cameras, the flashing lights, the microphone. Just like I always tell the writers I edit, "show, don't tell. Instead of describing such-and-such in generalized superlatives that don't mean anything, just set forth the facts and let them speak for themselves," so too I want to know the facts about the candidates and let them speak for themselves instead of listen to them blather on in glowing, grandiose rhetoric about their (public) beliefs, proposals and acts. But then, you tell me, that's politics.

Remember the film Constantine? It posed the question: If you do good in expectation of a reward, is the deed still "good" enough to merit such reward? Constantine, being a resuscitated suicide, was considered unworthy to enter heaven because he had, technically, killed himself. He kept on hunting, exorcising and killing demons in the hope that he would enter heaven. It may be argued, however, that the awareness that you are doing something not because it is good but because you hope to gain something from it has already cancelled out the reward. Thus, too, with the current politicians, I keep thinking that the moment they do something for publicity's sake and not for public service, the public service part of it has already been cancelled out by the publicity part. It's different when someone tries to get publicity for a cause. I'd be more inclined to accept that if someone put the cause ahead of themselves. But when someone acts as if the cause was there for their benefit... no thanks.

But tell me, which among the politicians, especially the presidentiables, that we have now do not have those ads and publicity gimmicks? Now that it is election time, they are everywhere, kissing babies, hugging old people, and promising reforms. Jokes are being cracked about politicians wanting the position not because they really want to serve the country, but because they only want the power and the benefits that come with the position. With that view... are there any politicians left that I might honestly wish to put into office? If I thought for just one second that writing "abstain" in all the places in my ballot would teach them a lesson, I'd do it. Unfortunately, that would just make my ballot irrelevant, and would just help to put someone else in power. The people who might have probably made a difference, if not in action, at least in mind shift, such as Ang Ladlad and Danny Lim, have been disqualified anyway.

This reminds me once again of the Katipunan, and Aguinaldo and Bonifacio. Bonifacio, who helped to found the Katipunan, who helped to lead the revolution from its early stages, ultimately was struck down by politicians who wanted to use the cause of the nation to further their own agenda. In the end, the people who wanted an independent nation were all gone, replaced by men who accepted a payoff in return for voluntary exile. Well, come to think of it... if that was the way this republic began, no wonder it's this way now, a century later.

This entry was posted at Monday, December 21, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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