A SOJOURNER’S VIEW: What to expect in a Presidency – a comic turn

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 May)  — One more week and we will know who will be our next President of the Republic of the Philippines.  It can only be among the five presidential candidates who slugged it out on the campaign trail these past few months: Digong, Grace, Mar, Jojo and Miriam.

It has been so far a very serious campaign with a lot of mud-slinging; candidates throwing dirt at each other. Even the political opinions in media – especially in the wake of Digong’s foot-on-the mouth offensive jokes and comments – were dead serious.  If words can kill, some candidates are already off the list.

Time for fun and laughter!  As a people we have only relied on Willie Nep and Jon Santos to crack the jokes. There have been far too little farce and satire in the media lampooning the words and actions of the candidates. These can only impoverish us as a people as we need humor to spice up the boring ordinariness and seriousness of everyday life. Which is why societies then and now – from the Paleolithic to the post-modern age – need the jester, the joker, the comedian.  As with the song, we need to cry out: send in the clowns!

I will make a small effort to get us to laugh just before we go out and cast our votes. Perhaps we can crack jokes as we imagine who will be next in Malacaňang.   How will each of the five candidates fare as President of the Republic? What would be the most interesting constitutive elements of their Presidency? Allow me to imagine the possible scenarios.

If Miriam wins, the madlang people will be on their knees begging God to not yet be ready for another six years. Imagine if her running mate Bongbong wins as VP, and God gets ready with her within a week or two?  Que horror! Imelda will be back in Malacaňang with all that was good, true and beautiful of the golden years of martial rule, complete with butterfly sleeves and pink parasols!  (Martial law victims – aging and without support from their grandchildren who voted for Bongbong  – will be wearing black in six years).

But if God decides to not be ready for her in six years, a lot of interesting things will arise in the Republic. The Ilongo-accented English will become fashionable! All her security aides will eat threats for breakfast like their bossing. Every morning and evening broadcast news will give daily health updates of the President before the weather forecast; talk of cancer will be so ordinary that no one fears the disease anymore. She will invite FVR and a socialite friend to a state dinner in Malacaňang and then introduce him as the man who stole her Presidency!  Before her term ends, she will have a film made of her life story. Jon Santos will of course play her.

What if Jojo wins? Outside of his family and inner circles, the criteria for hiring Malacanang employees will be height. Tenured employees whose height is five feet above will be fired.   This way the President – when he walks in the halls of Malacaňang – will stand out, which is but fitting for the person holding the highest (pun un-intended) post in the land!  There will be changes in the light design where he goes as the darkness should be vanquished (the author pleads guilty if this remark is racist! Sorry!). By the end of his term, titles of all State properties – from Bongao to Basco and Baguio in between – would be claimed by the Binay real estate business.  Sigue na lang, those properties are not earning anyway!  The Binays may turn them into top-earning assets to pay for more cakes.

The senior citizens across the archipelago will have a time of their lives especially when they celebrate their birthdays. Like seniors in Makati, cakes will be delivered at their doorstep, courtesy of a Binay bakeshop with outlets in all urban centers. This expense will be charged to an account known as Bring Pre-Departure Happiness, a presidential prerogative. Jojo will do everything he can to duplicate the Ayala urban center Makati in all corners of the archipelago so that he can tax the rich to give to the poor. Alas, he will realize Ayala is difficult to replicate outside of Makati since Pinoys continue to seek their fortune in Metro Manila or go abroad.  Caught in the complex role of administering the entire country, he will have no more time for Makati. Businessmen in the premier city of the country will have reasons to rejoice!

If Mar wins, journalists will be an endangered species as they will collapse under the strain of boredom along with their bored reading public.  Who will appear at the Malacaňang press-cons to be bombarded with statistics and data only economists understand? Only those who will be given extra honorarium to be present. The color yellow would have been abandoned pronto after Mar takes the seat in Malacaňang. Whatever is Korina’s favorite color will dominate the color schemes inside the palace. And her TV program – oh yes, ABS-CBN will gladly welcome her back – will be broadcast from the presidential office or the palace’s Heroes Hall.

The good news, however, especially for taga-Davao is the major increase in PhilHealth funds available, if only to spite you-know-who. But bad news for Tacloban and Zamboanga where he got zero vote during the elections; these cities will be ignored by the State machinery under the President’s office in the next six years!  Ayala – and even the global city in Taguig – will have to be relegated to lower status compared to Cubao where an ultra-modern city will rise! Meanwhile Mar’s home-province – Capiz – will benefit from a Capizeňo President; more tourists will flock there to join the aswang fesstivals!  But as money will pour in Cubao, sorry Capiz folks, your infrastructure and basic needs’ facilities will remain Third World.

And goodness Grace; what if FPJ’s daughter becomes President?  Side by side with Rizal will be FPJ monuments in every town plaza! Her family members who will remain Americans will make sure the U.S. bases are well established at the nearest point of the Philippine archipelago facing China! (No, they have no plans to jet-ski their way there!). Mother Susan Roces will do an Imelda taking over the management of CCP, the NCCA, the Folk Arts, the damaged Film Center, the Met theatre near Manila’s city hall and all other centers of culture.  Coco Martin could be appointed Minister for Culture. (No, Kris will be relegated to the margins; she’ll be too busy raising funds for her brother’s cases in court!).

Grace will be a hit though at international gatherings of heads of States as she will stand out as the youngest, cutest, slenderest, coolest chick among mostly aging male Prime Ministers and Presidents!  She’ll be CNN’s, BBC’s, Al-Jazeera’s favorite head of state to cover as she looks and sounds terrific on TV. She will have to take in more medicine to make sure her memory cells are intact; all that memorizing of lines do take a toll after a while!  Side by side with President Hillary Clinton (who seems to be winning herself) on a State visit, Americans will be able to welcome two Presidents who are Americans on both sides of the planet!

How will she handle the military machinery with its intense machismo culture? Simple…organize the TV/film’s action heroes from Erap and Bong Revilla (he will be immediately pardoned after Grace takes her oath!) to the Lapids, promote them as Generals and lead the army to fight the State’s enemies from the rebels to the Abu Sayyaf! Following her Ninong Erap, she just might declare an all-out war if she could not get away with her “inclusive strategy to peace negotiations” as she might not be able to convince the machos – Nur, the MILF and BIFF commanders, JoMa and the death squads – to sit round one table!

And what about Digong – would he ever change his wardrobe, his facial expressions and his language when he becomes President so he could win over the middle-upper classes, fashionistas, feministas and intelligentsia of this Republic?  Well – go to hell, all of you who want to fashion him to their expectations!  No way is he going to change; take him or leave him.  Malacaňang will return to the days of The Guy – President Magsaysay.
Gates will be open to the masa; Mondays for landless peasants, Tuesdays for agricultural workers, Wednesdays for industrial workers, Thursdays for battered women, Fridays for fisherfolk (selling seafoods that day!), Saturdays for beggars, streetchildren, vendors, taxi/jeepney drivers and all the proletariat groups.  State dinners at the palace will no longer take place (as the President of the USA and Australia will not come for State visits). Protocol will be damned; those dealing with palace protocol will be out of work. So also couturiers, flower arrangers, chefs and all those mobilized for elite affairs in the palace.

To make up for his rape joke; Digong will field women with strong leadership in major government offices where corruption is rampant. The ones now in Ombudsman and BIR will keep their jobs. Miriam will return to Immigration; to protect her, Digong will give her all the weapons she needs so she could deal with her death threats before she even takes breakfast. If Leila doesn’t make it to the Senate and if she is open to reconciliation, she can take the post at the Customs. Etta will be head at NAIA and have power over all the airports in the country. For the DFA, Inday S will be posted there; she, too, could take the ski jet to China.  Of course Grace will occupy either DSWD or Tourism or return to her Censors post. And the nuns who have no qualms dealing with Digong will be the foot soldiers to deal with erring policemen, barangay officials and tanods. (Sr Jo, will you be their Commander-in-Chief?)

I could still go on and on. But then I see dark clouds hovering as the days move to May 9. I fear comic may turn to tragic! May this intuition not come to pass at all for I would still want to laugh after May 9. [Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar is Academic Dean of the Redemptorists’ St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) in Davao City and a professor of Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University. He is author of several books, including Desperately Seeking God’s Saving Action: Yolanda Survivors’ Hope Beyond Heartbreaking Lamentations, and two books on Davao’s history launched in December 2015 — Davao in the Pre-Conquest Era and the Age of Colonization and Si Menda ug ang Baganing gitahapan nga mao si Mangulayon. He writes two columns for MindaNews, one in English (A Sojourner’s Views) and the other in Binisaya (Panaw-Lantaw)]