I feel ambivalent towards Erap.

I neither like nor dislike him. My feelings has something to do with the memories of my little boy. My 6 year old son adored Erap. Luijoe thought the world of the former president. Luijoe yelled at the top of his voice that Erap was the smartest president in the whole world, in a jumpacked room at a plane ticket office ten summers ago.

In his booming voice, he threw his hands up in the air , twirling around the room, “Mom, President Erap is so smart, the smartest president in the whole wide world”.

awkward silence

Nobody in that room could deny not hearing my son’s adulation. It was May 2000 at the height of Erap’s unpopularity. I wanted the floor to open up and swallow both of us. I could feel the steely gaze and snickers surrounding us. My boy never sensed the awkwardness of the situation but I wanted to save face.

“So , why is Erap the smartest president in the whole wide world?”, as I squeaked the question to my naughty son.

“Mom, his jokes mom. He says the funniest jokes. That is very smart of him” (or something like that)

See my son had a great sense of humor and loved to throw a joke or two. Then he discovered the Erap jokes during one of our conversations. Luijoe overheard us laughing to our heart’s content on an Erap joke. He wanted to know why were laughing. He badgered to know the joke. So I narrated the joke

Erap: Miss, do you have a ballpen?
Clerk: Sorry, sir we don’t have any ballpen
Erap (angry): Why did you name your store “Penshoppe“?

royal_elastics 043.jpgHow my boy laughed! Luijoe loved to tell this joke to everyone . One time, Luijoe and I passed by Penshoppe ( a teen fashion store) in Glorietta mall and I teased him if he wanted to go inside with me , so I could ask the same question Erap asked. Luijoe tugged me away. hehe

I bought him the book , “Joke ni Erap” by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in early 2000. Luijoe often packed this Erap Joke book in his backpack and kept re-reading those jokes that he could understand. He loved the book so much, he even labelled it with his name. Here are a few of his favorite jokes culled from that book.
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To the Noynoy supporters

Take time to read carefully from beginning to end including citations from columnists. This is about the grief and sense of loss (then road to acceptance) as the title suggest. This is not about you. Be happy your candidate won instead of making fun of people’s pain. Of course, you are entitled to get pissed (at the author of the Business World article I quoted) as we are entitled to our sadness. Remember that the quality of a victor shows in how he treats the defeated. thank you.

Juan VoteMay 10 called upon #juanvote to close the day with our anecdotes of the historic first national automated election. Right before we went live, the breaking news of the Comelec hit us hard. The speed of the results just stunned us. Thirty-five (35%) of the votes were just transmitted. Noynoy Aquino took a lead.

I was restless that night, unable to sleep. Did I waste 9 months of my life to voters’ education when I could have ventured into more profitable endeavors? You might all know by now that I didn’t vote for Noynoy Aquino because he didn’t fit my critieria of competency, character, coherent platform and clear vision. The night before May 10, I told myself that no matter who the president will be and as long as it is a fair and clean election (unlike the Hello Garci scandal in 2004), I will support the new president whoever he/she may be.

Just like sudden death, the impact of the news was shocking. How could 40% of the voters ignore “several candidates far more qualified by a record of public achievement than Noynoy” ? As Rene Azurin expressly wrote

“Mr. Aquino, because he is famous and a celebrity, can claim authority over us without any demand to show prior proof that he is at all qualified to exercise it. That’s intrinsically unfair. Of course, this is not Mr. Aquino’s fault. It is our fault for allowing ourselves to fall — stupidly, let us admit — under the spell of celebrity.”

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I should be busy puttering here and there, excitedly preparing for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration that will happen three days before election day. Here I am in bed with a laptop on my belly, shaking my head, stupefied, trying to comprehend the negativity and hope of the campaign season. There are more important matters to attend to, like the music, the photography, the invitations of the party and the citizen media on election day. For the first time, bloggers like me are given Comelec media accreditation and I am going to make the most of it. There are just some things I need to unload before letting go and moving on….

Like, the good, the bad and the ugly of the Elections 2010 that I am about to ramble.

I wrote about Why Manny Villar? and showed his human side. The past months, we have seen politicians, media, rival supporters demonize Manny Villar in the eyes of the public such that we soon forget his capabilities. I shared a link in Twitter that criticizes Noynoy Aquino and soon comments reach me that I am suspected as Villar’s paid hack. *rolls eyes*

The Bad

Paid hack

It appears that the payola was indeed a prevalent practice in the past elections. I can’t blame these rabid supporters (let me make it clear, not all Noynoy supporters are rabid and I am referring only to this group of rabid supporters) because they don’t know me and it is just unthinkable for them that Noynoy would have critics. But what flawed conclusion is this? Just because one criticizes Noynoy Aquino, one is already suspected of being a paid hack. So let’s just see how stupid these allegations are.

First, life before Blog Watch was pretty laid back. I work at the comfort of my cozy home. I blog at leisure. I take my time at the gym. My kids are all working and I finally have my own time. I too am my own boss. sarap ng buhay ko!.

Working on Blog Watch meant time away from my husband who has been used to me being home at night for the past 25 years. Now I sleep late, writing an article that takes 4 to 6 hours to finish. Why would I sell my soul to a candidate? ( Incidentally, I am quite disappointed that PCIJ chose to sensationalize the Dark Side’ of elections stalks bloggers, techies which I think refers to a small minority of the blogosphere. In fact, I don’t even know of any Death Star. PCIJ is forgetting the fact that there are lots of bloggers who are doing their share in making these elections credible)

I digress.

Second, do these people even know what lies deep in my heart? Do they know that there are people who might actually be sincere and render service out of love of country?

It is so easy to just lie down on my soft canopy bed, wrapped around the comfort of my husband’s arms, file my nails, then watch TV. How easy it is to just rant and bitch about the evils of GMA, bitch about corruption, and do nothing. So easy to live within my comfort zone. But I am blessed with the opportunity to write about the underplayed stories of the election and the candidates.

I grabbed the chance to be an active citizen and contribute in my own little way. It is not easy. I am not into politics. I research, study, write, rewrite which takes hours to do. I often get headaches from “nosebleed” political issues which I badger my husband to explain to me in layman terms.

Is it hard to fathom that Blog Watch contributors are principled citizens who love their country and just want to do their share to make these elections credible?

So excuse me! I cannot bring money to my grave.

Elections, I am told are often played dirty. I will never get used to it. This will probably be the last time I will write for a presidential election. I will be 58 years old in six years and I don’t think I have the energy to stomach the lies, the black propaganda…

The Ugly

Black Propaganda

Let me borrow the words of a wise twitter friend,ang_mungo, on the intensified mud-slinging that we are bound to see from today till election day.

People forget that the Senate was at its most productive during the Senate Presidency of Villar since it was re-established in 1987

People forget that Villar was the one who did a fastbreak at Congress – which led to Estrada’s impeachment – that we all applauded for.

People forget that Villar was the one who appointed Alan Cayetano to the Blue Ribbon Committee which became GMA’s major headache.

People forget that when there were OFWs that needed to be brought home, Villar was the only politician who did something about it.

As ang_mungo expands further: “Yes, let’s demonize the man who built his own business. Let’s make sure everyone forgets what he’s done RIGHT and focus on all that’s WRONG. Let’s not give them a chance to play up his strengths. Time is of the essence. Hit Villar hard and hit him continuously. Don’t give people a chance to think. Fill their minds with fantasies — about the goodness of our candidate and the evil of Villar.”

Open your eyes, and see how consistent the anti-villar mob’s strategy is –

1. Question Villar’s character,
2. Don’t let people get the chance to see his good side
3. Don’t talk about Noynoy.

Does it sound consistent?

Oh and add this variation to the strategy:

1. Keep talking about Noynoy’s honesty and goodness
2. Veer away from talk of Noynoy’s record
3. Continue to attack Villar

I got almost duped. Many of my friends hate Manny Villar and what do they know? Those who support Manny Villar are afraid to come out in the open fearing the wrath of the cult of rabid Noynoy supporters. This has been a campaign of hate. What has become of us? Traditional media focused more on campaign conduct over platforms, policy issues and action plans.

Let’s pretend you did not see that yellow ribbon tied on that TV camera

And if that were not enough, another strategy is to attack people who write favorably about Villar or criticize Noynoy.

A blogger showed me an email on how bodily harm might befall that blogger if blog entries continue to criticize Noynoy. Not only were threats made on this blogger but to the mother as well. And why drop hints that they had photos of that blogger’s children? Can I just say plain harassment and bullying?

Not to mention demolition plans to destroy a blogger’s credibility as if that will stop the truth from coming out. They know it in their hearts that I speak the truth.

To think they talk of integrity of their candidate? Excuse me.

I can easily let their vicious plans go since it’s comes with the territory but apparently dirty tricks department works 24/7. One day, I received an email that detailed the propagation of a black propaganda against Villar. I felt nauseated looking at their names. Obviously these people have vested interests. My highly reliable source requested me to keep the sender’s name in confidence. The plans made sense, the timing , and the people involved. Yet, I felt good that there was someone in that group who still had a conscience.

There is hope. There are good people around us.

Negative campaign

Adolf Hitler explained the principle of the Big Lie: people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people take it as gospel truth.

Bulatlat reported that “It is most unfortunate that the Aquino camp, the Liberal Party, which is leading in the surveys has been employing the dirtiest politics“.

They say the candidate cannot control the actions of their supporters. Still if your candidate is about honesty and goodness, you could at least follow the lead of your candidate.

Ricky Carandang in his twitter stated ” the best indicator of how a candidate will be as president is how he runs his campaign”.

I supported Noynoy Aquino for a few months despite the objections of my daughter who thought I had gone stark raving mad. As the campaign rolled along, I felt Noynoy is not suited to be a president, based on what I look for in a president. It is not just the criteria.

The manner of his campaign turned me off like he had no control of the people involved and let me stress again, the dirty tricks that were thrown our way. It gives me an insight on his type leadership and governance. Dirty. No substance.

The Good

Lessons Learned

Despite the bad and the ugly, there is a silver lining. There is hope that people can discern the truth from the lies. I want to share insights gained from the past months since I took an active role in this election. I need to make a stand, share my knowledge and impart unsolicited advice because we are talking about our future, the future of our children.

Some of you will not agree with me and that’s okay. We can always agree to disagree.

1. Noynoy Aquino is not my presidential candidate. I agree with Dine that Noynoy needs substance. Here is a candidate with no qualifications or experience to be president of the Philippines.

He has to read his notes before a debate. I took this photo during the Inquirer Presidential debate at the UP theater. He was the only one who brought notes.

Cramming to be presidential? Is that something to be proud of?

Ninez Cacho-Olivarez raised another point on the people supporting him.

These elite civil socialites, especially these big businessmen, want Noynoy Aquino to become president, because they know they can manipulate him as he knows nothing by way of running government and he will be a president who will be giving them what they want —- both influence in the corridors of power and bigger business deals for themselves.

What is even scarier is the speculation from Chavit Singson “If Noynoy wins, it’s as if we elected several presidents, because he isn’t capable of making his own decisions. There is no doubt that people around Noynoy are ensuring his victory so it would be easy to eventually unseat him, making Mar Roxas president instead)” Better Philippines writes more on Oppose the lies and misleading suggestions raised by Noynoy.

Poor Noynoy.

I finally saw the light.

2. It is not a choice between good and evil. It is choosing for the greater good.

3. None of the candidates are perfect but the choice is one who comes closest to fulfilling the desired qualities of a president.

4. So you chose Noynoy? You chose Villar? you chose Gordon? or Gibo? or Nick Perlas? Can’t we respect each other’s choices? I am sure you had reasons for supporting your candidate. In the end, it’s about assessing the risks and choosing which risk is most acceptable to you. Please respect my short list. Please respect why I don’t support Noynoy.

5. Take time to talk and listen to your children even if they are not of voting age. Discuss the issues and criteria needed for the future president of our country. One day your children will eventually ask you: “who did you vote?” and “why her/him?”

6. Realize that you are the focus of negative campaigning: the undecided, the critical, the careful and deliberate voter. You are the one intended to be manipulated. You don’t have to vote against the mudslinging candidate for him or her to win. They just want you not to show up at all on election day. If you stay away, their dirty tricks would have worked. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

7. Let’s make an effort to distinguish the truth from the lies. Easier said than done, given all the disinformation around us. But it would be worthwhile to try anyway. Educate ourselves and find out the real score regarding the people we want to vote into office. Be responsible when passing on text messages or forwarded emails.

8. You know your true friends in times of dirty politics. A true friend will not allow themselves to be swallowed by the mud. Yes, there are rabid and there are good Noynoy supporters.

9. Don’t be swayed by surveys. The real survey is on May 10. Surveys can be, and often are, manipulated. You will be receiving a text message urging you to pass around a candidate’s survey ratings. Don’t pass it around. Share your knowledge about candidates . Conduct conversations with other voters especially non-internet users, your family, relatives, friends or the stranger standing beside you on what you know.

10. I can only do so much. Blog Watch tried to elevate the level of discourse to platforms and issues during our interviews. They say that the electorate is NOT ready for serious stuff like these. The hits of the Manny Villar’s platform ranks second which means people are interested in knowing their candidate. The drama of the black propaganda diverted us from the critical issues and eventually confused voters in the end.

I do not have control of petty politics. I am sick of it. I think Manny’s Nanay Curing and I feel the same when she leaves everything to God “I leave everything to You. You know everything and Your will be done. ”

I let go and let God. God help us all.

Comments are disabled. I will be too busy the next two weeks to attend to my blogs. I need to prepare for our silver wedding anniversary party. Meantime, if you are an undecided voter for Manny Villar, read Undecided for Manny Villar?, or Why Manny Villar?

A mention of my twitter name @momblogger alerted me .

“Is it true that you have chosen Villar?” , someone tweeted.

I replied that I will neither confirm nor deny that as I have stated in my entry, My presidential candidate

It does not matter who my candidate is. As project editor of Blogwatch.ph, it is prudent that I keep that choice only to myself and my close friends, the people I trust. Certain quarters cannot distinguish me as a voter and me, as the editor. Blog Watch remains non-partisan.

You are free to speculate, of course.

Most of the comments agreed with my short list (Manny Villar, Dick Gordon and Gibo Teodoro). A few raised eyebrows “Villar?!?” as if I just uttered the devil’s name.

The skeptical often are bewildered…Why oh why is Manny Villar in your short list? That’s what I’d like to talk about. Why Manny Villar?

With the negative campaigning and half-truths being flung around, one is confused with propaganda, counter-propaganda and black propaganda.

with-presidentsI am blessed with this wonderful opportunity as project editor of blog watch where I get to scrutinize these candidates, at least seven out of the nine presidential candidates.

A rational decision based on research, intensive interviews and attendance to three presidential forums was slowly forming in my head the past months. Insights gained by this experience paved the way for my decision to include Manny Villar because of his leadership, managerial ability, experience (I wrote more about it here with Dine and Wenchie.) I believe our presidential candidate should have all three characteristics to manage the economy well enough to create more jobs and address this issue of poverty. Understanding of issues against him included fact checking and discernment.

It helped a friend vouched for Villar’s high moral standards since she worked with him in the senate for many years. ( read Pia Cayetano‘s comments on Manny Villar)

But…a friend’s testimonial, his track record, competence and platforms were not the only factors to consider in the selection process.

The way a candidate handles his campaign gives me an insight to the governance of this candidate.

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pia-cayetano4“I can’t believe Tita Pia is now Senator Pia”, my two daughters exclaimed in awe after we told them that she had won the senatorial race in 2004. My girls knew their Tita Pia and played with her toddlers way back the time my husband and her then husband started a law office in the mid 90’s. Pia was there to hold my hand during the wake of my son who took time to talk to me, who took the trouble to order me a grief recovery book from the states. There are not many who know how to console a bereaved but like her brother Alan (who was there with me by the hospital bed with Luijoe), she truly showed compassion and sincerity.

When Pia won in 2004, I knew she was going to accomplish a lot. Even if she trailed in the surveys at the start of the campaign, I was confident she’d top it and she did. Health is her advocacy . I asked her “what motivated you to focus on Health?”

I am a lawyer as a profession . I believed no matter the training, emotions and background dictate the path. I talked about the loss of my son and my father due to severe illnesses. I was thankful we had the means to keep them happy and healthy. I was mindful of the fact of the work that my dad had done. There was much to be done. When I ran in 2004, I ran in the campaign of health. I lost my father and my son in my speech. Advisers told me to change my speech. I have nothing else to talk about. I talk about my background. I am a lawyer. I graduated with honors. That is where my competence and qualification come in. What is my passion? What do I have to offer? I want to do something with health care. I still talk that way.

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I am so sick of the negative campaigning and black propaganda. The latest is in reference to Manny Villar‘s ad where he says ““Nakaranas na ba kayong … mamatayan ng kapatid dahil wala kang pera pangpagamot” (Have you experienced losing a brother because you did not have the money to provide him proper medical care)? Manny Villar asked in his ““PANATA(Advocacy)” TV commercial. Villar and referred to his younger brother Danny who passed away on October 1962. In the same commercial, Villar’s 1962 photo with his younger brother was shown.

The writer claims that ““Villar was not really poor as he claimed. Really, is it hard to imagine that he was once poor? I am sure you all have read the allegations , accusations or whatever you call it…BLACK PROPAGANDA.

Manny Villar has this to say on the question of “Ginagamit ba ang kapatid”

Ginagamit ang kapatid?

Ngayon me mga grupo na nagtatakang guluhin at siraan ako na hindi daw kami mahirap dati. Nais kong ulitin noong araw, ako po ay ipinanganak…kaming lahat na magkakapatid, dun kami sa 500 Sta Maria, Moriones St, kanto, at dun po kami, 9 kami na isang banig, isang kulambo. Nagtitinda kami ng nanay ko ng hipon.

Sa sobrang sikip naming, nangutang ang tatay ko, nagpatayo ng bahay…pinapalabas ngayon na kami’y hindi mahirap. Hindi naman tama yon. Hindi kami wholesaler, hindi kami broker. Nagsimula kami, nagtitingi kami ng hipon, yan po ay paulit-ulit kong sasabihin.

Yung kapatid ko na namatay ng cancer, yan po ay dala din ng kahirapan, hindi namin — kung saan-saan lang namin dinadala. Nung mamamatay na ang kapatid ko ay napilitan kaming dalhin sa ospital. Nangutang kami ng pera, at sa charity pa.

Maliwanag na nag-iimbento na naman ng mga akusasyon sa akin. Sobra naman ang ginagawa sa akin. Hindi maiaalis sa akin na mahirap ako noong dati.

Ang tatay ko mismo, 9 din silang magkakapatid na pawang mahihirap din. Kaya nagtataka ako kung paanong pati ito ay pinag-iinteresan nila. Siguro para ma-justify kung bakit haciendero ang kanilang kandidato bilang pangulo.

He says more in a press conference.

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It is two months before May 10, 2010, the Election day. The Day we vote for a president and the rest of the national and local posts.

I made a choice.

I have chosen my presidential candidate.

I want my candidate to win.

Yesterday, my husband and I decided to openly support our presidential candidate (not here online). The past month, we began discussing our choices, analyzing and researching on the nine presidential candidates. I am blessed and privileged to have interviewed seven presidential candidates and attended three presidential forums. It has given me an opportunity to understand their platforms, the issues and over-all impression of the presidential candidates. I know their strengths and weaknesses but there can be only one President.
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jc-de-los-reyesI have been swamped lately with our interviews of presidential candidates in blogwatch.ph. One of these candidates, JC de los Reyes of Ang Kapatiran party moved me so much. Let me make it clear. I am not supporting a presidential candidate as of the moment. But I like JC de los Reyes, the humble person and public servant, and pretty much how I felt when I met Nick Perlas that I even wrote about his views on new politics. These are competent but not too popular presidential candidates. Well, not yet because they are not given a chance by the Filipino people and more so with media. JC de los Reyes was not invited to the de La Salle forum or even the upcoming January 14 Romulo debate in AIM. But really, these presidential candidates have the compassion, the vision and the clear platform. Truly new politics. It frustrates me that traditional media do not give the same media mileage given to Manny Villar, Gibo Teodoro, Dick Gordon etc. Let the electorate decide not those stupid surveys to bring in ratings or brisk sales.
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Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland

Peace , love and prosperity is what I wished for 2009. Though Ondoy hit us and to this day, our cars are still in the shop, life is good. When I wondered what was coming for 2009, I told myself the best is coming, the very best in life and love had to offer, the best God will send and claim it as mine.

As the year ends, I feel blessed to be offered the position of Features Editor of Vibal’s Foundation, Philippine Online Chronicles (POC) in recognition for the editorial work I do for blogwatch.ph.

How did I end up in an election watch project anyway when my only exposure to politics was my student council days? I had long envisioned myself to be of service to our country. Perhaps blogging is one way. New media events just fell into place. Sure, I am a blogger but a new media publisher is the more accurate word, because I create content, collaborate and connect.

Here are the events that brought me to the challenge I face today.

It started when Carlo Ople, the New Media Consultant of Senator Mar Roxas back in August 2008 invited me for a bloggers’ meetup and I almost choked:

““Whaaat? I hope you won’t ask me to endorse him or something”.

mar roxas
Another meetup with Mar Roxas in early 2009 brought me to the realization that politicians will actually meet with bloggers as election nears. I resolved to meet up with each candidate if an invitation is offered to me. It seemed important to share my thoughts to my readers in a simple and effective format.

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