Thursday, May 13, 2004

Fully Booked

Not, not the bookstore. But I am talking about my schedule for the past week. And in case you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging as often, it's because the past few weeks has be reduced to staying at home. There's only so much to blog when all you do is eat, watch TV, and sleep (lots of it!).

And don't you know, silence is precious?

But Since I Constantly Contradict Myself

Fortunately, I've had some "excitement" this week (which is one of the things I miss about school).

For today, I had my second job interview, and I really liked the "exam" they gave me, which was to edit a badly written feature article. Doing so reminded me of my high school days as news editor (and remarkably enough, an upper batchman was one of the editors for the magazine) which involved me heavily editing the work the club members submitted. I rediscovered the "lost art" of editing, and I honestly wouldn't mind having a job that involved lots of editing (unless, of course, it's editing news articles, because quite frankly, news articles [news-features are fun though] are booooooring).

And of course to wrap up the paradoxical state of my life (i.e. being news editor when I don't read the newspaper, getting a job at Pulp magazine and MTV Ink when I don't listen to music), last Monday I was a volunteer for PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting). Never mind the fact that 1) I'm not a registered voter and 2) I'm not even Catholic.

And Now I'll Indulge My Special Guest

I love comments! And from people I don't know as well (one of the benefits of blogging). So allow me to enlighten you about Filipino culture.

First, regarding the people who dislike me. For one thing, Filipino culture is different from say, American culture. Filipinos are rarely direct (well, except when you run them off the road, and they'll start swearing and making death threats). We're a more sensitive breed, and one that relies more on subtleties and innuendo. For example, when invited to a party, Filipinos will never say no. They'll say "I'll drop by later in the evening" or "I'll pass by" but never no (even if what they really mean is "sorry, I can't go, you'll never see me there"). The Philippines also has a number of people who submit their resignation one day before they quit without prior notice, and don't come to office the next day. In a certain sense, it's cowardly. But in another sense, we'll be polite to you even if you're Hitler, Saddam, or Bush. Suffice to say, we have a culture, and it's quite different from the one you're used to.

Second, regarding elections. Before I even start with that, let me explain that Philippine democracy is different from American democracy. Presidents are elected by the sheer number of votes. Your presidents are elected by the number of seats the votes of a certain state gets for them. If you applied Philippine democracy to America, Gore would have won over Bush.

There's also the fact that unless it's specifically mentioned that you can't, Filipinos will always try to do it. That's why our constitution is the longest in the world: it isn't too vague and lists a number of conceivable scenarios which can be abused. Similarly, the old system for elections was retained because quite frankly, we don't trust the newer systems. Millions of pesos was wasted on the computers bought that was supposed to be used for elections. Why? Because computers can easily be tampered (or more specifically, the ones doing the checking don't really know how to use the computers and so won't really know if they're being cheated or not).

If we did the punching-a-hole-by-multiple-choice system, then cheating would be a whole lot easier. The candidate would just get a bunch of those ballots, punch holes on the officials he wants to get elected, dump it all into a ballot box, and switch it with the real ballot box come election day. At least if it's handwritten, somebody has to write all of them, and it would really look suspicous if all the ballots had the same hand writing.

Third, regarding the anomalies. Of course it's the people who are monitoring the votes that are doing all these anomalies. But there are a number of organizations who are monitoring the electorial process, each one having its own separate result, so the real problem is who's the one doing it (or who's lying and who's telling the truth). There's also the inside job of someone feeding information to the would-be vote criminals so that they know how to sabotage (i.e. cut off the electricity for awhile) the poll area and steal the ballot box. I won't even go into the clash of values Filipinos experience when they choose who to vote.

Fourth, of course public officials are loathed. But they're also loved as well (and get rich). I mean our former president Joseph Estrada was loved by the masses. And even until today, there are still Marcos supporters (and Marcos, mind you, was a dictator... who to his credit did some good stuff long with the bad stuff). Sure, you'll have a mob who'll hate you until your next term, but there'll also be your flock of followers.

Fifth, well, corruption and nepotism is rampant in politics. I honestly wish we could elect honest officials, but that's not the norm. And even if there were honest officials, by the time they got to office, the corrupt ones would choke him or her to death, and would be accused of corruption when they're the only ones being honest.


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