Political Cabbages

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   In an Inquirer report, Lakas-CMD spokesperson Raul Lambino named four people among a short list of 30 names to represent the party in the 2010 national elections.  One’s Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.: the star of “Resiklo” who tries to pass himself off as the action-hero version of Nobel laureate Al Gore.  Then there’s Sen. Lito Lapid, star of such funny action flicks like “Leon Guerrero” and “Lapu-Lapu.”  Another is former senator Ralph Recto: the husband of Gov. Vilma Santos who was responsible for E-VAT.  Finally, there’s former congressman Prospero Pichay.

   Boy, do I remember Pichay.

   Now don’t get me wrong: Pichay had a strong showing in the 2007 national elections.  One of the reasons why Pichay was the dark horse then was because he spent a lot not only on TV ads, but also on catchphrasing and name recall.

   Mr. Pichay is not exactly a photogenic man: I’m just being honest when I say that his Photoshop-ed campaign pictures reminded me of Frankenstein on botox.  Say what you will about Pichay’s enormous head, but he had an effective campaign.  Almost all of Pichay’s TV ads ended with one catchphrase:

Pangarap kong tuparin ang mga pangarap niyo.  Ako po si Prospero Pichay, pro-Pinoy. 

   Such was the formula for Pichay’s rather successful loss (comparing it to strong contenders like Nikki Coseteng, Vic Sotto and Chavit Singson): the kind of platform you can expect from a high school student body room-to-room campaign.  Promise everything, and worry about it later.  Pichay’s catchphrase became, for a time, part of Filipino pop culture: “Pugad Baboy,” comedy bar jokes, vows you make to your significant other.  Like:

“Pangarap kong tuparin ang mga pangarap mo.  Ako po si [insert your name here], pro-ikaw.”

   How romantic. 

   But what made Pichay the most successful loser in the 2007 senatorial elections was that he capitalized on his name.  “Pichay” is a homonym of pechay, or Chinese cabbage.  Pichay didn’t tell you that you could sauteé him in oil and garlic: what Pichay did was to be the literal cabbage of the 2007 elections.  Pichay’s campaign machine spent a good amount of money on fans (pamaypay) bearing his name, and yes, shaped like Chinese cabbages.  No one else can pull off a stunt like this, even if Restituto Repolyo, Kulas Kangkong, Andres Alugbati, and Mariano Mustasa will run for the Senate in 2010.

   Does Pichay have the winning formula for success in 2010?  I think so: not because he’s a competent politician or anything, but because he’s got a name to back his bid.  This is the guy who defended Gloria Arroyo’s act of imprudence in calling a COMELEC Commissioner, the guy who was a reputed logger in Surigao del Sur, and the guy who sort of defended the right of government officials to go to karaoke bars.  This is the guy running for the Senate, whose own platform included the abolition of the Senate.  But these are issues that don’t matter: our electorate’s personality-minded approach when it comes to voting is what makes someone an elected official.

   So yes, Pichay – the man who compared himself to a cabbage – will win in 2010.

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