The Harapan Vice-Presidential debates generated a lot of talk and Twitter hashtags, among other things. I was half-expecting Edu Manzano to appear so that Loren Legarda could say, “Atras si Mar ng dalawa, abante ako,” and perhaps see Bayani Fernando do the “Papaya” in his Bob the Builder hat.
Yes, I just had to do that.
Edu no-showed the event, all right, but not without the kind of claptrap, cliché, and cachet expected of someone who, for all intents and purposes, made-Indian an important debate. Then again, one guy was there. One guy was willing to debate. One guy, running for the same position as Edu, Mar Roxas, BF, Loren Legarda, Jejomar Binay, Perfecto Yasay, and Jay Sonza, was ignored. Not because he was pressing flesh with people who probably pawned their radios to pay for food, but because maybe – just maybe – he wasn’t winnable.
His name is Dominador Chipeco, Jr.
Now Jun Chipeco (I’ll refrain from calling him “Dom” and giving him the moniker “Dominator”) is not exactly the kind of candidate we expect to be running for the second-highest office in the land, but apparently, ABS-CBN left him on the sidelines for some unknown reason. Here’s a guy who could have debated his way into the hearts and minds and ballots of the TV audience, and could have elicited a lot of responses from the Twitterati, but nope, he wasn’t there. He was in the sidelines, silenced, ignored, defeated like the girl at the back of a mob of teenyboppers waiting for a glimpse of Justin (Freakin’) Bieber.
A “nuisance?” I don’t think so; if my memory serves me correctly, Amay Bisaya once ran for Vice-President on a platform of chicken-beheading, and was disqualified. My guess is that the COMELEC and the big TV networks have once again pre-judged a perfectly good candidate, like they did Spike Pamatong, Najananan, Vetallano Acosta, and Felix Cantal (who is probably the most famous Filipino Presidential candidate in the UK right now). A promising candidate: the God-fearing, honest, ethical person who we expect to give the same seminars to Government as he did with the employees of 3M.
Bollocks, ladies and gentlemen. A man disregarded, snubbed, relegated to the stands, ignored, devalued, when his name is still on the ballot. Say what you will about Chipeco’s platform on reproductive health, on religion, his thoughts on Valentine’s Day (he was born February 14, 1943), and mock them for all they’re worth… and I will show you a Loren Legarda debate on national television.
Dominador Chipeco. A vice-presidential candidate, uninvited; an unfortunate slight for a man who has pretty much the same weighty credentials as every lawyer in the running for May 2010. A conspiracy of winnability leveled against a debate that should discuss ability and sincerity. Chipeco is a man with an edge, a guy who could have articulated his stand on issues – and only on issues – rather than engage in ad hominem soap opera casting auditions passed off as debate, rants and raves from an expenditure of words (and saliva) on a budget of ideas. Yet in spite of all of that, Mr. Chipeco was, like many of us, forced to watch the kind of mindless, senseless oratory that would have awakened Douglass and Lincoln from the grave. The kind of aural, mental, spiritual, political torture that comes from an entire high school class performing a choral recitation of Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees.”
Chipeco may be the man to swing me out that vote I will give to Bayani Fernando’s hard hat, which in its inanimate, plastic silence, made the most sense in the previous Vice-Presidential debate.