Jamby Madrigal, for many voters, is the statistical pariah of the 2010 Presidential elections: the ultimate in un-winnability. Madrigal is the outlier in a normal curve on a very different graph, so to speak. Every other candidate can pull out track record: hers being that of advocacy for women, children, and fair economic policies. Every other candidate can pull out evidence of winning, at this point in the elections: you have Villar and Aquino on surveys, Gibo eyeballing his campaign sorties, Gordon generating buzz on the Internet, Villanueva on his prayer rallies, Erap’s massive support base from his days as a film and media superstar, and the likes of Perlas not believing it at all. She’s the only woman running for President right now, which should give her mileage.
All other things being equal, Jamby should be a contender. Factors included, Jamby should be the attack dog nipping at the heels of the very candidate she’s running against. Yet she’s not, she isn’t, and with close to two weeks to the May 10 national elections, she never will.
Yet in the same way that the Dalit is as much an Indian as the Brahman, Jamby Madrigal is a lot like the top contenders of the Presidency: the only difference being that she’s holding firm on her rung at the bottom of the ladder. Jamby is rich and controversial (like the real-life soap opera of her inheritances, and the latest being Galunggong-gate), like Villar. Like Noynoy, she’s the scion of heroes (and yes, she invokes the memory of her grandfather Jose Abad Santos whenever the opportunity arises). Like Teodoro, Jamby is well-connected to the economic and the political circles essential to survival. Like Erap, Jamby runs on vendetta (she has also acted in movies, one being that on the life of Luis Taruc). Like Gordon, she has a background in volunteerism and non-government initiatives as well as those of Government. Like Perlas, she’s an environmentalist. Finally, like Villanueva, she’s running under a platform that seeks to curb corruption.
Never mind the grammatical and typographical errors in her platform, or eyebrow-raising campaign advertisements involving neck-chains and really bad acting. Never mind that Madrigal won on the “Ja-ja-ja-Jamby” meme (why I’m imagining Jamby Madrigal wearing them jeje-caps at this point, I do not know) and the star appeal of Judy Ann Santos. Madrigal is every bit the political animal as every other Presidential candidate.
Of course, Madrigal is not immune from potshots: a Senate term spent spewing out Joyce Kilmer as if she believed in her heart it was James Joyce, so to speak. The news-ified telenovela of her inheritance problems may not be on top of mind when someone says “Jamby Madrigal,” but it certainly wasn’t the momentum she needed to be a national figure a couple of years ago. It didn’t help that Jamby ran with the sole – if not obvious – intent to contest her nemesis Villar, either: like David fighting Goliath without his slingshot, or Joshua going alone to the city of Jericho, attempting to break down the walls with a kazoo.
She’s virtually the same as the other Presidential candidates. Diet. Light. Zero.
While her peers and fellow Presidential candidates are trying to swat away at each other’s issues, Jamby is at the fringes of the almost irrelevant: her husband, her inheritance problems, and those tacky yellow prayer beads that had her name and picture tied on it and distributed to the public during Cory Aquino’s funeral. Despite the long strides she made for women and children and philanthropy in, she’s anything but the Senator who led, or commanded leadership at least.
Those things are fairly easy to forget, but when you put them all together, I guess we all have a pretty good idea why she’s not a contender.
All the wealth, the credentials, and the efforts to serve were all trumped by one rip-off of an Eric Clapton song and 30-second ad spots rubbing elbows with a certified box-office queen in 2004. Yet that, in many ways, uncovered too many things wrong with Jamby: an inability to connect with the poor, her own scandals and failings coming to the fore of her leadership, her vindictiveness as a driving force to her Presidential campaign… just like many other candidates.
In many ways, Jamby Madrigal is a tragic figure of Philippine politics: a woman and Senator who should, all things held equal, be leading, or even surging and charging like lightning on steroids, on the road to 2010. Yet comic, in the sense that in politics – most especially Philippine politics – all things can never be held equal.