Thu. May 26th, 2022

AFTER months of being tone deaf to people like me who kept telling them to change course, the campaign of Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, barely a month away from election day, has finally come to its senses.

It is now embarking on a new track, deploying mostly young campaigners on a house-to-house journey, pushing for their candidate without the signature haughtiness and demeaning demeanor toward those whom they need to convince and convert.

Except that it may already be too late to wash away the pain they caused when in the not-so-distant past they savaged people who are not voting for Robredo as idiot, stupid, non-thinking enablers of evil.

This reeks of a last-ditch effort to salvage a campaign that had it wrong because it subsisted on a kind of elitism that is both clueless and naïve. It is a gross misreading of the temperament of the masses at the margins, or what Robredo has labeled as the “laylayan.”

This is what happens when the main architects of the campaign are people whose encounter with the masses are patrimonial and clientelist, forever looking at them either as servers or as recipients of their munificence and mercy.

They see the masses as people they can easily scold, mistreat, yell at and call names, and then expect them to continue to be loyal to, serve and love them. They think that suddenly being nice and talking softly will make up for the days they have subjected people to insults and maltreatment.

They may sugarcoat and window-dress their actions with big words like “voluntarism” and “social engagement,” and deploy strategies like participatory development and social inclusion, but for many whose formative years were molded not in urban streets and slums, or in the rugged, oppressive life in the countryside, the core value remains elitist.

One can just look at the class divide among voters which I have personally encountered. While owners of salons are screaming pink, the service workers attending to the nails and hair of customers are bloody red and green.

A service worker attending to photocopying machines in a workplace surrounded by Robredo decals and stickers asserts his vote by telling me he is voting for former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

I can see houses in gated communities with Robredo tarpaulins being served by house helpers, laundry maids, delivery riders and ambulant sellers of merchandise who are voting otherwise.

WATCH: Leni Robredo reading teleprompter during campaign speeches, what a fakery!   

Here in Boracay, I have seen very few Marcos posters, yet most of the ordinary people I have talked to who reside here — e-trike drivers, spa attendants, restaurant service workers — and not as tourists or store owners, are overwhelmingly voting for Marcos Jr.

What is palpable is that these service workers would not readily respond about their preferences, carefully weighing their words in deference to their pro-Robredo bosses.

These people will never easily forget when some misguided pink warrior once insulted their kind when they made fun of Marcos by imaging him as a service worker in a gas station or at the counter of a fast-food chain.

And while they may not have much in life, these people are no longer insulated from social media toxicity, and would have read how the pink crowd has diminished those who are not voting for Robredo on Facebook.

These are people who cannot easily forget just because Robredo’s daughters take the lead in dispersing an army to knock on their homes, selling their candidate. The bare hypocrisy of it all will not be lost on people. They know how to read insincerity and can detect pretentiousness a mile away. And the inauthenticity is simply too obvious not to be noticed.

Meanwhile, and despite the door-to-door campaign to reach out to voters sans the trolling behavior, dutifully guided by a set of instructions on how to be nice, complete with a script on how to introduce oneself and the candidate they are pushing for, with some advice to use the heart more, the Robredo base in social media continue to merrily engage in mortal combat.

They mouth the usual moral uprightness and sanctimonious arrogance, as they slime Marcos and his supporters, as if the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Claiming moral ascendancy to the extreme of being associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, this presidential candidate has not addressed this issue and continues to ignore it.

They knock on doors, even singing Robredo’s campaign jingle, pushing the envelope handed over from campaign headquarters trying to be more conciliatory, to reach out and avoid negativity. Yet the paraphernalia they distribute reportedly has black propaganda against the frontrunner Marcos printed at the back.

When all of this is over, an objective assessment would reveal that the weakest link in the Robredo campaign are her supporters. They started with a weak candidate with a small voter base. Instead of being conciliatory, humble and inclusive, they started as confrontational, arrogant and exclusionary. Instead of focusing on the strength of their candidate, they focused on the weaknesses and dirt of Marcos Jr. And in the process, they alienated a huge swath of voters by insulting, demeaning and demonizing them.

These are people who cannot easily forget just because Robredo’s daughters take the lead in dispersing an army to knock on their homes, selling their candidate. The bare hypocrisy of it all will not be lost on people. They know how to read insincerity and can detect pretentiousness a mile away. And the inauthenticity is simply too obvious not to be noticed.

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Meanwhile, and despite the door-to-door campaign to reach out to voters sans the trolling behavior, dutifully guided by a set of instructions on how to be nice, complete with a script on how to introduce oneself and the candidate they are pushing for, with some advice to use the heart more, the Robredo base in social media continue to merrily engage in mortal combat.

They mouth the usual moral uprightness and sanctimonious arrogance, as they slime Marcos and his supporters, as if the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. And now they try to knock on doors, as if this will instantly make people forget how nasty the Robredo campaign was.

They now revel in the nine percent increase in Robredo’s numbers, suddenly believing a survey firm they derisively referred to as “False Asia,” this while their enablers in mainstream media and academia continue to drumbeat an imagined momentum and turning of the tide as they ignore the 32 percent wide margin Marcos has over Robredo with barely a month left of the campaign period.

Robredo supporters have long insulted the Marcos base for being allegedly ignorant about history, condemning their irrational loyalty to the Marcoses. If this base has the memory not to forget the allegedly good deeds of the Marcoses in the distant past, one that is not just held by the old but is even transmitted to the young that made the reverence intergenerational, they will certainly have the same memory to remember the insults Robredo supporters heaped on them these past few months.

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