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The elections as fiesta

BARANGAY ADDITION HILLS, MANDALUYONG CITY – It’s a historical moment in the country’s electoral history that also turned into a mammoth fiesta for local candidates here who, in defiance of election rules, hang columns of posters and tarpaulins outside the Andres Bonifacio Integrated School.

Showbiz endorsers rule
in Philippine elections

IT IS the lawyer who knows the law, it is the fisherman who knows how to fish, and it is the architect who knows how to design buildings. So why should voters rely on celebrities in choosing whom to pick as their political leaders?

But perhaps “rely” is too strong a word. Still, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that in this country, celebrity endorsements have helped many a politician win. In far too many cases even, celebrities themselves have been voted into public office with little to show beyond their showbiz credentials.


Polls big business for
showbiz endorsers

THIS HAS become one star-studded election season, but few are under the delusion that artistas have suddenly been seized by profound political or social consciousness.

Longtime observers of the showbiz industry say it’s really mostly about money. “There’s not much principle involved,” says entertainment columnist Isah Red. “Usually, the talent manager handles the deal so the celebrity endorses (a politician) and there’s quid pro quo. But of course, no one will categorically admit that it’s like that.”

The College Lives of the
Presidential Candidates

Our latest offering is a series of stories about the gigs, gimmicks and exploits in college of three candidates for president — the Liberal Party’s Benigno C. Aquino III, the Nacionalista Party’s Manuel B. Villar Jr., and the Lakas-Kampi’s Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.

These stories were written by communication students who are now working with the PCIJ on internship basis. We sent them out to field to discover how these candidates were like when they were students their age.

Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.

‘Scary brilliant’ guy,
zero social, love life

HIS LAW SCHOOL study buddies spew out superlatives when asked for proof that Gilberto Cojuangco Teodoro Jr., candidate for president of the administration Lakas-Kampi party, is true “Galing at Talino.”

Teodoro finished at the top of his class at the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1989. The same year, he passed the bar with a score of 86.185 percent, landing No. 1 among thousands of examinees.

Manuel B. Villar Jr.

La vida de La Bamba:
Cheap films, frat, fun

It was the late sixties, and while the rest of the world was into Woodstock and Marxist revolutions, Filipino students were slow to challenge authority. For Manuel Bamba Villar Jr. and his Thursday Club buddies, life was about finishing college, having fun, and catching a good movie now and then.

Much has changed since then. The young man clad in jeans and t-shirt then now wears tailored suits and owns more than a billion pesos in assets. The boy who was called “Bamba” by friends – after his middle name and after a popular song of the sixties, Villar would later don the titles of congressman, Speaker, senator, and then Senate president. The boy whose only aim then was to finish college now seeks the Presidency of the Republic.

Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III

‘Roly-poly’ digs ROTC,
gigs, debating teacher

IN THE SUMMER of 1977, four young students graduating from the Ateneo de Manila high school applied for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, hoping to become Air Force cadet officers when they start their first year of college in the Ateneo University.

The fact that they wanted to become military cadet officers was in itself unusual; at that time, military training for male students was compulsory, and most students avoided the training like the plague by pulling strings or calling in favors in order to get medical or special exemptions.


Web of threats

MANY PEOPLE had dismissed the then still toddler blogosphere as only the domain of socially challenged geeks and nerds locked up in a dark basement behind a battery of computers. But in 2005, administration allies, battered on all sides by the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal, thought it prudent to drag the geeks out of the basement and hale them to court.

Death Stars, Sith Lords, black hats lurk

‘Dark Side’ of elections
stalks bloggers, techies

When a supposed Internet screenshot featuring Villar began circulating via email last February, Netizens were uncertain if they should sound the alarm, or just shrug it off as one candidate taking the campaign to an all new level.

This particular screenshot depicted a popular pornographic site. On the left side of the page was a young lady in the act of showing off her bountiful assets. On the right was the now familiar orange banner ad for Villar, with the Nacionalista Party standard bearer flashing a really toothy grin.

Election laws lost in cyberspace

Online, bets wage war
sans rules, cap on costs

These days, the number of Filipino Internet users is pegged at around 24 million and mobile phone users at around 63 million. Not surprisingly, candidates for both national and local posts have taken interest on those figures, and have been busy putting up complex, interactive websites of their own, even as they litter popular online publications, blogs, and social networks with political propaganda. Text-blasting, or the sending of unsolicited SMS messages, appears to be on the rise as well.

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