“Going bananas”

If bananas are the gauge for world domination, this country in 2013 is the world’s third superpower.

Mindanao was and remains the major producer of the fruit. The Philippine Daily Inquirer has done right by holding in Cagayan de Oro the first of the series of debate among the Presidential candidates.

I enjoyed the show. For two hours, candidates are forced to observe self control and focus on the issues at hand.

The 90-, 60- and 30-second allocation per candidate is reminiscent of TV host Boy Abunda’s timed fill-in-the-blanks first-thing-off-the-head questioning of his guests as for example “my idea of beauty is ___________”; “first thing I do upon waking is ___________”; “I can’t leave the house without my _________”. They’re designed to come off as simplistic but really elicit significant clues to the puzzle that is the guest.

Watching the show, I saw that it’s not just the quality of responses that matter but also delivery (confidence begets confidence), voice (nobody, I guess, instinctively desires a President with a pipsqueak, slurry, or indecisive sounding voice), and gestures (authenticity) that the audience are sensitive to. But most importantly, the extent to which a candidate is effective in communicating the message across. The candidate may provide a politically correct reply, but if there’s no connection with the audience words die before they could reach the ears thereby losing out on the opportunity to touch minds and hearts. On the other hand, the candidate may give an appealing reply but if it’s not clear why the act is done the gap should become evident. For example, killing. Why does one allow it? Why would I the voter want to subscribe to this particular solution to problems? Subscription to a candidate come as a result of the voter’s confrontation of his or her personal values and convictions. If these are aligned to the candidate’s then…

Also, I thought there remains a lack of vision which the candidates should have clearly established by now. Each had somehow responded to the details such as drugs, roads, political dynasties, and China but their replies are largely motherhood statements. Voters are still waiting for candidates to impart their compelling strategic visions and clear-cut goals, for Mindanao and the country. Voters are yet to hear a passionate and clear intimation of these. And the candidate should be able to do this because he or she clearly perceives and wholeheartedly believes in the vision and the means to achieve it.

I haven’t heard any of the candidate utter the “magic” word we as in we will go forward together, we will seek solutions to problems together. It was always I, me coming up with solutions for you, them. But, I isn’t the only constituent of a democratic government. I cannot solve the nation’s problems alone. If I were to be used often, it should be for statements such as I am confident that you will do your part, I trust that we will see this through together. It’s why the country at this particular time needs a vision– a common ground, a common destiny. It’s what the leader rallies followers toward so that we own the vision.

And then, trust. This has something to do with reputation preceding the person. In other words, integrity of the candidate. It’s not the first time the public has seen or heard from the candidates. These days when they open their mouths, they are being assessed for consistency in their utterances in connection to their aspiration that is the throne in Malacanan vis-a-vis their personal actions in the past. Honesty (manifested in ways like, taking ultimate responsibility for decisions and actions) is key to establishing and maintaining trust. The nation has had so much dishonesty thrown at it. In no other time as now that Filipinos are in need of an honest leader.

I look forward to the next stop– Visayas?


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