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Campaign festival starts

Darren M. de Jesus



The 90-day campaign season is arguably the most grueling and most physically demanding phase in a politician’s career. Perhaps, the only worse thing that can happen is jail (or detention) time due to a filed non-bailable plunder case. For senatorial candidates, the experience is comparable to a rock band going on tour, which is easy to imagine for those who saw Bohemian Rhapsody, except, here, each candidate is treated like a rock band where all would be jamming together in a music festival at each stop. Each candidate is given a set period of time to liven up the crowd and, at each stop, there are opening acts, local leaders allied with the touring group.

Let’s take, for example, the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HnP) campaign kickoff in Pampanga. Think of this as the huge mainstream music fest on tour where all the major headliners of different musical varieties vie for the main stage. You have all the political heavyweights here, from the established legends (e.g., Marcos, Estrada), the mainstream reelectionists (Cayetano, Revilla, Villar, Angara, Pimentel, et al.) and rising stars (e.g., “Bong” Go, Bato de la Rosa, Mangudadatu, et al.). We have a maestro who is a non-candidate but is the face of the campaign tour, in the person of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and we have local political forces that opened the campaign (e.g., the Pinedas and former President now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo).

Imagine having Coachella on tour, where everyone that matters in the music industry is playing, from music legends (e.g., Paul McCartney, The Smashing Pumpkins, Jay-Z, Beyonce, et al.), mainstream established artists (e.g., Ariana Grande, Drake, Calvin Harris, et al.), to rising stars (e.g., Cardi-B, Post Malone, Marshmello, et al.) are all together performing city after city – this is the equivalent of the force that is HNP. The major difference in these political campaigns from music festivals is that the food is free in the former (wink).

What is unique with the HnP campaign is that there will be offshoot tours from it, since its slate consists of several political parties. Most notable would be the President’s party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, which will be doing its own launch separate from HNP, which is said to be attended by the President himself. Other established parties will be doing their own campaigns, such as the Binay’s UNA, Villar’s NP and others. These can be likened to smaller music fests that have consistently attracted huge and distinct audiences, like Ultra, Tomorrowland, Warped Tour or Lollapalooza.

Then you have the other campaigns that are not as huge, but attract specific smaller niche markets. We have the Otso Diretso campaign doing a more grass roots approach. The known opposition decided to perform door-to-door, making it a more conversational campaign, more in touch with the electorate. This may be similar to the Laneway Festival done in Singapore and Australia, Burning Man in Nevada or our very own Malasimbo in Puerto Galera where attendees are guaranteed to have a fun time but are bound to forget the names of the bands right after the festival.

We also have the independents who rarely join tours since they’re capable of bringing in huge crowds by themselves. Case in point: Sen. Grace Poe, a constant survey topnotcher, started her tour feeding kids in Payatas, Quezon City. This may be reminiscent of artists like Taylor Swift, who rarely joins huge music festivals since she is most capable of filling up huge stadiums by herself.

Then we have candidates who have a good cause and have a slim chance of getting into the Magic 12, only because of lack of name recall, which is not their fault, but anything is still possible. These are similar to bands hitting local bars and pubs, seeking to get a big break and to have a breakout song that would go viral, making them instantly famous. These are candidates such as Atty. Larry Gadon, Atty. Glen Chong and Doc Willie Ong.

Lastly, we have the fluke senatoriables who I will not name out of fear of offending them.
These are the guys who have no chance of winning but are still making rounds in media, wasting everyone’s time. If you’ve seen the Netflix documentary on the Fyre Festival, then you would know that this would be the most appropriate music festival to describe their campaigns.

In the end, I hope all these candidates the best. The winners will be placed in a very good position in 2022, since they can decide to run for president or vice president, with a fallback of becoming senator again in case they lose. With the colorful personalities involved and an intriguing administration we have now, the campaign trail to the midterm elections will surely be just as enjoyable as a music festival.


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