Party pooper

    BALIMBINGAN, IT is called in the local parlance.

    The game of musical chairs, or the dance of changing partners, transposed to politics. So it is euphemized.

    Butterflies flitting from one flower to the other, seeking the sweetest nectar. So politicos engaged in it are metaphored. And, put in simile, like rats abandoning a sinking ship, where the party losing popularity is concerned.

    Plain political prostitution, in all its graphic obscenity.

    Strange bedfellows politics does indeed make. So sworn foes today are the sweetest friends in the next polls. Hi Leila, hello Ping.

    The party pooper in the last elections becomes the party boy in the next. Mar, is that you?

    Political opportunism – the very rule of thumb in the Philippine political praxis.

    As it was – even long before the paragraphs above saw print in another paper some 10 years ago – so it shall ever be.

    Actually balimbingan has devolved into something worse. Now, politicos don’t change parties like they change clothes. They need not to, really, as they just come as they are, walk into just any party and get away with it.

    See the senatorial slots for the 2016 polls.

    Vilma Santos’ husband, the re-electionist Sen. Ralph Recto is in both the Liberal Party and Grace Poe slates.

    Finding their slots in the not-so-divine Grace’s line-up and Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance are re-electionist Sen. Tito Sotto, comebacking Senators Dick Gordon and Migz Zubiri and champion of the overseas Filipino workers Toots Ople.

    And please explain returning Sen. Ping Lacson’s tenably tenacious foothold on the diametrically opposed LP and UNA.

    A mockery of party politics is the Philippine practice. A return to the two-party system, though finding popularity anew, is no assurance of effecting the primacy of party platform over individual popularity.

    The master of politics himself, the Great Ferdinand, knew this by heart. Thus his immortal take on Philippine politics as “personalist, populist and individualist” upon which he founded his fuehrership, and, with his beloved Imeldific, propagated their Malakas at Maganda apotheosis.

    All Filipino politicians come from the Marcosian mold of “personal, popular, individual.”

    All pretensions to party advocacy are, well, pretensions.

    So Quezon ranted: “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.” God bless him.

    Party loyalty is a contradiction in terms; loyalty to the country is as true as Judas’ devotion to Christ. Where politicos are concerned.

    The pre-eminence of the individual politician over his party is inherent in Philippine political history. Thus, Nacionalista Party-Roy Wing, Liberal Party-Kalaw Wing, Liberal Party- Salonga Wing in the not too distant past.

    Thus followed, a Liberal Party sundered by anti-GMA and pro-GMA flanks winging to Atienza-Defensor on the right, Drilon-Pangilinan, et al on the left. With poor Jovy Salonga, tottering at the fulcrum.

    On another plane, witness how political parties hereabouts are hitched on the tides of fortune of their founders: the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan was an invincible monolith at the height of the Marcos dictatorship, only to crumble to dust after EDSA Uno. The sainted Cory Aquino took Ramon Mitra’s Laban to the promised land, then pulled the rug from under him and emerged with Fidel Ramos’ LakTao, that’s Lakas-Tao for you, that evolved into Lakas-NUCD-UMDP.

    Then there was Erap Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and the Reform Party of Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Ditto Lito Osmena’s Promdi and Raul Roco’s Aksyon Demokratiko.

    To repeat: The Philippine political experience has made, aye it is the very, mockery of party politics. A change to the parliamentary system is bruited about as the harbinger of political maturity, and consequently, the supremacy of a party’s platform of governance as the dominant factor in the choice of national leaders.

    It is not bad to dream. But, kung mangarap ka’t magising, na ikaw ay ikaw pa rin, para anupa’t ika’y patulugin? Baka ka lang bangungutin.

    Yes, no less than a lobotomy of the Filipino psyche is required to better Philippine politics.

    And we haven’t even considered here those who’d want to be president to establish some inter-galactic governance, legalize the four seasons for this tropical country, settle the country’s debts, stop China, or win back “former wife” Kris Aquino.


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