Saturday, May 08, 2010

poll dance

in two days, the whole country will be voting in a big chunk of the next administration. from the executive to legislative branches, from national to the local government. from president to senator to mayor to even city councilor.

in davao city, where i live, we are asked to choose 24 candidates whittled down from a list of hundreds. a little too much to ask of the common tao, no?. wouldn't it be easier to separate these elections? sure, but this is the philippines we're talking about. we don't do easy in this country.

the streets, lightposts, trees, every visible wall (you name it) have been stapled, glued & tied with electoral banners & posters. trucks with speakers blaring out indecipherable campaign jingles roam the streets all day (and night). the songs are guaranteed to remain embedded in your head for weeks, even months, whether you like it or not. just imagine the bombardment of radio & tv ads. these days, i am glad i do not own a tv.

amid the heated partisanship and campaigning (as well as the occasional election related violence), there remains a distinctly festive atmosphere. it's as if a semi-permanent fiesta has enveloped the whole country. personally, i find the vibe somewhat fun, energizing & bewildering.

this election has been like no other. modern technology has seeped into party campaigning. twitter, facebook and the like have opened a new front. this will also be the first fully automated elections. yes, the first time. yikes.

campaign tactics have slowly morphed too. though there are the ever present campaign songs, slogans and colors (yes, here, a candidate's chosen color matters), logo designs and indirect advertising are also slowly working their way in.

this billboard doesn't mention the candidate's name or national position he is seeking, just his logo (a stylized V from his name) and his party's color (orange). a white background behind a collection of campaign stickers that form the V logo. I would call it sharp subtle messaging except for the blatant ripoff of the nike logo (again, this is the philippines. check your trademarks & copyrights at the door).

on the local front, the change slogan has been effectively adopted by the city's opposition party. i can't say i am surprised by this. it was easy to see that the US elections two years ago would influence many election campaigns globally (we all know how that change candidate in the US fared).

hollywood style billboards proclaiming "change is coming" like a summer film teaser surround the cityscape. for good measure, a bisaya version (the local dialect) is placed below this larger billboard.
not to be outdone, the incumbent party retaliates. it may be an effective rebuttal, but i could do without the extra exclamation points (should i mention the red & green all caps letters on white? i think i just did. merry christmas).
i will now leave the last word to sean connery. upon seeing this ad & knowing that the candidate is a long time james bond fan, this gave me good chuckle. whether mr. connery is aware of his endorsement or not (my bet's on not), i had to admire the playfulness of this billboard.
interesting note: it seems like wherever we go, there seems to be an election going on. 2 years ago, we were living in US witnessing the obama/mccain duel. when we moved to mexico the following year, another election was happening. now, it's the philippines' turn. each time, the incumbent party was beaten soundly by the opposition. it's looking like the same thing will happen here.