Desperation time: TEAM Unity taps actor Cesar Montano

In basketball, it’s called a crunch time situation: you’re the home team, and inbounding. Down by two after leading most of the way, and there’s only seconds left in the clock. The ref’s not on your side because of incessant flopping early in the game, and the crowd is firmly with the visiting team after your GM made so many bad trades the last few years. Your team has no overwhelming presence inside, and your treys have been bricking throughout the game. Your starters can’t hit the broad side of the barn, but you have a promising bench. Every coach has what they call after-timeout plays, often a play to get the ball to their best shooter or slasher for a quick jumper or a drive to the hoop. The safe play is to go for overtime and hope you can duke it out. The gutsy call is to go for the spectacular win, or the heartbreaking loss.

What do you do?

The administration’s TEAM unity, in replacing Leyte Governor Jericho Petilla with actor Cesar Montano, is trying for the spectacular game winner. Montano is a decorated actor, director, screenwriter, a pretty decent guitar player, and the UNESCO Philippine commissioner for culture in the arts. He is immensely popular, particularly with the masses. He’s also quite famous for his short fuse, but lists few other qualifications; par for the course in an arena growing increasingly bereft of candidates with even a modest claim to credibility.

The administration is confident, however: Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio remarked “we have always believed in his capability and winnability.” Montano himself was on truth serum, however, when he said “I am really glad because I was chosen to run as a candidate despite there are so many people more qualified than me.” (Philippine Star)

Indeed. Here’s a thought: stop using the electoral process as an ego booster. This goes double for even less talented celebs like Richard Gomez, and triple for morons like Pacquiao. They never listen though, continuing to equate popularity with ability and believing themselves God’s gift to the electorate. And to politicians trying desperately to hang on to power, he may very well be. Make no mistake: Pacquiao, Montano and their ilk are nothing more than puppets on Gloria’s string, nothing more than desperate measures to win over a voting population heavily against her. Even the inclusion of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III reeks of desperation, borne of GMA’s wanton display of arrogance and hubris.

I for one, while an admirer of Cesar Montano’s cinematographic achievements (not the least of which is getting it on with Sunshine Cruz :D), would be mortified to see yet another actor with nothing to offer in the Senate. Particularly when said actor will be depending on the country’s coffers for his campaign: when asked where who will finance his campaign, Montano mentioned that it will partly be paid for by the administration. The same administration thatpilfered PHP728 Million from the fertilizer funds that were supposed to go to farmers but instead spent it on Gloria’s re-election campaign. As curious as I am as to the identity of the next Garci, I wonder who the next Joc Joc Bolante will be. Because while Gloria may or may not watch much WWE, she does embody everything the late great Eddie Guerrero would say: she lies, she cheats, she steals. Only the former wrestler was hilariously open about it. GMA would just make you disappear if you said it loud enough.

Why (most) Pinoy Politicians Won’t Blog


In a recent entry in his blog, Davao Councilor Peter Lavina correctly (IMHO) points out that the internet (in this case blogging) has the potential to affect politics; however Dr. Ronald Meinardus (et al) put forth some interesting reasons why politicians don’t blog, namely:

  1. Cyberpolitics in the Philippines remains underdeveloped. If only a very small minority of politicians care(s) to have a website, how should one expect them to write a regular blog? This, of course, has to do also with the lack of connectivity, particularly in the provinces.
  2. Philippine political culture doesn’t favor blogging. Politicians, particularly the majority of so called traditional politicians or trapos are used to fixing problems, their thinking is short-term. Says my friend: “They are reactive, while blogging is pro-active.”
  3. Philippine politics is highly personalized, not issue-based. Blogging, on the other hand, is opinionated and demands from the writer to take positions on issues. “Many of our politicians are turncoats, and change their opinions regularly,” explains my friend. This would be documented, if they write blogs.
  4. In the Philippines, blogging doesn’t make strategic sense for politicians. “Our politicians are very cautious,” says my fellow-blogger. Blogging can be a risky matter, as politicians would have to take a position today which they might want to avoid, as it could be detrimental for them tomorrow.

On the whole I mostly agree, save for a few aspects. Point #1 is rather cyclical and superfluous: politics in Filipino cyberspace may be underdeveloped, but only insofar as no major politician is doing it. It’s not a cause, but an effect. What I do notice (or is it just me?) about the blogosphere is that among the vocal political blogs, there are very few deviations as to political alignment, which is interesting. Why are activists more likely to blog, thereby submitting their thoughts for public discourse, than say, your typical pro-administration citizen (surely there must be, like, 12, or something)? Is it because they have more to complain about? Blogs aren’t all about complaints you know (ok so this one is, but you get what I mean). Are activists more literate? More eloquent? I don’t have any numbers but I wouldn’t like to think so. The point is, there are a lot of political blogs around, but Dr. Meinardus is right in pointing out that there are few politicians in power doing participating.

I agree that the Philippine political culture doesn’t favor blogging (point #2), but not with the assertion that trapos think short-term, particularly with their political career. Mayors, Governors, probably. Not Congressmen, Senators and up, particularly those with aspirations to the Presidency. Look at how long it took Erap to become President. Or Ramos. Or Gloria. Hell, Makoy started plotting for the Presidency even before he shot Nalundasan. We’re talking decades of planning here. That’s hardly reactive, nor short-term. And Erap aside, those people are hardly lacking in foresight and brain power. Any teenager knows that the internet is the future, right here and now. I doubt anyone in the Senate with a decent staff and with aspirations of higher office hasn’t been at least briefed with the power of internet journalism. They were there on EDSA II, where SMS was the medium of choice for gathering the people. Who’s to say the next revolution won’t be because of blogs? They may not be bloggers themselves, but you can bet your golly-wow they’re aware of it.

Part of the real reason, to me, is in the 3rd and 4th points, which are basically the same: blogging is risky. Once you say something, you can’t take it back, it’s out there for the world to see and for Google to cache and the Wayback Machine to archive. Ignore a comment and you’re a snob. Be sarcastic and you’re an ass. Support a failed or unpopular legislation and it’ll haunt you. Can you imagine what it would have been like if Erap kept a blog? Somewhere in his archives there’ll be a post saying: Napaalis na namin ang mga kano sa Subic! At akala nila makakalusot sila nung tinanggihan nila akong makapasok sa US dahil sa ginawa kong pelikulang Sa Kuko ng Lawin. Fast forward hardly a decade later and he’s posting about how wonderful the VFA’ll be. Or any number of politicians who’ve flip-flopped their way into power. It’s a very risky proposition; it’s a digital paper trail. Open mouth, insert foot. Flames galore.

But the real reason politicians won’t blog boils down to one word: trust. Nobody trusts politicians. How can they? We’ve had centuries to learn not to trust those in power. Power corrupts, but more to the point, power attracts the corruptible. You’re a politician? I automatically don’t trust you. Career politicians aren’t about public service, but self service. And I doubt I’m alone in feeling this way. Harsh, but hey, that’s the way it is. Whatever you’re saying, I automatically file in the spam folder of my brain until you actually follow through. Everything else is just a press release.

That’s why a truly participative democracy is such an elusive thing; while I admire Councilor Lavina’s testicular fortitude in opening himself up and sharing his views by blogging, I have to wonder if he’d do it if he were a Senator who’s stepped on too many toes. If Meralco, the BIR or hell even my cable provider (Destiny, that means you) can’t be bothered by my complaints, how can your Congressman/Senator/etc. To them, we’re the spam.

If a politician blogs, he opens himself up to major, major spam, hate mail and flaming/trolling. That’s why no major player will do it. Akismet would have a fit. Face it, unless you’re actually saying something useful and not tooting your own horn, you’re no different from a porn blog. It’s that trust issue that ultimately prevents politicians from blogging, because the relationship between a blogger and his/her readers is one based wholly on trust. There are blogs that I keep coming back to because I can trust, and respect, the author and his/her opinions. I leave the press releases to, well, the mainstream press. Because I don’t trust politicians, and most of you don’t, either. I know it. Politicians know it. And they know that I know it. Although I’d love to see Gloria’s entries on her deadjournal.

Pacquiao Wins, Larios Classy in Defeat


In a moment of clarity, and for the first time in the fight, Oscar Larios knew exactly what he had to do. Lashing out with a left hook and following up with a spearing right, he had Manny Pacquiao, the reigning WBC International super featherweight champ, on the ropes early in the third round.

Unfortunately, all glassy-eyed and stunned, Pacquiao had his moment of clarity as well.

It is perhaps to Paquiao’s discredit that it was only then that he took Larios – a fierce competitor and as classy a fighter if there ever was one – seriously. Behind in points by then and fighting to keep the Mexican at bay until he could regain his senses, the PacMan turned on the switch.

By the seventh round, a right hook followed by a massive left cross by Pacquiao sent Larios down, and it was something the Mexican would never recover from. His confidence was gone, and the flurry of blows and in-fighting techinques that are Chololo’s trademark have left him. Larios was never noted for his power, and when he began swinging only with his right hand, the fight was over.

When the twelfth bell rang, it was almost a formality, although I disagree with commentator Sev Sarmienta’s account that Pacquio was toying with Larios. While never giving as good as he got, he took Pacquiao’s blows head on and never quit. It is a testament not only to his training, but to his heart. And while moral victories don’t show up on the stats sheet, sometimes, how you play the game counts.

Post-fight thoughts

This is a fight of contrasts and ironies: Pacquiao was clearly the better fighter but Larios had more heart: a state of affairs that is often the reverse whenever Pacquiao steps into the ring. Larios came in as a boxer known for his inside fighting skills, and despite his lack of power, is more than capable of scoring a knockout because he could let loose an astonishing barrage of punches. Pacquiao has the reputation for being a brawler and heavy hitter, but not much of a ring tactician. What we saw in the fight was a Larios unable to conistently land his combinations and a Pacquiao counter-punching, dodging, waving, and basically out-boxing Larios.

I am disappointed in Pacquiao’s attitude though, winning AND losing. Be a gracious winner for a change and stop bragging about how Larios’ hits never fazed you. Bravado is all well and good, but when the loser is as classy as Larios has shown himself to be, you’re just making yourself look like an ass. And enough of the “I’m doing this so the country can be united” angle, ok? As glad as I am to see you win, let’s drop the bullshit :D

As tune-up matches go, I’m glad this wasn’t another farce like the Fashan “3K Battery” fight; by fighting a great boxer in Larios, it more than confirms the assertion that Manny’s win over Morales last January (Pacquiao – Morales II) was not a fluke. It also makes the Pacquiao – Morales tiff on the 18th of November (tentatively) an even better fight, a true rivalry between the best fighters in the world.