, July 07, 2022

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Bringing Back the Ghost of Marcos


  •   4 min reads
Bringing Back the Ghost of Marcos
PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler | The National Library of the Philippines
By Greg Macabenta

“Babangon muli!”

It must have been a Freudian slip that caused the communications brain trust of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to concoct this campaign slogan.

I don’t want to criticize the work of my colleagues because I know most of those doing political work and many of them are friends.

However, this slogan of the presidential campaign of Marcos Jr., which encapsulates what he is promising to do for our country and to us, the citizenry, has struck me in the guts, rung the alarm bells in my whole being, and warned me - warned us - in clear and horrific tones, “Be afraid. Be very afraid!”

But what’s wrong with, “Babangon muli!” Doesn’t it promise what politicians routinely do - like Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again”?

Not if you consider the context.

Remember how the remains of the late President Marcos were maintained for years, nearly life-like, in a climate-controlled chamber? It was almost as if his family and supporters expected him to come back from the dead.

Well, that seems to be the message being delivered by the slogan,
“Babangon muli.”

In short, Marcos Jr. is promising to resurrect Ferdinand Marcos Sr.!

To bring him back from the grave? Perhaps not quite as literally as that. But the promotional materials of Marcos Jr. have virtually guaranteed a revival of the reign of the Apo, i.e., "Happy days are here again."

It doesn’t take a creative genius to deduce that the alliterative phrase is meant to echo the campaign monicker of Marcos Jr.

But the wordsmiths may not have anticipated that it can also be taken to mean Ba-Balic Multo. A less scary but also worrisome meaning of BBM could also be Balic-Balic Meldy or Ba-Balic si Ma’am - along with connotations of extragance and splurging on the people's money.

Some mischievous social media postings use BBM to mean Bayad Buwis Muna or Pay Taxes First.

But Ba-Bangon Multo or Babangon si Marcos??? I daresay, it’s a Freudian slip. Attributed to psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, it is defined as “an unintentional error regarded as revealing subconscious feelings.”

Perhaps the communications team of Marcos Jr. subconsciously wanted to send a warning to the voters. “Be afraid. Be very afraid. Si Marcos ay babangon muli. Marcos will come to life again in the person of his son.”

This should strike fear in those who suffered through the years of martial law and the Marcos dictatorship. The problem is that over half of next year’s voters were not yet born or were still infants during the Marcos regime.

Unfortunately for those who would contend with the Marcos Jr. juggernaut, they may be fighting a 21st century war using lantaka (a bamboo cannon used by Katipuneros).

Superior firepower - meaning money and political machinery - are obvious advantages of the Marcos campaign. But the issues that are at the heart of every electoral contestcould be a problem for them.

They have been attacking Marcos Jr. by telling millennials about issues that may not resonate with these voters. For them, the alleged abuses and the plundering of the national coffers by Marcos and his cronies could be nothing more than baseless urban legend or the usual dirt that candidates hurl at each. In other words: exaggerated or even outright fake news.

My own driver who is from Sorsogon (the same region as VP Leni Robredo) is not convinced that the Marcos government stole more than “the usual take” of everyone who has held the reins of power.

This is not to say that honesty and integrity - or the lack of these qualities - are meaningless to young voters. Perhaps the problem is in the delivery and more importantly the DELIVERER of the issues raised against the Marcoses.

In the period leading up to the imposition of martial law, the youth - belonging to the same demographics as next year’s potential swing voting bloc - were the spearhead of the anti-Marcos protest marches and demonstrations.

The First Quarter Storm may seem like ancient history to millennials - but an effective and believable storyteller could create a powerful motivator for the young.

In El Filibusterismo, Padre Florentino asked in urgent tones, “Where are the youth?" Rizal wanted his character to ask the Filipino youth to save the country.

To presume that the youth are ready receptacles for such an emotional appeal could be a mistake.

The other day at the plaza in our subdivision in Parañaque, candidates for local positions were reportedly giving “goodies” to prospective voters. My driver wryly commented that national candidates would give up to P2,000 per vote. Said he: “If there are five voters in your household, you can get up to P10,000.”

He then added: ”Of course we know who can afford to give that much.”

His companion, also from Sorsogon, expressed what seemed like a mixture of frustration and pride: ”Our candidate has no money. In fact, my group is raising funds to buy lugaw for our supporters.”

I frankly did not know what to say.

Indeed, the tragedy of our country is not that Marcos Sr. will come alive again in his Jr. or that 2022 will bring back the ghost of Marcos.

The greater tragedy is that many of our voters may have learned to accept that as a fact of life...or of death.

(gregmacabenta@hotmail.com)


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