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Politicos, then and now
by Morr Pungayan

By the term Politicos, we simply mean “those engaged in Politics” –– Philippine-style, that is; so, politicians basically. However, we retain the term Politicos in allegiance to its being a Contemporary variation, if not an Alternate term, in Academic as well as in Colloquial Philippine English.

Further, our use of the time-indicators ‘then and now’ need be delineated. By ‘then’, we chose 1960 –– or thereabouts, up to 2002; and by using ‘now’, we mean from 2003 to present time.

Surely, there are obvious –– or latent, if you believe so –– differences between the Politicos ‘then’, on one side; and the Politicos ‘now’, on the other –– even granting we observe and comment only on the Surface manifestations, for examples and to wit:

WHEREAS ‘then’, the Politico delivering his speech begins with a solemn greeting of: Kakabsat ko ida.. (Ilk.); or, Aakhi.. (Nab.); or, Bessat ay am-in (Knk.) –– all meaning in Translation: “my brothers and sisters all”, more or less

‘Now’, the Politico starts with an anecdote, or a little story, even a not-so-well thought joke –– these things all or some he had learned from the educational ‘Upheavals’ of the times –– and after having gained footstep ‘hold’ of his now smiling audience: he introduces his name and what position he is aspiring for.

WHEREAS ‘then’, said Politico impresses his audience with the Spanish ‘borrowed’ paragraph beginnings of: Bien.. or Bueno..; Entonces..; (Des)pues.. i.e. “well, then..; “Therefore..; and “After that..”, respectively

The Politico now doesn’t employ those ‘Starters’ –– for one reason or another: he knows those are not ‘impressing enough’ anymore; his language foreign is rather English, or English only; other reasons better kept to himself and unsaid.

And a lot of other observable, distinguishing characteristics of the two juxtaposed politicians: those of Yesteryears, or ‘then’; vis-à-vis those of this Decade, or ‘now’.

A further delimitation in our discussions is the locale itself of the Politicos in current topic: only within the Baguio-Benguet political arenas; farther relations of these areas shall therefore be understood, if at all included: ‘in passing’ or ‘by incidental reflection’.


Over the years and across the decades between ‘now’ and 1962 (or before), the ‘typologies’ of Politicos in the Baguio-Benguet areas –– sometimes written just as B-B –– have gone to their respective ‘Transformations’ viz. some, gone to Oblivion; others, to refurnished ‘renewals’ (or ‘revivals’); a few, to wing ‘shifts’, name it.

Yet, the Basics of many of those typologies –– we can say: have remained constant enough to enable us witnesses and beholders to describe them quite adequately into groupings or clusters of: the Progressivists of the first Type, or simply Type I; the Perennials; the Diehards; the Progressivists of the second Type, or simply Type II; and finally, the ‘Gems’.

The Progressivists, Type I

Foremost of these is the Pilmero bengat (lit. “at first only”). First few months upon assumption or post, she is all over –– heard or seen; they say in the Benguet languages: aktib (active) iman. But in the later months of her first or 2nd year, she is a retiring, comfortable, ‘confident’ one –– no longer actively moving but rather resting, or reclining –– in her swivel chair! To cheer yourself in Perspective: just imagine her energia is overspent.. for the time being.

Next is “the Fighter”. In public places and in higher offices, this Politica talks convincingly or decisively. Problem is: when she is dissuaded by a colleague or superior to ‘remain calm’ as her concerns shall be later on ‘addressed’, she is suddenly tamed to demurity.

And then “the Innovator”. He has ‘new’ ideas khono: build a decent Reading Center for the Youth, institutionalize an additional Special Day for the Senior Citizens, purchase sparkling-coloured uniforms for the Women’s Clubs, etc.; yet, after some visits to the Municipio and he gets slips of NO FUNDS AVAILABLE, he comes back to his excited constituents to explain: awan met kano ti kwarta (lit. ‘there is no money, they say). To many, it is the grammatical ‘joker’ kano which is unsavory in the explanation. (Indeed, that’s what they say, but what do you say at par?).

The Perennials

Under this Typology, find for yourself available the following model sub-Types: The ‘turncoats’, the Gaya-gaya, the Jahjahnged.

The “Turncoats” –– political turncoats, we mean; not the multi-faceted ones; changes sides –– often as usual as an election ‘fever’ comes a-brewing. This Politico’s standard is: “where I can be favoured, I’ll be there!” You and I can cite a number of live examples.. we come to wonder: when shall these retire politically?

The “Gaya-gaya”. He gets bright with an idea stimulated from: a TV show, a print Ad; or, from a ‘personal observation’ when he went on a short visit abroad. So fascinated with said ‘idea’, he rushes forth for immediate implementation! No ‘weighing’ of sorts, his adage is: “I saw it work in that advanced city, it shall work here as well!”

The Jahjahnged or literally, “the Nodding one”. This Politico is so beholden to his bosses or higher-ups, that whatever they say, he is wont to agree. He is what we can describe as “amenable to authority”. Because of this unique trait, he gets many favours from up the Ladder –– more than enough, for him to convince his unwary constituents they vote for him again, this time or next Election, since he claims: “these are the ‘evidences’ of my service!”

The ‘Diehards’

The Nabaloi word for these is Daged(s) –– short for Dagdagod! (Beware!), not etymologically, but implicatively; what we by Grammar call ‘Idiomatic use”. Under this Typology, we find: the ‘practical’ one, the ‘This time..’, and the Areglo, Areglado.

The ‘Practical’ one’s guide is: “if I can’t lick them, I better join them”. So, people get surprised: he had been a staunch oppositionist to this Party, or to that family, for decades; now, he is one among them. And same people muse: “we thought he was a diehard per se Liberal, or a (Kingpin’s name) man!”

The ‘This-time..’ is a closely-related sub-Typology; he lives by the saying: “it is ‘This time..’ that matters –– not Before, nor After!” He believes in the Primacy of the Present where he is a Player himself; in the Past were his genealogical Forerunners, in the Future will be his Ensues; they may be greater or lesser, politically; but it is the Limelight now he must focus on. That’s what he is convinced of.

The Areglo, Areglado (lit. “settlement”, or “insured”, but from Spanish arreglar, “to arrange”) sub-type chooses to settle all ‘differences’ –– big and small, political or otherwise, etc., during Election ‘Fever’ time –– even before, so as not to interfere with, and thus insure, his Victory! See? ‘Diehards’ really: this and the two aforecited.

The Progressivists, Type II

Most, if not all, of the sub-types under this classification are of the ‘Now’ –– or of the recent Past, to wit: the ‘Mr. (or Ms.) Universe’, the Dynasty Co., the Billion-marker, the Nawaw, and the ‘Forever Young’.

‘The Mr. or Ms. Universe’ is the Politico who has no ‘spare room’ –– for anybody, at any time of the Day, at any day of the Week. The Kankana-ey language expresses this fluently viz. Oka na am-in (all his / hers). If there’s ever one space (or committee) left as vacant, he will dare(!) say: “let’s give it to Mr. X” –– his kin, affinal or putative –– if not consanguinal.

The ‘Dynasty Co.’ sub-type is where the Politico works on ‘alliances’ –– secret or public, in the guise of ‘popular support and acceptance of the constituents’. So, they’re not ‘related’? “No, they’re not!” you may say; but take a second or third look and behold: ah-ha, sila sila lang! (EXPR, they by themselves only!).

The ‘Billion-Marker’ is the ‘Now’ version of the ‘Then’ Millionaire. His monodirectional foresight is the ‘billion-mark’ in (blank) years! But.. put off the ‘buts’, please; and attempt not to talk to more than 10 people who work under his office: one or two of them might sing!

The ‘Nawaw’ sub-type is unlike the former; this goes even beyond the ‘mark’ –– he thirsts (as is nawaw its superlativized form) not only for ‘marks’ but even for the ‘non-count’ ones e.g. Power, Influence, and Legacy?

At first you are ‘blinded’ by his progressive terms and expressions of: “in the name of our LGU (Brgy., Mun., Prov., etc.)”; for the Sake of our future generation; “... will redound to the benefit of our community”; etc., but what actually is he promoting? Come on, can’t you see? You mean, you just hear; or you don’t use your other Faculties? Come, come on!

The ‘Forever Young’ is there again.. and again.. ever young, bouncing, and ‘fast’. You mean, a Politico ‘immortal’? why ask me –– or anybody; why not ask him or her? You want ‘secrets’? You’ll be surprised she’ll tell you some; she’s got a lot a-handy, but watch out, those may not be garantis pur cuir! Like Leather in general: some are not ‘guaranteed pure ones’, yahh.

And now: the ‘Gems’ –– supposed to be our fundamental ‘hopes’ –– our Namnama and/or Pag-asa. How many are they? Or, where are they? Gather around, folks; and together: let’s see.

The ‘Gems

Gems as they are, they are not easily found; they are just few in number; yet, when you spot them on occasion –– when you ‘discover’ them, their Lustre; their Magnificence of Heart; their striking nobility of Purpose; is undeniably discernable, if not crystal clear!

In a ‘Group’ –– say among 12 Board Members; or 10 Councilors, or even in a ‘League’ of Congressmen, Mayors, and the like, they surface now and then; observers may call them the ‘Floating’ Ones.. but they miss to observe these are in fact the Floating ‘gems’ whom we need to conserve and take treasure of; our best choices.. we should be vigilant not to liken them to the other Politicos aforedescribed, Supra.

These ‘Gems’ –– some of them can be still ‘in deep waters’; primarily still struggling to move up the Ladder, but are ‘kept-at-bay’ by more powerful personalities –– incumbents or otherwise. So that, at times they lose ‘the Game’. But let’s give them the chance to try again: Gems as they are, they are naturally-gifted with the indomitable spirit to survive!

‘At times Manifesting’ is an expression we can give for him you and I recognize as a ‘potential leader’ yet has never tried to run for a Position in a political Contest. He must be one of the ‘Gems’ we are in search for; why don’t we try to convince him; he may be our political ‘Gem’-come-true! History itself does not say this could not happen, Q.E.D. Ever read of historical cases where five citizens filed in favour and in lieu of their choice and, their chosen Candidate won?

So, your ‘ideal’ choice and mine, too: the ‘Gems’ –– or any, akin to their heretofore-supplied descriptions.

And the others.. or other Politicos? The seeming Exception in sight is: they too, iff (if and only if) they “re-form!”

But still, if they re-form –– since this can simplify into: ‘to form themselves again’, there shall be two possible logical outcomes: 1) they will ‘approximate’ some of the ‘Gems’; or 2) they will worsen –– i.e. in the course of self-reformation! So,

Alas! Our only hopes could be but a few from the others’ ranks.. plus the Gems who are always fewer, and rare!
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