Wednesday, June 30, 2010

election postscripts on behalf of the idiots

In a few hours, Benigno Simeon Aquino III will become our president, and magnanimity in the face of victory will be the order of the day. As yet, though, he is still Noynoy Aquino, my president, and I intend to have the last word.

I and everyone else who voted for Noynoy have been described as "stupid" and even "brainless" by a lot of people. Now, I happen to know a lot of really, really, really smart people who voted for Noynoy. And it requires some stretch of the imagination to accept the premise that "my candidate had higher grades in college than yours, so I'm smarter than you."

But let's be generous. Let's support the belief (theirs) that they are smarter than we are. Let's pretend that they not only got flat 1.0's in Statistics, Economics, and Logic, they -- gasp! -- they actually got 0.1. Or, no, wait... Let's say their professors actually declined to give them a grade, because they (the professors) felt they were not worthy of judging such boundless brilliance. Oh. Em. Gee! I feel like I have to genuflect before addressing their comments.

Hmmm... Well... I think I'll pass. Anyway. The same person goes on to say:

To that, this stupid person humbly says: we all have different qualities that we look for in a leader. It may be that intelligent people value bearing over honesty. (Being brainless, I don't get it, but, well, I'm brainless.) Well, go for it. Go for it with your votes. On the other hand, I want a leader I can trust, and I went for it with my vote, and so did 15 million other Filipinos. We may turn out to be wrong, but we voted with our conscience. We voted for the person in whom we believed.

I will not go over all the reasons why I did not vote for your candidate. I do note that you did not respond to my question about him, namely, what has he done? For all his intelligence, his qualifications, his, um, bearing, what has he done? I salute you, however, for not attempting to defend his NDCC TV ad. You are quite right: it is indefensible.

I am truly sorry that you have to share the same country code with 15 million stupid people, but, um, no one's actually stopping from you leaving. Hey, maybe you could go to this guy's country:
Apparently, I didn't get the memo making him the judge of what is a blog and what isn't. I kind of wish it had been a political ad, and I had gotten paid for it. But for what it's worth, it was a blog, and I re-posted it on Facebook, and someone from Filipino Voices asked if they could re-publish it. I write for myself, and I can't help it if a few people like what I'm saying. (And I know a lot of people actually don't. And I can't actually say I give a rat's behind about their opinions.)

Speaking of people's opinions, here's what one reader had to say:
Jet P.,

Too bad, but you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

1. During the first few months of the year, I only watched around 2-4 hours of TV per week. Now that the American Idol has been crowned, I find I'm watching 0-0.25 hours per week. ABS-CBN may be biased towards Noynoy. As I hardly watch it, I wouldn't know. It's a bit rich of you to assume that people who hold different beliefs from yours do so because they were unduly influenced.

2. If all you can say in criticism of a survey is that it was commissioned, you are totally in over your head. It's too bad that people who pretend to have the right answers can't ask the right questions. Here are a few questions you could have asked: Was it a survey of the entire Philippines, or just the National Capital Region? If it was just of the NCR, you should ask: historically, do NCR survey results correlate with the results of the Philippine election? In either survey population, you should then ask: how was sampling done? Was it random? What was the sampling frame? Was it done over the phone (and therefore limited to people who had phones)? Did the surveyors just go up to any person they see, or did they have to get the vote of specific people chosen randomly from a list of qualified voters? Jet, jet, jet... You don't seem to know that much about surveys, so where did you get your information? What made you think the surveys were rigged? Who came up with that explanation for Noynoy's pre-election standings? Who whined and whined about "unrepresentative" surveys? Who's brainwashed now?

3. The third accusation, I admit, really gets me in the gut. This guy, reading that part of my article where I say "Under different circumstances, the person I would have voted for is Dick Gordon" and apparently failing to digest everything else, is accusing me of compromising my principles, just because I am voting for someone who is technically less qualified than his candidate. Yes, I admit it: Noynoy does not have the achievements of Gordon. But there other things that, for me, are just as important as a person's resume, and sometimes these are the invisible things that are, in the end, essential.

Surveys -- had you bothered to think deeper, you would know this -- do not only gauge winnability. It is an elitist delusion that the masses react only to a person's popularity. In medical missions, in trips to the market, I have spoken with all sorts of people, and this I know: they think. They dream. They care. Surveys are more than a barometer of affection. They are reflections of the common sentiment, of what people want from their government. People may vote through gut-feel, but that gut-feel comes from somewhere. A leader understands that.

A president must not only be able to walk with kings; he must take care not to lose the common touch. A leader must not only be great; he must have the ability to inspire greatness. At this point, for me, Gordon does not have that connection with the masses. If that is something that you feel you can ignore, that's fine with me. But don't you dare insinuate that I have compromised my principles, because you don't know me, you don't know how I think, and you don't understand me. Step out of your coffee shops, your high-rise buildings, your intellectual underground. Because it doesn't look like you understand your people either. You want what's best for them, but you haven't bothered to be them.

Some people seem not to have read my article thoroughly. And then there are the people who may have read it too thoroughly, to the point of reading things that were not there:

"Ligaya herself says that if Ligaya's mom were to submit a blogpost, then she can explain why Gibo is the best candidate for Pilipinas president." Huh? Where did I say that? Moreover, this guy's comment hints, and another of his comments (which I failed to get a screenshot of) categorically says, that if my arguments were valid, I would be able to convince my mother to vote for Noynoy. What, then, can he say about the validity of my mother's arguments, which have failed to convince me? Tsk tsk tsk. The perfect response to this comment is a Cebuano expression that is unfortunately un-translatable... Pag-sure uy.

Then there is this condescending one from someone named, appropriately, Miriam:

No one who lives in Cebu -- or who at least researches the headlines of Cebu's local papers before making comments -- can say that Cebu is always engaged in positive politics. Our former mayor is one of the most brutally frank and even quarrelsome politicians we know...and we like him for that. Unlike some people, he isn't afraid to call a spade a spade. So, no, we don't engage in positive politics to the point of sugarcoating anomalies in government and trying to wriggle out of uncomfortable commitments. But we are rather sensible people on the whole, I think.

That's why Noynoy won here.

One last word on surveys. Of course their results will not be 100% representative and accurate. If they were, there would be no need to hold general elections -- just do a survey! They are not, and so there is. Less than 100% accuracy is an inherent flaw of any survey, "commissioned" or not. (I'd like to see a survey conducted without a budget!)

What is important in analyzing the results of a survey is knowing what it is a survey of, and how the sample was chosen. If it used random sampling, you should be okay believing that what it says, about that segment of the population that it studied, is likely to be true of the population as a whole.

When you have a throat infection, someone takes a swab from your throat, takes it back to the lab, gets the bacteria to multiply, and tests which antibiotics are most effective against it. The lab tells your doctor, and your doctor gives you a prescription. Are you going to say, "I'm not going to believe the culture results because the swab was only taken from the upper right corner of my throat"? Or are you going to say, "I don't believe the culture results because the lab is in a hospital that has a Pfizer library"? No one can force you to take a particular antibiotic -- go ahead and take Roch herbal capsules, if you want to -- but you might as well say that you're doing it because you want to, not because of any flaw in the culture-and-sensitivity test.

A lot of people don't have to deal with statistics in their line of work, and I understand that. I'm just saying, if you don't know that much to begin with, do some research before diving into the issue. If you must insult the intelligence and integrity of your peers, make sure you're not throwing stones from a glass house. Kasi nakakahiya.

My purpose in writing that article was two-fold: to explain why I am voting for Noynoy, and to try to convince the undecided to vote likewise. "We all have different reasons why we support one candidate and not another," I wrote. "I respect that." The response I got, for the most part, was great. People who agreed with me were encouraged to voice out their own beliefs, or to continue to do so. Friends who I knew were voting for another candidate kept a respectful silence. Some people expressed their disagreement, but in an inoffensive manner. Ganun na man talaga dapat.

During the elections, the biggest question was who to vote for. Well, whether you voted for him or not, Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III is now our president, and he needs all the help he can get. The question now is: do we let the election fever die down? Or do we transform it into a force for positive change, in ourselves and in our country? By our actions will the merit of our convictions be judged.