Monday, 12 November 2012

COMMENTARY: Influence of overseas Mambulaoans in May 2013 elections

Editor, MWBuzz

THOSE with money and resources usually influence those without.

Since the penniless tend to become beholden to the one who got the dollar  or riyal for that matter, the next tendency is for them to listen to what the others would say. 

In most cases, the penniless in fact would do what the other party would wish to happen.

This scenario, however screwed up it looks, would easily apply to certain situations in Mambulao.

These days, among those whom we could say have the money to influence are members of families who work overseas – the dollar/riyal-earning OFWs.

Many among them may have been overseas for quite a long time but would occasionally come home for a much-needed break. 

It is most certain that over the years that they have been away, they became clueless as to what was happening in their hometown, or in the community where they live.

But one thing sure is that whenever they came home for a brief sojourn, they would have noticed that nothing has changed in their community. 

In fact, they are the same thing they saw last when they first went overseas for a job many years ago.

This is very true with Mambulaoans who left the community in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. 

In my case, I left Parang in the summer of 1965 when I came to Manila to pursue a university education. I came back occasionally for school vacation. But when I finally began working in the 70s, I never had a chance to see my hometown again until I returned in the 1980s for a holiday.

When I migrated to Papua New Guinea in the late 1990, I only had the chance to come home to Parang after a decade.

What did I see in my hometown after almost a decade of absence? 

Nothing much. The highway from Talubatid to Mambulao was as bad as it was in the 70s. Nothing much had changed physically in Mambulao that we could consider as “development”.

We could assume that Mambulaoans overseas and elsewhere in the Philippines have accessed to the Internet and are doing Facebook to get in touch with friends worldwide and families back home.

We could also assume that the messages they may be getting – especially postings by members in the same Facebook group -- are just a sort of chit-chat menu, where all information are offered, alongside innuendos, incoherent comments, gossips, allegations, suspicions, hunches, misgivings, mistrusts, screwed-up-personal opinion, and so on and so forth …

There’s no solid information being offered so as to help the one receiving them to form a solid opinion on issues at hand, particularly those that concern Mambulao.

And because of this, there’s no way for him to act accordingly on matters that needed his involvement.

Although a Mambulaoan could be overseas, he still would like to get involved in the affairs of the community - politics especially. 

The power of the Internet and the power that it gives one who has access truly amazes – it allows him to present his insights and reaction over a common issue while at the same time getting all information and views he might be needing sooner or later.

But what is important is that he could sit on his totem pole where he could see a 360 degree view of the confusion below.

And decide what should be done.

That’s why in the coming May 2013 local elections, the overseas Mambulaoans are surely to play a crucial rule in influencing their families, friends, neighbors and many more around their community as to the candidate they ought to vote come election day.

You may ask why would an overseas Mambulaoan be interested in local politics?

The answer is simple: They wanted to know what the future holds for their families under the governance of politicians who would take over the municipal government, particularly the office of the mayor, after the May 2013 local elections.

Would there be better security for his family day in day out? 

Would there be improvement in terms of public works in his community. Would the environment be protected from community rubbish and other pollutants? Is their baranggay going to get more concrete roads and better power and water services?

The most crucial concern is: are the newly elective officials capable enough to serve Mambulaoans honestly and effectively?

Remember that the overseas Mambulaoans send money to their family every month for their upkeep so that they won’t be a burden to the local government financially. 

This is one thing that the local government has to thank overseas Mambulaoans for. Its heavy load of looking after financially-deprived Mambulaoans is lesser.

Even to these days, there are many indigent families needing support from the local government in terms of healthcare and other vital services - something a family of overseas Mambulaoans do without.

So, it boils down to the money that the families of OFWs are claiming over the counters of Western Union once or twice a month.

For this, it is certain that the overseas Mambulaoan could practically dictate on his family whom to support and vote for -- on pain of a warning or rebuke -- if they failed to do so; and his family members could talk to their neighbors about their preferred candidates, who may in turn sell the same candidate to his next-door friend or relative.

A chain reaction of voters’ support, indeed!

But before an overseas Mambulaoan could make a solid decision, he has to know a lot about the candidates.

Sadly, there would be a dearth of information about the many candidates running next year for one reason of the other. 

To note: Two candidates for the mayoralty seat; two candidates for the vice-mayoralty seat; about 20 candidates for the Sangguniang Bayan, including those running independent and those running for provincial offices such as congressman, governor and Sanguniang Panglalawigan members.

In the previous edition of MWBuzz (24th edition), we have invited aspirants – from mayoralty to Sanguniang Bayan -- to send in their platform of government so that we could provide them space – for free, of course – where overseas Mambulaoans could read and appraise them.

Candidates may argue that their winning votes are not hooked on the Internet and therefore can’t access Facebook or MWBuzz to read the published platforms. 

So, there’s no need for them to do so.


On the other hand, they are also wrong.

Overseas Mambulaons reading MWBuzz with means to influence their families back home are intelligent, educated, well-informed, financially-well placed and with profound sense of concern about the future of their community.

Remember that they left Mambulao long time ago because there’s no future for them staying here – blame this on past local governments that failed to bring in jobs for everybody and to carry out social projects that would have made life easier.

Now that they are financially able toiling in the sun dessert, in logging forests, in gray snow, in ocean rigs, on vessels, at factories and at care-giving and health facilities, they want to throw in some weights – all for the sake of those who have been left behind – and they are their families and the hundreds or even thousand others who’s economic and social future depend on how good the municipality of Mambulao would be governed by those taking over after the May 2013 elections.

And Mambulaoans reading the twice-a month editions of MWBuzz are now nearing 8,000 world wide – they are the concerned individuals who would make it sure that the future of Mambulaoans after the elections is in good hands.

By telling their families back home the right candidate to support – all for their own better sake.

It would therefore make sense for Mambulaoan candidates to market themselves now through MWBuzz. This is the only place they’ve got where they’re programs would be ventilated appropriately

Next year’s election would be a bloody game to play fiercely on the Internet and your news tunnel – MWBuzz – will not stay away from the skirmishes.

And Facebook will become a snake fit of confusion, a blood-in-the-sand arena where propaganda, blackmail, black-propaganda, white paper, expose, gossips, allegations, innuendos, accusations would proliferate like poisonous mushrooms.

Certainly, the subject candidate –defenseless as he is -- would either be praised or be damned and doomed.

And the reader would be left as confused as ever.

MWBuzz, therefore, would be safe and level playing field for everybody from both sides of the political fences to sell their ideas.

And Mambulaoans overseas would truly appreciate this. It would make easier for them to make an informed decision through MWBuzz mediation.

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