[ANALYSIS] How Nancy Binay won a Senate seat

nancyShe’s the one who took a ride on her father’s popularity during campaign season. With her unfit educational background and bare political experience, we were quick to draw conclusions on how out of shape she is to become a senator of the republic. We lambasted her for her total absence in senatorial debates, questioned the cliches in her platform, ridiculed her intelligence and experience by pitting her against Risa Hontiveros, and teased her dark brown complexion.

As of writing, in 5th place: Nancy Binay: 5,436,011 votes! (8:53 PM)

Early on in this race, it looks as if the woman we all hated will win a Senate seat much to our dismay. Soon, we will be scratching our heads and crying “Anyare?” (“What happened?”) How is it possible that the very person we all hated could likely win in this election?

As film director Maryo J. De Los Reyes said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s “Ang Tipo Kong Kandidato”, Filipinos have a penchant for drama. As in the soap operas we are hooked into every afternoon and on prime time, we tend to sympathize with the underdog—the oppressed and maligned character, usually from poor background and physical attributes.  Over the years, election candidates and their managers have learned to utilize this flaw in the Filipino psyche resulting in a type of social engineering we see every election season.

Turn a candidate into an underdog and s/he will have the sympathy vote s/he needs.

This is one trap most of us fell into early on in this election season. After all, there is another flaw in the Filipino psyche utilized by these candidates and their handlers—our penchant for criticism or (in Filipino) “pamumuna, pamumulà”. And the demographic most guilty of this crime against Nancy Binay during this election season are those belonging in classes A, B, and C or those from the educated, tech-savvy upper and middle classes that make up 7% of our society. From the day Binay announced her candidacy and campaign, this demographic was on the attack both in mainstream broadcast media and in emerging yet powerful social media.

Facebook and Twitter were the main platforms of cyber bullies against her, most notably through the use of parody accounts @IamNancyBinay and @DonyaAngelica (based on Angelica Santibañez, the famed and hated antagonist from the soap opera “Marimar” in the 90s). These two parody accounts were basically hook and sinker which baited us into the type of drama Binay’s handlers were expecting—to draw and encourage a large, educated demographic to push Binay to the ground. Some well known figures, such as comedian Vice Ganda, and even Liberal Party senatorial candidate and former Akbayan partylist representative Risa Hontiveros, joined the bandwagon—a step, I bet, she’d later regret.

As of writing, in 5th place, Nancy Binay: 7,874,404 votes! (10:18 PM)

Back in 2010, Vice President Jejomar Binay got the most votes from that other demographic of our society who can relate the most to soap operas: the uneducated masses from classes D and E or a whopping 93% of our society. They are the ones who have less access to social media or the Internet and rely only on TV, radio, print media, and campaign sorties itself to get to know a candidate. They aren’t the ones who frequent Twitter or Facebook and see Nancy Binay being bullied, but they know very well what is happening there from word-of-mouth. Hence, it is no wonder she would get the sympathy vote from this sector just three years since her father won.

The masses related a lot to Nancy’s father: from his complexion, to his platform, down to his bearing and approach during campaign season. Being a vice presidential candidate, the elder Binay did show he was competent enough to do the bigger job by attending debates and granting interviews. After all, he has bullets to spare from his experience as Makati mayor. In the interest of expanding his political clout in preparation for 2016 Presidential Elections, VP Binay gambled that his strategy in 2010 would work for her inexperienced daughter. Before she was picked, we virtually heard nothing of Nancy Binay. If not for her complexion, people wouldn’t believe that she’s related to the vice chief executive. This is the only characteristic father and daughter share and in order to win, the former would let the latter ride on his popularity and devise a strategy to win: to turn her daughter into an underdog in order to get the sympathy vote she needs.

We never knew (and dared to inquire) who are these people behind the parody accounts against Nancy Binay. It could be her handlers or non-affiliated sympathizers  Or maybe it was indeed created by some savvy tweep disgruntled by Binay’s inclusion in the race. We will never know the truth behind it. Only one truth remains—the more the upper and middle classes bullied Nancy Binay, the more it endeared her to the lower classes. With every slur against her color and inexperience, it was a swipe against the lower classes. By turning Nancy Binay into the enemy, you turned against someone who is with the masses.

As of writing, in 5th place, Nancy Binay: 8,594,831 votes! (11:10 PM)

It was a mistake bullying Nancy Binay no matter how legitimate our issues are against her. Now, with the inevitable about to happen, we just have to accept the fact that our own actions helped put a novice in public service. As of writing, there are sentiments in Twitter and Facebook about continuing the smear campaign against her in Senate. It wouldn’t help in anyway as it would only solidify VP Binay and his family’s foothold in the presidency in 2016. What is the least we could do?

There are two things we can do: one, we can hold her accountable for her election promises by closely watching and criticizing her legislative work or we can encourage and help her accomplish the gargantuan task that awaits her novice hands. After all, she is an elected official and part of being in a democracy is accepting the results of democratic exercise. If we turn her into the senator we expect her to be, she could transform into the compelling legislator we don’t expect her to be.

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