In his popular blog, a humor writer that goes by the pseudonym, “Professional Heckler”, prominently features this quote: “The problem with election jokes is they get elected.” Heckler’s blog can be found at www.professionalheckler.wordpress.com and he has been roasting Filipino politicians and celebrities diligently and without an iota of fear for quite a few years now.
I can only surmise how Heckler relishes his unpaid job as the Filipino’s online version of The Jon Stewart Show. There is so much material to be parodied especially with the onset of the local and national electoral campaigns. We also never run out of family scandals galore that morph into gleeful morsels of gossip that we all love to have like appetizers before a main course.
Brilliant comedic impersonator Willie Nepomuceno, also known as “Willie Nep”, is one of my favorite political humorists. He shifts from “Erap” to “Dolphy” with quite a few other presidents and stars in between, like a man gifted with multiple personalities. I wish he would do more shows, particularly now that it is election season.
Political humor increases our tolerance level and gives us something to laugh about. For wit, nothing beats former President Joseph Estrada. When he was a senator, Erap wore dark sunglasses while the chamber held its sessions. Amused, the Senate reporters would try to get near the popular senator, prompting Erap to raise his shades and taunt them, “I’m not asleep!”
Sometimes, it would be the media’s turn to pull a prank on an unsuspecting senator. I recall how a television crew of a major network decided to aim the camera at an elder member of the Senate known for his infatuation with a microphone, and unrequited love affair with the media. The senator traced the camera’s movement, panning to a stop directly where his chair was. Delighted, the senator stood up and sought permission to speak. And speak he did, giving the phrase “running sentences” an altogether new meaning. Meanwhile, the naughty cameraman felt not the slightest bit of guilt for failing to turn the camera on.
My father had his own awkward moments especially on the campaign trail. While running for the Senate under LABAN, he delivered his campaign speech in his baritone voice. Summing up, Ka Blas took a deep breath, raised his arm with a clenched fist, and called on the barrio audience to vote straight, “Marcos-Fernan”! Of course, he had to revise that call to action in a heartbeat, asking the same audience now laughing at his gaffe, to vote “Mitra-Fernan” instead.
President Aquino has a funny bone, too. He takes digs at his thinning hair, and his forlorn love life. On some occasions, he also makes fun of his own Cabinet secretaries and partymates. The public – “his bosses” — loves hearing him speak in the native language sprinkled with a joke or two, because it makes PNoy more accessible, and thus believable to them. After all, where can you find a head of state describing his love life as similar to Coke Zero?
And then, there are the names. We call our senators “Pong” and “Ping”, “Kiko” and “Koko”. We also previously elected a senator who believed in “agimats” while a lady senator now specializes in using pick-up lines to enervate her audience. Dynasties have become the butt of jokes, too, except that some of the jokes have become too repetitious. Not even the names have changed.
No wonder we love politics in the Philippines! It’s more fun because we get to be entertained and fooled, all at the same time. To have elections every three years at the national and local levels is a joke in itself though. How can you expect a mayor to accomplish life-altering reforms when he has to think of the right campaign jingle and platform midway through his brief term?
Politics is addition – not only in terms of the number of candidates to choose from, but also the number of jokes that every political season produces. Have fun, folks. This is the Philippines, after all! (Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)