When you read through a ballot, your attention naturally gravitates to the names you recognize. Instantly, household celebrity names and known political families hold an advantage to those circles you end up filling on paper. So when more celebs, athletes and beauty queens try their luck in politics, many can’t help but ask if they’re only taking advantage of their names.

In our Pamilya Talk Election Special, Political Science professor and analyst Dr. Jean Encinas-Franco said, the closure of the ABS-CBN franchise during the pandemic may have led some celebrities to realize the need to be part of the political space.

Ang tingin ko, itong COVID and nearly two years na itong lockdown, medyo nakita nila na kailangan din silang makilahok sa usapin ng entertainment industry, kasi naapektuhan sila. Matindi rin ang epekto sa kanila, hindi lang sila, kundi yung mga tao na nag-re-rely sa entertainment industry. Also, iyong nangyari sa ABS-CBN is also a lesson for them,” shared Dr. Encinas-Franco.

For candidates who started out as household names and have since served as public servants, popularity has its disadvantages. Discussions on social media can make or break their candidacy.

Iyong advantage, malaking naitulong sa akin noon sa pagkakampanya ko bilang congresswoman. May disadvantages din, dahil konting kibot mo, konting galaw, kumbaga public figure ka talaga bukod sa pagiging politiko. May mga pagkakataon na kailangan ka nilang sukatin sa mga bagay-bagay na madali ka nilang mahuhusgahan,” said Laguna 3rd district representative Sol Aragones, who is running to be the governor of Laguna. Aragones used to be a reporter of ABS-CBN.

Popular candidates also know that their names can only get them so far. Voters look for a background of competence to discern who are likely to serve well.

Actress Aiko Melendez, candidate for councilor of Quezon City (5th district)

Voters right now are wiser and they’ve matured in terms of picking the right candidate for them,” shared former Quezon City 2nd district councilor and currently 5th district councilor aspirant Aiko Melendez.

Ang unang impression nila sa yo is pagkakaguluhan ka. Pero, now that we are in a pandemic, what people are looking for right now is someone who can help them, not just for today,” she added.

This opens up a new issue: We look for competence, but are we seeing the track record of all candidates or only the ones with the machinery to distribute them?

Sino ang nakakapagpamalas ng kakayanan, sino ang nakakapagpaalam sa tao ng kanilang kakayanan?” asked private pollster Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes. Kung ikaw ay isang commentator o artista na ang imahe mo sa pelikula ay tumutulong sa masa, mas malaki ang ganansya doon sa isang senador na gumawa ng maraming batas na hindi naman masyadong nakikita,” he added.

Actor and Bulacan Vice Gubernatorial candidate Alex Castro and comedian Dennis Padilla, candidate for councilor of Caloocan (2nd district)

Ang disadvantage noong senator na performing, hindi siya laging napapakita. Ibang lebel ng impormasyon ang nakukuha. Iyon ang ating problema, lalong-lalo na noong nagsimula ang political advertisements since the 1990 elections. Talagang mapapagastos ka para mapakilala ang sarili mo. Pero sila (popular figures, like celebrities and influencers), hindi na kailangan kasi talagang household name ang mga yan,” Holmes added about the advantage of popularity.

As voters face a sea of candidates playing on strengths such as public speaking and performance, polished pleasant faces, prominent names, and strong intellectual background, how do we then weed out the ones we can trust?

Here are some tips from the experts:

1. Research track records before voting

Its common for popular names to be on top of our minds. We need to recognize that, then do our own research.

Syempre, natural lang na ma-gwapuhan tayo. Merong mga kandidato rin na hindi artista pero magaling magsalita. Pero siguro, ang tingnan natin ay iyong track record, at someone who will make us proud again to be Filipino,” Dr. Encinas-Franco said.

2. Find candidates whose interests and values align with yours

Reassess what you think a candidate should bring to the table, and find those who push for the same values and agenda.

Dapat talagang isipin nila ano yung gusto mong mangyari sa iyong buhay, at kung ano yung maitutulong ng tatakbo. Kasi kung ang iyong aspirasyon ay kakaiba doon sa tulak ng tatakbo, huwag mo iboto. I think the alignment of your interest and the interest of the collective where you belong should be more important than the popularity of your candidate,” Holmes shared.

3. Consult with trusted online resources and official social media channels

Visit official government sites posting laws or initiatives raised by candidates. Check their official social media feeds to see how they interact regarding controversial issues, with their constituents, and even with their enemies.

Kasi available naman lahat yung nakaraan nila on social media, lalo na yung polisiyang sinuportahan nila o hindi sinuportahan. Nagsasalita ba to sa mga issues? Mayroon ba siyang sinabi na kasinungalingan? Ilang beses na ba siya nagpalit-palit ng partido? Pwedeng gamitin ang social media. Pupuntahan nila yung website ng House of Representatives and Senate, nandun ang mga panukalang batas, nag-ho-hold ba ng hearings ito, absentee senator ba siya?” admonished Dr. Encinas-Franco about what to watch out for online.

4. Be aware of known strategies to garner votes

Apart from banking on their own popularity, other candidates have been known to align with other popular figures to gain a strong following. Dr. Encinas-Franco cited a study about parasocial interaction conducted by a colleague in the University of the Philippines.

Ang ginawa niya, mineasure niya, tinignan niya kung may effect yung endorsement ng celebrities. Doon sa study niya, meron. Nakakatulong sa kandidato na politiko tapos inendorse ng celebrity. Halimbawa, si Sarah Geronimo before kay Angara. Hindi naman ganung kalaking effect, pero nakatulong,” she shared.

Meanwhile, many are available through channels or ads on social sites like Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube.

Sa akin, parati kong sinasabi sa estudyante ko, huwag magpaloko. Iboto yung totoo,” shared Holmes.

Dr. Encinas Franco reminded us that the coming 2022 elections is vital to our country, saying, Napakahalaga nitong eleksyon na ito. Ito ang magbibigay satin ng direksyon kung makakaahon pa tayo dito sa COVID, paano makakarecover ang ating economy. Sana, kahit na yung mga ibang politiko hindi ginagawang sagrado yung electoral process, sana huwag natin silang gayahin. Seryosohin natin ang pagboto.”

 

Please watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 5:30-7:00pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). Please share your stories or suggest topics at editorial@jingcastaneda.ph.  You can also follow and send your comments via my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookYouTubeTwitter and Kumu.





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