Listen to What the Children Say 5/12/2016 06:10

on the campaign trail
Taking a detour from the daily online bantering about the US elections, i spent some time learning about the Filipino elections. Election day is May 9, campaigning is now in full swing, and oh what fun they have.

The big one, the presidential election, has five candidates. The one with the most votes wins, so it is likely the president will not have a majority of the voters, possibly as low as 21%. The multitude of parties and the fast switching of party added to the large amount of independents take away the importance of political parties. The Filipinos clearly have more choices than we do.

Of the five candidates two are women, one of which has cancer and one holds dual US and Filipino citizenship. Grace Poe was disqualified over her US passport but the courts reinstated her. Donna’s papa is supporting her, in a large extended family that is significant. She is running high in the polls.

Papa like this one
The most interesting, and my favorite, is Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor of Davao. In a country that is 97% Catholic, he is a Muslim. He is famed for cleaning up Davao with guns a blazing old west style. He brags about the numbers of people he had killed, and the positive effect. He actually said that his presidency would be a boon to the funeral business, gotta love him. Duterte is leading in the polls. Donna’s four year old son and i are his supporters in this family.

More fascinating than the national elections are the antics of the local candidates. I have campaigned many times in the states, doing humiliating things like standing on a street corner holding a sign like a mattress sales stooge to the drudgery of door belling. Here all this takes on a much more festive mode.

Door belling is done but the candidate brings gifts and bags of candy for the kids so he is welcome into each home, not the door slam-in-the-face you get in the US. They enter neighborhoods with a parade of vehicles and a large entourage, campaigning here is a roving party and loud!

The real twist i just love, is the candidates hand out money, lots of it. Go to a rally and you will get 500p, (more than a day’s wage). Donna tells of hitting multiple rallies in a day and bagging lots of loot. As one who has donated heavily to many races i found this enlightening. Money usually spent on TV ads and mailings is just handed out, probably with better return.

As we are deep into the campaign season the party is going on everywhere. Reminiscent of days of old, here the loud sound of speaker vehicles is everywhere, old beater cars, jeeps, trucks all with huge speakers strapped to the roof, parade around the neighborhoods, songs a blaring.

singing his song for miles
 Each candidate has a theme song, usually a pop song with rewritten lyrics which plays over and over, loudly! we followed one such makeshift rig for miles on the motorbike, no idea who Jo Jo Perez is or what he is running for but i am still singing his song.

i met one candidate who’s jeep had motor troubles. He was working on it right in town, rolled up his sleeves and got the old gal running again. Loved his jingle too, a Bob Marley song with new words that never stopped playing.

Like most things in the Philippines, the people take these elections very seriously, up to 75% voter turnout. Unlike the US, the younger people vote in huge numbers and education, wealth or gender play little role in who votes. i have yet to find a Filipino who is not excited about voting.



Voter Turn­out

Total vote


VAP Turn­out

Voting age popu­lation


Invalid votes

Compulsory voting
































Also like most things in the Philippines they take it all with a smile, not too seriously. No one will lose a friend over who they support, no family feuds, albeit Mama is rumored to support Duterte, no hatred at all. Papa will vote for Poe because he likes her smile, i would definitely head to the polls singing Jo Jo Perez, Jo Jo Perez.

Make Your Dream Your Story

Capt. Brian Calvert

MV Furthur