Sunday, February 18, 2007


FRIDAY baon (packed lunch) once marked a divide between my sons and I. Fish Friday has always been so designated since the boys spent the whole day in school. But, optimistic or desperate, Juan wasn't tired of proposing alternatives.

Why not luncheon meat, he once suggested for a lunch box entrée that wasn't born with a tail or scales.

Luncheon meat has sodium nitrite, I said. It's a food preservative that can cause headache, nausea, breathing difficulties, even collapse and death.

Not only does it contain a chemical in the US list of hazardous substances but its original iconic brand, Spam, is a syllabic abbreviation that means, according to wikipedia, “Something Posing As Meat” and “Shoulder of Pork and hAM."

My inner gloating that I won over my sons to “Fish Friday” is tempered by the realization that, every time I sit down for dinner, I ingest something more nauseous and harmful than sodium nitrite-bombarded chopped pork shoulder meat.

This election year, my Spam Suppers are full-course lauriats of murder, mayhem and starlet news, sprinkled liberally with political ads.

I should count myself lucky. There are much worse sights than Loren harvesting rice in a classic crisp white blouse cut along designer lines.

There are few smiles as blinding as the ones flashed by laborers mixing cement with their buddy in construction, Manny of the middle-class housing billions.

There are more bottomless depths language and symbolism have stumbled into. Greater dishonesties. Cheaper deceptions.

Except that, with political ads, I swallow them with my dinner.

Nightly, the unrealities of Loren the Sharecropper, Manny the Laborer and Sonny the Statesman step out of the family TV and strangle my appetite like vengeful Japanese yurei (Japanese ghosts bound to the physical world by strong emotions that do not allow them to pass through to the next world).

And the election is still three months away.

Jean Hays, editor of The Wichita Eagle, says US political ads are specialized, depending on the proximity of the elections.

The first ads aired are “introductory” for building name recall. Other ads may be the “inoculation” type, where a candidate makes the voter resistant to attacks against the politician through motherhood statements, which are hard to verify.

When the election is close, candidates will focus more on accomplishments, or the lack of it in their opponents. Hays advises readers to fact-check ads and find out how true or false are such claims.

In the Philippines, the edges blur. TV viewers are spammed into swallowing infomercials for their bleeding-heart liberal causes and pseudo-sincerity.

According to an online Newsbreak article by Carmel Fonbuena, senatoriable Manuel Villar has recast his past winning formula of celebrity endorsement, catchy jingle and dancing to break new ground in the “Babae ako (I am woman)” ad.

Villar partnered with the women party list group Gabriela and got celebrities like Angel Locsin, Jennilyn Mercado, Rio Locsin, and Tessie Aquino to call for respect for women.

Will I vote for Manny, honorary woman and my kapwa (sister)?

Anyone who shells out P261, 855 for a 30-second ad in ABS-CBN's “TV Patrol” or bankrolls a package deal of P5 million to produce and air a respectable TV campaign will have, once he gets into office, more than gender and labor concerns to recoup.

What's good for Juan's Spam should be good for me. I say don't vote for politicians with TV ads. 0917-3226131

* Published in Sun.Star Cebu's Feb. 18, 2007 issue

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