Friday, April 16, 2010


WHAT does your wrist say?

A late night TV report recently focused on the bracelet swap Sen. Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal entertained during a campaign sortie.

The news footage showed the candidate, running independently for the presidency, tossing bracelets to an enthusiastic market crowd that included children, women and men, young and old.

The report then cut to an on-cam shot of the senator holding two bracelets: her apple-green beaded item and an orange Baller ID type bearing the name of Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr.

Madrigal said a child approached her to trade in her Manny band for a Jamby bracelet. The senator, who filed an ethics complaint case against Sen. Manuel Villar, Jr. for alleged conflict of interest over the C-5 road project, quipped that the bracelet swap may just trigger the defection of Villar followers to the Madrigal camp.

Whether said in jest or unconscious irony, Madrigal’s comment reflects more than the merry-go-round state of presidential campaigns, marked by New Media and old-style defections and “balimbingan” (a local fruit whose many sides allude to mercurial partisan loyalties).

These bracelets, or wristbands to be less gender-biased, are more visible this election, flashing different hues for varying political affiliations.

As a fashion trend, the “proud and loud” accessories ride the bandwagon started by the Baller ID silicone bands. Internet sources trace the name to the basketball superstars who sported the multicolored bands on their wrist.

National Basketball Association “King” Lebron James endorsed a line of Baller ID bracelets for Nike. Cycling legend turned cancer survivor Lance Armstrong has a foundation that gets celebrities and citizens to wear the bright yellow “Livestrong” bands to support cancer research.

Not all advocacies win admirers. Last year, Madrigal stirred up some bloggers when bracelets bearing her face were given away for free during the memorial service of former President Corazon Aquino.

New Media Philippines blogger Carlo S. Ople posted on Aug. 6, 2009 that he was emailed by a friend about Facebook user Happy Ferraren. While waiting for Aquino’s cortege, Happy and her mother bought yellow umbrellas from a street vendor.

The vendor gave them a yellow beaded bracelet as a “bonus”. The Ferrarens were at first pleased and then disgusted when they saw that the freebie consisting of yellow crystals had a centerpiece that featured Madrigal’s mug and name.

“Subtle electioneering IN A FUNERAL?!?! SHAME ON YOU,” blogged Happy in Facebook. Ople titled his post, “Jamby Madrigal Defiles Cory Aquino Memorial Service.”

Attending recently two wakes for relatives, I saw how politics laps at the margins of life in these islands. The white solemnity of the Requiem Mass for my brother-in-law was speckled with yellow when, towards the end of the rite, vehicles unloaded a contingent of Padayon Mandaue, affiliated with the Liberal Party (LP). The group was scheduled next to use the church.

During an uncle’s wake, I saw green bands encircling some relatives’ wrists, including my 70-year-old mother’s. Joshua, a family friend, had an interesting variation: he wore two bands, yellow and green, back-to-back.

Asked why he chose to use Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s band on the outside and the one endorsing presidential aspirant Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., on the inside and partially hidden against his wrist, the second-year high school student said that Noynoy is his mother’s family’s choice. The Gibo bracelet, given by a close family friend, comes only second.

In these eclectic times, stacking bracelets is trendy. It’s definitely a more attractive statement than flipping alliances and swapping loyalties. On the other hand, there’s no Baller ID band being given out in support of clean, honest and peaceful elections.

So, what’s your wrist stating?

( 09173226131)

* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Apr. 18, 2010 issue of “Matamata”

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