Art by Gica Tam
Culture Spotlight

The politicians who stole Chinese New Year

Last Tuesday in Binondo, tikoys were thrown, angpaos flew from above, and people from the Federation of Fil Chi Chamber of Commerce were herded like pigs and out of their floats so that politicians could take over and put on their show. When it comes to going low, never underestimate the Filipino epal eager to win a government seat.
Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta | Feb 07 2019

We welcomed the year of the pig with piggy behavior from the people who would run the country. Everyone wants it to be their year, and so everyone’s playing happy hog before May’s faux-democratic lovefest—the dirtier, the smellier, and the longer the slosh in mud, the better. Don’t forget it’s a competition—they don’t call it gunning for a post (or a race) for nothing— so go pig or go home.

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A word of advice to our candidates, be anything you want to be during campaign season. As long as it’s a pig. Pick a big event to start off your campaign. You did right festooning the streets of Quiapo with your smiling mugs during the feast of the Black Nazarene, and you did right again when you picked Chinese New Year in the oldest Chinatown in the world to continue the campaign. Remember, pick only the most solemn, religious, and celebratory occasions. If naysayers tell you that premature campaigning is an electoral violation, just snort and kick some mud in their eyes.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in Binondo last Tuesday.

Remember, too, that everyone loves a freebie, so be sure you have a near-endless supply of seasonal delicacies to give the madding crowd. We heard from the grapevine that you did well, hurling boxes of tikoy from your platforms (and those parade floats you coopted from respectable institutions), but you could have also added rolls of hopia with a card reading hope ya vote for me. Tsk. Next time. If you’re an elderly politician, and the superior of countless, remember that constituents look up to you like a boss—loose tradition holds that employers must give their employees those beautiful red envelopes, so don’t be a scrooge. And chortle when they ask where the money came from.

Members of the Federation of the Fil-Chi Chamber of Commerce were herded into a truck while politicians coopted and rode their float.

For the thin-skinned, don’t get offended—we’re just roasting you—like the Christmas cochon from White Plains—the one stuffed with tanglad. Lemongrass is always a nice deodorizer, don’t you think, and it really brings out the flavor of young pork. While we’re at it, we’re disappointed you didn’t start campaigning on Christmas—that would have given you extra mileage (it’s a festive, meaningful, religious, and consumer-friendly enterprise: a mixed bag that would have raked in the loyalty of so many demographics). Tsk. Next time.

Imee Marcos in Binondo.

But don’t drag your hooves or slacken your snouts—“next time” means Valentine’s Day, which takes place a week from today, so strategize well. People overflow with love on Valentine’s day. There’s also many kinds of love on Valentine’s Day. Stamp your happy mugs on roses and chocolate wrappers, so that when lovers and spouses, and sons and daughters offer tokens of affection, beloveds will feel that they’re loved by you, too.

Come May, we want to look at you the way Hoggett looked at Babe when everyone’s favorite pig won that sheepherding competition (which, come to think of it, was just like winning an election). We want to tell you the only four words known to send swines and sucklings alike to hog heaven.  That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.