In life there are all sorts of wake up calls. But for this year in the Philippines, the loudest wake up calls in the early morning are the corny political jingles being blasted through some megaphone-equipped jeepneys.
The campaign season has been in full swing when I returned to Manila early this month from the relative tranquility in Germany. Still reeling from jetlag, my irregular sleep has been made worse by the cacophony of campaign jingles from politicians vying desperately for my vote in next month’s polls.
And once you’ve been jolted out sleep there’s no way to get back to bed. Because by then, a hoard of other candidates’ equally irritating campaign songs would parade in front of your house every hour. This is accompanied by a convoy of honking cars, vans, and mini trucks, filled by devoted (and often paid) political supporters.
These songs too have a tendency to reverberate in the brain, hours, even days after hearing them for the first time. As I am writing this, my mind’s mp3 player is on loop with what used to be Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” that has now become a bad campaign jingle of some mayoralty candidate.
Despite the fact that singers and composers come a dime a dozen in the Philippines, campaign jingles are not a Filipino invention. It was the Americans who introduced this to Filipino presidential candidates shortly after the end of the Second World War.
My grandmother told me before that these campaign jingles were so popular with the ubiquity of radios throughout the Philippine islands. One of the country’s most popular presidents, Ramon Magsaysay had used the famous “Mambo Magsaysay” during his campaign some 60 years ago.
During the 1998 presidential elections, Joseph “Erap” Estrada toured the Philippines with his popular “Jeep ni Erap (In Erap’s Jeep)” jingle, unsurprisingly, while driving a big stainless jeepney. He won by a landslide victory at that year’s polls. This year, he’s riding a fully refurbished jeep.
Now, presidential candidates are hoping to lure in more voters with this tried and tested formula. No thanks to video-sharing websites like YouTube, these political jingles have found new ways to annoy some voters, like me, on the Internet.
While their intentions maybe for voter recall, I will only remember these jingles by how much they interrupted my slumber.
Hopefully when I get enough sleep next month, I would march into the poll precinct and vote the candidate who decided to do away with corny jingles and just let his track record speak for himself. Actions still do speak louder than words and in my case, the candidate who least interrupted my sleep gets the coveted vote.