Sunday, April 25, 2010

At a political rally

Candidates are expected to dance on stage. Or sing at least. It's a requirement, especially for local government positions: mayors, vice mayors, councilors. It has evolved into a ritual, something done to fulfill all requirements of righteousness. The candidate goes on stage, introduces his or herself, highlights credentials and qualifications, outlines plans and programs when in office, trying hard by means of flowery speech or sheer bombast to stick in the minds of voters, and perhaps inspire them even -- who knows? Then the candidate hands over the microphone to the emcee or whomever, the music is cued, and the candidate dances. No matter how stellar the candidate's credentials are, no matter how well the candidate has spoken in front of the voters, the candidate dances.

Someone who looked like a veteran in local politics was the first to step on stage to speak. You can tell he's done this before by his relaxed demeanor. He has mastered the art of political speechifying in front of this kind of audience of low-income workers, housewives, and students, alternating between a conversational tone and rallying cry. Rights of workers! Minimum wage! Protect the jobs of workers and give priority to the city's residents in hiring! I listened to him and I just knew he was going to dance. He did. He called his lovely family onstage with him and they danced together. "See how I dance for you. See how my family and I exist for your pleasure." By dancing they are offering themselves up as a sacrifice at the altar. The dance seals the deal.

Next on the stage, after the obligatory song-and-dance numbers from local groups and singers to keep the crowd from leaving (except for the pros, the singers and dancers are from the neighborhood, I reckon), the next candidate goes up the stage. She wasnt a surefooted on the platform as the first one, and her speech had none of the bombast. Her credentials were impressive enough and she was a prim and proper mom type. I just knew she wouldnt dance. She didnt need to. Voters like good-looking mom types with impressive credentials. She wound up her speech and I thought that was it, but she handed over the microphone to the emcee, the music was cued, and she danced. Jai ho!

The next one... I didnt even listen to the next one, but he sure didnt look like he could stay balanced on the stage if you propped him up with guy wires. He didnt have the stage savvy as candidate number one either. He didnt connect to the crowd. So I thought he won't dance. Surely he wouldnt be so foolish as to attempt to try to dazzle the crowd with his terpsichorean skills. But as sure as day follows night, he signals the deejay and Louis Johnson's immortal bass lines come flooding out of the speakers. He was going to dance to Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. If youve ever seen FPJ's version of Billie Jean on TV, this was exactly like that in dance form.

The next candidate arrived with his family. He has a lovely wife, a former artista, I heard, and good looking kids. He was also disabled. He arrived in a wheelchair, and got up on crutches. By this time, I have given up trying to predict who would dance or not. Surely candidate number four would not dance. He could barely walk and had to be helped on stage, and he didnt look like he watched Glee. But he had his family with him and they would do the dancing for him. I turned to a friend and said, "You know what music they'd dance to? Footloose." Ha ha ha!

Guess what. Kenny Loggins's guitar licks come out of the speakers.




Sinong mayor mo?

Philippines' next top model? Yan ang pose.

These are the real dancers. As in they get paid to do this.

Kids get a kick out of getting their pictures taken.

Work it.

Once more with feeling

More photos here.