Of campaigns and graduations

I was unceremoniously awakened by a cacophony of baduy music last Friday morning, March 30.

I grumbled what for, then remembered that it was the start of the campaign period for local candidates.

This was confirmed when I  groggily looked out the window and saw posters plastered overnight on what used to be bare concrete walls, with not too pleasant looking faces of candidates in full color. Whew, better than coffee to drive away sleep, believe me!

That afternoon, in the elementary school graduation rites where I was the guest of honor, who would arrive in the middle of my speech but the mayor with his close political ally in tow, still sporting an arm sling after having survived an ambuscade a couple of months ago.

I felt secure that I was on-stage fifteen feet away from where they sat, and there was a solid lectern where I could crouch behind in case anything untoward happened.

Later, the mayor went up the stage to speak and while in the act of congratulating the honor pupils seated there, his campaign jingle suddenly played. He signaled to cut it, but it was a bit too late. Before leaving the stage, he apologized for what he termed as the inappropriate airing of his jingle.

Ilang kandidato kaya ang may ganoong delikadesa, I wondered.

He and his friend left soon after to my relief, as they sat barely two chairs away from me.

Before the night was over, I had broken my personal record in shaking hands with the most number of people at one event -- over 500, half of them pupils, half of them parents. I had also broken my personal records in the number of minutes I tried to smile (my face ached!) and say "Congratulations" and  not to pick my nose so unsolicited viruses won't find their way in there.

No, I'll never make a good candidate. I dislike baduy campaign jingles, look too unpleasant to appear in posters, hate sitting beside possible assassination targets, detest having to smile for no reason at all, and am averse to shaking the moist(!) hands of hundreds of people.

[March 31, 2007]