Who is the Philippines' Donald Trump?

FILIPINO TRUMP. All of our presidential candidates show a sense of absurdity that makes voters wonder, 'Is this all we have?' Image courtesy of Mara Mercado

FILIPINO TRUMP.

All of our presidential candidates show a sense of absurdity that makes voters wonder, 'Is this all we have?' Image courtesy of Mara Mercado

Among our crop of presidential candidates, which one is our version of Donald Trump? Which one was considered nothing more than a nuisance candidate but is now suddenly gaining ground?

Which one is absolutely ridiculous in what he is proposing but is actually cheered on by a crowd? Which one's plans for the country border on tyranny and dictatorship but are now being considered by many as the only solution for our ailing homeland?

Who is the golden child, born into wealth and fame with no other conquest left except that of amassing power? One who downplays the contribution of his pedigree even if it's the only thing that's allowed his pursuit of the highest post in the land?

Who is playing on their namesake and milking their celebrity name? As if a parent's cinematic success makes his offspring fit to lead a country that badly needs something more than make-believe.

Who among our candidates is so arrogant that one can no longer believe what he is allowed to say out loud? Who is racist, sexist, and misogynist in his principles but is given a free pass because we say, "At least he's honest" and that he has "nothing to hide"?

Who insists that his crooked business dealings make him worthy of the presidency? Who has placed his children in positions of power in order to secure his name and cement its recall? So far, the only legacy that is clear is that of corruption, kickbacks, and power trips that has defined this family name.

Is this all we have?

All of our presidential candidates show a sense of absurdity that makes voters wonder, "Is this all we have?" None of them convey a sense of trustworthiness and genuine compassion, which is why we all shudder at what is ahead of us. (READ: The Imagined President)

What they all have, however, is their own cult following – fans who rave and worship, shunning those who disagree with them while refusing to listen to facts. Followers that are herded blindly because they want their candidate to be the miracle pill their country so desperately needs, so a fabricated imagined hero becomes who they want to lead the pack.

Except that we are far from being touched by miracles. The problems we have cannot be solved by a single president in a single term, much less the push of a magic button even by the most persuasive president.

Many of our problems begin with us, by what we are willing to accept about our leaders and how they govern over us. It starts with electing officials without examining their track record, their sense of honesty and compassion, and whether they truly have our welfare in their hearts.

It starts when we vote according to star quality, and the number of song and dance numbers we see on the campaign trail. It starts when we vote based on personality instead of platform, and when we support someone based on a few catch phrases instead of their track record of honest and meaningful leadership.

We choose celebrities, or relatives of celebrities. We choose political names. We choose those with ludicrous claims and unrealistic ambitions. We choose those who simply maintain the status quo.

We even choose candidates who will bring us back to a dark and frightening past. We let them convince us that the only way we can be led is through fear.

Can we really be blamed?

I have no president

"I have no president," said my friend, exasperated at her lack of choices this coming election.

It has become a choice between lesser evils and extremes, from dictatorships to lame duck leaders. When I questioned another friend on her shocking choice for president, she said, "Bakit, meron bang iba?" (Why? Is there anyone else?)

If we take our cue at all from American politics where Republican candidates are acting much like the Philippine political circus and reality is so much worse than the most absurd practical joke, it makes sense that our Donald Trumps continue to exist and actually have a shot at the presidency. 

One can only hope for a sense of reason to come over our country's voters to elect at least the most reasonable option among the current pool of candidates. The question is: is there even one?

Who will it be? Will someone set themselves apart from the rest of the pack that presents nothing new? Or will it be more of the same loud but empty explanations, pretty promises of a better country, or scary threats of a firm hand? (READ: Who is the leader you want?)

They are all Donald Trumps. That is probably a given. But one still hopes that in the end one of them holds a trump card to set him – or herself from the rest. – Rappler.com