Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rags to riches

Since the time of the late and eternally lamented President Ramon Magsaysay, candidates have been weaving maudlin "rags to riches" stories about themselves. I think it was in the 1950s that very humble origins became the cutting edge in any electoral campaign. Being poor was equated with honesty and compassion for the indigent, the "common tao". That was the winning platform of "Magsaysay, my guy" who, as it turned out was not that poor.

Since then, the political landscape has deteriorated dramatically. Just because someone was poor once upon a time doesn't mean he or she is saintly pristine and not rotten to the core. Neither does it automatically follow that those who were never ever poor are callously indifferent to the plight of the underprivileged or clueless as to the structural causes of poverty.

Perhaps, those who capitalize on mawkish "rags to riches" tales believe they can inspire and uplift the poor whose votes they aim to capture. It it is indeed their purpose to project themselves as avatars and exemplary citizens, they should first take the sage advice of erstwhile NEDA director, Winnie Monsd-- explain to us, with quivering details , how you got rich.

Strikingly, none of the fanciful infomercials and jingles brag about a candidate's intellectual prowess and cultural pursuits. As if it were a crime against the poor, no one admits to reading serious books and periodicals or to spending a few hours at the National Museum. Don't any of the candidates believe that a good education, a solid cultural background, breeding and sophistication are things worth advertising?

For all you know, the poor are tired of your pandering and are nauseated by the hypocrisy of those soupy "rags to riches" tales.

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