Saturday, May 8, 2010

In black and white

I went there that morning fuming mad to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. The news spread like wildfire on the internet – the Athletic Bowl is being “sold” to the Koreans and online rabble-rousers claimed that: for a measly 10k a month, a Korean company would take possession of the sports complex where they plan to build a resort hotel, a commercial complex and a golf course. On the way there I was already composing the questions I would ask, the things I would say.

Afterall, I was among those who worked to get the guy elected.

I was the first to get there and soon the office was already filling up with members of the local media and other concerned citizens. And what would I say if I am once again asked to help him if he decides to run again.

After the usual greetings and handshaking, the first questions were fired. I looked around to see if anyone in the room would actually bring that issue up – and soon the question of the day was asked: what’s the deal with the Athletic Bowl issue. The man explained the whole thing and slowly my mood was already shifting from being angry to skeptical. I asked around for a copy of the actual Memorandum of Agreement - the resort hotel was actually a dormitory facility for athletes, the commercial complex would actually be some shops that would cater to the athlete’s needs and the golf course, well, it was actually a driving range.

And soon the call came: he’s running again, this time as representative of the city’s lone congressional district. I said yes.

As in the past two elections that we handled, we set up camp at the old house at the school’s parking lot. Several brainstorming session later, we decided that our main job would be to tell the people about the truth – the whole truth and nothing but. Sa totoo lang. And everything will be in black and white.

On the first day of the campaign, we gathered the volunteers (some of our staff members were really surprised to learn that the volunteers were indeed, VOLUNTEERS and not “professional campaigners). We started with a mass, then the candidate spoke briefly to thank everyone who came to show their support. We then explained our campaign strategy: simply, tell the truth. A lawyer friend then capped off the first day’s meeting with a lecture on COMELEC rules and guidelines, and urged everyone to strictly abide by these. No dirty tricks, no mudslinging. Bar none. That would eventually be the first thing on the agenda every single day: reminding everyone to obey the law. And at the end of the day, we’d gather one more time to make sure that nobody broke this primary rule.

In the last days of the campaign, black propaganda materials maligning the candidate started spreading around town. What do we do? The campaigners asked. Nothing, absolutely nothing. We reminded everyone that no matter what happens in this election, at least we can sleep soundly at night knowing that we did nothing wrong – legally and morally.

It’s been a long and tiring road and here we are now, about to decide what direction our city, our nation, would take.

I can sleep soundly now.

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