Three Toned Rainbow: the Drama(turgy) of CSSP Politics

Marie Julienne Ente

ACT I: The Entrance of Colors
It is the season when trees go bare as they are used to make flyers, posters and other two-dimensional campaign materials to be propagated. Nature will pale in comparison as to how colorful this time of the year is. It is so ubiquitous that you can smell these colors anywhere you go, and know in your mind these flavors even without having to taste them.

Enter our protagonists. Enter our antagonists. Wait – enter their (the protagonists’) antagonists rather. In our story of fantastic valor we have more than one hero, more than one champion of our (so-called) sacred beliefs. They are after the same seat of power, and the same hearts that will put them there. As much as they mean well and have righteous intentions, civility can only take the two or three opposing sides to the boundaries of acquaintanceship. It’s a colorful, jolly season, but there are too many hearts (and all of them the same) to win over for our heroes to be friends, at least for now.

They will be friends to all of us. They will promise us excellence and freedom and justice in dosages they believe they can achieve. They will prescribe to us what is it that we need as students and iskolars ng bayan for that matter, because we don’t know what that is or have no capability of accomplishing it (then again, it can be both, for ignorance cannot lead to action). They will shake our hands as we pass by, and in our palms are traces of their general and specific programs of action. Their names and slogans will resound redundantly – the catchiest ones will be like musicals, while the rest will bother us like sirens.

ACT II: The Cast of Characters
Our heroes will enter our classrooms, a once limited but private space for our so-called learning. They will poise themselves on platforms (actual or imaginary) which for ten to fifteen minutes they will transform into something we don’t see every day. They will be in costume; distinct yet uniform at the same time. They will move in a certain way: restricted but not stiff. They will articulate lines that they have rehearsed for quite some time, making sure it’s concise and logical, but full of impact.

It all becomes a play. Or a performance rather, because a play somewhat insinuates some sort of farce. And the obvious evidence that pinpoints to us that this is the case is the name tag that has their first names, nicknames, nicknames, nicknames and last names on it, and beneath are the roles they wish to play. The campaign becomes an audition for the role of achieving something beyond themselves as individuals. And we happen to be the casting directors.

ACT III: Action Packed
There are two feasts for all our heroes: the primaries and the miting de avance. The former will be in celebration of one color, the latter will be of the three toned rainbow they’ll create together.

The primaries end speculation as to who are running and who are not. This is the formal introduction of the slate to the voting public. This is similar to a curtain call in a theatrical production, only that it starts instead of concludes the program. And for some reason, the gradients in the volume of applauses towards a certain cast member – I mean, rather – candidate, will signal some buzzers as to who will find it easier to do well in the elections, and who will have to exert a tad bit more effort.

The miting de avance will be like a political moro-moro, where upon entrance of a party you already know who they are and the character of everyone in the same color and of the same demeanor. Of course, these are preconceived assumptions - stereotypes – but the annual repetition of this blocking and positioning reinforce this choreography.

And of course, there is the notion of opposition. One isn’t exactly present at the miting de avance to make friends. One isn’t necessarily present just because good and evil have to dramatically battle it out to emphasize the triumph of good in the end. There is opposition because all sides strongly believe in their own advocacies and principles, which may be same with the others but of a different variant. The notion of what is right is what brings these colorful forces to battle.

Ideological difference has always been the safest justification for the separation of the campus into two (or three) main competing frames of thought. It is this difference that has become a source of spectacle, of drama, and of accumulating social roles. And whether we like it or not, it is reflexive of how we look at ourselves and at our country at large.

That is the price of democracy, I suppose. With no one to tell us what is right, it has mutated to multiple ideas of what right really is. And upon every eve of a new school year, we become witnesses to a war among those who advocate their own ideas of exactly that. Some of us become active witnesses, for that matter, in our red, yellow or blue armors.

ACT IV: Much Ado
All this time, you have been listening to a fool – to the whimsical character who might say things that offend those who have been hit by some imaginary pebble. I do not wish to say that college politics is a farce, and politicians are liars. They are actors. And if that is to be defined as portraying a certain role in front of some audience, then that means we are at all no different and you’ve shared impolite, vulgar, preposterous moments with them. But during election season, they’re required to be diplomatic, cool under pressure and polite in spite of the attack of fierce scrutiny. They are forbidden to say anything that can be held against them, which can be anything. They are the same person, but different.

Though the front they’ve shown during the campaign period is not necessarily their pedestrian, chummy self, it is not to be concluded that they are not them; their faces, not theirs. It is still them, but imbibed with the principles they share with their party. They are still their imperfect, falsifiable selves, but they cannot afford to be obviously so because they mean business. They mean politics.

And as to whether how long this war on the righter right will be, this fool doesn’t necessarily know. Sometimes the hymns become indistinct, and even become noise. Perhaps that is the spell of apathy upon us, making us not hear well out of our overdue longing for that truly revolutionary hero to arrive. For now, we simply settle on who makes the most convincing oration. ▪