MANILA, April 30, 2004 (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco  - It is too early for anyone to uncork any champagne bottle yet. I may have conceded the election to the incumbent in recent columns, but I am told that may be a bit premature. There were those who told me that while the more popular surveys give the incumbent a bit of a lead, they also have surveys to show the movie idol enjoys a more commanding lead. One of the religious groups that normally endorses candidates was, for one, supposed to have taken a series of surveys showing Da King with as much as a ten point lead.

It was not, however, clear to me if the other surveys were done in a scientific manner. I am more confident with the surveys done by academicians like Mahar Mangahas and Pepe Miranda. But I am also bothered by the possibility that some interested parties may have managed to compromise data gathering at the grassroots, somehow. In the end, the only survey that counts is the one that takes place on May 10, assuming the process is not marked by confusion.

The other bothersome thing has to do with serious problems emerging this early, with the computerized voters list. It is also not encouraging that Comelec has found it difficult to give a credible explanation beyond claiming clerical errors. Any failure of election, widely perceived, will drag the country deeper in the pit of despair.

This is why when my astrologer friend told me that the alignment of the heavenly bodies on election day indicate a state of confusion and rebellion among the people, I told her I donít have to look at the stars to predict that. There is very strong possibility of post-election unrest that we must prepare for. Accepting the results wonít be easy for the losers and is liable to keep the country divided right down the middleÖ making the job of addressing our serious problems even more difficult.

Furthermore, it seems that while the heavenly bodies do not preclude a victory by the incumbent, I am told that given her own astrological reading, it could come with a heavy price that must be paid by the people. Ha! I could have said that too with zero know-ledge of astrology.

The thought of six more years of her and Jose Pidal is enough to make one seriously think of converting all peso savings to offshore dollar accounts. Six years of the movie star and his ASO gang isnít very encouraging either. And if the people merely get the leaders they deserve, I, for one, think I deserve better than these two.

But donít go on panic mode yet. This election is not going to be a slam dunk by anyoneÖ it isnít going to be an easy victory. It could still be anybodyís ball game. Just as the Spanish elections taught us, a single event can change the mood of the voters overnight and it need not be something as catastrophic as the Spanish train bombing.

The uncertainty lies in the fact that the voters lining up behind the incumbent are "soft" on her, having chosen her only because she is the devil they know. And the fact that there is an army of "undecideds" as we approach election day, could only mean that a big surprise is possible yet. Keep praying, folks, like your lives depend on it. We need a miracle in the magnitude of Edsa 1, but strictly through the ballot box. Thatís the truth!

Or all these talk about the contest still being wide open could just be wishful thinking. I am told that Ping Lacson consulted a platoon of Chinese feng shui masters and the unanimous verdict is that he will be President. I am not sure if they told him what year that would happen. I am also at a loss to see how that could happen given his survey numbers now. This election is also going to be a contest for credibility: feng shui masters or academic polls-ters.

But I am impressed with Pingís being able to carry on as if he has already won the election. He must know something we donít or he is completely delusional. I suspect he has something on FPJ that would give the box office king no choice but to give in to him. Given that Ping is a world-class investigator, I suspect he must have something incriminating, like a copy of FPJís American passport or something that gives him no choice but to bow out. But nothing much happened in his meeting with FPJ. Maybe this is another dud by Ping, like the Pidal exposť.

In any case, Ping has conducted the best organized campaign of this election season. If the qualification for winning is based on the ability to show oneís leadership abilities by running a well organized campaign, the contest should only be between the incumbent and Ping. I am tempted to take the word of my good friends Jake Macasaet and Greg Garcia and vote for Ping, if only because of his leadership qualities. FPJ is definitely no match to Ping in this area.

Even as I am committed to cast a protest vote, I am really tempted to vote for the incumbent for sheer poetic justice. I want her to be the one to suffer the agony of the belated impact of her populist politicking. We all know on her orders, Napocor suppressed its true cost of producing electricity until after the election. We all know there will be hell to pay in terms of our worsening fiscal deficit problem because of government spending for her campaign. We all know her wishy washy approach to the Mindanao problem is likely to blow up in her face after the polls.

The losers will feel like winners once the full weight of this nationís problems manifest after the elections. If it is true that FPJ has taken up the bottle again due to the pressure of the campaign, he would die of cirrhosis of the liver before his term is over if he wins. He will only be tempted to say he didnít create the problems and he would be right. At least, if the incumbent wins, she canít toss the blame on anyone elseÖ other than Jose Pidal, of course.

Open Skies

We received this reaction to our column last Monday from a European PhilStar reader Brian L.

As a European in the Philippines, my first thought is that the Middle East Airlines probably pay substantial Ďcommissionsí to those here in Manila with decision-making powers; Secondly, that the million OFWs in the Middle East are seen to be a more important market than any European tourist could be; my third thought is that the shenanigans over opening the new airport in Manila cannot have either improved the relationships between the Philippines and world airlines, the Philippines and Germany, or encouraged tourists of any color to come to Manila.

I always fly to London on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. I take my rare visitors from abroad to Tagaytay and Taal Lake when they come to Manila. It is one of the most magnificent views in the world, one hourís drive from Manila (on a good day!), with lovely old Spanish churches close by, built indeed before many churches in Spain, and with a long and exciting history. One of the best tourist attractions in the world!

Yet Volcano Island is a bit run-down and seedy. I never go to the volcano itself any more as one is attacked on the island by a querulous throng of vendors, selling guides and horse rides at inflated prices. A banca ride on the lake on the other hand is worth the exhilaration Ė and where else in the world can you eat Ďmaliputoí?

It is of course difficult for islanders, and I am one myself, to realize that there is actually a real world out there. Most Filipinos, in spite of 400 years of contact, do not fully comprehend how to talk to and manage the outside world. Perhaps it is not really there. I feel the same sometimes in England. Regards. 

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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