Many would say that the there are three seasons in the Philippines: summer, rainy/typhoon, and elections. But there is one thing that goes all year long that many of us fail to realize or just too used to it that we ignore - the prevalent culture of epalism. We see it everywhere from large billboards and construction site signs to the relief goods given away to typhoon and fire victims - faces of greedy, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats wasting away taxpayers money for political and publicity gains.
Elections or not, the faces of these politicians are plastered everywhere like there is no tomorrow. They are so obsessed of their image and legacy that they have to do it like a duty to remind the populace that they have delivered their promise when it is their duty in the first place to provide without the need for recognition.
Now that we are in the crossroads of electing a new president that will manage our country's domestic and international affairs for the next six years, maybe it's time to change things up and do away with the politics of old. Let's not fall for their magic tricks, razzmatazz of artistas, horseplays and mumbo-jumbos.
It is interesting to know that the word "epal" has no clear English equivalent thereby making it uniquely Filipino. It is likely that this term may have been derived from the word "mapapel," someone who is so obsessively in need of attention and recognition. To a certain degree, it is also similar to the word "kapal," someone who is thick-skinned, shameless, insensitive and callous. In Filipino society, it is not a surprise to have these types of colorful personalities as life here is what you called "buhay PBA" (not the professional basketball league): pulitika (politics), basketbol/boksing (basketball/boxing), and artista (entertainment/showbiz). Just like spam on your email, epals are the type of people who irritates and annoys us as they constantly grab our attention and even intervene in our normal course of living so that they talk entirely irrelevant. Just imagine having these clowns governing our country from the barangay up to Malacanang!
Senator Miriam Santiago has considered to epalism as it promotes a "culture of political patronage and corruption." Unfortunately, it is unlikely that her bill will be passed as most members of the Senate and Congress are products of this phenomenon. "Bobotantes" keep on electing these clowns in office. These politicians and bureaucrats are either elected, appointed or anyone who intends to run for an elective post. There is six types of epal politicians in the Philippines:
(1) Fief Welcomers
They also have this disgusting habit of placing their names and photos on billboards, posters, signage, and even giveaway paraphernalia claiming credit for facilitating various "public works." And it's getting bigger when they include those who place their names or initials in parks, piers, ambulances or multi-cabs as if these were constructed or financed from their personal coffers. Pope Francis was not even spared!
(2) Obsessive Greeters
They also hang enormous tarpaulin banners that greet everyone on special occasions from fiestas to Christmas.
(3) Credit Grabbers
No matter how mundane these "accomplishments" were or whether they did accomplish it in the first place, they tend to project these public works and private initiatives as their own. They have the guts of placing signs that these are a "priority" or "love" projects.
(4) Political Parasites
Politics in the Philippines revolves around popularity. The only way to keep you in the running for office is to make sure that people talk about you and making yourself look good that is why many politicians look for opportunities and conveniences from taking advantage of the death of a renowned figure (like Corazon Aquino or Jesse Robredo) or marrying a popular personality (like Korina Sanchez or Heart Evangelista).
(5) Bandwagon Riders
In order to gain good publicity, some politicians join the political bandwagon by taking a "favorable" side on a hot political or social issue in order to gain PR mileage. It is what you called "nakikisawsaw" in Filipino, which means someone who gets into the thick of things even though they are not even in it.
There is no such thing as honest-to-goodness public service when politicians attached their initials and images on every thing that they give to their constituents just to get their votes. These political hyenas make sure that bags, uniforms, and even school buses have their personal branding on it.
Your fate is in your hands and not on them. Change in our political culture begins in us and we can change by voting the right people in power. Let's do what these people did: