The announcement of Mar Roxas as the presidential standard bearer of the Liberal Party came as no surprise. Reactions to the Mar anointment were…mixed. In fact one can actually categorize the different kinds of reactions under specific, identifiable groupings. Herewith are the “tribes of Mar”:
1. THE MAR-SUPIALS – a marsupial is an animal that carries its young in a pouch on its belly (see: Kangaroo). This tribe is comprised mostly of people who believe in President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid, or Straight Path. This is the group that believe Mar is Pnoy 2.0; the best person to continue to drive the country on the Straight Path. He was incubated in the pouch of the Liberal Party and is now ready to hop, skip, jump out and prove he is his own kangaroo. Or not.
People in this tribe don’t really care about Mar Roxas per se as they do the concept of the Daang Matuwid. These are people who have stuck to the Aquino political dynasty ever since. The older ones were at EDSA. They believe Cory Aquino, who they insist on calling “Tita”, should be declared a Filipino saint. These were the ones who oohed and aahed at the Pnoy SONA and cried tears of joy. In the inner circles, there was even a call for Pnoy to run as VP to Mar Roxas.
Strengths: Loyalty. Many of this tribe are good, honest people who want a better country. They typically belong to the middle class and a big bunch are clustered in Metro Manila and outlying areas. They vary from salt of the earth types to college graduates (many from La Salle). Some of them have friends or family currently working in government.
Weaknesses: Blind loyalty and stubbornness, prone to fanaticism – which tends to cloud their judgement on the efficacy of Daang Matuwid and the Aquino administration. The Mar-supials believe the Philippines has never been better; esteemed by the international community and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. (This tribe’s whole concept of Philippine history seems to start only at the Arroyo term). They tend to shut out people who point out that the recent economic growth was off a low base and buttressed by a global loose monetary policy. With no knowledge of economics, they do not, or choose not to, understand that the investment grade credit rating was due to the consumption effects of OFWs sending money back, and that the country’s survival is now dependent on remittances from abroad. Their faith in the straight path is unshaken by the PDAF/DAP scandal. In fact, for every fiasco, such as Yolanda and Mamasapano, they will argue that Pnoy was not responsible and not to blame. To the 15 million Filipinos who are hungry and starving everyday, they say just be patient, Daang Matuwid will get us there. Some day. In fact patience is their answer to all shortcomings. And if you ever disagree or point out some fallacy, they will say, “You are paid by Binay!”
Tribe Words: Eh, di Wow! Pnoy is the best President, ever!
2. THE MAR-ATHONERS – are die-hard Mar supporters. They love his pedigree and lineage and the fact that he studied at elite institutions like Ateneo and Wharton. They ascribe qualities like compassion, intelligence, honesty and integrity to the man. These people were Mar fans from the beginning, and were secretly crushed when he gave way to Pnoy in the 2010 presidential race. After more than six long years, the finish line is now almost in sight.
Strengths – Optimism. Money. Connections. The Mar-athoners are mostly from the elite land-owning, sugar planting classes. There are some who are ordinary people, but on closer scrutiny they actually revealed themselves as Mar-supials who got too carried away.
Weaknesses – This tribe is relatively small, comprised mainly by original Liberal Party die-hards and people whose surname is Roxas or Araneta, and their extended families. They are allied with the tribe of Sanchez. Judy Araneta-Roxas is their “Tita” (Senorita Santibanez is another). Since the Mar-athoners are so rich, they never ride the MRT, or go outside their gated, secure, posh subdivisions. This makes detractors hurl accusations of “snob”, “elitista”, and “out of touch of reality”.
Tribe Words – Yeah baby, it’s payback time.
3. THE MAR-CHERS – This tribe is the infantry. These are the people who upon hearing that Mar Roxas was running, just shrugged. This tribe is the least convinced that all is well in the Philippines; that all we need to do is wait for economic growth to trickle down. In their heart of hearts they know that the Aquino administration with all its self-proclaimed successes had far too many shortcomings, and they recognize the country deserves better. The Mar-chers are not particularly impressed with Pnoy (although many would not admit this out loud), and they are even less impressed with Mar. Their greatest fear and hate, however, is a Binay presidency (See: The Anti-Binay’s Enemy is Not Binay.) Many of the Mar-chers were actually set to vote for Grace Poe before she got linked to Chiz Escudero (See: How to Dismantle an Atomic Poe). Now that the Liberal Party and Binay camps have dragged her thru the mud, they reluctantly choose Mar as “the lesser evil”. The Mar-chers are not confident that Mar Roxas can win against Binay, but like the Russian trooops at Stalingrad they march on because they feel there is no other choice.
Strengths – Brains. Size. This is a very large and complex tribe, but many are actually intellectuals and politically-savvy (most notably, current and former faculty and students of Ateneo, UP, and UST). They are the polar opposite of the “bobotante”. These have upper middle class backgrounds and mentalities. They know, or sense, that all is not well, but they can’t quite muster the next move in the chess game.
Weaknesses – The Mar-chers tribe was born out of compromise and as such is rife to poaching. They believe in change instead of more-of-the-same, but they are very afraid to do anything about it. They know the Philippines cannot evolve itself out of the problem of systemic political failure. But they are afraid of trying new systems or people. If there was a totem animal category, they would be sheep – just following, even if they may know there is a cliff drop up ahead.
It is this tribe that the other would-be presidential candidates should see as their hunting ground. Like wolves, they circle the sheep. How would the Poe wolf entice back the Mar-cher? Simple, just don’t run with Chiz (out of sight, out of mind). Choose somebody like Angara, for instance, who has been advocating income tax reform. Have a clear platform that differentiates yourself from the most obvious shortcomings of the current administration. If you were the Duterte wolf, emphasize your decisiveness and clear platform (e.g. parliamentary-federalism), while toning down and addressing the albatross of human rights and extra-judicial killings once and for all.
Tribe Words – Wala na bang iba?
So, which tribe of Mar do you fall under?