The recent mock elections organized by the Central Comelec evidently revealed that the University has enlightened voters. President Macapagal-Arroyo figured way ahead of Raul Roco, with 45% of the voters choosing her against the 28% who chose the former education secretary and senator.

Either are qualified candidates for the presidency because of their educational background, track record in public service, vision and leadership. Their credentials seemed to have been taken into account by Thomasians who voted them in first and second places.

In contrast, the frontrunner, actor Fernando Poe Jr., languished at the bottom of the mock-election results; he garnered only 118 votes. Poe had earlier won the mock election at UP-Diliman, which should show the state of education in the country’s premiere state university.

Since Bro. Eddie Villanueva did only a little better than Poe in UST (he got 123 votes), Poe’s poor showing may be a fluke. After all, Villanueva, for all intents and purposes, is a more qualified candidate than Poe. Unlike Poe, he speaks his mind and tries at least to enunciate his vision of government.

And unlike Poe, Villanueva has visited UST to make his case. He struck the Thomasian populace as sober and intelligent, a far cry from his previous image as an evangelical firebrand, a fly in the Catholic ointment. To his credit, too, he has spoken with ecumenical fire, with a conciliatory tone toward Catholics. Another surprise: his children graduated at the UST High School and his son, party list Rep. Emmanuel Villanueva, finished A.B. Economics at the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

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As for Panfilo Lacson, who got 502 votes, it is obvious his campaign is in the doldrums. Weighed down by his human-rights record, he remains however a credible candidate to some, especially those who consider peace and order as the ultimate Waterloo of the Philippines.

Depending on the mood of the times, any of these candidates, except Poe, would have made a credible figure to become president. Unfortunately, the masses are blinded by show business so they have chosen to make an actor, a high-school dropout, as leading presidential candidate.

Since the start of the campaign, Poe has refused even to barely whisper his plans on how to govern the country. An actor who has played variations of the taciturn tough guy, he seems to be playing his old role to the hilt in the campaign.

The rub is that if he keeps refusing to engage in a debate and disclose his political platform, he risks alienating those who would at least give him the modicum of the doubt that there is, after all, something between those beautiful ears and weathered, wrinkled but still handsome face. He cannot risk making taciturnity a virtue. Silence in this case is not golden, but darkly fatal.

If the presidential choices of Thomasians are enlightened, the Senate choices are mixed, even downright Dark Ages. Pimentel, Biazon, even Roxas, Yasay, and Alvarez are acceptable; but Maceda, Enrile and other old fogies and “trapos”. . . ? The biggest shock is that Richard Gordon landed at the top of the heap! We should greet that not with a WOW! – but with a YUCK!

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Gordon is the product of merciless self-promotion. His stint at the tourism department had been one campaign gimmickry after another. He had renovated Intramuros by putting a clamshell against the advice of the Intramuros Administration that doing so would trivialize the ancient city. The tiangge and karnabal atmosphere has created a racket in the walled city, making it as seedy as Malate and Ermita, and often giving sleepless nights to Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales, who has restored the residence of the Manila See in the Arzobispado, which is behind the clamshell.

Also against the advice of historians, Gordon put up an expensive light-and-sound theater in Intramuros that detailed in severely reductionist and even misleading terms the Spanish colonial period, enraging the Spanish government that has been funding Intramuros restorations.

Conveniently enough, Gordon, who has American lineage and is an “Amboy” especially since his city, Olongapo, was the R&R site of sex-starved American GI’s at Subic base before, leaves out the American period in the light-and-sound.

Never mind the fact that while Spain, in quelling native revolts, never massacred the Filipinos, while the US, in pacifying the islands amid stiff resistance by Filipino patriots, undertook the Balanginga massacre, made the Philippines its practice site in the run-up to Vietnam, and killed more Filipinos in their 50-year rule than the Spaniards in their three centuries of colonization.

Elsewhere, at Fort Santiago, Gordon put up a light-and-sound detailing Japanese atrocities also in a gory, incendiary and unproductive way.

Perhaps the best testament to Gordon’s mercenary ways is the statue of Lapu-lapu that he put up in the middle of the Agrifina Circle at Rizal Park—against the advice of the National Historical Institute. The giant golden statue dwarfs everything in site, even the Rizal monument that should have primacy in a park named after the national hero. Gordon, now a Senate candidate, obviously built it to court the Cebuano vote.

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The statue is a tacky, ugly phallic statue that betrays perhaps the psychological incapacity and physiological inadequacy of its builder, who, not surprisingly, is nicknamed Dick.

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