Friday, May 14, 2010

Election Mess

By mess, I am not referring to the trash in the streets as a result of this strictly Third World election style, although that would constitute one whole blog, I am referring to mess in the military sense.

Wikipedia (ok, so its not the worlds best source, but its pretty interesting to read) says:
"A mess (also called a messdeck aboard ships) is the place where military personnel socialise, eat, and (in some cases) live. In some societies this military usage has extended to other disciplined services eateries such as civilian fire fighting and police forces. The root of "mess" is the Old French "mes," portion of food, drawn from the Latin verb "mittere," meaning "to send" or "to put," the original sense being "a course of a meal put on the table." This sense of "mess," which appeared in English in the 13th century, was often used for cooked or liquid dishes in particular, as in the "mess of pottage" (porridge or soup) for which Esau in Genesis traded his birthright. By the 15th century, a group of people who ate together was also known as a "mess", and it is this sense that persists in the "mess halls" of the modern military."

I refer to the military sense, because aside from all the battle allusions spouted by our dear candidates, the first thing one learns as a candidate is that your campaign team runs on its stomach and feeding your volunteers is a paramount consideration. Thus, campaign headquarters are or ought to be equipped with kitchens for the daily feeding of volunteers who will be at your HQ in increasing increments of time until E-Day,  er election day, that is.

In the alternative, other candidates contract out the feeding of their volunteers to outside kitchens. thus, we saw that McDonald's began promoting their big orders specials, just for election year.

The care and feeding of constituents is also the reason why the houses of old-time politicos especially in the provinces had the long tables and immense kitchens that were called to duty at all hours.

When the Spaniards began colonization, the Philippines was a society that relied on a mix of blood succession and merit. There was social mobility and general equality between genders. In the course of organizing, the colonizers assigned the cabezas based on existing leadership. So the ruling rajahs also became the political heads under the new foreign rule.

However, prior to Spanish rule, local leaders were expected not only to lead their nations, they were also expected to provide for them. This is because many of the nations or communities were family or clan based groups and were lead by a father or mother figure. Somehow, the idea of providing for their constituents carried over to the next form of government under the colonizers.

While we may have transitioned into a democracy, our people still expect politicians to provide for them, the way a father or clan leader would provide for his family. This kind of thinking is often disastrous when taken literally, so you have political leaders raiding public coffers to provide their constituents with free burial, baptism sponsorships, medicines, food, etc.

Many of the local politicians in the 17th and in the early part of the 19th century had houses that provided for constant feeding. Huge vats and ladles still seen in antique stores were used to make lugaw (a cheap form of rice porrige). Long solid narra tables was where most meetings would take place. Kitchens would have extensions for wood burning brick stoves and ovens that could handle large amounts of food at any given time.

Now that the election results are nearly all in, we can soon see which politicians did not fail the expectations to feed their volunteers. This is usually an accurate assesment of a winner.

1 comment:

compact said...

Good or bad its a good thing the election went through without much violece of some sort.
There have been hot debates on this matter in popular news discussions sites.