Malilong: Coping with defeat

·3 min read

Early in the morning of the day after the election, my best friend called. “Stop moping,” he said. “Join us for breakfast.”

I only had a few hours of sleep and would have appreciated not being disturbed for a few more precious hours, but I grudgingly got out of bed, determined not to give him the satisfaction of thinking (correctly) that I was aching inside. But how would I conduct myself in his presence without betraying myself?

We had spent the last two months of the campaign trash talking and trolling, with a few insults thrown in between, over our presidential preferences. He was fanatically pro-Marcos and I, just as enthusiastically, for Leni Robredo, each one of us absolutely certain that we were right and the other was wrong.

Throughout the entire trip to the reclamation area carinderia where I was to break bread with my best friend, my mind was still preoccupied with the same thought: How would I respond to the merciless razzing that I was certain to be tormented with? How was I going to cope with defeat?

He grinned when he saw me, but to his credit he waited until I got comfortable and had taken my first sip of the still hot fish soup before he went on the offensive. “Our score is now 2-1,” he grinned again. “I lost with Gibo (Teodoro) but won with Digong (Duterte) and BBM.”

“Wrong,” I replied before he could say any further. “The score is 3-2, my favor, because I won not only with PNoy but also with Digong and Bongbong while you lost one.” His eyes widened and I seized the moment. “I was working for both the Duterte and the Marcos campaigns, although secretly because I was assigned in Intel.” I knew that he did not believe me but after our friends at the table laughed in encouragement of my brazen lie, he found no more inspiration to gloat.

Humor spared me from my friend’s ribbing but did only so much to ease the bitter disappointment from a failed campaign. A few days ago, while looking for titles on YouTube I came across “Rosas,” one of the many songs composed by various volunteer artists for the Robredo campaign, and without much thought, played it. Big mistake. The wounds have not healed yet.

I have been involved in the past three presidential elections as a volunteer (please don’t preach to me about neutrality and credibility; I am a Filipino first, a journalist only second) but I have never been as invested as in the Robredo campaign. To me, she was the embodiment of all my dreams of a Filipino leader and of my aspirations for the nation.

Fifteen million others felt like me, harbored my hopes and voted for her. We were/are many but Marcos has twice as much and in a democracy that is what matters. “The majority rules” is a principle that underpins organized civilization. It is democracy’s greatest strength. Paradoxically, it can also be its greatest weakness such as when the majority and tyranny become intertwined or interchangeable.

But that is neither here nor there. The 31 million majority spoke on the same occasion that we did, and it is not fair to declare this early that they were wrong or that they would be tyrannical simply because their position is diametrically opposed to ours. No matter how strongly we believe that we are right, we have to allow the possibility that we could be wrong. It’s called humility.

I say it’s time to move on from our hurts and frustrations. Bongbong Marcos is the president-elect. All these accusations of cheating and manipulation will not change that fact. So we live with it. I am not asking anyone to embrace a Marcos presidency, only to give it a chance. That’s the least that we can do as Filipinos.

What if it turned out that we had misjudged him?

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