The past two presidential elections have seen the winning candidates ride on the back of what I would describe in one word: spontaneity. One can call it volunteerism but it is more than that. It is when the Filipinos, fragmented as we are into islands with diverse cultures, move as one to make a candidate win. That requires a unity of views and aspirations blanketing the islands of the archipelago.
It is not just populism or rallying around a popular candidate. It is something deeper than that. It is something that I would say is rooted in the 1986 Edsa uprising, when people gathered to topple a much hated dictatorship. There was a spontaneity in that endeavor. It wasn’t organized. It was just about people moving with the same sense of purpose.
It is like a wave, with the candidate pushed to its crest because he or she represented the hopes and aspirations of the people at the right time. One can’t manufacture that wave or force one to be its leader. It is what we mean when we say that a leader is destined to lead. Not everybody can be that leader.
Who would have thought that Noynoy Aquino would become President? Or that Mar Roxas would not be one? Who would have thought that Rodrigo Duterte, a mayor with initially limited supporters, would win in 2016? But when a spontaneous wave formed throughout the archipelago, all pretenders were swept aside.
One can say, though, that spontaneity during elections is not instant. It mimics the real, meaning that the hopes and aspirations build up until they become the force that is difficult to contain. The current wave has been building up for more than five years already. It is not surprising that its force is being felt now.
Interestingly, some presidential bets are trying to manufacture the same spontaneity using the resources at their disposal. They are using the technology that can be bought to fit their intention but are finding it difficult to approximate the actual wave formed by a people’s genuine hopes and aspirations. What they forgot is that technology is but a human instrument. It serves man, not the other way around. Meaning that its use is subject to human dictates.
In 2016, social media was the untamed horse that was difficult to control. But we already know its tendencies and have started to tame it. Social media is no longer that runaway force that is difficult to contain. People now are better equipped to recognize the false from the true unlike before when the technology was newer.
Can the spontaneity that we saw several weeks ago be replicated by a candidate using the huge resources at his disposal? A candidate can try it but risk losing much of his wealth for an endeavor that will never work. A people’s hopes and aspirations can never be faked. No matter how organized a campaign is, it could never fly without genuine people’s support.
Spontaneity can never be faked.