I have always found that candidates do not address specifically the needs of a younger generation of Filipino returnees. We actually want to work to build our country. We do not just want to retire there. We are concerned with the quality of life.
Melissa dela Cruz
The Fil-Am Press Club of New York and the Philippine Consulate General New York recently conducted a ‘Know Your Candidates’ Kapihan (literally conversations over coffee) where presidential candidates of the May 9 Philippine elections were asked to present their platforms of government through their representatives here in the US. It was a most anticipated date, March 30, a Wednesday, that the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center was packed.
Four of the five presidential candidates were represented in the panel. Jesse Arteche, an accountant by profession, spoke on behalf of Vice President Jojo Binay; Arturo Garcia, a community leader represented Sen. Grace Poe and flew all the way from LA; Sani Guillena rolled his sleeves in defense of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte; and Loida Nicolas Lewis spoke for former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
Many thought that the forum was well-organized but lacked the time for rebuttals and more questions from the audience. Most of the representatives also seemed to be stuck in projecting the personalities of the candidates instead of the details of their platforms of government.
Here are some of those who shared their feedback.
The forum was a well attended and moderated event but the rules could have been more precise and extended to allow each of the representative to answer some of the most interesting and intriguing questions. Based on the attendance, I have observed that the guests who came have already made up their minds on who to vote because the greater majority already had their own respective parties to support. The event was more for the media to have something to write about the presidential election.
Jeanette Bocobo Marco
Thank you for the well attended NY FiL-Am press club in partnership with the NY PH Consulate General in bringing this Kapihan Forum. The panelists representing the four presidential candidates had shown passion and vigor in showcasing each candidates stance. Most notable were from Loida Nicolas Lewis (for Mar Roxas) who laid out the achievements and planned programs of Mar for the PH and Sani Guillen who defended Mayor Duterte’s fight on drugs, corruption, criminality etc. It was an eventful night but could have been exciting if the panelists were given the chance to rebut each other’s issues. But just the same kudos to the organizers of the event. You did it!
I gave up my right to suffrage many years ago, because I believed that Philippine politics was just a cycle of deception, corruption, and nepotism. But I enjoyed watching our kababayan with much hope that the presidential candidates who promised to them heaven and earth will indeed bring genuine progress in the country. I will only vote if the Philippines has a candidate like Bernie Sanders.
Mona Lunot Kuker
Two reps spoke about their candidates’ platform and with statistics, Jesse Arteche and Loida Nicolas Lewis. The other two representatives spoke more of their personal experiences with Fernando Poe and Duterte, and minimal of their platforms. Up to the middle of the forum, everyone was glued to what they were saying and a little towards the end, some did leave because either they were not satisfied or the answers were no longer something that they want to hear.
Also, there were a lot of questions from the audience that were not read due to lack of time. The Press took most of the time in the Q&A. The audience was expecting that theirs will be heard or read, too. It should have time equal time with the Press and audience. It was a forum open to all and not only for the Press .
Overall it was very good, a chance for all of us to hear each candidate’s profile through their reps and it was also nice to see so many interested people in the community to hear or witness the 1st successful forum on presidential candidates in the Philippines. It would have been nice to have a sequel to hear this time the audience but got no more time. Voting here starts on April 9.
Congrats to all organizers. How about a forum on US presidential candidates?
I was super excited to be assigned as the time keeper at the Kapihan. Being at the smack center of the presentations, I felt the passion of each presenter. The feedback of the audience was there should have been a rebuttal from each presenter but FAPCNY rules, each question was just given to one representative and no rebuttal from the other reps. How I wish that there were from the Vice Presidential candidates as well. All the presenters were quite ready and enthusiastic about their candidates. I was imagining that the candidates themselves were there and I was in the smack middle of a real live Philippine Presidential Debate as I always watch the US Presidential debate on different networks here in the US.
I came into the forum being fairly disappointed with the presidential debates. Personality politics and the debates was just an affirmation of what I’ve always feared. I thought that at least in the debate setting they would get into ideas and into development plans. It lacked this discussion in all levels. Additionally, I was fed up with the news streams debating over the A’s candidacy or B’s educational background. As part of the younger generation of Filipinos, I have always found that candidates do not address specifically the needs of a younger generation of Filipino returnees. We actually want to work to build our country. We do not just want to retire there. We are concerned with the quality of life and if I there are opportunities for young people to progress and to grow. These are things I did not get reading any of the available articles online or listening to those two debates at home. This is why for this forum, I was hopeful that the representatives would give me a better idea of the individual platforms and plans of action for each of their candidates.
However, I came out slightly disappointed and frustrated by two things. First was the quality of discussion and second, the composition of the audience.
What happened instead was a back and forth of “the best remedy for ___ problem is X candidate”. It was this type of discussion format the frustrates me as a student of international politics and development. When they speak quite extensively of just addressing crime, corruption and poverty yet what is more pressing to address in the 21st century is inequality and underemployment. These are important problems nonetheless but we end up actively turning a blind eye to issues the growing disparities in provinces, regions and cities.
The average age of the audience, I would say was between 38 to 40. I would have thought that there would have been much more diversity in the crowd. This would have helped the representatives maybe address a variety of issues that would cut across age groups.
To conclude, I would say that the struggle for me was to get a better sense of the candidates. I was under the impression that some of the candidates were poorly represented. I could not help but wonder if these really were the kind of people that candidates thought of sending the more than 4 million Filipinos here in the US? I thought that this was a great indicator of the actual level of priority that their candidates have given to the needs of overseas Filipinos. Thought of as the lifeblood of our nation yet treated as a mere afterthought. Disappointing.
Melissa dela Cruz
Photos by Lambert Parong and Jeanette Bocobo Marco