POLITICIANS in our country embody our faults and virtues, the heroes and villains who serve as our inspirations and warning signs. The best sellers are President Digong and Senator Leila. Their characteristics become characters. Their lessons and lore become a pervasive part of our approach to life.

We have a president that would rather lose the election, than lose his identity. For others, he is a fictional doppelganger. His rise to the presidency is rich with unforgettable images and figures. He does not have the Excalibur but he has a God-given mouth that he cannot control. He got a metallic voice and all penetrating stare that could melt Vice President Robredo. His one-way dominance made his political opponents call him “a vicious cannibal psychopath.” No one knows what he marinates in his head.

Senator Leila is a Lara Croft of the Senate with a passion to derail Digong starting from his being alleged as the monstrous brain behind the Davao Death Squad. Leila is an ogle-worthy babe whose bust line defied both gravity and logic as shown with co-actor driver-lover Ronnie Dayan in that unpopular sex tape (not recommended for adults with weak hearts). We respect her because she has the skills of assessing the situation and getting the job done.

President Digong has a Superman-ish complexity of inhabiting two characters at once, the thinker and the doer united. He remains popular because of his wonderful touches of sly wit. Others believe that he has a secret: the allure of evil trumps the banality of good. His detractors tag him as a hero-villain of towering proportions; nevertheless, he has survived. From mayor to president, he is able to prove that he is an extra cheesy icon in a lactose-intolerant business. He is not that young but age has not enfeebled his appeal to his supporters (also to women). His venerability saves him and his irrevocable license to thrill.

For her fans, Senator Leila is a Wonder Woman who is a symbol of empowerment of women. Her character is a voice for equality as she opposes extra-judicial killings. She could be the canny Scheherazade in the “Arabian Nights” who would not just allow the king to kill her in the next morning. Her many tales of wonder (bedtime stories) saved her head. Leila would want to share to the world the joy of female power (like Buffy, the vampire slayer): loving it, using it, sharing it.

President Digong looks at Leila as the Wicked Witch of the Senate. The president believes that she is a liar. She keeps falling in with the group of her kind by telling lies, because she has not learned yet that it’s wrong to speak falsehoods. (I remember Pinocchio.) Can this incorrigible liar turn her life around? President Digong has to take Senator Leila as she is, whether he takes her with or without a spoonful of sugar.

Senator Leila sees in Digong the irresponsible child-man who refuses to grow up. Digong’s cocky exuberance continues to charm Leila. The lady senator wants Digong to remove his own mask and show his true self. He has to stop believing that he is brilliant, talented, charismatic, and there is an intriguing magic about him. Leila is battered, accused, and belittled. Just like a boxer, she keeps saying, “It’s not how hard you can hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, because that’s really what makes the difference in your life.”

Our President Digong could be unique like Don Juan, the lusty libertine (in his younger days ). The conquistador of the boudoir, the serial thriller, the Hall of Fame pitcher of woo. Many women have fallen under his spell (as perceived). His mouth has artistry, “A closed mouth catches no fly.” In his picaresque adventures, “The Punisher” has shown an exemplar of courage and bravery but he is not perfect. He has his Achilles heel (his mouth), an emblem of humanity’s inescapable flaws.

For the senator, we can only hope and pray that she will persevere in her voyage from solitary hardship to living happily ever after in the land of Once Upon a Time. With her crusade (backed up by political allies), she is an avatar of transformation and wish fulfillment. In her below par confinement, she could be a Cendrillon waiting for a knight rescuer to bring her back to prominence again.

Digong and Leila are just human beings portraying in a not-so-post apocalyptic tale. Just like us in them, they have shown fascinating bundle of contradictions: brutal yet pricked by self-doubt, angry yet kind, self-involved yet displaying a fierce integrity. They exist in a controversial mix of realism and fancy. They have to survive in this tragedy of political culture. There is no need to throw themselves beneath the wheels of a train.