1. WE stopped at Park Mall and walked all the way from the parking lot to the gate facing the CICC. When we were about to get out, we spotted Bert Emphasis. I told my friend we should say “Mano po,” but we were in a hurry and could be forgiven if we forego with manners. Already, there was a throng building up right at the gate, some wearing yellow, some green, some blue, and red.

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2. We scaled the elevation leading up to the CICC entrance, thinking someone with arthritis will have an uphill battle. Do you mean the elections? No, but I must have, subliminally. We didn’t have a ticket, so we looked around for anyone who could possibly let us in. Some Chinese-looking man stood near the entrance, so we approached him and told him we didn’t have a ticket. He looked at us for a few seconds, groped into his jacket’s secret pocket and drew out a blue ticket. We said thank you while his face still sported an amused look. He was probably thinking he was just conned by two gutsy terrorists.

3. The left door led to a cordoned path to a room that had a widescreen in front. On the glass door a sign read: “Supporters, please proceed this way.” I was thinking if it was the proper door for us, but it didn’t ask for any ticket. We figured maybe we could just proceed the other way and present our ticket at the appropriate entrance. We could feign innocence and lie about being neutral. We took the escalator and saw the entrance for us, VIPs I supposed already by virtue of the blue ticket. “Please keep your tickets, sir, for the mock elections,” some lady wearing the Ateneo Business School told us. Okay, and I said to myself maybe they should just raffle off a plane ticket to Nigeria or something.

4. So we found ourselves in a big room, and host Bunny Pages was already explaining what was going to happen that afternoon. “Cebu’s elite are all here,” some reporter behind said. True, indeed, it felt like you were in a cocktail party minus the, well, cocktail. Nobody, of course, came in a cocktail dress. A quick survey would make you think you were in a salad bowl with a good dose of leafy veggies, with a sprinkling of cheese and carrot cubes. “Choices and Voices” was the show’s name. “It sounds so gay,” I told my friend.

5. In came the candidates. Noynoy Aquino came first, and there was good applause. I think Erap Estrada came next, and then Manny Villar, who was ambushed by some supposed fans for a photo opportunity. “That fan’s planted,” someone protested from behind, and he was wearing a green shirt. Dick Gordon and Eddie Villanueva walked in and the applause came in trickle. In came Gilbert Teodoro and there was wild cheering from the girls in many parts of the hall.

6. In the forum, Erap—deliberately or not—provided the comic relief. I don’t know if someone was directing the cameras, but they caught the former president in various awkward moments. For one moment, I thought it was rather cruel, but Erap seemed to love it. Good for him. “Now, to answer your question,” he said, but this was on the last second of his three-minute chance.

7. When the boy Trevor asked them how they intend to help those kids sticking their famished faces on his car’s window, the candidates gave their answers. I thought that someone with the savvy will level with Trevor and answer his question in his own terms. Forget the audience, talk to the boy!

8. Anyway, the forum ended and we did cast our ballot. Gibo won and you’d hear all those administration supporters gloating about the results.

9. Around this time, many of the businessmen, in another part of the city, was wolfing on P5,000-worth bowl of porridge. The money goes to a candidate’s campaign kitty.

10. So we went out of CICC and saw the poor crowd waving their placards and banners. It was an entirely different ballgame outside the ship of fools.