“PAGBAG-O” or “kausaban”–Cebuano-Bisaya for “change”--never wears off in its appeal to those who want to unseat by the ballot the incumbent officials. The challengers inevitably offer the promise of change in the lives of voters.
President Duterte’s daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, uses ”Pagbabago” in her party Hugpong ng Pagbabago. “Change,” said in various ways, through the years has been a plank in platform of a party or an individual seeking to replace the sitting official.
Freddie Aguilar’s jingle for Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, who’s competing for the Cebu City mayor’s seat with reelectionist Mayor Tomas Osmena in this May’s elections, talks about change. Not original. Aguilar’s campaign song for Duterte in 2016 was “Duterte: Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago.” Is the song for Labella a repeated wish?
Aguilar, 66 and running for senator, is the country’s celebrated musician widely known for singing the iconic “Bayan Ko,” the opposition’s anthem in the 1986 People Power Revolution, and “Anak,” said to be the best-selling Filipino music record of all time.
We don’t know if the singer wrote the lyrics. But Aguilar sings “Lig-onon ang Kausaban,” Labella’s campaign jingle. The song video has stayed on Labella’s Facebook wall since last Feb. 14, beating his rival who is yet to come up with his own version.
The official video, Labella’s or Tomas’s, is worth the scrutiny. Usually that sort of material tells the public the message the candidate wants to communicate and casts some light on platform, priorities, focus and, of course, the general promise. On that catch-all promise: Labella, the video tells us, will “strengthen the change.” Which, nitpickers may point out, says change has taken place but it has to be firmed up.
Picture of the city
How does the song portray Cebu City? “Tan-awa ang Sugbo/ Puro away-away,” it says. A city whose voters are fed up with its leader: “Gipul-an na ang siyudad ko/sa hakog nga tawo.” Wouldn’t be hard to identify the “greedy man.”
Aguilar sings of “pa-et nga kagahapon” (an awful past), referring to that of city residents. And the need to eliminate corruption (“wagtangon ang kurapsyon”) and a commitment to stop “pangwarta, druga ug basura” (moneymaking, drugs and garbage).
In sum, the song deplores the alleged corruption, rampant drugs and uncollected garbage in the city. Thus the call for change and a new leader.
Focus on Labella
The jingle does not include the other candidates of Partido Barug; no mention of “Partido Barug” or its platform (The word “bangon,” instead of “barug,” is used.) It sells Labella solely: images and scenes are those of “Edgardo,” not the usual party song that trots off the names of candidates down to the last councilor. Interestingly, it uses the full name “Edgardo,” which meets the demand for rhyming but also comes out as a term of endearment.
How may Labella justify the exclusion of other party bets from the song? It is not the usual team-spirit-booster song, not as rousing as the “Mabuhi! Mabuhi!” marching-band pace and sound of then governor Gwen Garcia’s cue for arrival at a public event.
It is a ballad, a folksy love song in the Freddie Aguilar genre, aimed to tug the voter’s heart for Labella. Barug might produce another jingle, the traditional, names-laden kind. This one, “Lig-onon ang Kausaban,” is an ode to Labella alone.
Images of Edgar, Digong
Images of Labella expectedly fill the video, those of the candidate exceeded in number of exposures only by Duterte’s . At least seven times, the president, mostly with Labella, actual or photo-shopped, appears with the lines about progress (“asenso’), as the hope for “true change” (“tinuod nga pagbag-o”), and for the Sugboanon to rise.
Change the face of Cebu? Not in the song but in the spoken appeal of Labella after the song’s end (“pagbag-o sa dagway sa Sugbo”).
No rejoinder so far from the BOPK and Tomas Osmena camp. Still unanswered are the charges in the song about alleged drugs, corruption and uncollected garbage.
Voters may do well to check out the facts on record and what they see in their own neighborhood and how the city is run.
They cannot depend on one song, even if the one singing it helped bring down an authoritarian rule in Edsa 1. Political jingles don’t have the space or time for solid data, the hard facts.