A “PARTY,” as we understand it on a normal day, is that time when people gather to socialize, booze, wolf slabs of fatty sins, and unleash an entire discography with electrifying dance steps. A party, usually hosted, honors an occasion, say, a marriage, a saint’s birthday, passing the bar exam or an invented excuse, perhaps, when a pet Chihuahua conceives a quintuplet.

Well, that is not so for the last few months at this point in our national history. A party today, as you will see in the papers, is that photo of a grinning lineup of color-coded individuals who swears to pull you out of the rot you are in. Whatever that rot they are talking about, they are showing you optimism by the scale of a smile or the whiteness of dentures.

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The price Manny Villar has to pay for promising to end poverty or gaining power could not be gauged by the billions of pesos, but by the regularity of Botox sessions. Gibo treads the labyrinthine alleyways of a shanty town and gets a dose of Philippine hyper-reality in the name of tagay. One local candidate had to shake hands with a man who just had a hearty bare-handed feast over dinuguan. Elections, indeed, can get that bloody.

Perhaps, at no other time, too, in our history has party chromatics been this psychedelic. There use to be a term, “traffic light coalition,” referring to a pooling of three parties. The term “rainbow coalition” is still around. Just how many colors does the arch have, you can ask your science teacher.

But when you have a Bongbong Marcos and a Satur Ocampo in one party, you have a pretty intoxicating cocktail—a psychedelic overture. Or maybe, political chop suey.

By tradition, political parties, assume colors for identity.

Black, for example, was anti-clericalism’s official color in late 19th and early 20th century Europe. In Germany and Austria, however, it is historically linked to Christian Democrats.

I will congratulate any image handler in our side of town who will recommend black to a candidate. You’ll have a sortie that’ll look like the punks are coming.

Orange, says references, is sometimes associated with Christian Democratic and sometimes populist parties. Ukraine, for example, had their “Orange Revolution.” Unionism in Northern Ireland also had their “Orange Order.” I don’t know how the Villar camp picked orange. In Cebu last month, seeing yellow ribbons in the streets, his party sent its army scampering in the field to tie orange ribbons twice the size of the yellow ones.

Red is, of course, communism’s favorite color. You can brush up on Mao Tse Tung’s “red army” and “little red book” if you want red details. Erap’s camp uses red, although I’m sure the ex-president prefers a Johnny Walker Blue in a happy hour. He is not a communist.

Gibo wears green, although I think Nicanor Perlas is the quintessential green. The Nordic agrarian party uses green. Those who are fighting to keep the earth whole don green for a type-A uniform.

You can understand Noynoy’s yellow either through the eye of history or a song. In Europe, yellow is the color Liberals use.

The colors assumed, things are supposed to be pretty well delineated in the firmament of Philippine politics. But not so in the local level, which pretty much shakes up the entire chromatics and makes it all psychedelic. You look at the photographs of political line-ups and you pretty much feel like you had the worst shot of LSD. Man, lipong ko, man.

A political analyst will have a pretty tough job, like playing stacks of pickup sticks, at least in the local level. There seems to be a kind of arbitrariness in this mating season and you’re simply lost. But, really, what can you do. In the end, May 10 will have to be your private hour in the precinct with your ballot, beyond chromatics and all. All the partying becomes a joke.

(januarinbox@yahoo.com)