Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hello Garci

I don't pretend to understand American Politics let alone Filipino Politics. It's all I can do these days to keep up with Australian Politics. Somehow it seems to have happened, behind my back, that Kim Beazley is yet again the leader of the Labour Party. How and when did that happen??? Or have I merely misread the Australian newspaper websites?

Thus I learned, from the newspapers, that there was a foiled coup attempt in the Philippines in late February. It seemed to be all over bar the shouting by the time I travelled there for my ninth visit in early March and, with the prospect of yet another trip to that destination I certainly wasn't going to mention the fact to my wife. She, bless her, finally caught up with the news, about a week after I'd arrived, and sent me a panic email or two. I have to say that I saw nothing much out of the ordinary travelling from Manila to Baguio and I reassured her.

I want to be careful how I word this. I have no opinion on the politics of the Philippines. I don't know enough to have one!

It seems that part of the reason for the discontent is a widespread dissatisfaction with the incumbent Filipina president. Like I said, I don't pretend to understand the local politics but it seems that one of the reasons is that apparently there was a phone call, taped, between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the president, or, as she is styled in every newspaper I've read here, either GMA or PGMA and some election official nicknamed Garci. Allegations of cheating etc.

Almost every mobile phone I heard in my most recent trip to the Philippines rang thus;

'Hello, Garci!' in the presidents voice!

It seems to me that the mechanisms for dissent have been helped by technology. Try to convince the Finns that their product ought not to allow the user to set their own ringtone!

I was reading a Filipino newspaper a week or so ago; an op ed page. Writing this a week after reading I can't remember the term used for the underground newspapers published in the Philippines during the Marcos years but it struck me that the writer was really talking about 'samizdat'[^], the term used for underground newspapers in Soviet controlled territory. As an English speaker I translate that term as 'same as that' which, if I remember rightly, isn't all that far from the truth!

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