Sunday, March 20, 2016

Of Rebels, Pronvincial Lordlings and A Game of Branggay Thrones

Politics was and is my daily bread.

There’s nothing else that excites me more than politics. I hear debates about national issues and I jizz my pants right on the spot. Alden Richards can drop dead in front of me and I wouldn’t care. But if hear a rumour of a secret visit of a congressman or a cabinet official in Florence, I will move earth and heaven, come hell or high water, just to track him down and have a selfie with him or have his autograph.

Politics has been a factor that defined our family.

On my father’s side of the family, we were called The Stormborns (GOT fans, believe it or not, we are the true Stormborns, the cadet branch of House Targaryen through Khaleesi Daenery’s line, which makes me the true heir to the Iron Throne and Prince of the Seven Kingdoms, LOL!), because my grandfather was born while a storm raged and wrecked Laguna. Somehow, it made us distinct among others, because we are a proud breed and quite clannish in nature.

My grandfather was very charismatic, had lots of friends and joined many associations, and had good friends in the Municipal government. We lived in the same street as the mayor of our town, and in every party and fiesta our doors were always open for the mayor and his family. And to top it all, the infamous power couple, the Marcoses, gave him an award for his labour as an outstanding farmer in our town.

He wasn’t a politician though, and he has never ventured into the political arena.

His brother on the other hand entered baranggay politics. He had charisma, the macho playboy look that would definitely attract the female voters, and he had a following. And the plus factor was he had my grandfather, his access to all residents of the town from the poor to the upper-class Chinese traders in town. From one glorious victory to another, he was able to reach a certain degree of influence and power, and was almost halfway to the Municipio.

But then, an early decline came upon the House of Stormborns when we thought we were almost there to be the next political dynasty of Laguna.

The good Lord took away my grandfather quite early, taking away the ultimate chain that bound to us the votes and the moral support. And perhaps the great flaws of the family’s men- womanizing and gambling- took away the good sense and reasoning from my granduncle.

Until now, the family was never been able to get back to the game of baranggay thrones. The name Stormborns was remembered, but was not enough to be considered as the local lordlings of the town.

The same won’t be said on my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s family is seated in some far away small dusty town in Batangas, and many of them are holding positions in the local seats of power. Despite the fact that my mother abhors politics and has done everything she could to dissuade me, my cousins, her siblings, and even our grandparents from taking part in the political life of our province, the whole family are there playing their own little game of baranggay thrones, forming factions within the family, vying for power against his own blood. Even I found it so unbelievable when I visited my relatives there in 2013. One family member against another, the nephew against the aunt, or cousin I think? I don’t know! I lost track of the family line. It was really interesting and quite appalling too.

Unlike in any other province ruled by warlords, these provincial lordlings haven’t resorted to taking up arms and commit fratricide, yet. But the election season is the most disturbing and the most stressful season for the whole family, even for us who are living outside the country. The eldest members of the family would summon the allegiances of the sons and daughters, the cousins, our cousins, and many other friends who are treated as if members of the family, the godfathers of children, everyone whose name is conjured in the memory of our patriarchs and matriarchs, and we are all compelled to either come and vote or hand out our “voluntary financial support”.    

For others, they find it despicable but they complied as good sons and daughters who honor the father and the family name. I don’t mind it. I am even glad to see the whole family as a machinery working together with their faction.

Despite the internal division, and different family names, it is still the same local political dynasty that is being elected.

I may have glamorized a bit about my family, but if we had the money and the right machinery, we would've been classified as Type-A Trapo. It's truly despicable.

And me?

When I was young, I had a clear vision of what’s going to happen in my life. I thought that I was going to graduate from one of the prestigious universities of the country, collect money from willing members of the family, and set my way up to become the next governor of Laguna, and then, senator of the Republic, and in my most delusional imagination, the next imperial overlord of Asia.

But God had my plans fucked up and threw me away to Italy- the country that broke me and totally changed me.

I became active in politics but not a trapo like my relatives. I was an activist and joined the communist group of students. I joined rallies and forums and participated in the biggest left-wing movement that overthrow the conservative municipal government of Florence.

Soon my politics ruined my studies, and I eventually had to quit school. Come to think of it, it was the most fucked up moment of my life and it wasn’t really caused by my politics. Anyway, that was the moment I realized that I was fighting for the wrong side and converted to become a conservative.

In the past, here abroad, I participated in my events and programs and even in the local politics of our community. I had friends and contacts that helped me and served me well for my agenda. It was so good that I was able to gate-crash in an exclusive dinner to honor a very high-ranking official of the Philippine Cabinet.

Currently, I am not anymore active the political life of our community. Why? Jesus came in and He set a life agenda for me which I still find hard to subscribe to. And besides, I have seen what politics did to my family. We lost money, old and strong friendships (alliances) were poisoned by conspiracies, family disputes, which we always assumed would dissipate after the polls, and remained permanently and closest friends despised us. True enough, the mighty would eventually fall.
As for me, when I think about my bestfriends, my beloved sister and my dear cousins, I can’t bear the thought of losing them just to grab power. And for what? What is that power for anyway? The pride and prestige of the family? For power’s flimsy promise of wealth? For the fame? Am I really comfortable of being buried with honours when I die or the certainty that my most beloved people would shed their tears for me and miss me, and love me until my last breath?  

I won’t play the game of thrones the way my forefathers did. I’ll just watch and learn and speak up when the need arises, but not touch or entertain any of power’s illusions. It may be a favourite thing, but in the near future it won’t be my daily bread anymore. 

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