At first glance, Philippine campaigns look like grand fiestas–deafening chatter, colorful banners, and endless music gatherings in the busy streets. But that is only a part of the whole picture. Active wearing of the color and the face of every candidate adds to the movement of the campaign, creating a varying point among the pulse of people. While such active engagement shows the people’s physical involvement in the coming elections, there can still be other ways to participate and voice out one’s own stand– through the maximization of online platforms. As the whole campaign story continues to evolve from a traditional patronage politics to modernized campaigns, Filipinos became bolder and more progressive.

Under the Article I Section 3, of the Omnibus Code of the Philippines, campaign period shall be as follows: (1) Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election – 90 days; (2) Election of Members of the Batasang Pambansa and Local Election – 45 days; (3) Barangay Election – 15 days.The campaign periods shall not include the day before and the day of the election. Once the campaign stretch commences, it is the time of the year that Filipinos are going to witness how candidates from every position went after the support of voters.

Behind every winning candidate are endless institutionalized campaigns targeted to the hearts of the masses who express the people’s sovereign will. In the past, candidates practiced a one-on-one campaign to physically visit the residents of each town or municipality. On the flipside, modernized campaigns apply a mass-marketing approach to gain wider voter reach through social media, television ads, and fundraising efforts. And to this date, the combination of the two became prevalent, allowing more Filipinos to be in the know of the political platforms each candidate proposes in every way that were not possible before.

Traditional Campaigns 

Once the campaign season kicks off, candidates of different positions hold campaigns to visit the Filipino locals in every city and barangay–proudly introduced by their own jingles that lingers to everyone’s ears on repeat. People giving out posters and other items with the candidates’ faces may look like an agent offering a product, but during campaign season it’s a powerful initiative to get to know more about the platforms of each candidate. 

During this season, endless giveaways from politicians and volunteers go after the masses, wooing the voters. It is a usual thing to hear “Salamat, ma’am/sir sa pagdalaw sa amin”, while every candidate shakes hands with the people. Since it is the most common time where even the poorest of the poor may take a closer look at the politicians, there will be full admiration seen in the people’s faces. But after every visit, the expectation of receiving money can never run out of the Filipinos’ mouths, “may bigayan kaya?” It may sound ridiculous, but in the Philippines handing out something is a huge game changer, especially during elections.

Traditional political campaigns are usually associated with competitive elections in the context of stable democratic societies. These campaign practices include the mass production and distribution of candidate information to voters through print media, television advertising, direct mailings, billboards, speeches at rallies.

Modernized Campaigns

Since the peak of the pandemic, social media has become the battleground for information dissemination. Such a digital revolution has unfolded more transformative repercussions on news and current events. Hence, resulted in an unprecedented opportunity for politicians to relay information to the public, even the disinterested audience members, as it offers a humanizing nature that helps voters feel more connected to them. However, despite the increased political engagement and discourse among the public, free social media access spawned the spread of mis- and disinformation at lightning fast speed, which also became a campaign tactic to sway the voters’ views.

It is visible how social media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, gave more space time for campaigns, forums, and debates involving candidates to extend their platforms to the public. Depending on the means of use, the modernized campaign empowered the public even more to scrutinize the candidates and squeeze out all the necessary information the public needs to know. The technological affordances of new media allow content to propagate seemingly without limits through peer-to-peer channels and even a wider reach.

Although traditional campaigns and modernized campaigns have their own advantages and disadvantages, the fusion of the two allowed the election season to be critically inclusive. Because the mere discussion of politics not only circulates on a particular platform but vice versa. The initial dissemination of information both happens online and in traditional media through a series of advertisements. And if before, all the forums, campaigns and rallies can only be witnessed traditionally, social media provides an avenue to extend the reach to a wider audience. 

As critical as it may seem, the coming Philippine elections clearly show the resiliency of the Filipinos, especially that new leaders are expected to lead the country after more than two years of downfall. Regardless of how glamorous or simple the campaign of each candidate takes place, the Filipinos must keep in mind the essence of their vote. Behind every colorful word and a handful of gifts the candidates might spread, never turn a blind eye to the true essence of a once in a lifetime moment of voting, which holds the Filipinos’ lives for the next six years.

Written by Karisma Primero

Karisma Primero

Karisma Primero is a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise and currently a 3rd year Broadcasting student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines - Manila.

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