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Date > 2023 > October
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Barangay Vote-Buying October 22, 2023

Barangay Vote-Buying

Location Google Map: Siquijor Island, Philippines

Political posters with smiling candidates are now seen across town for the forthcoming barangay elections. Since vote-buying has now become institutionalized across the country, there is once again an air of optimism amongst the locals. They eagerly anticipate the P150 cash (P500 in some places) + goodies (rice, flour, etc) that the politicians give them in buying their votes.

Now You See Them, Now You Don't
Election is the only time when these politicians make their presence felt to their constituents. After winning the election, you don't see them again and whatever campaign promise they made (to the extent they actually promised anything), you don't see them too. The locals know this process all too well but they play along with this charade. It's a dance between voters and politicians.

This practice of color-coding (identifying who voted for whom) is likewise institutionalized. It means if your candidate loses, you become marginalized by the newly seated incumbents. If you work for the local government, you are likely to lose your job.

People don't vote for the best man for the job. Meritocracy does not exist here. They vote for whoever gives the most money. It's a tribal society where the largesse is divided in priority sequence by the winner to self, family, realtives, and friends.

To put things in context, Singapore is perhaps the only country that runs on meritocracy - the most competent person gets the job. Even though Singapore has a Chinese dominant majority, that job could go to a Muslim Malay or a Hindu Indian. That is the reason why Singapore now has the 2nd highest GDP on the planet next only to Luxembourg (on a per capita basis according to the IMF, 2023). In stark contrast to the 1950s, Singapore and the Philippines were practically in the same boat - decaying infrastructure, social unrest, housing shortage, poverty, etc. Fast-forward to today, we send out teachers and accountants to be domestic helpers in Singapore.

This is the power of meritocracy and having responsible leaders.

The Unwritten Exchange
The ramification of this vote-buying is profound. Once you sell your vote to a politician, you give him license to do whatever the fuck he wants to do. He can stop garbage collection and pocket the budget for it (like what happens in Lazi), he can destroy good roads to build inferior ones on top of it (this happens all over the Philippines now like a plague), he can start projects and leave them hanging (like the seawall in Lazi), etc.

Can't Complain
And because you sold your vote, you also gave up your right to complain about it. You become complicit in the crime. People complain to everyone but not to the politicians. They know they'd been fucked-up again as expected, but I doubt if they realize that selling their votes is part and parcel of the problem.

The Good Can't Win...Money Talks
I remember having this conversation in 2013 along the Eastern coast of Mindanao (Lanuza? Cortez?). I was talking to the point-man of someone who wants to run as mayor. The conversation went like this:

Point-Man: We are confident of winning this election. The incumbent is so corrupt, everybody hates him. The man I'm working for is decent, hard-working and a good statesman - everyone knows that. We just need to raise P3000 to pay every citizen of this town.

Gigit: Why do you have to buy the people's votes if the incumbent is corrupt, and your candidate is a good man and everybody knows about it? I don't get it.

Point-Man: The incumbent is paying everyone P5000. If we don't pay the voters, they will vote the current mayor - no matter how much they hate him. However, since people want change and they know my candidate is a good man, they will accept P3000 and cast their vote with us. They are willing to take the P2000 loss.

Gigit: (thought bubble): I guess by paying the voters, this good guy will be forced to steal from the public treasury to recoup his election expense. If he's stealing for the people, then of course, he will be stealing for himself. 'Decent' politician? They're all garbage.

Barangay Vote-Buying
Sold !!!

It's mind-boggling why the situation would come to this. I tried to go 'deep' into the culture and I come up with speculations. Perhaps they're all valid but not really hitting the nail on the head.

  1. poor and ignorant - one speculation is that through generations, the public has been systematically kept poor and ignorant. If they are poor, they'll take whatever bone is thrown their way. By being ignorant, they won't know what's actually transpiring. But how do you explain the middle class going along with this? They're not as poor and as uneducated as the downtrodden.
  2. resignation - the public knows that whoever wins, they'll be fucked either way. It's a given. Thus, they'll just take the most of whatever they can get during elections. I remember what Lee Kuan Yew said about the Filipinos. He said, "The Filipinos are too soft for their own good." True. Filipinos don't complain. By the time they complain, it means they are already on the brink of killing someone.
  3. no love of country - I'm a UP graduate (University of the Philippines). This means it was tax-payers' money that paid for my education. I am indebted to the country for my education. I am supposed to represent the cream of the crop. However, one time in Geneva, someone who headed the United Nations' Committee on Human Rights (who was also a UP graduate and college dean) asked me, "Gigit, tell me. What is love of country?". Embarrassingly, I could not give an answer. I didn't know. I realized that despite being a beneficiary of taxpayer's money, I didn't know shit about love of country. That puzzled me.

    When I was tasked to teach a CWTS class in UP for the graduating students, that's when I realized that 'good citizenship' (the essence of CWTS), was taught in developed nations from Day One when they go to school! Here in the Philippines, we only started doing it in 2004 and it was only taught to graduating students who were in their 20s. At this point, it's perhaps too little too late.

    The Zeitgeist in the Philippines is, "each to his own". Nobody grows up feeling that he is a part of the nation-building process. They don't feel being a stakeholder in the country's evolution. Thus, when the public sells their vote in exchange for infrastructure money being spirited away, they can care long as they get something for it.

Ending Thoughts
The money given to voters by politicians will come out of the local treasury. It's not a gift but stolen loot. But the public goes along with the charade. I'm left shaking my head. Do I have the answers? No, I don't think so. It's not so simple. It's a deeply connected web that affects parties not visible at the surface. What do I mean? A corrupt politician (and this practically means every politician) is a benefactor to general contractors, his friends, his relatives, his business associates, etc. They all benefit from the largesse. It's practically a mafia. Try to stop the corruption and you feel the brunt of all these stakeholders. There's just too much money involved in politics. As one friend puts it, you can't be the clean guy in end up dead.

One thing for certain though is that I won't sell my vote.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

p.s. Now that election is over, the encumbent, despite not collecting garbage, won. This is because he paid money for the votes. As for the voters, I can only say they deserve the politicians whose money they accepted to get them all fucked all over again. Like I said, it's a dance.

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More on Lazi:

Lazi Local Info
  1. Resorts - Lazi has some beach/dive resorts on its west coast - Gabayan Riviera, Lazi Beach Club, Bahura Dive Resort. However, the popular area for tourist resorts are in San Juan
  2. Transport - Lazi is the junction where the jeeps begin their clockwise route (Lazi-San Juan-Siquijor Port) or the counter clockwise route (Lazi-Maria-Larena Port). Because the jeeps are rare with about 2 to 3 trips/day only in the morning, it's practical to just have a motorcycle here in Siquijor. With its affordability (a brand new Rusi motorbike is as low as P45k), people just buy motorcycles...especially those who live up in the mountains.
  3. The Boulevard - Lazi's main draw is its seaside cobblestone promenade. When the sun goes down, people gather here for eats, drinks, open-air, harbor view and the sunset
  4. Lazi Port - Kho Shipping, the shipping line operating from Lazi Port, has stopped its service to Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Dumaguete, Tagbilaran and Cebu. Passengers can go to Siquijor Port or Larena Port for boat services out of Siquijor Island

More on Siquijor Island:

Siquijor Island Local Info

Jeeps - there are only 2 routes for jeeps within Siquijor Island - and they are rare. Most people have their own motorcycle transport.

  1. Siquijor Port to Lazi - last trip leaves at 3pm from station near market
  2. Lazi to Siquijor Port - jeeps depart from the Lazi Port area. 5 jeeps, the last trip at 12:30 pm. Lazi to San Juan, P50.
  3. Larena Port to Lazi - jeeps are unpredictable. As of this writing, there is only 1 jeep plying the Larena-Lazi route. This jeep leaves Larena for Lazi at 9:50am. After that, no more jeep. You'll have to take a tricycle to Siquijor Pob for jeeps going to Lazi
  4. Lazi to Larena Port - 6am (daily) and 9 am (M-Th)

Food - these were suggested by a local to me

  1. Lechon manok & liempo - roasted pork belly and chicken at Joel's in Siquijor Poblacion. I've tried this myself...yummy, even if the chicken was no longer hot
  2. Bibingka - sweetened rice cake by Fidy's Bibingka (P30) in Sawang, Maria. I've come back for this and I buy for other people as well as 'pasalubong' - they love this
  3. Siopao - at the Rosita store near Thrifty (P25) in Siquijor Poblacion
  4. Peanut butter - by Rene. Just ask around in Siquijor Poblacion. It's popular
  5. Torta - sweet cakish bread at the Thrifty story in Siquijor Poblacion
Siquijor Island Map
Siquijor - Dumaguete Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Montenegro Lines - at Siquijor Port, P234.00/pax, P169/bicycle, 7:30am/10:00am/2:00pm/4:30pm

  2. Montenegro Lines, Siquijor to Dumaguete

  3. Aleson Shipping - at Siquijor Port, 6 am and 6 pm daily, 1:30 pm M-Sat, Regular P200.00/pax, Aircon P250.00/pax

  4. Aleson Shipping, Dumaguete to Siquijor

  5. Ocean Jet - 40 mins,at Siquijor Port, 0919.066.5964,,, 6:00am/6:00pm, P350/pax (tourist/open air), P580/pax (business class)

    Ocean Jet

Siquijor - Tagbilaran - Cebu City Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)

En route to Cebu City, the ferries usually make a stop-over to Tagbilaran (Bohol) to pick-up more passengers or unload.

  1. Ocean Jet - 8:20 am, at Siquijor Port
    To Tagbilaran: P800/tourist & open air, 2 hours (arrive 10:20 am), P1200/business class
    To Cebu (Pier 1): P1600/tourist & open air, 4 hours (arrive 12:40 am), P2400/business class
  2. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, no Senior Citizen discount for online ticket purchase
    To Tagbilaran: T-Th-Sun, 3 hours, depart 7 pm - arrive 10 pm, P475/standard (Tourist, PHP 750)
    To Cebu: T-Th-Sun, 10 hours, depart 7 pm - arrive 5 am, PHP 605/standard (Senior P484), Tourist, PHP 770
  3. Apekoptravel - at Larena Port to Tagbilaran: 1:00 pm, xxx hours, P750
    Reserve through call or text: Cleare - 0938 283 4760 | Grace - 0936 534 6564 | Jessel - 0961 759 6711, Pay via G-Cash: +63-917-880-1464, Email:, Facebook messenger: Apekoptravel. Enter your birthday and nationality to get discounts: 0 to 3 years old free, 4 to 9 years old will have 20% discount, 10 years old and above full price, Filipino Senior Citizens will also have 20% discount

Siquijor - Plaridel Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, T-Th-Sun, 2:00 am, 5 hours, PHP?

Siquijor - Cebu (Liloan) - Cebu City BUS Trip (as of Jan 2023)

There is only one bus plying this route - Sugbo Urban. Tourist class coach, a/c, comfortable, Sun-Fri (these dates keep changing). P420 for bus, P275 for ferry to Liloan. Larena Port around 5 am, makes a clockwise roundtrip around Siquijor Island - Larena, Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi (stops at Lazi market for breakfast and leaves 6:50 am), San Juan, Siquijor (arrives 8am, P50 from Lazi to Siquijor Poblacion) and catches the 1pm ferry at Larena Port (Sundays at 3 pm) for Liloan, Cebu and resumes its land route. Arrives Cebu City (South Bus Terminal) 10 pm.

Sugbo Urban is the cheapest and most convenient way because it goes around the island (clockwise) along the circumferential road, passing through - Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi, San Juan, Siquijor...and back to Larena where it takes the ferry at 1 pm. This saves you the hassle and high transport cost of a tricycle. Besides, it's a long trip from the other side of the island to be taking by tricycle.

Sugbo Urban

Sugbo Urban

Suggested Destinations After Siquijor Island

These are the nearest popular destinations from Siquijor by boat

  1. Bohol - Bohol is an island northeast Siquijor. Tourist attractions are Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Monkey, Loboc River Cruise, Beaches of Panglao, whale sharks (recent offering), freediving (recent offering)
  2. Cebu - Cebu City is the usual gateway into the Visayas. But in Cebu Island itself, there are many offerings - Whale Sharks of Oslob, sardine run at Moalboal,Thresher Shark of Malapascua
  3. Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.
  4. Dumaguete - Dumaguete is a small charming progressive coastal town in Negros Oriental. Cafe and restaurants line the famous Boulevard Boardwalk. Tourist attractions include Japanese Shrine, Casaroro Falls, snorkeling along the southern coastline (Dauin, Masaplod Norte, etc), Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
  5. Plaridel (Misamis Occidental, Mindanao) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.


Siquijor Blogs
Siquijor Island
  1. Goodbye Siquijor April 18, 2024
  2. January Chronicles: Bandilaan Meditation January 2024
  3. My January Yoga Practice: A Journal January 31, 2024
  4. Jan 2024: Squid, Balangawan, Margarita Pizza January 2024
  5. December Chronicles: Yuletide Season December 30, 2023
  6. December Snapshots: Bolo Bolo Dip, Christmas Lunch, Tuba Denizens, Friends Forever, Men Working, Cow / Crow December 1-30, 2023
  7. Eggplant Bulad Pizza December 20, 2023
  8. Canghaling Cave November 14, 2023
  9. Kings and Queens November 13, 2023
  10. Barangay Vote-Buying October 22, 2023
  11. Real Estate Mapping October 1, 2023
  12. Learning Cebuano: Oct October 1-31, 2023
  13. Oct Food Hack: Pizza, Kinilaw, Coconut Bread, Fish Okuy, Carrot Omelette,Lemon-Grass Tea October 2023
  14. Sep Snapshots: Fisherman, Granny, Pedicure, Big Fish, Garbage September 1-30, 2023
  15. Sep Food Hack: Fish Tinola, Ratatouille, Chayote Omelette, Flat Bread September 2023
  16. Together Forever Sep 11, 2023
  17. The Cigarette Talk Sep 1, 2023
  18. Siquijor Star Meditation Center Aug 31, 2023
  19. The Lost Dogs of Siquijor Aug 27, 2023
  20. Moving to a Bungalow! Aug 22, 2023
  21. Aug Chronicles: CDO produce August 31, 2023
  22. Aug Snapshots: Pan de Sal, Palpitate, Taho, Tuna, Pineapple August 1-31, 2023
  23. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
  24. July Chronicles July 31, 2023
  25. July Snapshots July 1-31, 2023
  26. Learning Cebuano: July July 1-31, 2023
  27. June Chronicles June 31, 2023
  28. June Snapshots June 1-31, 2023
  29. Learning Cebuano: June June 1-31, 2023
  30. May Chronicles May 31, 2023
  31. May Snapshots May 1-31, 2023
  32. Learning Cebuano May 1-31, 2023
  33. In Search of a Cool Climate May 25, 2023
  34. The 64 km Bike Ride May 16, 2023
  35. Lazi Fiesta May 15, 2023
  36. The Boulevard Opening May 5, 2023
  37. April Snapshots April 1-30, 2023
  38. Learning Cebuano...Again! April 1-30, 2023
  39. Kris Visits Siquijor Mar 17 - Apr 15, 2023
  40. Exploring Siquijor with Marky Mar 25 - Apr 11, 2023
  41. Siquijor Healing Festival April 5-8, 2023
  42. The Talk at United Church of Christ April 2, 2023
  43. Mar Snapshots Mar 1-31, 2023
  44. Vigil for the Ghost Ship of Siquijor March 31, 2023
  45. Judging an Essay on Gender Equality Mar 29, 2023
  46. The Thief, the Shaman, the Elves and the Police Mar 20, 2023
  47. Finally Acquiring the Motorbike Mar 18, 2023
  48. Bitcoin Blunder Mar 15, 2023
  49. Maria's Unsung Beaches Mar 11, 2023
  50. Lagaan Falls Mar 9, 2023
  51. Tibhong Spring Water Source Mar 8, 2023
  52. Bolo-Bolo Natural Spring Mar 2, 2023
  53. Reasons to Get a Wife March 1, 2023
  54. Feb Snapshots Feb 28, 2023
  55. Camagung-Ong Natural Spring Feb 28, 2023
  56. Heeeere's Johnnie! Feb 26, 2023
  57. Manifesting a Motorbike from Thin Air? Feb 18, 2023
  58. The 'Bad Guy' of Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
  59. Amazement from Drivers License Renewal in Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
  60. Locong Falls Feb 9, 2023
  61. Inguinal Hernia? Goodbye ABS! Feb 4, 2023
  62. Jan Snapshots January 31, 2023
  63. In Search of Tubod Cold Spring Jan 27, 2023
  64. 1:4:2:3 Nadi Shodana Jan 26, 2023
  65. Lazi's Boulevard Jan 22, 2023
  66. Lazi: A Monthly Stay Jan 21, 2023
  67. 7 Days in Maria, Siquijor Jan 14-21, 2023
  68. Capilay Spring Jan 17, 2023
  69. Siquijor: In Search of Resonance Jan 9-14, 2023
  70. Riding Around Siquijor's 86km Coastal Road Apr 3, 2012
  71. Exploring the Cantabon Cave of Siquijor Feb 23, 2012
  72. Jovee and Missy's Excellent Adventure Nov 6-7, 2010
  73. Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries Apr 23-24, 2010
  74. Island Tour of Siquijor Apr 22, 2010
  75. Kram's Siquijor Wedding Apr 21, 2010

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