FYI, the country's official election campaign period started this Tuesday. I'm pointing it out in case you missed the significance of cars driving up and down your streets blasting cretinous jingles and slogans through huge loudspeakers. You might have HEARD them but you might not have SEEN them, because your view was obstructed by all the posters, banners and tarps of candidates that have been attached to your barangay's walls, posts, gates, sidewalks, pushcarts, tricycles, ambulant vendors, pet dogs, etc, since December.
Phenomena like this make us think of fundamental questions about democracy. Questions such as: which candidate should I vote? Is it legal to deface or set fire to posters? Preferably both? What's the best way to wreck a sound truck without being caught?
But of course the really interesting question, I'm sure you'll all agree, is: what if the Papal Conclave were run like a Philippine election?
By now, everybody knows the current Pope, apparently worn out by the full-time 24/7 effort of keeping the Church intolerant, is stepping down at the end of February. His position is up for grabs and the College of Cardinals will hold a Conclave on March to choose the next Bishop of Rome, aka Pope.
Traditionally, cardinals aren't supposed to openly campaign for the position. Boring. Imagine the news vignettes you could get if the Papal election were patterned after ours?
Wire story: Two papabili yesterday unveiled campaign themes that they said summarized their qualifications and capacities for the post. One cardinal said he was running under the slogan "No More Palpatine - A New Pope." A second candidate described his party, namely himself, as representing "The Audacity of Pope."
Item on the unofficial Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano: "Two cardinals collapsed yesterday when they attempted to woo a crowd at the Vatican garden with their unique dance-off rendition of a campaign jingle based on Gangnam Style."
Meanwhile, in a political rally in an undisclosed Vatican venue...
Cardinal (speaking in Latin): Anyone can talk about the straight and narrow path, but we know what we really want is someone who is bent with old age. You don't want a young and impetuous shepherd, you want a desiccated fossil. Ergo, I humbly submit that I (falls asleep, drooling)
Anonymous story spreading in the Curia: "Is it true that a certain cardinal was spotted one night in the Vatican garage, standing up in the Pope Mobile, practicing holding his arms out to an imaginary crowd?"
Blind item: Candidates who declined to be named expressed their misgivings about the new voting machine to be used in the Conclave. "We have it on good faith that when the machine is supposed to emit white smoke, it will actually emit black. And when it's supposed to emit black smoke, it will actually play, what you call it, Gangnam style music." The candidates demanded a review of the machine contract.
Item on L'Osservatore Romano: A cardinal candidate called a press conference yesterday to angrily deny insinuations his party is behind the pasting of his picture on certain paintings in the Vatican museum. "These are unChristian accusations, they should repent, " he said. He added, "while we're at it, check out who are posting their pictures on the Vatican museum's soda machines."
TV report: A Cardinal who declined to be identified yesterday questioned the dedication and zeal of his fellow papabili, He said, "they all proclaim they're ready and committed to bring the Church back to the past, but has anybody actually asked, which century? Some are probably just thinking of the 17th century, but is that good enough? Shouldn't we be aiming for the 15th instead?"
Meanwhile in the same undisclosed venue earlier
Cardinal (speaking in Latin):...furthermore you want someone so old his internal organs are practically falling out, someone who will stand for (falls asleep, drooling)