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How would you describe a 'trapo' in Philippine politics?


Diony Yap, Bacolod City: Trapo is short for traditional politician. Too much politics makes them stink like soiled basahan, thus the label.

Norberto Robles, Taguig: A trapo is a pragmatist who goes along with the ways and realities of Philippine politics.

It connotes filth

L.C. Fiel, Quezon City: It evolved from “traditional politician,” to “tradpol,” then finally to “trapo,” which now connotes filth. Consider all the dirt that sticks to the pamunas or trapo.

William Gonzaga, Marikina City: Trapo is now a dirty connotation of everything undesirable ascribed to a politician. Lying, cheating and stealing are usual tools of politicians to win and stay in power. Thus, we tend to have no choice but to vote the lesser evil as all bets seem to have the same character traits and the same predilection for malfeasance and misgovernance once in power.

Osmundo Lim, Caloocan City: A trapo is one who really accepts invitation to be ninong at wedding and baptismal rites in his locality. He loves to send greeting cards to most government employees. Malilimutan ko na ang birthday ng asawa ko, but she never fails to receive a birthday card from him. When elected, he gets back his investment through overpriced contracts, ghost projects, and other corrupt practices.

Rey Ibalan, Antipolo City: A trapo is simply a politician with insatiable lust for power, fame and money. Decent-looking but actually a scourge to society.

C.B. Fundales, Bulacan: A trapo is a typical representative of Philippine oligarchy. He engages in dirty manipulative politics to advance his selfish interests.

Ruben Viray, Metro Manila: Trapos are marumi, mabaho, sira-sira na, at dapat nang palitan ng bago. Truly, every election we see trapos hoping to land positions in government. Are they worthy? I don’t think so. Very few trapos are. These trapos are ageing and need to be replaced. Let’s see younger people running the government.

Too many adjectives to describe

Ed Gulmatico, Yemen: There are really too many adjectives to describe a trapo, but here are some of the realistic ones: power-hungry and lustful for people’s money; exploiter of poor people’s hardships and miseries; congenitally hypocritical; heartless and conscienceless; predatory; afraid to let go of power and position; and evil. Trapos think that only they and their relatives have the right to govern and lord it over their hapless constituents. They firmly hold on to their political position at all costs not to govern and serve the people, but to be treated eternally like royalty. There are too many of them; the nearest estimate is that 90 per cent of elected public officials are trapos.

Germi Sison, Cabanatuan City: I doubt if all texters and bloggers of Inbox World can mention all the ugly descriptions befitting trapos. I would rather hear descriptions of humble, honest, gentlemanly, honorable, incorruptible, and trustworthy politicians. Slogans and TV ads that we see and hear today best describe trapos. They are too callous to feel that thinking Filipinos feel insulted by their moronic clichés.

Full of empty promises

Cris Rivera, Rizal: A trapo is a bill hitchhiker with a taste for grandstanding and is always looking for points for contention. He is an egoistic politician full of empty promises.

Tino Abella, Masbate: Trapos are masters of false promises, self-centered, grandstanders, and napaka-plastic, mapagsamantala at buwaya. They easily contaminate the youth.

Lydia Reyes, Bataan: Self-centered; refuses to grow; always opposed to reforms, but fights for his pork barrel; one who is always in the ads.

Dave Velasco, Marinduque City: A trapo makes the gullible masa temporarily happy with his or her campaign entertainment and hollow promises.

A trapo espouses no principles

Jim Veneracion, Naga City: A trapo symbolizes all that is decadent in this country. The multi-party system has exacerbated the trapo, making him engage in unprincipled politics.

Rey Onate, Palayan City: A trapo is a politician who is devoid of leadership qualities and principles yet manages to stay in the position of influence through sheer kapal ng mukha and lack of conscience. Egoistic, elitist and poker-faced. He is a popular political creature that possesses bags of dirty tricks. Peste ng lipunan.

Sahlee Almaden Reyes, Las Piñas City: A trapo can be of any age. It may apply to a run-of-the-mill candidate who gains a seat in government through the support of influential connections or maybe familial ties, but not on his own merit. A trapo is one who espouses no principles or is stricken with severe amnesia and forgets his touted promises when elected to office. He is adept in the tricks of the trade in politics, proficient in the art of averting issues on maleficent practices in government. He constantly changes loyalty to any political party which suits his fancy or vested interest. Trapos are braggadocios; they love to walk around with a battalion of armed bodyguards in tow and travel around in cars complete with noisy police sirens. Trapos cheat their constituents using taxpayers’ money and are involved in syndicated corruption. They play ball with the corrupt system and its foreign and local sponsors. Lastly, a trapo is a long-winded talker before the TV cameras. Unfortunately, there is no substance in his talk. Puro porma.

Pat Quilan, Benguet: We equate trapo with an unprincipled politician. He dominates the political scene.

Rex Earlou Calmerin, Iligan City: A politician becomes a trapo if he or she is always corrupt, making senseless promises, and mostly running over and over again for higher positions. So much for true heroes like Dr. Rizal.

Rodolfo Talledo, Angeles City: One who usually resorts to transactional politics to the extent of compromising integrity, good taste, and fair play to suit himself.

Vic Nario, Dagupan City: A trapo is a politician without a conscience.

Rey Joaquin, Las Piñas City: Trapos are traditional politicians who run for office with the ultimate hidden agenda of ransacking the coffers of the government under the camouflage of universal promises to their constituents. This is the very reason why they invest in their campaigns and, if necessary, slay people who are a threat to them.

Leonard Villa, Batac City: One who consistently uses the 3Gs and patronage politics and who serves himself first and foremost. The virtue of delicadeza is alien to him.

Adept at politics

Dennis Montealto, Mandaluyong City: For me, a traditional politician uses utang na loob, the padrino system, the pakikisama system as means of extracting loyalty or, better yet, subservience from his constituents in order to continue being beholden to him, thereby perpetually electing him and his family members to public office. He knows how to ride the tide of Philippine politics. This keeps him afloat.

Ishmael Q. Calata, Parañaque City: My understanding is that in the Philippine political setting, a trapo is a battle-scarred politician. He is wily enough to duck accusations, or knows by way of vicarious experience how to do what the old politicians are doing, from dirty campaigns during election time to dealing with constituents with glib, to making believable promises to voters, to using available project funds.

Nony de Leon, Bulacan: A trapo is one who has learned how to adapt, survive and succeed in our political system. Those who cannot adapt will simply resign if the post is appointive. If the post is elective, he will find it hard to be re-elected. The rules of the game determine how it is played.

Romeo Caubat, Masbate: A trapo is a product of the old school and has perfected the art of patronage politics. He has no tangible accomplishments whatsoever, but is experienced in politics.

Ric Vergara, Calamba: A leader afflicted with the other “Big C”. Ang dami nyan dito, mula pangulo hanggang punong barangay.

Trapos are not necessarily bad

Juan Deveraturda, Subic, Zambales: A traditional politician is someone who engages in patronage politics to win the elections. But if the so-called trapo performs well in governance and makes his constituency a peaceful and progressive community, then the public should support and vote for him.

Johann Lucas, Quezon City: Trapos have been around since time immemorial. But if a trapo performs well, I don’t see anything wrong if the people still support them.

Josh Pacatang, Dipolog City: I don’t attach any negative meaning or connotation to the words “trapo” or “tradpol,” which were concocted by the mosquito press after the Aquino murder in 1983. House Speaker de Venecia was described as a trapo of the highest order. Now that he is outside the fence, he is a trapo no more, although his wife Gina will take his place in the family’s district. A trapo is neither here nor there. He is everywhere.

They take the masa for suckers

Lolong Rejano, Marinduque: Trapos have excellent visions for services, yet people only get lessons from promises. Kapag sa kampanya pulitiko’y sumasaludo pa; kapag nakaupo na’y hahawiin ka na. Akala sa kanya na kahabaan ng kalsada. Kawawang mamayan pinagmukhang tanga.

Joe Nacilla, Las Piñas City: Trapos are wolves in human form. They desperately merge political forces to protect their monopoly of basic necessities, victimizing not only the impoverished masses but mercilessly strangulating them as well through unscrupulous moguls who capriciously hike prices of those basic necessities.

Ruel Bautista, Laguna: Trapos in Philippine politics are like parasites that stick to their host, suck its blood dry, and then look for a new healthy one.

What a trapo wants, he gets

Dennis Acop, Baguio City: A trapo, like the dust rag, is mainly characterized by the opportunist politician who stops at nothing to get what he wants. He is part of a political system that does not play by straight party platforms but goes more by the strength of personalities; allows personalities to float from one political party to another; and is prone to unethical behavior. A trapo is part of the reason why Philippine politics remains immature. Of course, a trapo cannot thrive if the majority of the people themselves are mature. Unfortunately, such is not the case yet in the Philippines. Due to their poverty and lack of education, many are prone to manipulation by self-serving politicians. If it is possible to just have two main political parties just like the Nacionalista and Liberal parties of old, so much the better in order to avoid the confusion associated with our multi-party system. So far, trapos comprise 99 per cent of the political landscape, so how do we deal with this problem?

They do not walk their talk

Alexander Raquepo, Ilocos Sur: Trapos are politicians that we don’t need but are always there because they literally paid their way through. They love to talk, but they don’t walk their talk. They always love to be in the limelight for every small project they undertake. They enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers and act as if they own the streets when they pass with all the bodyguards and escorts.

Artemio Masbate III, Cebu City: They are hypocrites. These are people who are puro salita, kulang sa gawa!

Edwin Castillo, Tanauan City: Puro dakdak, wala naman nagawa, as in NATO: No Action,Talk Only. His priority is self-interest before serving the nation.

A trapo switches loyalties

Rico Fabello Parañaque City: A trapo for me is a member of the opposition now, a member of the administration tomorrow, and some other time finds himself a member of the opposition again.

Erwin Espinosa, Pangasinan: A Pinoy trapo uses the 3 Gs to win elections. He flies like a butterfly from one political party to another before and after every election.

Ricardo Tolentino, Laoag City: Trapos are like hermit crabs that have no permanent homes. They are willing to enter any opening that fits them.

Rag-head hypocrites

Elpidio Que, Vigan: Trapos in Philippine politics are rag-head hypocrites who profess service above self, though they are the entire opposite. They are wolves that come to the naïve as shepherds or sheep and devour us bit by bit. Their public offices are lucrative businesses.

Julius Jaylo, Metro Manila: They patronize themselves, but hate their kind.

Jose Parco, Aklan: Over the years in politics, they have evolved into shameless primates. Their coat of arms includes a picture of the family Crocodilidae. They are the real survivors, and no matter who’s in control of the government, they are right there in the middle of it all. They consider everybody kamag-anak during election time and ignore them after.

Trapos are cheaters

Chen Meihua, Metro Manila: I think trapos are perfectly described in the song “Trapo” by Yano. It says, “Di na binoboto pero nananalo.” We keep fighting those bad politicians but they keep deceiving us. We are very unfortunate to have all types of trapos in our midst.

Benjamin Nillo, Las Piñas City: A trapo is a politician who chooses the bad side of politics, making him prone to committing political irregularities.

Medel Verzosa, Ilocos Sur: A trapo is a philandering politician who enriches himself while pretending to be a God-fearing and service-oriented person.

Pedro Alagano Sr., Vigan City: A trapo will enrich himself while in office and make politics his cottage industry. Eliminating an opponent will be an option to ensure victory.

Luisito Vallo, Pangasinan: A horde of bodyguards, two or more relatives holding elective or appointive posts, rest houses here and there, a fleet of luxury SUVs and several business interests, and a kept woman, too.


Lorenzo Fernandez Jr., Cabanatuan City: This stereotyped statement can easily reveal a trapo: “My heart belongs to the poor because I came from a poor family. I was once a janitor, kargador, magbobote, magsasakang nakasakay sa kalabaw, blah, blah, blah, so I know the hardships of being poor. Vote for me and I assure you of economic hardship for the rest of your lives.” But the last sentence is muted and kept only to himself.

They will do everything to stay in power

Lucas Banzon Madamba II, Laguna: A trapo is a traditional politician who will do everything to stay in power.

J-Dub Wenceslao, Imus, Cavite: Trapos are politicians that are power-hungry; they will do everything just to stay in power, including letting spouse, children, and relatives run if their terms are up, continuously appearing as though helping the needy, when in fact they’re doing it for media exposure. To tell you bluntly, it is everywhere in our political arena.

Renato Taylan, Ilocos Norte: A trapo is like a leech that sticks to his elective post ‘till kingdom come. He bleeds the public coffers dry to fill his greedy pockets.

Rudy Tagimacruz, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon: A trapo in Philippine politics is one who is influential, dishonest, and so morally calloused that no amount of calls to step down will ever prosper.

Dino Monzon, Caloocan City: They are politicians in love with power and government positions to the point that they’d sell their souls to the devil and want their families to also do so ad infinitum.

Louella Brown, Baguio City: A trapo in Philippine politics is one who would like to hold on to his elective position for as long as he can.

Col. Ben Paguirigan Jr., Ret., Zamboanga City: A trapo in Philippine politics is one who refuses to yield power and passes the reign to the spouse, children, in-laws, etc. just to show how powerful they are.

Trapos thrive in our present system

Jose Fabello Jr., Cagayan de Oro City: An old face in Philippine politics is 100-per cent trapo. The relatively young ones you see are slowly turning into trapos, too. Wherever you look, chances are, you are looking at one.

Trapos are here to stay

Ryan Pahimulin, Rizal: Trapos will remain with us unless the present system is changed. Let’s shift to the parliamentary system before it’s too late.

Views expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The STAR. The STAR does not knowingly publish false information and may not be held liable for the views of readers exercising their right to free expression. The publication also reserves the right to edit contributions to this section as it sees fit.

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