A fellow ‘Batman’ fan
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2016 - 10:00am

The third and final debate held last Sunday revealed more of the personalities of the five presidential candidates. But since the presidential debate took place two weeks before election day, the candidates obviously played it safe and cautiously avoided being too confrontational with each other.

The projected fireworks fizzled out. It was punctuated though by the snipes between United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay and Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer, former interior secretary Mar Roxas II.

Political commentators were seemingly in agreement with the common observation that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte emerged unscathed at the end of this debate. It was expected that his rivals will gang up on Duterte on the heels of his most recent controversial remarks on the rape and murder of an Australian woman lay minister in the 1989 hostage-taking incident at the Davao Penal Colony.

Except for the oblique reference to it by Sen. Grace Poe in taking up women’s cause, the Davao City mayor got away with nary a dent on his lead over his rivals in pre-polls surveys. Proof of which were the latest survey results of both the Social Weather Station (SWS) and the Pulse Asia. Conducted from April 16 to 20, or the period after the infamous rape incident rhetoric. Duterte’s rating even inched higher and pulled away.

But what caught the attention of many was the less combative style of Roxas. During the first two presidential debates, Roxas came out swinging and attacked his rivals at every opportunity. The negative take of Roxas against his rivals have apparently weighed him down in the pre-polls surveys.

The shift of tact by Roxas was palpable, especially in his closing remarks when each of the candidates was given five minutes to make their final appeal to the voters. Bereft of nasty digs at his rivals, his message was clear and appealing to the emotions of voters. Naturally, TV cameras panned at the direction of Roxas’ family led by his wife, ABS-CBN news anchor-on-leave Korina Sanchez and 23-year-old son Paolo among those in the audience.

The last time I saw Roxas turn emotional publicly was during his proclamation as the “anointed” candidate of President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III, with Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo as his vice presidential runningmate. In his acceptance speech at the LP’s “gathering of friends” at Club Filipino in San Juan City in July last year, Roxas’ voice cracked while shedding tears as emotions overwhelmed him.

I don’t know if my eyesight was failing me while watching the televised debate held at the Phinma University in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. But it looked like the eyes of Roxas’ son were welling in tears when the camera caught him in obvious admiration of his father’s emotional appeal at the end of debate. As a mother myself, it tugged my heart. Roxas should thank the ABS-CBN director and cameramen for a nice touch of humanizing him.

The next day, Roxas re-posted in his Twitter account his son’s campaign spiel for him on YouTube asking Filipino voters to support a “decent” presidential candidate like his “Dad.”

Despite having the edge of being the “anointed” candidate of the administration, Roxas has been clawing his way up in pre-polls surveys. Even before the official campaign started, it has been an uphill battle for Roxas to gain the lead in pre-polls surveys.

At one point of the debate, Duterte – who has grabbed the lead from Poe in both SWS and Pulse Asia – poked fun at Roxas for being the cellar dweller in surveys.

Another revelation from the just concluded presidential debate was that Roxas shares another common thing with P-Noy.

Both of them apparently are fans of “Batman.”

Roxas quoted a popular line of Batman played by actor Christian Bale in the 2005 Hollywood movie “Batman Begins.” In reply to a question from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who asked Roxas: “In all these years, you have been shaped by the elitist background from which you come and in which you operate, do you not think that the path has been too narrow to be able to become the president of the Philippines?”

With his usual spontaneity, Roxas replied: “As Batman said, ‘It is not important how you came into this world. What is important is what you did with your life.’ And my life, over the past 20 years, has been a public record.”

Batman is one of DC Comic’s super hero characters called the “caped crusader” because of his costume, which resembles a black bat with a horned mask. Batman is actually billionaire Bruce Wayne who does his anti-criminal vigilante deeds with technological gadgets for weapons.

Batman’s actual line was: “It’s not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me.”

Inspired by the Batman quote, Roxas went on to explain to Santiago: “You have been a witness to the many elements of my life as we worked together in the Senate, fighting for cheaper medicines, fighting the banks and the insurance companies, fighting for economic opportunity through economic treaties, fighting for what is good and what is right. My record stands for itself. It is not a question of how I came into this world, it is what I did with my life and how I dedicated my life to help my country.”

Like Roxas, President Aquino’s favorite expression “Bahala na si Batman” invokes the name of the popular comic character.

In a campaign rally of LP, President Aquino even adverted to “Batman” when he sniped at Duterte’s vow to eradicate illegal drugs and criminality within three to six months: “You are the leader, you have a promise, and if you fail to fulfill it, you will pass on the job to the vice president and say…‘Bahala na si Batman!’”

Ironically, President Aquino  twitted Duterte’s projecting the “Bahala na si Batman” attitude if ever the latter wins the presidential race.

Does it make Duterte the “Joker,” who is one of Batman’s  arch nemesis?


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