Badil (Part 2)
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - May 17, 2019 - 12:00am

The first time I wrote about “badil” was on the Friday before the May 13 midterm elections. I wrote about it as soon as I learned the definition of the word. In Leyte, where I currently am, badil is the money politicians running for election give to voters. I wrote about it thinking it was just another widely-accepted euphemism for vote buying, which happens everywhere.

Apparently, I wrote too soon. I did not realize that badil is something that goes beyond the simple definition of a word. At least, as what I have observed with my own two eyes in my wife's hometown of Carigara, and in the city of Ormoc, badil is a presence that is as palpable as the unbearable summer heat. It has a life of its own. It touches everyone.

In last Monday's election, I can say almost without fear of contradiction that each voter managed to amass a total of at least P4,500 in badil. This can go to as much as P6,000 per voter if one succeeds in getting badil from the other side, which in most cases was what actually happened.

You see, badil is no longer a case of simple vote-buying. In fact it is no longer vote-buying at all. Badil had become money freely given to any voter who accepted it, which essentially was every voter. Badil had become an election expectation and it was given in fulfillment of that expectation. So the money flowed, not along party lines, but on both sides of the political fence.

Right after a person voted, his badil immediately started to flow into the local economy. I would assume there was more money in people's hands after the election than during Christmas. During Christmas, only the employed had any real spending money. But badil gave each voter anywhere between P4.5K to P6K. With 35,000 voters in Carigara, go figure the money.

And so it was like fiesta and Christmas rolled into one many times over. There were traffic jams in the town center. The only department store was crowded for days. The biggest grocery ran out of stocks. Cellphone shops which hardly rang up a single sale in a day were full again. Cement, steel bars, G.I. sheets and plywood for home improvement were selling like hotcakes.

And when people who labor and toil everyday find wads of money in their hands, they suddenly get the urge to knock off for a holiday. So tricycles suddenly became scarce. Half the fish vendors in the market took off. Needing to go to Tacloban, we could not get a ride --not enough buses and vans for all the people going the same way. So to Ormoc instead.

But we had to stand all the way in a bus that carried three times its capacity. Still the wife failed to get a trim. There were no hairstylists. Everybody took the day off. Call it what you will, but badil is not a thick black smoke that brings the plague. It is a blessing and no one wants a passover. Alas, me and the wife are Cebu voters so no badil for us. But we felt it everywhere.

MIDTERM ELECTIONS
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