Vice President Leni Robredo hugged a young boy in her new campaign video, telling voters why they should go pink in the May 9 elections -- an honest government that will uplift them from the pandemic.
With “Gobyernong Tapat, Angat Buhay Lahat”, Robredo's slogan takes on arch-rival Bongbong Marcos “Sasama Tayong BaBangon Muli” -- both promising a rebirth from COVID, but with different strategies. The vice president is pitching upright governance while the only son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is calling for unity.
Slogans and taglines, catchy and memorable as they are, help candidates in their political campaigns by making them appealable to voters, especially to the masses, University of Santo Tomas political science professor Ronald Castillo said.
“Slogans are catchy. Kinakailangan silang makakuha ng pansin doon sa mga boboto. Tapos uma-appeal sila doon sa demographic,” he told reportr.
“Aside from catchy, maikli, madaling matandaan, it also appeals to what the masses want. It makes people think na ito ang gusto ko,” he added.
Another presidential candidate, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has “Pilipinas, Bilis Kilos”, promising swift pandemic recovery and efficient public service. For Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, it’s “Katapangan, Kakayahan at Katapatan” and “MAN of DestiNY”, which describe their attributes as potential leaders of the country.
In the 1950s, former President Ramon Magsaysay won the heart of the masses with his “Magsaysay is My Guy” slogan. More than 40 years later, another populist leader, former President Joseph Estrada, rode on his slogan “Erap Para Sa Mahirap” to appeal to the common folk.
Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte won by a landslide with "Change is Coming", punctuated with a clenched fist.
What makes a good campaign slogan?
Slogans that are short and easy to understand resonate the most with voters, Castillo said.
“Ang slogan, pang-anyaya siya. Parang appetizer siya. Para rin siyang war-cry sa mga laban, hindi siya dapat masyadong technical,” he said.
“It doesn't require any other explanation. Simple lang siya kapag narinig mo gets mo agad,” he said.
Sometimes, slogans also incorporate the name of the candidate to make it part of the campaign branding. This way, voters would easily recall them enough to shade their names on the ballot, Castillo said.
Think of Marcos’ “Sama-sama Tayong BaBangon Muli,” which highlights his initials BBM and Pacquiao’s “MAN of DestiNY,” incorporating five letters of his first name. In 1998, Estrada included his nickname “Erap” in his slogan, which coincidentally rhymed with the word “mahirap.”
In many cases, effective slogans are also populist in character, which means it should appeal to the masses, Castillo said.
Take again for example “Erap Para Sa Mahirap”, which resonated so well with the Filipino masses in the 1998 elections that it helped Estrada win the presidential race. It also worked well with Estrada’s image as the fighter for the poor in the action movies he starred in the 1950s.
Are slogans reflective of the true character of a candidate? Not necessarily, according to Castillo. “If the slogan reflects the realness of the candidate, then it's not a political campaign anymore,” he said.
For instance, in the context of the U.S. elections, a candidate who hates Jewish people would not put anti-Semitic references in his campaign slogan. Instead, he would focus on his other attributes that would make him more popular and appealing to the voters.
“When we put that in the Filipino context, populism means that it's appealing to the masses by trying to create a fiction na gugustuhin ng mga tao,” Castillo said.
“The slogan resonates a promise to the people. It's not a resonation of the character of the candidate itself,” he added.
Should you base your vote on slogans?
As catchy and appealing as they are, slogans should not be the basis of the voters’ decision, according to Castillo.
“The slogan is the cover of the book, and of course we cannot and we should never judge the book by its cover,” he said.
For one, voters should examine the background and accomplishments of the candidate, which would show his or her leadership capabilities, the political analyst said.
“Kung datihang pulitiko na yan, anong ginawa niya last time na nakaupo siya? May ginawa ba siya? May ginagawa ba siya na alam nating ipagpapatuloy niya yung ginagawa niya? Or wala naman siyang nagawa other than gusto niya sa pwesto?” he said.
“Kung hindi man siya nakaupo sa pwesto, pwedeng baguhan yan, anong mga credentials niya? Ano yung background niya, bakit siya kumakandidato?” he added.
Consider also the platforms of the candidate, Castillo said. In many cases, platforms also act like campaign slogans, except that they are more comprehensive and they lay out the candidates' programs and projects.
“Dapat tignan natin yung plataporma ng tao, may posibilidad bang magawa,” he said.
In the end, no matter how catchy, remarkable or even memorable a campaign slogan is, candidates should be judged based on what they can offer to the people and how they intend to carry Filipinos out of the pandemic.
“Kaya dapat matututo tayong kumilatis ng kandidato, hindi lang sa slogan,” Castillo said.
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