Sautee the onions before the garlic and don't rush into getting a "jowa" for the sake of having one, Vice President Leni Robredo told Gen Z influencer Mimiyuuuh over lugaw, as she introduced her campaign to the youth and answered an earlier vlog by her chief rival.
A month before, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos sat down with vlogger Toni Gonzaga, also his wedding godchild, and discussed why his father's three-decade-long rule was the Philippines' golden age instead of the darkest days according to victims of human rights abuse.
As the 2022 elections draw closer, expect candidates to be more visible on every medium possible. And with campaigns shifting online, vlogs offer candidates a new way to connect with voters, campaign strategist and De La Salle University political science professor Gerardo Eusebio told reportr.
“Since elections are all about numbers, it is just but natural for candidates to gravitate to anybody that can endorse them... With the great amount of following that vloggers in social media can offer, it is now very obvious that candidates are going to them,” he said.
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Why candidates do vlogs
Candidates have long teamed up with celebrities to help boost their chances of winning. From Coco Martin, Robin Padilla, to Sarah Geronimo and Kathryn Bernardo, showbiz personalities have consistently appeared in political ads to tell people why they should vote for a particular candidate.
But as celebrities moved to social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok and grew their own online following through vlogs, candidates would naturally follow them to harness their popularity, Eusebio said.
“These social media personalities identify with people, and people identity with them a lot. So they would just be a natural magnet for candidates to go to because the candidate with the highest number of votes wins,” he added.
Vlogs make potent campaign tools because these allow voters to know candidates better. They provide politicians a platform to show that they, too, are normal people that ordinary Filipinos can relate to, Eusebio said.
“It's actually now relational. What makes you relate to this? They have perhaps a similar wavelength with the masses,” he said.
Vlogs also allow candidates to discuss light topics and tell stories about their personal lives which people find entertaining. This way, candidates become more appealable to the voters, Eusebio said.
“We don't really go for programs or platforms of government. We're more interested with what food you like, who is your favorite actor, things like that. Personal things because we are very personalistic,” he added.
In Mimiyuuuh’s vlog, Robredo shared tips on how to control credit card use and even gave love advice for young people. She also admitted that her ultimate showbiz crush was Piolo Pascual.
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How to campaign successfully through vlogs
Any good campaign begins with knowing the target audience, Eusebio said. In the case of the elections, candidates must focus on the sector which could deliver a huge number of votes for them --- the masses.
Which is why Eusebio found it interesting that Robredo cooked lugaw in Mimiyuuuh’s vlog. While “Leni lugaw” has been used by critics as a pejorative against her, Robredo could actually benefit from associating herself with it as lugaw is a dish that everyone loves, he added.
“People will surely have a direct connection or identification with VP Leni. Second, it will only affirm their impression that VP Leni is a simple person, and it will strengthen that simplicity image of VP Leni,” Eusebio said.
“And to have her be associated with lugaw is the best thing that can happen to her. Wala pa akong nakakausap na tao that puts down lugaw,” he added.
Asking the right questions is a key to improve a candidate’s appeal to the public which, for Eusebio, Gonzaga may have failed to do in her interview with Marcos.
Netizens were dismayed that in her 28-minute interview, Gonzaga never asked any hard questions about the Marcos’ dictatorship. This led some people to accuse her of being an “enabler” of the Marcoses, while others defended her and argued that she was not a journalist to ask such questions.
“Hindi ginawa ni Toni yung assignment niya kung gusto niyang manalo si BBM,” Eusebio said.
“Probably she just wants to be truthful and then she chose those kinds of questions. Probably hindi sila nakapag-usap masyado ni BBM [beforehand]. Probably it escaped the mind of Toni or she just made a political miscalculation,” he added.
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In the end, no matter how the vlog is conducted, candidates must remember that their ultimate goal is for people to know them on a deeper, more personal level, enough to trust and vote for them come election day, Eusebio said.
“As a candidate, your primary task is to introduce yourself to the people as if you are a guest in their house, ganun ka-intimate. As Filipinos, we want intimacy, we want to know the person in person,” he added.