Credit-grabber, attention-hungry, or simply “EPAL”, majority of the politicians are unfortunately associated with this description, frankly because of how annoying and disturbing their well-emphasized family names with awkward grins printed on tarpaulins, calendars, mugs, wall clocks, and so on as if they are peddling merchandise items.
Politics has now become a popularity contest. Some politicians are just too desperate to be acknowledged, to this extent they promote themselves in whatever means possible. For instance, posting their names and faces in public places or government properties and services, claiming government projects as if it were outcomes of their personal efforts, or unhesitatingly make a scene just to grab attention for the sake of name recall.
For the past year, there was a great deal of attention-grabbing paraphernalia of a certain politician displayed around Gingoog City. People tend to ignore their frustrations regarding this nuisance because despite the existence of a Comelec provision and a pending “Anti-Epal” Bill, this form of epalism is still widely practiced around the country.
But as the election is coming to haunt again, just recently the quantity and the proportion of this politician’s self-promoting ads expanded incredibly. Perhaps family names printed on it can be considered, but an image of a face occupying almost half of a poster’s space was just too much to handle and to look at. From a simple activity to the most celebrated event of the City, a common photo was consistently laid out.
In fact, out-of-towners who happened to visit Gingoog City spotted a great bulk of tarpaulins dangling around, thus the phrase “City of Tarpaulins” started then became an unintentional household joke. But where on earth is Gingoog City? It is customarily described as the City in between Cagayan de Oro and Butuan. It is seldom acknowledged as just Gingoog and majority cannot even correctly pronounce it. Nevertheless, this city is definitely not just a pit stop but a destination.
Here is the controversial photo of Mayor Stella Marie Guingona that allegedly people are raving negatively about because of its overwhelming unnecessary irrelevant inclusion in every single tarpaulin and giveaway produced by the city. Moreover, the “TATAK GUINGONA“ catchphrase seen on nearly all of the city’s posters, materials, and equipments raised eyebrows among locals. By constantly publicizing that line, more people are getting the impression that she is stigmatizing the city as her dominion and possession.
A GLIMPSE OF HOW VAST THIS “EPALISM” IS:
CAPTION GONE WRONG. Gingoognons had no idea if this was intentional or a technical error and an overlook from her team. Most people thought it was undeniably hilarious but as a devoted catholic it was spiritually offensive. I wonder how religious groups react to this. Also, notice that there was another tarpaulin hanging a block away.
BEFORE AND AFTER. Top photo was the original layout provided by the DOH National Office for the nationwide campaign of free immunization against Tigdas. Notice the bottom photo how the template was altered and the official logo set up was replaced with her signature photo. Observe how dismayingly bigger her image than the photos of children being immunized.
TARPAULIN PARTY. These photos cannot give justice and a full illustration of how every barangay visit was like a tarpaulin party. As reported, the tarpaulins displayed were mostly her trademark posters with her photo and taglines, which were unnecessary and irrelevant.
EYESORE. Few of the many tarpaulins displayed along the Main National Highway Road and footbridges. Changed almost every month depending on upcoming events or just random concepts.
PROJECT-CLAIMING. Allegedly, some of these government projects are believed to be either started and proposed by the previous administrations or funded by the National Office, and not solely by her. Notice how her image is the same proportion as the project’s photo collage.
RANDOM PLACES. Few of the multiple tarpaulins with her signature photo displayed at random places around the city. From wharf to waiting sheds to public markets, her team never misses a spot.
EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES. Mayor Guingona’s official photo was consistently included, displayed and posted on almost all backdrop/background of government activities, meetings, and programs either thru tarpaulins or LCD projector screens.
GOVERNMENT VEHICLES. This is a public knowledge. Months after the election, Mayor Guingona gave multicabs to those Barangays who had a 12-0 election result in favor of her political party line-up. Also, CDRRMC Rescue Service Vehicle is labeled with Mayor’s trademark line “TATAK GUINGONA” and their office signage has a picture of the Mayor.
YELLOW & BLUE TENTS. Almost all city government tents labeled with the tagline, “TATAK GUINGONA”. Most of the tents are yellow and blue, these colors are identified as her political affiliation motif.
MAYPAC FIGHT. Bottom photo was during the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight free live telecast at the city gym. While watching the fight, Mayor Guingona’s official photo was flashed on the projector screens at both sides of the stage. Also, the gym was surrounded by her various tarpaulins.
DISASTER UNITS. Mayor Guingona is the current chairman of the Philippine Red Cross Gingoog Chapter so it is somehow reasonable that she is on the poster, but it is discouraging to see that her photo is larger than the organization’s official logo and important details. We know for a fact that this organization tries to avoid any association to a political individual as much as possible. While in the case of the CDRRMC, Mayor Guingona’s trademark tarpauline “TATAK GUINGONA” is distinctly larger than the poster of the said activity, which also has her official photo.
“MARIE” DANCERS. Most of the time they wear their “MARIE” shirts that come in multiple colors and dance along Mayor Guingona’s trademark jingle entitled “Marie, Marie”.
GRADUATION SEASON. Last March 2015, her tarpaulins were all over the City wishing graduates congratulations. But most of the installed areas had no nearby schools to somehow justify the purpose of the signage.
To sum up, most people think that this is just a waste of money and too expensive for an eyesore. It is also an unsightly self-serving move of a public servant. Serving the people is the main part of the job so it is unnecessary to persistently point out and brag every single effort done. Therefore, a piece of advice for the public, not just for Gingoog but for the entire voting population, let us not be deceived by inappropriate tactics. Choose a worthy leader that transcends his/her dedication and passion for the people rather than electing a TOTAL STRANGER that only aims for power and wealth. God bless this city.
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