Monday, June 7, 2010

PERCEPTION VS. REALITY: The Numbers Tell the Story

In Politics, perception is reality. Politics is a numbers game. Politics is about obtaining governmental power. The perception, the numbers, and the attainment of power in a democracy like the Philippines are all based on facts and figures.

I learned in Philosophy years ago that "Argumentum contra factum non valet illatio” Arguing against facts is an invalid inference.

In Philippine politics, what are the facts relating to the Presidential Campaigns in the United States?


According to the US State Department, there are now about 4 million Filipinos in the United States. Of the 4 million, it is estimated that there are about 3.2 million or 80% who are American citizens. Perceptively, we are talking here of a substantial number of potential dual citizens and future registered voters to draw from when you want to be competitive in a Philippine Presidential or any National campaign.

With that perception, the Filipinos in the United States became a target market for votes in order to have a winnable chance of obtaining a substantial number of votes and correspondingly gaining the desired governmental power.

It is also reported that in 2009, the amount of $17.348 billion was sent to the Philippines by Overseas Filipinos. Of this amount, at least $10.5 billion or more than 60% actually came from the United States. Furthermore, based on a 2004 data, Filipinos had a Median Household Income of $65,700 compared to the US Population whose average was $44,684.

US Pinoys value and give importance to education. Statistics in 2004 cited that the High School Graduation rate was 90.8 % while the College Graduation rate was 47.9%. The US Population rate was lower with 83.9 % and 27% respectively. In fact, the number of professionals especially Nurses, Doctors, Dentists, Physical Therapists, CPAs and even Teachers are quite impressive.

So, perceptively, the potential amount of financial contributions coming from an already top remitting population would make Presidential hopefuls target the United States for sourcing their campaign funding. Even under-funded but smart, “galing at talino” candidates could hope and expect greater support from a more educated, enlightened and discerning group of voters and campaigners.

Politics also being a numbers game, with figures supporting the perception as analyzed above, it is indeed not surprising that the United States became the breeding ground for campaign operators and perceived leaders commissioned to convert perception into reality, or changing the potential to the actual.



Let us look at the resulting facts and the unfortunate and sad reality. Out of 3.2 million potential dual citizens in addition to other Filipinos remaining as such as target markets for the registration of voters, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reported that the total number of registered voters for the 2010 Presidential elections in the United States was about 12000. That’s pathetic and unbelievably low. My small hometown of Rosales, Pangasinan with about 32000 registered voters had almost 3 times more. What is even worse is that in 2007 the registered voters numbered about 14000. Despite the involvement of several self-proclaimed Filipino leaders using national organizations and networks in the United States as a base, the number even decreased rather than dramatically increased as predicted.

In California, the home of at least one million Filipinos and the residence of many of the active leaders of the Noy-Mar and Villar-Legarda Campaigns, you would expect a high number of registered voters, right? WRONG. They only had 4630 registered voters statewide, compared to 5507 in 2007.

In Hawaii where there are more Filipinos than Hawaiians and where they compose about 23% of the Hawaii state population, the number of registered voters is only 130. It even decreased from 158 in 2007.

One of the nation’s largest settlements of Filipino Americans in the Northeast is in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and other states served by the New York Consulate. There are about 200,000 Filipinos in the area. This is also home to several Filipino national leaders running some perceived national organizations. The number of registered voters here is 1580, also down from 1914 in 2007.


As officially reported in the canvassing, the total number of votes canvassed coming from the United States is 11825. Of these votes, Noynoy Aquino obtained over 6000 while Mar Roxas got a little less. Noynoy and Mar obtained more votes in one small town in Guimaras, Philippines than the entire United States.


Remember, the expectation is to draw financial contributions from about 3 million people, quite educated, with an average household income of about $66000 annually, totally remitting over $10 billion yearly.

According to my contacts in the campaigns in Manila, the total amount of financial contributions generated from the groups in the United States is insignificant. A figure was mentioned but not for public consumption unless the contributors themselves would want to reveal them. To be fair, some contributions could have been given directly to the candidates themselves. But admittedly, the US Pinoys’ contributions although helpful were a very small part of the multi-billion peso Presidential campaign funding.

Politics is also an expectations game. On the registration of voters, on the numbers who actually voted and on the financial contributions, the numbers tell the story. The perception has been negated by reality and the facts and figures now support the stunning reality that US Filipino leaders failed to live up to expectations.

When I received an invitation to attend the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino and other festivities which included a dinner in Malacanang, I asked my friend who decided to go, if we could also invite our local friends and relatives to attend. My rationale was that it was our friends and relatives in the Philippines who actually delivered the votes. My friend said that it was exclusively for US Pinoys .Who is paying for the dinner in Malacanang? Is the people’s money going to be used to host US Pinoys exclusively?

The only perception that is closer to reality and that could be supported by facts is, US Pinoys influenced their friends and relatives in the Philippines to vote for their choices and that they complied and delivered. This convergence of perception and reality could have been or could still be reinforced if the US Pinoys and their friends and relatives would celebrate the victory together with President Noynoy Aquino either in Malacanang or some other inexpensive place. Dinner does not have to be served!

The US Pinoys who campaigned hard for the Noynoy Aquino-Mar Roxas ticket are entitled to celebrate at least Noynoy’s victory. Being a supporter, I did celebrate and continue to do so with great hopes for our country. The email I received from Marge Juico attaching the Thank You Letter from Noynoy more than compensate for all our time and efforts. Just remaining true to the hopes and aspirations of the Filipino people as envisioned by his parents, is all we ask from Noynoy. Providing honesty, hope, honor and humility in governance would be sufficient to merit our continued support of his Presidency.

As I told my friend who is joining the celebration in the Philippines, we elected a humble President born to a humble mother and Revolutionary President. We US Pinoys, while entitled to claim some credit for his victory, should also be humble enough to admit our failure to deliver what was expected of us. THE NUMBERS TELL THE STORY!

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