This is what the President’s Porsche has been able to do. Case in point is Bobby Tiglao’s column which masterfully scans the literature surrounding men and their flashy cars. The problem is that Tiglao cannot seem to make up his mind on which stereotype to fit P-Noy under.
On the one hand he purports this to be another one of “the infamous instances of the extravagance of our ruling class that mock the poverty of many Filipinos”; on the other hand, he describes it as a form of conspicuous consumption attributable to the social climbing class. He is obviously lobbing different analogies at the current occupant of Malacanang, hoping that one of them will stick (in the consciousness of Filipinos).
If that was not enough, Tiglao digs up the literature on the role of cars in the mating ritual in order to paint the president as an unabashed bachelor using ostentatious displays of wealth as a way of signaling to possible mates his capacity to provide for them.
Normally this analogy would not apply to men his age, but because the president is a bachelor, Tiglao scores the potential security risks attendant to his lifestyle. This is the real crux of the problem for him as he states that (f)or the sake of the Republic’s stability, the President should get married very soon, never mind if his sisters approve of his lady or not. Our bachelor President just isn’t getting any. And this has become a clear and present danger.
So there you have it. On the one hand the president is supposed to be a member of the ruling elite callous and decadent in the face of mass poverty and suffering, on the other he is an up and coming social climber eager to fit in with the big boys. On the one hand he is a suitor seeking to embellish his biological deficiencies and aging features with material ornaments, on the other, he is a swanky bachelor living it up with a different woman every night.
One cannot fault Mr Tiglao for his grasp of the literature surrounding this issue. One would hope however that next time, he uses a more consistent line of attack since these ones are laden with inherent contradictions. That is the difficulty with using different stereotypes to paint your opponent a certain way. It is very hard in the end to prove that the stereotype you are using really fits the person or not.
In the case of P-Noy, none of them fits his character completely. My own take on the issue is this: had he purchased a luxury vehicle of the same amount say a four door Mercedez Benz E class, people would hardly take notice. The fact that he chose a sport’s car instead with all the cultural significance attached to it, opened him up to different forms of criticism. These criticisms rightly or wrongly are being aimed at him with the hope of diminishing the people’s assessment of his judgement.
A president’s public image is something he has to protect if he wishes to retain favor with his electorate. It just so happens that the people are riding the crest of optimism regarding their future prospects under this president. The social cauldron is not exactly brewing or steaming at this point. Luckily for the president, although many stereotypes are available, none of them seem to matter…yet.