Jologs: the key to understanding why FPJ won in Manila and why GMA won in Cebu.
Right after the May 2004 elections, which GMA narrowly won with the Cebuano vote, people started asking why GMA got a landslide victory in Cebu while getting moderate to weak support from most of the other parts of the country. The media responded with their theories. FPJ sympathizers did not hesitate to hurl accusations of massive cheating. Some put the cause (or laid the blame) to the support of the three gubernatorial candidates. Others theorized that it was a wholesale vote buy with GMA’s promise of transferring government agencies outside of Manila, particularly DOT to Cebu. Rather than do another round of clarifying why Cebu chose GMA, it might be more interesting to examine a phenomenon no one even cared to discuss: why did FPJ win in Manila? It was as if the answer was so obvious that there was no need to bring up the question.
I of course tried to ask Manilenyos why this was so. I stopped after a while since anti-GMA folks would just say they are tired of the trapo and pro-GMA folks just seemed to get offended – they might have thought I was implying Cebu was smarter with their candidate being chosen by 56% of its voters. So I did my own extremely unscientific study and came up with this answer: there were a lot of jologs to vote for FPJ in Manila and not enough of them in Cebu.
I don’t think anyone who has not been to Manila could understand the term “jologs” clearly. I initially thought this term had something to do with fashion: a put-down for baduy people by people who thought they were fashionable. After more than two years in Manila, I have come to think that the term was coined by the educated middle-class and signifies the less-educated and poorer Manilenyos. The term that usually accompanies this, “conyo”, which many times sounds more derogatory than jologs, seems to mean the old rich. “Masa” seems to refer to the same people as jologs but it seems to have a more positive connotation and is worn like a badge of honor by them as well as by socialist types.
I’m of course not saying that there are no poor people in Cebu. In fact, if we look at the per capita income of the two cities, Manilenyos earn double vs. Cebuanos (Php 66,173 vs. 32,291 – NSO, 2000). I’m also not saying there are no snobs in Cebu – just ask an STC girl what she thinks of Britney Spears and you’ll get the answer. What Manila seems to have to a much greater degree than Cebu seems to be defined social groupings (I’m not sure if you could call them castes). These groups have their own cultures, their own music, even their own accents (dialects even, I think) and what jologs and conyo are – titles.
Now back to the question: why did FJP win in Manila? If the answer is because the masa voted for him, we might then want to ask: how did this masa come about and why did they vote for FPJ?
To answer this, I had to venture even deeper in my unscientific study. I made an unsystematic survey of taxi drivers (I ride them twice or thrice a week) and found out that they not only like FPJ, they abhor GMA (taxi drivers like Lacson more than FPJ though, but that’s another story). And they seem to extend that disgust to the rest of the mayayaman who have always been mayaman, and as far as they could see, will always be the mayayaman. It seems that they see an oppressive ruling class which they are totally insulated from, and GMA it seems, personifies this rich, educated and uncaring caste.
Even the educated middle-class seems to dislike GMA. My colleagues, mostly UP or Ateneo-educated hard-working yuppies, seemed to think that voting for GMA may sound logical but is equivalent to throwing your ideals out of the window. It seems as if they thought it was the most baduy choice, a lot more baduy than supporting the masa by voting for FPJ (they nevertheless thought he was stupid). In one of these forums in the internet, I met a communist who was pretty excited about FPJ unjustly loosing the elections. He thought this would lead to a revolution. No wonder. The Manilenyo brew seemed to follow his Marxist recipe: an angry proletariat backed up by a disgruntled intelligentsia. No blood was shed fortunately. Either the results sufficiently demonstrated that FPJ lost fairly or the would-be revolutionaries were too busy with showbiz.
We would then ask: what led taxi drivers and the rest of the masa to become alienated from GMA and the rest of the ruling families? The taxi drivers may again give us the answer. I think I only met one or two of them who grew up in Manila. And among those who are immigrants, very roughly 60% are Bisaya. So the answer may be the immigrant experience.
Just put yourself in their shoes: you weren’t lucky enough to get a good education but you have street smarts and guts, so you go to Manila to look for a better future. You marry another promdi and since you’re just starting up in a new land, you could only send your kids to so-so schools. Since it’s too expensive to have your family visit the clan in your home town, they just stay in Manila while you come back to the province with intervals increasing in geometric progression. Your children’s source of values is no longer Lola and Lolo but Joey de Leon and his whining minionettes. They speak telenovela Tagalog and could barely understand the language your forefathers have been speaking for hundreds of years. They no longer identify themselves as a member of the age-old (your family name here) clan but either as kapuso or kapamilya. And their only encounter with rich people (and vice versa) is when they drive by with their flashy cars or when they do their mandatory “immersion” to enlighten themselves of the plight of the less fortunate.
If you’re staying in Cebu though, your family would probably have been there for generations and if not, you probably have deep roots just an island away. This gives you some advantages. Even if your family is in dire straights, you would probably have some well-off relatives who you meet in reunions and talk with in equal footing (pretty much at least). This would immediately break that class-based insulation for both you and your wealthy relative and in general there would probably be less tension between classes and much more blurry divisions.
(Disclaimer: I’m comparing two cities. I am in no way saying or implying in any way that one of them is better than the other. They are just different.)
An aggravating factor to the immigrant experience might be what seems to be the much more hierarchical structure of Manila society. The language gives us clues to this. When asking someone to do something in Tagalog, you would just need to command, like “paki-kuha nito” if the fellow is below your social standing and just add “po” if the he is above. I never realized how impolite it sounds to omit this before I used Tagalog in real-life situations. And contrary to what is taught in Filipino class, this does not only apply to elders. Jologs say po to conyos in certain settings. In Binisaya (well, at least the one I was taught), you’d have to say palihug whether you are talking to your maid or to your mayor.
It also seems that the worst sin you can commit in Manila is being mayabang (I learned this the hard way). In Cebu, on the other hand, it seems you could get away with being hambugero (basta naa kay ikapanghambug. hehe). In Cebu, the worst crime seems to be being hilas, which is what all this jologs and conyo talk is.
There are other questions though which I’m still grappling with, like: maybe this just comes about with critical mass. Might Cebu just end up the same if you just increase the volume of people to the level of Manila? Another one: in examining this unknown (why FPJ won/lost), we are merely comparing two equations (Cebu and Manila) using one variable (the masa). But there are a lot more variables (the candidates themselves, the political system, etc.) and a lot more equations (Ilokos, Pampanga, Bicol, Waray-land, Ilo-ilo, Muslim Mindanao). It would be very possible that these could disprove everything I said above. And only ~10% of my life has been spent in Manila. Might I still be seeing it too superficially? Maybe I would just need to ride a lot more taxis to get the answers. :-P