The Sound and Spectacle of Philippine Presidential Elections, 1953–98

The Sound and Spectacle of Philippine Presidential Elections, 1953–98 No other country in Southeast Asia makes its pop idols its national leaders. —Marites Danguilan Vitug, New York Times, 20 February 2004 Jingles were almost always unremittingly cheerful and upbeat, using happy tunes to sweeten the frequently bland information contained in the lyrics. They worked simply, by trying to create a positive affect around a particular product, occasionally promising something, whether suavity and attractiveness to women, or white teeth. —Timothy Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism (2012) Reflecting on how music has been exploited by advertisers to persuade the public to purchase a product, ethnomusicologist Timothy Taylor is evidently referring to jingles intended to sell consumer goods.1 Yet he could well be talking about election jingles, created to peddle not a material product but an individual: more precisely, a candidate for public office. For what is a political campaign but a strain of advertising—an organized effort to influence the voting process within a group or society. A crucial element of that endeavor is campaign music—the soundtrack to a bid—composed (or adapted), performed, and trumpeted to create a positive effect around a candidate’s image. The promise: not suavity but social services; not white teeth but welfare. The target: not a sale but a vote. And with music’s proven competency in subliminal suggestion, jingles have been a potent aid in putting politicians into power. In the Philippines, jingles—originally known as singing commercials—appeal to the Filipinos’ historical predilection toward song and dance, manifested in a musical culture comprising traditional indigenous practices, Western art music, and popular music styles from around the world. Throughout pivotal moments in the country’s history, music has been utilized to express not only elation and triumph but also subversion and protest, particularly during the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupations.2 The historian Horacio de la Costa famously extolled that music is the “jewel” that brings together a country of 7,107 islands and 186 languages.3 Music is everywhere: nearly every household owns a karaoke machine. Variety song-and-dance programs are staples on television. Towns regularly organize singing competitions among residents. Vendors hawk their wares by singing improvised jingles. Traffic enforcers dance on the job, their arms swaying to an imaginary rhythmic beat as they gesture for motorists to stop and go. For many Filipinos, everyday life is a performance. There is a penchant for exaggeration, the reveling in extremes of glee and gloom, like the dramatic endurance of hardships emulated from characters in local soap operas. Crucially, it is a culture where the boundaries of politics, performance, and celebrity are often blurred in the minds of its people; a nation where campaign songs have been an effective tool to propagandize the merits, whether existent or not, of an individual. Through the Peircean semiotic analysis of campaign music and interviews with journalists and voters, as well as the critical examination of audio-visual recordings and newspaper clippings sourced from online archives, the National Library of the Philippines, and the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines, this article investigates how Philippine presidential candidates have utilized songs in order to send cues to voters about the images they seek to project for themselves. In doing so, I do not offer a history of the campaign jingle in Philippine politics; rather, I focus on four case studies of presidential candidates who went on to win their respective elections with the aid of campaign songs. The cases are discussed in chronological order, encompassing four presidential elections held from 1953 to 1998. Exploring the dynamics between candidates and voters, I contend that through repetitive performance and listening, sonic registers shape voter sentiment, resulting in the creation of a politician’s image and narrative. This echoes recent scholarship advocating the sonic as a key site for understanding the production of social identities.4 Ann Cvetkovich asserts, “Political identities are implicit within structures of feeling, sensibilities, everyday forms of cultural expression and affiliation that may not take the form of recognizable organizations.”5 Likely because they lie in the indeterminate interstice of the political and the musical, campaign songs have rarely, if ever, been included in discourses on Philippine nationhood. Yet music is essential in understanding Filipino identity, given its significance to the nation’s daily life. As my examples show, it has played a crucial role in shaping the citizenry’s sense of self and nation. The story begins with Ramon Magsaysay, the first Philippine presidential candidate to employ a jingle for his campaign, in 1953. His upbeat dance song, titled “Mambo Magsaysay,” took stylistic cues from the Cuban mambo music that was then reaching fever pitch in the United States. The second case focuses on Ferdinand Marcos, who ran for president in 1965 with the sappy ballad “Dahil sa Iyo” (Because of You), a song originally written for the film Bituing Marikit (Lovely Star) and performed by Rogelio de la Rosa, one of the most popular Filipino actors of the twentieth century. Indeed, Marcos courted voters like a celebrity, performing his ballad on the campaign trail, often in a duet with his wife Imelda. During the 1986 presidential elections, Corazon Aquino’s jingle was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” a pop song by the American group Tony Orlando and Dawn. The track was first popularized in the Philippines during the return of the exiled politician Benigno Aquino Jr. (Corazon’s husband) to the country in 1983, during which his supporters tied yellow ribbons on trees in anticipation of his arrival. Aquino was assassinated upon disembarking at the airport, sparking the People Power Revolution that led to the demise of Marcos’s presidency and the inauguration of Corazon as president. The appropriation of preexisting Western music continued with the 1998 campaign song of the actor-turned-politician Joseph Estrada: the pop track “Sha-La-La-La-La” by the Danish band Walkers. These cases can be productively studied in succession, as each president utilized music in distinct ways. Magsaysay appropriated the values associated with the genre of mambo in order to portray to voters the vibrancy of his character and the vitality of his political aspirations. Marcos used a film soundtrack already beloved by the public, with the aim of associating the song’s popularity to his identity. Aquino adopted a preexisting Western ballad, altering the song’s semantic codes by performing it in a political context. Similarly, Estrada appropriated a pop song for his jingle, irrespective of the dance track’s lack of connection to his image. In examining these different cases, I employ an analytical approach based on the ideas of Charles Sanders Peirce, whose semiotic theory is grounded on the interaction of three basis elements: the sign, defined as “something that stands for something else to someone in some way”; its object, the entity stood for by the sign; and its interpretant, the result of a process of interpretation in the mind of an observer of the sign and object—such effects may include feeling, sensation, or physical reaction.6 A number of music scholars have adapted Peircean semiotics to suit the peculiarities of musical meaning and performance. Thomas Turino has used them to explore the semiotic power of music to link concepts and impressions with each other. Musical components such as rhythm, tempo, and harmony function as signs that combine to construct the interpretation of a song in the mind of a listener.7 Music’s various elements—and thus its ability to comprise a multiplicity of meanings and references, along with its status as a frequent collective activity—make it a semiotic mode with a rich potential to produce shared views, create collective identities, and transform individual subjectivities, which are attributes critical to the formation of social groups and political movements. In Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation, Turino considers how political rhetoric and propaganda have harnessed, consciously and explicitly, music’s iconic and indexical power to their advantage, using a song’s ability to link images and ideas, “making their fit seem true or natural, even if they are not.”8 Through repetitive performance and listening—and the repeated grouping of a set of signs in the mind of an observer—songs are able to link iconic and indexical signs to people’s construction of reality. As Turino states, “This is precisely the goal in directing people’s thinking.”9 It is a maneuver that can be attributed to the case of campaign songs that, through repeated transmission, link symbols and ideas to the candidate’s image, whether or not authentic connections are organically forged between them. Based on these insights into the ability of music to yield emotional responses and realize personal and social identities, I investigate the jingles’ lyrical content and stylistic features, as well as their symbolic connotations, affective implications, and ideological messages. Moreover, I contextualize the songs in relation to the political and cultural milieux of their time. The case studies indicate that the formation of meaning unfolds in campaign songs through the cumulative and repetitive processes of their performance and listening. Aided by my interviews with journalists and voters for each respective election, I evaluate the effect of the jingles on the image formation and brand building of the presidents, asserting the capability of music to construct “star narratives” of politicians, which in turn reconfigure the relationship between statesmen and the society they serve.10 This leads to the article’s most significant argument: that the tradition of campaign songs in Philippine presidential elections casts politicians not only as public servants but also as celebrities and entertainers. The majority of scholarly work on campaign music concerns the United States, where the election jingle is believed to have originated in 1786 with “God Save George Washington,” composed for America’s first president and sung to the melody of “God Save the King.”11 According to Irwin Silber, campaign songs are intended “to obfuscate issues and manipulate minds” of voters.12 More recently, Benjamin Schoening and Eric Kasper charted a comprehensive history of campaign music in U.S. presidential elections in Don’t Stop Thinking About the Music (2012). Dana Gorzelany-Mostak provides an enlightening examination of how songs can build a candidate’s brand in her 2013 PhD dissertation, “Pre-existing Music in United States Presidential Campaigns, 1972−2012,” which chronicles how campaign music, appropriated from preexisting pop songs, constructs candidate identities.13 In the Philippine context, no known academic research has investigated the subject, though George Caparas provides a colorful chronicle of Philippine presidential jingles in his 2004 article “Songs in the Key of Politics,” for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. In the Philippines, political strategists deem jingles indispensable—with every serious contender, particularly for the presidency, employing a soundtrack as part of their campaign. Prior to the computerization of the 2010 presidential elections, voters in previous elections had to laboriously memorize the names of up to eighteen candidates for national and local posts, and then write their preferred candidate’s name by hand on a paper ballot. A repercussion, as the Economist observed in 2007, is that “those with the best-known names, not necessarily the best policies, tend to win.”14 Essentially, this is how campaign songs have elected Philippine presidents: by disarming voters through harmony and catchy lyrics, and enacting name recognition for the benefit of the candidates. While campaign music has been frequently utilized in U.S. presidential elections—recent examples include Hillary Clinton’s “Fight Song” (Rachel Platten) and Barack Obama’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder)—election jingles have been a more forceful influence on most Filipino voters, due to an inherent and collective penchant for musical performance and celebrity culture. The Associated Press has described the Philippine polls as “a contest over popularity first and political reform second,” resulting in a carnivalesque campaign season galvanized not only by the contenders’ speeches but also by their song-and-dance performances on stages across the country.15 In a critical editorial, the Economist assessed the country’s elections as “an all-singing, all-dancing sideshow, more concerned with parading the candidates’ personalities.”16 The campaign period, which begins ninety days prior to the elections, is characterized by intentional excess, where the public’s senses are assaulted with jingles, slogans, and advertisements, all in the name of brand recall. Filomeno Aguilar, detailing the ritual of Philippine presidential campaigns, quips: “The chaos is tolerated and accepted, and transgressions become normative. Indeed, one can argue that without these excesses Filipinos would not recognize the period as pertaining properly to an election campaign.”17 In establishing their brand identity with the voting public, Philippine politicians have tapped into the popularity of film, television, and music stars, seeking their endorsement and inviting them to appear on the campaign trail, primarily to perform together on stage to entertain voters. Fernando Gagelonia, a media executive, considers such endorsements acts of “transference,” referring to candidates spending millions of Philippine pesos for celebrity endorsers simply to acquire an immediate rapport with a star’s fan base.18 John Street has reflected on the phenomenon of the “celebrity politician,” which he defines as a candidate who adopts “the forms and associations of the celebrity to enhance their image and communicate their message”; the rise of the celebrity politician, he argues, has resulted in the “personalization” of politics.19 Celebrity culture has such a significant hold on Philippine politics that, as former president Joseph Estrada’s case exemplifies, stars themselves have been elected to government posts regardless of their lack of credentials. Furthermore, while candidates run under political parties, the homogeneity of these parties in terms of philosophy and platform has promoted a personality-based electoral system in the Philippines, with voters supporting individual candidates, not entire parties. For aspiring public servants, such nonideological politics has prioritized the creation of a celebrity status in order to win. In my analysis of how Philippine presidents have transformed into celebrities, I invoke the work of Richard Dyer on “stars,” specifically his contention that celebrities are manufactured through the manipulation of the audience, with stars “owing their existence solely to the machinery of their production.”20 Although Dyer primarily deals with film stars, his framework concerning “star texts,” or the formation of celebrity images, is useful for my discourse on how jingles construct “star narratives” for presidents. I also adopt in my investigation Richard Middleton’s notion that in popular music “meanings are produced through dialogue at many levels; within the textures, voices, structures, and style-alliances of the individual musical event; between producers and addressees; between text, style, and genre and other texts, styles, genres; between discourses, musical and other; between interpretations, mediators, and other involved social actors.”21 The examples I examine recognize that an insightful interpretation of campaign songs entails consideration of the multiple and often overlapping dialogues between the texts of the musical event (the song), its producer (the composer and performer), its subject (the candidate), and its listeners (the voters), as well as related musical events, such as songs or genres, the jingle was appropriated from. My framework also borrows from the work of Nicholas Cook, who contends that in television advertisements, the subliminal power of music allows a song to transfer its attributes to the product being sold; a point relevant to my discussion on how songs—and their content, values, and connotations—shape candidate identities.22 Tracing how music defined the Philippines as a nation in the twentieth century, Christi-Anne Castro observes that while the country has a complicated history that “forecloses the dominance of any single cultural narrative about the construction of nation, studies of how music and dance author and authorize nation do tell a story of the importance of the performing arts in nationalism.”23 Ultimately, this article offers an alternative context against which to understand Philippine elections, attempting to move beyond existing interpretations focused solely on the political by engaging in a discourse on musical spectacles that arise during campaigns. My investigation of a neglected cultural terrain hopefully gestures toward a deeper understanding of how music reconfigures the relationship between politicians and the public in the Philippines. Mambo to Malacañang In 1953, an infectious tune sealed Ramon Magsaysay’s landslide victory, launching a trend in Philippine politics. He danced his way to Malacañang Palace, the official presidential residence, with “Mambo Magsaysay,” the first documented jingle utilized for a presidential campaign in the Philippines. It had only been seven years since the country gained its independence from a forty-eight-year occupation by the U.S. and the influence of American popular culture was evident in the local entertainment scene, with American music dominating the programming of local radio stations.24 Taking its cue from mambo, the Latin dance conceived in Cuba, “Mambo Magsaysay” was sung by Rosita dela Vega (backed by the band Ball Quartette and Piltones), who recorded the song for the campaign. The recorded track was then played and heard at campaign events across the country, Magsaysay dancing to the beat of the jingle as his supporters sang along to the vocal line. Excerpts from the song were also circulated widely as thirty-second or one-minute advertisements through radio broadcast. It was an immediate hit, the jingle’s syncopated rhythms enthralling the public, who tapped their feet along with the upbeat song’s dynamic melody and cleverly rhymed lyrics, demonstrating the power of songs in molding topographies of affect and imbuing the candidate’s image with desire. The spirited sound of “Mambo Magsaysay” contradicted its serious subtext. Composed by Raul Manglapus, the two-and-a-half-minute jingle was crafted around Magsaysay’s persona as a combatant against the expanding communist movement in Southeast Asia. A former captain during the Pacific War, Magsaysay was then serving as the country’s secretary of national defense, protecting the nation from rebel guerrillas. The jingle’s two opening verses highlighted Magsaysay’s competence in getting the job done. Prior to his appointment to lead the defense ministry, Filipinos regarded their national army with distrust. Magsaysay elevated the army’s image not only by quashing rebellion but also by deploying soldiers to provide aid in far-flung provincial communities.25 Heartened by the people’s admiration and stimulated to continue his fight against communism—as well as the corrupt administration of his boss, the incumbent president Elpidio Quirino—Magsaysay launched a presidential bid armed with a campaign trimming adopted from American politics: the election jingle.26 Opening with an ascending triadic melodic gesture, the song adhered to the mambo’s conventional structure of verse, chorus, verse, montuno—with the first verse and chorus serving as Magsaysay’s trumpet call of triumph. In Cuban music, montuno refers to a song’s brasher, faster instrumental section with a repetitive vocal refrain, akin to a syncopated vamp. Everywhere that you would look Was a bandit or a crook Peace and order was a joke Till Magsaysay pumasok [entered]! That is why, that is why You will hear the people cry: Our democracy will die Kung wala si [If not for] Magsaysay! Along with his campaign slogan, “Magsaysay Is My Guy,” Magsaysay positioned himself as a heroic figure to the masses (fig. 1).27 The tone of his campaign was populist: behold, an extraordinary individual seeking to represent the interests of the ordinary. It is a theme coherent with his remarkable climb to the top: a former chauffeur and automobile mechanic, Magsaysay worked his way to a university degree before joining the Philippine Army. As a public servant, he spoke in Tagalog, the national language, which made him stand out from his contemporaries—particularly his election rival Quirino, who preferred to converse in Spanish, the language of the elite and educated. Hence, the combination of Tagalog and English lyrics in “Mambo Magsaysay,” especially in the jingle’s montuno, amplified the song’s appeal to the common Filipino, drilling its message home. A 1992 article in the Manila Standard declared “Mambo Magsaysay” the country’s “first Taglish hit.”28 While harmonically sparse, the syncopated rhythm of the montuno lent the jingle a lilting quality, thereby accentuating the captivating rhymes of the lyrics. Mambo, mambo Magsaysay! Mabu-, mabu-, mabuhay! [Hurrah!] Our democracy will die Kung wala si Magsaysay! Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Ramon Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Ramon Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Following a steady 4/4 beat, the jingle was recorded with a guitar, bass horn, trumpet, trombone, and three sets of percussion instruments crucial in producing the ostinato patterns distinct to mambo: bongo drums, timbales, and conga drums. The motive of reiteration extended not only to the jingle’s rhythmic pattern, phrasing, and melodic structure but also to the repetition of particularly pivotal words in the montuno—“Mambo, mambo Magsaysay! / Mabu-, mabu-, mabuhay!”—which then recurred thrice throughout the song. Synthesized with a scattering of clever alliteration, such as “Mambo Magsaysay” and “Our democracy will die,” these stylistic elements yielded an unforgettable track. Moreover, the repeated utterance of the name “Magsaysay” in every verse ingrained the candidate’s image into the minds of listeners. The song also featured a 40-second instrumental break, wherein the burly and handsome Magsaysay often confidently broke into dance, an exuberant act he performed as he went from one barrio to another. He was, quite simply, a presidential aspirant like no other. As Castro chronicles on Musical Renderings of the Philippine Nation: “Perceived to be a kind of ‘man of the people,’ Magsaysay promulgated stories of his lower-class past in order to differentiate himself from the elite, who were perceived to be irreversibly corrupt. He toured Philippine villages to talk with rural people, and he visited soldiers in the field.”29 Traveling around the country to personally court voters was a hands-on approach never before employed by politicians before him, which only boosted the public’s endearment (fig. 2). Turino has contemplated the significance of audiences witnessing first-hand their idols perform their manufactured identities: “It fulfills, to different degrees, this desire of connecting with the artists—whether or not we get a real sense of the people we admire or only the groomed public personas they wish to present.”30 Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Moreover, Magsaysay possessed, as the historian Daniel Boorstin asserted stars did, “a definable, publicizable personality: a figure which can become a nationally-advertised trademark.”31 Aided by his memorable jingle and slogan, Magsaysay was the first Philippine president who possessed the charm of a celebrity. It did not hurt that he dressed like one, too: vibrant Hawaiian polo shirts were his campaign uniform. Suddenly, it became a requisite for statesmen desiring the public’s attention to play characters, or what Dyer terms “constructed representations of persons.” Their political images thus became no different from star images: “constructed personages in media texts.”32 The identities they portrayed to voters were carefully fabricated, ensuring every image and text relayed to the public was coherent with the grand narrative they wished to convey. Edgar Morin has argued that “industrial techniques of rationalization … have effectively made the star a merchandise destined for mass consumption.”33 As the examples in this article demonstrate, the sizable investment of resources devoted to the production of an effective campaign song has recast the candidate as a product peddled to consumers: the voters. Through his jingle, Magsaysay reminded voters of his most significant accomplishment as secretary of defense—that of restoring their faith in the electoral process. After the widespread fraud that occurred during the 1949 elections, Magsaysay mobilized the army to protect the 1951 polls, resulting in an orderly affair. It was this achievement, and the vision of a better government, that “Mambo Magsaysay” glorified in the song’s second half. Magsaysay exploited music’s role in identity formation in order to establish a personal relationship, built on trust, between himself and the public. It became an effective strategy in a political culture the psychology professor Cristina Montiel describes as highly personal, collectivist, and family-oriented.34 Birds they voted in Lanao At pati aswang pa daw [And ghouls, too] Ang eleksyon lutong Macau [The election was fixed]35 Till Magsaysay showed them how! Too much people’s money spent But no honest government No more graft or ten percent36 If Magsaysay is President! That is why, that is why You will hear the people cry: Our democracy will die Kung wala si [if not for] Magsaysay! Enrique Masola, a former journalist who covered the 1953 elections, witnessed how Magsaysay captivated crowds with the aid of his campaign song. In an interview, he told me: “His jingle was very catchy, the lyrics were very clever and easy to remember. At the same time, it contained a powerful message that inspired his supporters, who sang along to it—all the time—during Magsaysay’s rallies and motorcades. The song was so catchy, some voters even ended up writing ‘Mambo Magsaysay’ on their ballots. That jingle really made him attractive in the minds of the Filipino public, both as a president and as an idol.”37 “Mambo Magsaysay,” as a text and a performance, indeed generated intriguing dichotomies: while bouncy in beat, the song’s theme of no-nonsense reform was no laughing matter. While banging the drum for his grave military efforts, Magsaysay demonstrated he could loosen up. In an attempt to hear from voters who supported Magsaysay back in 1953, I interviewed Maricar, an eighty-seven-year-old retired schoolteacher from the province of Laguna, who told me that although six decades have passed, she can still remember some of the lines from “Mambo Magsaysay,” a testament to the song’s appeal and memorability: “Our democracy will die / Kung wala si Magsaysay!” she recited to me. She recalled that she and her siblings went to one of Magsaysay’s campaign rallies to see the candidate in person, where the jingle served as an anthem for his fans to perform their shared support. She said: “I remember him walking up the steps of a makeshift stage in Mendiola [a street in Manila]. He was dancing to ‘Mambo Magsaysay’ as he entered. We were all clapping and shouting his name. There were also breaks in between his serious political speeches where they would play the song. He would sing and dance along to ‘Mambo’—we all danced along with him, too. It was a celebration, like a street party.”38 Maricar said Magsaysay exuded a “tough but compassionate” personality, traits he demonstrated through the performance of “Mambo Magsaysay” during his campaign. The jingle deftly promoted a hybrid image for the candidate—as both ordinary and extraordinary, as well as a commoner and a protector of the commoners. The appropriation of mambo music underscored this duality, as Magsaysay aligned mambo’s upbeat values to his own: an accessible leadership of high intensity. In Image and Influence, Andrew Tudor proposes a typology of relationships that emerge between a star and an audience. Four categories are useful in understanding the impact of Magsaysay’s public image, or what I dub his “star narrative”: emotional affinity—the audience feel a sense of involvement with the star; self-identification—the audience place themselves in the persona of the star; imitation—the star becomes a model for the audience; and projection—more than simple mimicry, the audience deal with their realities in terms of how the star does with his.39 Through his campaign, the Filipino public felt an attachment toward Magsaysay’s charisma and political prowess (emotional affinity), bolstered by a notion that due to his humble roots, he can relate to their daily concerns (self-identification). He went on to become a role model for many (imitation), particularly to younger individuals who emulated his dynamic personality and leadership (projection). Magsaysay won the elections by a landslide, earning a historic 69 percent of the votes compared to Quirino’s 31 percent. The brand building of the Philippines’s youngest president persisted: he was sworn into office wearing the barong Tagalog, a traditional embroidered shirt worn by common folk—a first by a president. Most history textbooks characterize Magsaysay’s presidency as the humblest and most transparent. Notably, he opened the Malacañang Palace to the public, ordering the forbidding mansion’s name to be changed simply to Malacañang and dubbing it “the house of the people.”40 In March 1957, a year before his term ended, Magsaysay was killed in a plane crash; he was forty-nine. Two million people were estimated to have attended his burial.41 The tragedy only fueled the romanticization of Magsaysay’s narrative, since there has been no other Philippine president as beloved by the masses as he was. The historian Amando Doronila regards Magsaysay’s term as a turning point in a political arena that had until then functioned chiefly through localism: for the first time ever, a single leader commanded the respect and captured the imagination of the nation.42 “Mambo Magsaysay” went on to influence future presidential campaigns, as contenders considered a catchy jingle compulsory to their bid.43 The song also became an anthem for democracy, albeit an alteration in its symbolic codes: in 1986, it was revived as a hymn of protest during the People Power Revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The renewed popularity of the jingle was due not only to its anticorruption message but also to its association with a lionized presidency. Quizzed by reporters about why she chose to repeatedly play “Mambo Magsaysay” on her radio station during the four days of protests that brought down Marcos, the broadcast journalist June Keithley replied: “I knew Magsaysay had been very popular and a very loved president, as opposed to Marcos.”44 Decades later and Magsaysay’s narrative—and soundtrack—remains idolized. His jingle’s closing line, “Our democracy will die / Kung wala si Magsaysay!,” rang true then—and now. Since his term, Philippine politics has been consistently mired in corruption and chaos—and his image has often been summoned up with a mix of veneration and sorrow. “No historian claims that the brief Magsaysay era was our own version of Camelot,” read a 1992 newspaper editorial on the anniversary of Magsaysay’s death. “But more and more, that is the way those years look today to the mambo generation that remembers that brief, shining moment of euphoria that ended 35 years ago.”45 Magsaysay was the first Philippine president to successfully utilize music as an instrument in the manufacturing of his public identity. By transmitting subliminal messages about his image—as a man of the people and of action—his campaign song endeared him to voters, eliciting emotional responses related to his narrative. In appropriating the positive values associated with mambo, Magsaysay was able to portray to the people the effervescence of his character and the potency of his political aspirations. A critical moment that transformed Philippine elections into a contest of personalities, Magsaysay’s case attests to the ability of music to construct identities, shape sentiment, and transform subjectivities. Tale of a Tyrant’s Tune The sentimental song was the overture, the lead-in, the prelude, to Ferdinand Marcos’s big show. Running for the presidency in 1965, Marcos appropriated “Dahil sa Iyo” (Because of You), the theme track of the 1938 film Bituing Marikit (Lovely Star), as his campaign song, the first Philippine presidential candidate to adopt a preexisting Tagalog tune for his bid. “Dahil sa Iyo,” composed by the actor Miguel Velarde Jr., adhered to the stylistic structure of a type of native Filipino ballad called kundiman, “a song which expresses the lofty sentiment of love, and even heroism, in a melancholy mood.”46 Developed at the end of the nineteenth century, the kundiman originated from the Tagalog phrase kung hindi man (if it is not possible). It was a traditional serenade, a devotional ditty conveying longing for a lover, child, or homeland. And serenade voters is what Marcos did through his jingle. Campaigning around the Philippines like Magsaysay, Marcos was accompanied by his wife Imelda, a former beauty pageant winner (fig. 3). Together they combed one city after another, clutching microphones and singing duets of “Dahil sa Iyo,” the song’s backing track amplified through speakers placed on makeshift stages across the country. Their supporters often sang along with them. Although Ferdinand and Imelda did not produce an official recording of the track featuring their duet, the song’s original recording from the film Bituing Marikit, performed by actor Rogelio de la Rosa, was also played during rallies and on radio stations nationwide. In her biography of Imelda, Katherine Ellison wrote of how Marcos dubbed his wife his “secret weapon,” one who captivated crowds with her impassioned singing and complemented the machismo of his image as an intelligent and intense military leader. “She was afraid of appearing before a crowd—until I got her to sing,” Marcos said. “She’d always been a good singer.”47 Capitalizing on the Filipinos’s collective fascination toward their stars, Ferdinand and Imelda portrayed themselves as a romantic couple no different from the schmaltzy twosomes the public idolized on the big screen, keenly advertising themselves as a commodity to be devoured by the masses. The historian Vicente Rafael remarked that the Marcoses conceived of politics as an extension of their personal life: “Singing together at political rallies, they turned their private lives into public spectacles, staging a stylized version of their intimacy.”48 Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos campaigning in 1965. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos campaigning in 1965. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. “Dahil sa Iyo” features a stirring blend of melodramatic spectacle. Following a 4/4 time signature, the song opens with an evocative orchestral movement. Amid a symphony of strings, de la Rosa—singing in a minor key—begins lamenting the tragedies of his life. During the second half of the first verse, the song modulates into a major key, signaling a more optimistic mood, as he rhapsodizes about his lover rescuing him from misery. Sa buhay ko’y labis Ang hirap at pasakit, ng pusong umiibig Mandi’y wala ng langit At ng lumigaya, hinango mo sa dusa Tanging ikaw sinta, ang aking pag-asa In my life I have long endured The pain and sorrows from love arise. Then you came and redeemed me, You, my love, are my only hope. Carrying on with the same brighter major key, de la Rosa continues his ode with a two-part chorus that establishes a sense of intimacy between the performer and the listener—a mood augmented by the singer’s soothing drawl and tranquil tempo. Dahil sa iyo, nais kong mabuhay Dahil sa iyo, hanggang mamatay Dapat mong tantuin, wala ng ibang giliw Puso ko’y tanungin, ikaw at ikaw rin Dahil sa iyo, ako’y lumigaya Pagmamahal, ay alayan ka Kung tunay man ako, ay alipinin mo Ang lahat sa buhay ko’y, dahil sa iyo Because of you, I desire to live, Because of you, until our dying day. You should know, you are my only love, Ask my heart, you’ll know it’s true. Because of you, I found happiness, And so, I offer this love to you. Enslave me, if you so wish, My entire life is because of you. The opening minor key evokes affection, connoting the performer’s sincerity and wholesomeness. A tender and graceful rhythm characterizes the song’s melody, marked by dramatic intervals typical of a kundiman. The musician Francisco Santiago described the genre as “the love song par excellence of the Filipinos, the plaintive song which goes deepest into their hearts, the song which brings them untold emotions.”49 Bestowed with such potential, the kundiman has been employed as a medium to covertly express patriotism, particularly during the U.S. colonial period (1898–1946), the subject of the singer’s declaration of love no longer a woman, but his motherland. In appropriating “Dahil sa Iyo” as his soundtrack, Marcos exploited the song’s significance to Philippine nationalism. He wanted the patriotic values Filipinos associated with the track to be transferred to his image, employing music as a tool for empowerment and dominance. Marcos not only took advantage of the song’s patriotic connection, but also benefited from its original affiliation with stars and star making.50 His act of appropriation extended not only to the song’s content but also to the narratives that surrounded it—foremost, its link to the song’s performer. The most popular actor of his time, de la Rosa was beloved by audiences and eventually became the first celebrity to venture into the Philippine political arena, elected to the Senate in 1957. Marcos sought to appropriate de la Rosa’s narrative as a matinee-idol-turned-politician, in the hope that the public’s enthusiasm toward de la Rosa would be transferred to him. Marinette Reyes-Agbayani, a journalist who covered the 1965 elections, agreed with this assessment and told me in an interview: “Whenever ‘Dahil sa Iyo’ was played during his campaign, Marcos often lip-synched to de la Rosa’s singing voice, as if pretending to be him—which was smart because Marcos knew how much Filipinos love their celebrities, so he marketed and branded himself like the leading men in cinema and television. It worked—voters considered him and Imelda as these beautiful stars.”51 With Imelda by his side, Marcos channeled “Dahil sa Iyo” to take his image- building to inconceivable heights. The Marcoses framed themselves as the ideal Filipino couple, their perfection both inspirational and accessible, with a fairy-tale story to boot: a poor girl from the provinces moves to Manila to become a model and catches the eye of a budding congressman; they then engage in an eleven-day whirlwind courtship and marriage.52 In singing “Dahil sa Iyo” as a duet, Ferdinand and Imelda theatrically performed their devotion for each other, tapping into the mythology of cinematic couples. Assessing the pair’s performative power, Christine Bacareza Balance observes: “Their ability to simultaneously express affection for each other and tap into larger affective spheres of regional sentimentality connected them to their audience … and widened a sphere of political belonging for certain Filipinos.”53 Two parallel narratives exist in their performance. First, the song’s shift from a minor to a major key embodies Marcos’s promise to steer the nation away from adversity and toward a brighter future. Second, “Dahil sa Iyo” became the couple’s hymn to voters, a performance of their dependence toward their support: “Because of you, I desire to live / Because of you, until our dying day.” Furthermore, they branded themselves as parental figures of a new Philippines.54 As Imelda herself recounted in a documentary, upon Marcos’s election as president he told her: “You, Imelda, are to be the mother of this country. I will build and provide for the structure of this house and you make the house a home.”55 The song’s second chorus introduces a new layer into Marcos’s star narrative, depicting him as a willing slave to his wife Imelda and his constituency: “Enslave me, if you so wish / My entire life is because of you.” In an interview, Noel, a retired accountant who voted for Marcos for the presidency, told me that during campaign rallies, Marcos appealed for the support of the public “by serenading us.” Noel recalled: “Here was this intelligent man—he topped the bar exams, right?—but he approached voters with humility. He possessed a great mind but he touched our hearts. He and Imelda, they sung to millions of ordinary people—because they were showing that they wanted to serve us.”56 Marcos promoted himself not only as the leading man of the country’s narrative but also as a martyr ready to serve the public. He portrayed himself both as a star they could venerate, and as a servant they could depend on. Imelda herself delighted in such dichotomy of images, telling the Los Angeles Times in 1980: “I am my little people’s star and slave. When I go out into the barrios, I get dressed because I know my little people want to see a star…. People want someone they can love, someone to set an example.”57 Annie, a housewife who also supported Marcos in 1965, said in an interview that Imelda was an inspiring figure, particularly to female voters. “Madame Imelda—yes, I still call her Madame—is an icon. There has been nobody like her,” Annie said. “A real talented performer. To this day, her singing voice remains beautiful. She’s a real star who treated her ordinary fans with genuine grace and affection.”58 The manner in which Annie describes the former First Lady—as an icon, performer, and star—manifests the effect the Marcoses had on the public. “Dahil sa Iyo” not only reflected the existing identities of the Marcoses, it also created new narratives for them, regardless of their validity. As Georgina Born, reflecting on music’s hyperconnotative character and ability to constitute inter-subjective desire, contends: “It is precisely music’s extraordinary powers of imaginary evocation of identity and of cross-cultural and intersubjective empathy that render it a primary means of both marking and transforming individual and collective identities.”59 Marcos went on to win the presidency with his emotional ballad, yet his reign was anything but affectionate. His much-historicized twenty-one-year regime, including fourteen years of a military dictatorship, was marked by corruption and terror. Gone was the nation’s loving father figure he pledged he was going to be; as Raymond Bonner chronicled in Waltzing with a Dictator, Marcos turned into a power-hungry ruler who censored the press, plundered state funds, and imprisoned rivals.60 His star narrative, adopted from a fictional film, turned out to be a fantasy. The nation suffered while the couple carried on with their life of fabulous spectacle.61 As she herself admitted in the 2003 documentary Imelda, the former beauty queen continued to treat life as an extended pageant, using the people’s money to procure an astounding collection of shoes and clothing.62 The couple luxuriated in throwing and attending star-studded parties around the globe; Imelda even convinced her husband to build their own disco on the roof of Malacañang Palace. She also continued to entertain with her performances, bursting into song for heads of state and private guests. The revelry finally came to a halt on February 1986. Many Filipinos reached a boiling point and staged the peaceful People Power Revolution to overthrow Marcos’s dictatorship. With the emergence of the political widow Corazon Aquino as an icon of democracy and the nation’s new leader, the Marcoses were forced to relinquish their power. Consistent with the couple’s penchant for melodrama, on 25 February, the night their reign ended, Ferdinand and Imelda stood on the balcony of Malacañang and began to sing “Dahil sa Iyo” to a flock comprised mostly of paid supporters; it served as their final performance as the most powerful pair in the Philippines (fig. 4).63 Figure 4. View largeDownload slide The Marcoses singing on the balcony of Malacañang in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 4. View largeDownload slide The Marcoses singing on the balcony of Malacañang in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. The Marcoses obtained their power partly by drawing on music’s capability to create identities that link “a power centre to its subjects,” as Jacques Attali put it.64 In a grand finale that befitted their musical overture, they relinquished their supremacy to the tune of the same song, only this time in a tone so preposterous it was theatrical. In performing “Dahil sa Iyo” one last time amid the upheaval that surrounded them, they presumably hoped the song would remind the public of the positive values once associated with the track, forgetting the nightmare and focusing on the fairytale. They beseeched to their countrymen: “Because of you, I desire to live / Because of you, until our dying day / You should know, you are my only love / Ask my heart, you’ll know it’s true.” Reflecting on the potency of songs, Attali contends, “Music is a tool of power: of ritual power when it is a question of making people forget the fear of violence; of representative power when it is a question of making them believe in order and harmony; and of bureaucratic power when it is a question of silencing those who oppose it.”65 Hours after their final performance, the Marcoses were airlifted out of the country by American marines. The Marcos epoch began and ended with a musical ode. They arrived with sentimental spectacle and they left spectacularly. Singing Her Heart Out In December 1985, after an event launching her campaign, Corazon Aquino asked reporters, “What on earth do I know about being President?”66 Until then, Aquino had only been known to the public only as the wife of the statesman Benigno Aquino Jr., the chief challenger to the dictatorship of Marcos (fig. 5). After her husband was assassinated in 1983, Corazon was catapulted into the political limelight, becoming the leading figure of the opposition. In November 1985, after two decades of authoritarian rule, Marcos announced that to dispel doubts about his ascendancy, marked by widespread unrest in the country, he would hold a snap presidential election in February 1986.67 Aquino became the opposition’s choice as candidate. Spiritual and charismatic, she embodied a hope that democracy would be restored in the Philippines. As Aquino put it, “The only thing I can really offer the Filipino people is my sincerity.” Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Corazon and Benigno Aquino Jr. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Corazon and Benigno Aquino Jr. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. A tone of sincerity permeates the pop song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” which Aquino adopted as the soundtrack of her campaign.68 Performed by the American group Tony Orlando and Dawn, it was the top-selling single in the U.S. and U.K. in 1973 and was already a popular song in the Philippines.69 Aquino and her team did not produce their own version of the track, nor did she sing it live during campaign events. Instead, capitalizing on the popularity of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s original recording, Aquino’s campaign played the track during their rallies and parades across the Philippines.70 The song was also covered by Filipino musicians who supported Aquino, performing it live on variety programs on radio and television; they sang the track featuring its original lyrics and did not find the need to produce a Tagalog version since English is considered a coofficial language of the Philippines. The use of an American pop track as a campaign song underlined the dominance of Western popular culture in the country. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” is told from the point of view of someone who had “done his time,” a reference to serving either in the military or a prison sentence. The song serves as a man’s ode to his lover, imploring her to tie a yellow ribbon around an oak tree in their hometown, as a symbol of her desire to welcome him back into her life. If, when his bus passes through the town, no such ribbon is tied, he will remain on the bus, having understood her choice. The man turned out to be more than welcome, as a hundred yellow ribbons were tied around the tree. I’m comin’ home, I’ve done my time, Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine. If you received my letter tellin’ you I’d soon be free, Then you’ll know just what to do if you still want me, If you still want me Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, It’s been three long years, Do you still want me? If I don’t see a ribbon round the old oak tree, I’ll stay on the bus, Forget about us, Put the blame on me, If I don’t see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree. Bus driver, please look for me, ’Cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see, I’m really still in prison, and my love she holds the key, A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free, I wrote and told her this. Now the whole damn bus is cheering, And I can’t believe I see, A hundred yellow ribbons round the old oak tree, I’m comin’ home. In the Philippines, the song’s popularity peaked when it was adopted by the supporters of Benigno Aquino Jr. Widely known as “Ninoy,” he was the staunchest critic of Marcos’s reign. Following the declaration of martial law in 1972, Ninoy was imprisoned for seven years on unsubstantiated charges of murder and subversion, until Marcos allowed him to travel to the U.S. for a heart operation. Three years later, Ninoy announced he was returning to the Philippines to contest the forthcoming presidential elections.71 His supporters, in anticipation of his homecoming, played and sang “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” during public demonstrations. They tied yellow ribbons on trees near the Manila International Airport, taking their cue from the song.72 It was an act of appropriation that adopted not only the song’s lyrical narrative but also its symbolic associations. When Ninoy stepped off the plane in Manila on 21 August 1983, he was assassinated by armed soldiers. His funeral, the most well-attended burial in the Philippines since Magsaysay was laid to rest, turned into a monumental anti-Marcos protest.73 For many historians, it was at the funeral that Corazon Aquino turned into a national symbol of sorrow and hope.74 She soon learned to channel the public’s outrage by organizing weekly street demonstrations attended by Filipinos from all walks of life—from businessmen and students to the clergy and the working class. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” became the soundtrack of these peaceful protests.75 Originally appropriated from a Western pop group, the song’s significance had been altered through its attachment to the slain statesman. It underwent another form of appropriation when it was adapted to express not support but dissent. It was after Marcos’s declaration in November 1985 of a snap election that, overwhelmed by the public’s support, Aquino announced her candidacy.76 As she said: “We had to present somebody who was the complete opposite of Marcos, someone who had been a victim. Looking around, I may not be the worst victim, but I am the best known.”77 It was a statement that foretold the thematic trademark of her campaign, positioning her narrative vis-à-vis the narratives of her late husband and the incumbent president. While Marcos revived his previously popular song “Dahil sa Iyo” for his bid to remain in power, Aquino turned to the tune that had served as the musical score to her family’s political crusade. In adopting “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” for her campaign, Aquino harnessed not the literal meaning of the track’s lyrics, but the song’s association with the collective struggle of the Filipino people during the dictatorship. Similar to the cases of Magsaysay and Marcos, Aquino’s song was encoded with symbols—of political, historical, and sociocultural nature—that were passed on to her identity. In using a folk song that had been appropriated for her husband’s political narrative, she restructured the song’s meaning and utilized it for the building of her own brand. It was an act of rearticulation that validates Cook’s recognition of music’s ability to make coherent connections that may not be immediately apparent between subjects. As Cook contends, “Music is the discourse that passes itself off as nature; it participates in the construction of meaning, but disguises its meanings as effects. Here is the source of its singular efficacy as a hidden persuader.”78 My analysis of how “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” constructed Aquino’s star narrative entails not a close reading of the track’s musical structure or lyrical connotations, but rather an examination of its ideological symbolisms and affective implications. Specifically, the song forged three main narratives crucial to the image of Corazon Aquino as a political figure: first, a narrative of sorrow, wherein the song portrayed her as a mourning widow as well as a victim like other ordinary Filipinos of Marcos’s turpitude; second, a narrative of nostalgia, wherein the song summoned up the beloved image of Ninoy, with Aquino vowing to continue his legacy; and third, a narrative of hope, wherein the song depicted her as the nation’s new savior, a motherly figure championing democracy for the masses. I shall briefly consider each in turn. During Ninoy’s twelve-hour funeral procession, where more than two million people lined the streets of Manila, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was constantly blared from speakers attached to the car carrying his casket.79 This is the narrative of sorrow: the pop tune turned into a dirge, an elegy to the late statesman. Adamson Ricaforte, a political commentator, told me in an interview: “That jingle was playing everywhere that time—on the streets, on the radio and inside homes, and in her rallies and demonstrations of course. It really touched everyone’s hearts. It was touching, very moving—that song bid farewell to Ninoy, but at the same time it welcomed Cory, his widow, to the political arena. Her whole campaign was like an extended funeral for Ninoy that lasted for months.”80 In choosing the song for her presidential bid, Corazon turned sorrow into a primary theme of her narrative. Each time the song was played during her campaign, she was publicly performing her grief, underscoring how a personal and political battle had been thrust upon her by tragedy. Concurrently, she was performing the people’s grief; she, too, was a victim of Marcos’s dictatorship. The sociologist Jonathan Corpus Ong notes that awa (compassion), damay (mourning), mauulung (pity), malasakit (sympathy), hiya (shame), pakikisama (fellowship), and utang na loob (debt of gratitude) are the fundamental moral codes that govern social and cultural interactions among Filipinos.81 Corazon drew on the people’s compassion and sympathy without appearing exploitative. A mother of five who had not held a political post in the past, she was able to establish a profound connection between herself and the voters, owing to a campaign song that highlighted their shared experience of suffering. By utilizing a song associated with her husband, Corazon allowed the positive values the public associated with the tune—owing to Ninoy’s highly regarded image—to be transferred to her own identity. Some of these transmitted traits, particularly Ninoy’s tenacity and eloquence, veiled Corazon’s political and professional inexperience. She had finished a degree in French and mathematics in New York, as well as a year in law school in Manila, before dropping out and marrying Ninoy. While he rose to prominence to become the country’s youngest mayor, governor, and senator, she took care of their five children.82 As her husband served as the voice of the opposition, Corazon shunned the limelight. It was only in 1972, when Ninoy was imprisoned by Marcos, that she began making public appearances, primarily to relay Ninoy’s statements to the press—an assignment she took on for the next seven years.83 The journalist Sandra Burton observed, “While Ninoy was experiencing his epiphany, his wife was undergoing a crash course in realpolitik.”84 Later, delivering her own speeches during her campaign, Corazon consistently summoned up Ninoy’s image and credentials, suggesting that his political prowess might have been passed on to her through osmosis.85 As Evelyn, a Manila-based nurse who supported Aquino’s presidential bid and attended several of her campaign rallies, said in an interview: “Cory’s campaign appearances always focused on Ninoy—she told a lot of personal stories and anecdotes, and she would play ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon,’ which is Ninoy’s song. Ninoy was very popular before his unfortunate death, and that popularity was passed on to Cory.”86 Tapping into the narrative of nostalgia that surrounded Ninoy, Corazon presented herself as the individual capable of continuing his legacy and enacting the dreams he had for the country. The case of Aquino’s campaign song attests to music’s formative function in the negotiation and transformation of an individual’s identity. The song allowed her to draw on the people’s sympathy for Ninoy, but also enabled her to present herself as the fresh face of Philippine politics, in this way creating a narrative of hope. While invoking his legacy, she concurrently assumed the role of the song’s leading figure, appealing to the public for their support—a ribbon symbolizing their vote. Corazon even adopted yellow as the official color of her campaign, with a ribbon as her emblem.87 Her supporters also begun using her nickname, “Cory,” akin to how they called Benigno “Ninoy.” Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Corazon Aquino campaigning in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Corazon Aquino campaigning in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Cory’s brand identity was constructed by introducing who she was to the public, but also by stressing who she was not, that is, like Ferdinand and Imelda. She was depicted as “almost a Madonna, a saint in contrast to the wily, corrupt Marcos.”88 Similar to how Ninoy positioned himself as the good against Ferdinand’s evil, Cory’s modest nature was in contrast with Imelda’s frivolous manner. The juxtaposition between the two women was particularly pertinent given Ferdinand’s ailing health; he was allegedly planning to pass the baton to Imelda, who would inherit his power in the case of his death. When Ferdinand accused Cory of inexperience in governance, she replied, “I admit that I have no experience in lying, cheating, stealing, killing political opponents.”89 Responding to his barb that “women should confine their preaching to the bedroom,” Cory remarked, “May the better woman win.”90 And indeed, for a citizenry obsessed with stars, Cory turned into the country’s biggest superstar. Voters, yearning for a national figure worth their reverence, were instrumental in manufacturing Aquino’s symbol as an advocate of hope and democracy. The journalist Seth Mydans wrote, “Mrs. Aquino is a symbol, and she campaigns as a symbol.”91 With sixty days and a lean budget to mount a campaign, she utilized the power of songs and speeches to connect to voters (fig. 6). She focused on process, not policy, opting for an emotional touch by adopting the role of a motherly figure rescuing the nation from authoritarian rule. For instance, she popularized a hand gesture made by extending the index and thumb fingers, creating the letter L, which stood for the word laban (fight). Her campaign slogan was “Tama na! Sobra na! Palitan na!” (Abuse must end, enough is enough, change must come). The theatricality of it all only contributed to Aquino’s cause. Certainly, what made her attractive to voters was her depiction as the protagonist in the melodrama that was Aquino versus Marcos. Even the reserved yet influential Roman Catholic archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, framed the circumstances with hyperbole: “Is this a presidential election or is this a fight between the children of light and the children of darkness?”92 It is a pronouncement that speaks volumes about how Filipinos regard the narratives of their national politics—that is, with the histrionics and devotion usually reserved for the narratives of stars. Aquino’s camp used to her advantage the capability of a simple song to communicate complex messages expeditiously. Aware of their campaign’s limitations compared to Marcos’s, they exploited the power of cultural products—primarily music—to get their message across. They did so quickly and fruitfully. Come the February 1986 elections, Aquino proved to be a staggeringly popular candidate. As anticipated, however, Marcos rigged the election results.93 His compliant legislature sought to declare him the winner, provoking the People Power Revolution, the peaceful uprising that took Marcos, and the world, by surprise. In what was also dubbed the Yellow Revolution, an estimated 3.5 million people took to the streets of Manila, garbed in yellow paraphernalia, confronting Marcos’s military tanks with bibles and rosaries. They sang protest hymns, particularly “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” now transformed into more than an ode to a statesman and his wife-turned-torchbearer.94 The song now symbolized love for one’s country. After three days of protests, Aquino was installed in power, becoming the first female president of the Philippines. “Our long national nightmare is over,” she declared in her first address.95 Aquino continued to be the country’s voice of reason after the end of her term in 1992, frequently offering her insights on matters political and cultural: Filipinos fondly referred to her as Tita (Aunt) Cory. When the public attempted to replicate the People Power Revolution by overthrowing the presidents Joseph Estrada in 2001 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005, Aquino joined the street protests. Remarkably, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was revived on both occasions as a hymn of democracy.96 In 2009, at age 76, Aquino died of colon cancer. Her funeral, reminiscent of Magsaysay’s and Ninoy’s in scale, saw Filipinos decked in yellow, lining the streets to pay their respects. This time, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was not sung, yet yellow ribbons were tied around trees all over the country. The former president Estrada, even after Aquino’s role in his dethronement, acclaimed her as “the Philippines’s most-loved woman.”97 A calculated move or not, Aquino used her campaign song to aim for the heart. Music created for her a narrative rooted in an affectionate image that voters latched on to. More than any other president in Philippine history, she epitomized a political culture in which a cult of personality surrounded its leaders; an arena where the possession of an appealing presence and a compelling narrative is compulsory in securing the public’s patronage.98 Her campaign song demonstrated music’s ability to frame singular identities, echoing Jackson Lears’s contention that advertising with sound does not simply animate products, it makes “stars come to life by bestowing on them personality.”99 In Aquino’s case, music imbued the product with prominence. The imagery and ideology underpinning “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” were productively passed on to her brand, bestowing it with immediate intensity, political authority, and an extraordinary affinity with the public. From Hero to Zero By the 1998 elections, Philippine politics had become increasingly intertwined with the entertainment industry, with more than 100 current or former celebrities running for national posts. It was a slate of stars led by Joseph Estrada, who was a film superstar before parlaying his fame into political success as a mayor, then senator, then vice president. In 1998, he set his sights on the top post, becoming the first entertainer—and college dropout—to become president of the Philippines.100 With his generous paunch, slick Elvis Presley coiffure, and black smudge of moustache (fig. 7), Estrada put off many discerning voters. But to the poor, he was their swashbuckling superhero, battling against the establishment. Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Joseph Estrada, with son Jinggoy, campaigning in 1998. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Joseph Estrada, with son Jinggoy, campaigning in 1998. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Courting voters dressed in bright orange shirts, Estrada delivered speeches that made little attempt at gravitas. Instead, they were peppered with wisecracks and lines uttered by his big-screen characters. The lighthearted, almost blithe, tone of his campaign manifested in his choice of soundtrack: “Sha-La-La-La-La,” a 1973 song by the Danish glam-rock band the Walkers. Similar to Aquino’s case, Estrada and his staff did not produce their own version of the song, but instead obtained permission to use the Walkers’ original recording, which was then played on campaign stages across the country. Estrada did not perform the song live, but often lip-synched to the track’s vocal line and danced along to the beat. His supporters sang and danced along with him, too. Excerpts from the song were also used in Estrada’s campaign advertisements, which were broadcast on radio and television. Campaign vehicles, typically medium-size vans and jeepneys, drove around towns, with the song blasting from speakers installed on the vehicles’ roof. The pop track had a two-fold role in the construction of Estrada’s narrative: the first involves the symbolic associations connoted by the song’s lyrics, which upheld Estrada’s image as a beloved idol of the masses; the second concerns its ideological implications, as the song embodied Estrada’s disdain toward the elitism of Philippine politics. In the opening verse of “Sha-La-La-La-La,” the singer yearns for his lover, intimating to listeners his desire for her return. It is an overture sung with a recitative gesture, as well as rhythmic oscillations that hark back to the more declamatory styles of musical theater. A marked shift occurs in the chorus, as the singer directly addresses the object of his affections. The snappy lyrics are set to a consistent and clearly defined tune, characterized by an engaging recurrence of an exuberant melody, a thickening of the instrumental texture, as well as the iteration of the words “sha-la-la-la-la.” Repeated thrice throughout the track, the chorus functions as the musical hook that increases the song’s memorability and, as a result, the candidate’s brand recall. There’s a girl on my mind and she knows, I’m thinking of her, On my way through the day and at night, when stars shine above me. She’s been gone for some time but I know, I truly love her, And I’m singing this song, hoping she’ll be back when she hears it. My heart goes sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning, Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the sunshine, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the evening, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la just for you. Devoid of a candidate-specific text, what can such a song bring to a politician’s narrative? Cook argues that musical genres—in this case, the dance-pop style of “Sha-La-La-La-La”—provide “unsurpassed opportunities for communicating complex social or attitudinal messages practically instantaneously.”101 In choosing “Sha-La-La-La-La” as his campaign tune, Estrada sought for the bright and breezy values listeners associated with the popular up-tempo track to be passed on to his image. He took on the role of the song’s love-struck protagonist, reminding voters of the beguiling leading man he had played many a time on film. He summoned up not only the romance concocted by the preexisting song’s narrative but also tales from his own history. Born Jose Marcelo Ejercito, he adopted the screen name Joseph Estrada when he appeared in his first film in 1956 at age nineteen. He went on to star in more than 100 “proletarian potboilers,” his romantic Robin Hood characters enchanting the masses. Later he was nicknamed “Erap,” a play on the Tagalog slang pare, meaning buddy. Entering politics as mayor of San Juan in 1967, Estrada continued to see the world through the lens of cinema. The persona he projected was based on his film roles—the downtrodden hero who takes down the ruling class.102 Occasionally, he blurred the distinctions between public servant and fictional character. “I used to punch the police, the hoodlums in uniform,” Estrada, then a senator, told reporters in 1989. “I knocked them down, just like in the movies.”103 Later, announcing his presidential bid, he proclaimed: “This is the last and greatest performance of my life.”104 The song’s second verse echoes the conversational tone of the first, as the singer preaches directly to his listeners, advising that in pining for one’s beloved, it is vital to keep one’s hopes up. Discouraging their moping, he enjoins them to sing along. The peppy chorus follows, but the words “your heart” replaces “my heart” in the first line, referring to the listeners. If your love’s gone away just like mine, you’ll feel like crying. Sing along, maybe once, maybe twice, let’s try it together, Some sweet day, no one knows, she’ll return and you’ll be happy, Shadows fade in the sun, listen to your heart, it is singing. Your heart goes sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning, Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the sunshine, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the evening, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la just for you. The song closes with two repetitions of the chorus, but neither the singer’s nor the listener’s “hearts” are referenced, instead leading directly with “Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning.” This recurrence is set to a harmonic loop; in the original 1973 recording that Estrada adopted for his campaign, the song abruptly fades out in the last line of the chorus—an open-endedness that underscores the song’s unfinished narrative. Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning, Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the sunshine, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the evening, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la just for you … The song’s establishment of an empathic connection between the singer and the listener can be construed as Estrada’s symbolic declaration of being one with the public. “He was our hero,” Biboy, a taxi driver who continues to support Estrada today, told me in an interview. “President Erap—he’s the only president we’ve had who really understood us, the masses, and the hardships that we’re going through. He was masa [like the masses]. He was astig [tough, macho], but he had a heart for the poor.”105 Throughout his political and showbiz careers, Estrada has manufactured an image of being shoulder to shoulder with the happiness and heartaches of the common man. Even his ordinary fashion—tattered shirt, trainers, and black wristband—were markers of his working-class affinity.106 The masses were indeed the cornerstone of his presidential campaign: his snappy slogan, “Erap para sa Mahirap” (Erap for the Poor), was not so much rooted in an authentic pro-masses politics, but a mnemonic device that enhanced his name recall. In response, the public suspended their disbelief, viewing Estrada as their cinematic liberator.107 As the Economist reported: “The hordes who surrounded him burned with a faith that he would shoot up the baddies and hand out wads of dough, just like he did in the movies.”108 Meanwhile, the elite and educated vilified his lack of credentials, and the Catholic hierarchy condemned his gambling, alcoholism, and womanizing; he had a dozen children with seven different women. Yet it was an image Estrada brazenly embraced. Ridiculed for his limited English vocabulary, he responded by deliberately speaking mangled English, even compiling his malapropisms into a book, How the Speak English without Really Trial. His humiliations only endeared him to the public, who vicariously reveled in his successes. Eva-Lotta Hedman observed that through a dialectic of recognition and appropriation, Estrada appeared as if one with “the real people who lived, labored, and suffered nearby, round the corner.”109 With regard to the song’s ideological implications for his image, Estrada utilized “Sha-La-La-La-La” to spurn the seriousness of the political elite. With an obsessive, nonsensical catchphrase, the jovial track bore no obvious political significance, encapsulating Estrada’s carefree approach toward the profoundly critical post he was seeking. In an interview, political commentator Adamson Ricaforte told me: “The song made no sense as a presidential anthem. But it was fun and made everybody smile. Voters loved seeing Estrada performing that song with his staff and his backup dancers, and sometimes even with voters who they’d bring on to the stage to sing and dance with him—and even if he looked funny and awkward dancing with his big belly. Even if it was obvious he was lip-synching. It made the whole thing more entertaining. His rallies were the noisiest that I’ve ever attended. His unusual campaign stood out compared to the typically boring speeches of the other candidates like Jose de Venecia, Alfredo Lim, and Juan Ponce Enrile.”110 In singing and dancing along to “Sha-La-La-La-La” around the country, Estrada lampooned the sternness of his rivals, set himself apart from the stony-faced incumbent president and former military leader Fidel Ramos, and lightened the mood of a nation still recovering from the dark days of Marcos’s dictatorship. His campaign framed his presidency as a protest vote against traditional politics. The former leftist revolutionary Joel Rocamora dubbed Estrada’s triumph “the revenge of the masses.”111 In highlighting the dichotomy between the rich and the poor, Estrada believed that siding with either represented an endorsement of oppression or salvation. Raymond Williams, drawing attention to the complexity of the term “masses,” explained that the grouping revolves around a binary opposition, with one side connoting a “low, ignorant, unstable” mob, the other a multitude viewed as a “potentially positive social force.”112 Estrada drew on both definitions, however superficially: while he mobilized the masses to assert their voice in national politics, he also indirectly magnified the distinctions between everyday folk and the educated elite. This promoted the notion that the masses are simple and good, while the privileged are the opposite. The irony of it all—that Estrada was born to a well-off family and was part of the very government he was besmirching—evaded many voters. He went on to win by a landslide, receiving 40 percent of the total vote, the rest going to ten other candidates.113 During his reign, his pro-poor agenda was proven to be a perfunctory alliance as he failed to engage in significant economic redistribution policies, instead settling with the neoliberal program initiated by his predecessor.114 Merely two years into his term, he was put on trial for the embezzlement of billions of pesos from tobacco taxes and gambling syndicates. In January 2001, street protests reminiscent of the People Power Revolution led to his overthrow. He was sentenced to life in prison but was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his successor and former vice president.115 There is an epilogue. In 2010, Estrada embarked on a comeback: he not only starred in his first film in two decades—playing a patriarch in a family comedy—but also ran in the presidential elections, dubbing his bid as his “final, final performance.”116 “Sha-La-La-La-La” was revived as his campaign soundtrack, this time used symbolically to dramatize a need for political redemption. Remarkably, he finished second only to the exceptionally popular Benigno Aquino III, the son of Ninoy and Cory. In 2013, he was elected mayor of Manila, restarting his political narrative as he returned to his original government post. He was reelected for a second term in 2016 at age 79. Many voters continue to adore him despite his prodigious graft—a testament not only to his populist appeal but also to the criteria Filipinos adhered to in selecting their leaders: a guiding light who will lift them from poverty, or an entertainer who will endear with his escapades? The political columnist Benjie Oliveros protested: “It is only in the Philippines where a disgraced president who was ousted by a people’s uprising would dare run for the presidency again, without atoning for his past mistakes.”117 Magsaysay may have been the most acclaimed, Marcos the most intellectually capable, and Aquino the most respected, but Estrada—prior to his impeachment—was the most venerated president. With an unparalleled charm that stemmed from his film-star past, he possessed what Joseph Roach dubbed the “It-Effect,” one that takes on “a powerful and sometimes even fearsome religiosity of its own, making everyday experience seem not only strange but also enchanted.”118 The parallel between celebrity culture and religious belief can explain why the masses forgave and forgot Estrada’s malfeasance. Many analysts struggle to agree on a justification for his continued political success, often pointing toward an ill-informed electorate or a lack of viable candidates.119 They forget about the power of charisma, especially one that had been cultivated on a public stage for decades.120 As Michael Quinn claimed, “The shift of perception that celebrity allows is a key one, and is extraordinarily powerful. The audience’s attitude shifts from an awareness of the presence of fictional illusion to the acceptance of an illusion, however false, of the celebrity’s absolute presence.”121 With the aid of music, Estrada successfully composed a narrative that established a connection between himself and the public. Stuart Hall proposed that identities “arise from the narrativization of the self, but the necessarily fictional nature of this process in no way undermines its discursive, material, or political effectivity, even if the belongingness, the ‘suturing into the story’ through which identities arise is, partly, in the imaginary (as well as the symbolic) and therefore, always, partly constructed in fantasy.”122 After Magsaysay’s presidency, the people’s expectations of what constitutes a public servant changed. Presidents were not merely stern national commanders, they could also be inspirational figures and charismatic storytellers. Elections became musical spectacles, beginning with Magsaysay’s dancing, followed by the Marcoses’ romantic duets, Aquino’s grief, and coming to a crescendo with Estrada’s showbiz spectacular. Over time, campaigns turned into performances that prioritized entertainment over substance. Regular repetition during succeeding elections turned the pageantry into a habit for both candidates and voters. Such ritual making affirmed the social hierarchy of Philippine elections: performances are participatory from the bottom up but engineered from the top down, thus perpetuating the public’s peripheral position as fans, and the politicians’ as stars. Back in 1999, when corruption charges were filed against him, Estrada was asked by reporters to comment on his plunging popularity. “A nation’s life is like a motion picture,” he replied, summoning the underdog characters he played on cinema. “With proper direction, the next scenes will change. The main character may have taken a beating, but he will recover and the recovery I assure you will be dramatic.”123 Perhaps Estrada will once again revive “Sha-La-La-La-La” as the musical score to a cinematic comeback. Similar to the cases of Magsaysay, Marcos, and Aquino, whose election soundtracks were later brought back to be performed in a different context, Estrada’s campaign song has served as a time capsule for the preservation of his image and narrative, maintaining a bond between the star and his spectators. Conclusion: Seeing Stars Corazon Aquino transformed herself into the leading light of Philippine politics after the death of Ninoy in August 1983. Twenty-six years later, in August 2009, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III mourned the death of his mother Cory. The days that followed saw an outpouring of support for the young senator to step into the shoes of his prominent parents. A month after Cory’s passing, Noynoy made the surprise announcement that he was running in the 2010 presidential elections, a mere eight months away. Turning the nation’s grief into political capital, his candidacy stressed the themes of hope and restoration. Employing two campaign songs, the ballad “Hindi Ka Nag-iisa” (You Are Not Alone) and the rap track “S’ya Ang Pag-Asa, Wala Nang Iba” (He’s Our Hope, No One Else), Noynoy also resurrected his parents’ soundtrack, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” a tune that had come to symbolize democracy and, crucially, the narratives of Ninoy and Cory, which continue to be recalled with reverence by most Filipinos. The yellow ribbon became Noynoy’s campaign logo, and he ended up winning against eight other candidates (fig. 8). Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Noynoy Aquino, delivering his State of the Nation Address in 2011. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Noynoy Aquino, delivering his State of the Nation Address in 2011. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. I conclude with Noynoy’s story because it effectively synthesizes, and further problematizes, the issues raised throughout the four preceding cases. Like Magsaysay, his two original jingles were sung in the vernacular, targeted to appeal to the common Filipino. Like Marcos, he utilized a touching ballad to stir the voters’ emotions. Like his mother Cory, he adopted a preexisting song, with the aim of transferring the positive qualities attached to the original track—and the adoration reserved for the two national heroes associated with it—to his own identity. Like Estrada, he appropriated the stylistic values of a genre—in this case, hip-hop—to reach out to voters with a relatable image. His case demonstrates how today’s candidates, emulating the ways of their predecessors, have mastered the use of campaign media—primarily music—to bolster their fame, propel their agendas, and sell their narratives. Noynoy even starred in music videos of his jingles, appearing with popular actors and musicians. In the case of all these candidates, while the songs alone did not win them their posts, music was a chief contributor to the production of their political brands. Considered collectively as a campaign phenomenon, these examples show the consistent power of songs in carrying symbols, values, and ideologies that construct in the listeners’ minds a candidate’s narrative, whether or not those symbols, values, and ideologies are authentic to the politician’s true identity. They establish how music, as a cultural product consumed collectively by voters, engenders communal solidarity among voters to express their support. Shirin Rai and Janelle Reinelt argue, “Neither politics nor performance can take place without actors who perform and spectators who receive, evaluate, and react to these actions.”124 A compelling story stirs interest in a candidate in an electoral system that has become a contest of personalities. It is an inspiring narrative—an unforgettable character, a distinctive brand—that voters latch on to. Writing about the 1984 candidacy of Ronald Reagan that saw candidate-centered politics soar to new heights in America, Martin Wattenberg deplored a shift of campaign focus “from measures to men, from ideas to character.”125 Noynoy’s case manifests the growing impact of campaign music in Philippine elections. During the time of Magsaysay, a catchy tune was used to disarm voters before drilling the song’s serious message home. Marcos and Aquino utilized music as an intermission to spice up their staid speeches. Estrada’s campaign saw a turn toward frivolity, prioritizing entertainment and eschewing rhetoric. When it was time for Noynoy to solicit votes, it did not take much to convince the Filipino voter, already conditioned to focus on a fascinating narrative rather than a thoughtful political platform. More recently, during the 2016 presidential elections, the five leading candidates all campaigned with a jingle and performed song-and-dance numbers across the country. Rodrigo Duterte, who won the election, was the only candidate who employed more than one jingle; he had five official campaign songs that encompassed the genres of pop, folk rock, rap, and dance, which appealed to the varied tastes and preferences of voters. In Philippine elections, politicians-turned-stars have not only managed to indoctrinate voters with their manufactured identities through songs, they have also cultivated a social process of manipulation that has become a ritualized tradition—one that continues to shape the public’s perception of their leaders as well as themselves as supporters. Williams defined hegemony as “a lived system of meanings and values—constitutive and constituting—which as they are experienced as practices appear as reciprocally confirming. It thus constitutes a sense of reality for most people in the society.” This system, he proposed, turns into a culture.126 As the case studies show, campaign music has nurtured a political culture that emphasizes personalities and trivializes discourse. Williams claimed, “The most interesting and difficult part of any cultural analysis, in complex societies, is that which seeks to grasp the hegemonic in its active and formative but also its transformational process. Works of art, by their substantial and general character, are often especially important as sources of this complex evidence.”127 My examination of campaign music has investigated how the songs sounded, what they meant to audiences, and how they rippled through the culture at large. I have investigated elections in terms of performances, identifying music as a primary tool that candidates use to construct their narratives and shape voter perceptions. Analyzing sound as a social artifact complicates our understanding of the musical and political cultures of the Philippines, upholding music’s role as a potent force in the figuration of societies. Footnotes James Gabrillo is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. His work has been published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Rock Music Studies, Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera, The National (Abu Dhabi), and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The author is grateful to Kariann Goldschmitt, Nicholas Cook, Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, and the journal’s anonymous readers for their feedback and guidance. 1 Epigraphs: Marites Danguilan Vitug, “Celebrity Politics: Star Power Holds Perils for the Philippines,” New York Times, 20 February 2004; Timothy Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 98. 2 David R. M. Irving, Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 99. 3 Horacio de la Costa, Jewels of the Pauper (Quezon City: Jesuit Missions, 1946). 4 See Veit Erlmann, Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening, and Modernity (Oxford: Berg, 2004); David Samuels et al., “Soundscapes: Toward a Sounded Anthropology,” Annual Review of Anthropology 1, no. 48 (2010): 329−45; and Martin Stokes, “Music and the Global Order,” Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004): 47−72. 5 Ann Cvetkovich, “Public Feelings,” South Atlantic Quarterly 106, no. 3 (2007): 461. 6 Justus Buchler, ed., Philosophical Writings of Peirce (New York: Dover Publications, 1995), 99. 7 Thomas Turino, “Signs of Imagination, Identity, and Experience: A Peircean Semiotic Theory for Music,” Ethnomusicology 43, no. 2 (1999): 221−55. See also Turino’s article, “The Coherence of Social Style and Musical Creation among the Aymara in Southern Peru,” Ethnomusicology 33, no. 1 (1989): 1−30. 8 Thomas Turino, Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 189–209, at 197. 9 Ibid., 197. 10 By “brand,” I refer to the identity and narrative a candidate projects to voters. See Brands (London: Routledge, 2006), in which Marcel Danesi explores how semiotic theory can be used to analyze brand images. 11 Vera Brodsky Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents (New York: Macmillan, 1975), 144. 12 Irwin Silber, Songs America Voted By: A Thoroughly Factual and Entertaining History of the Candidates, the Parties, the Issues, the Songmakers, and the Words and Music That Won and Lost American Presidential Elections (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1971), 18. 13 For more on Dana Gorzelany-Mostak’s research on U.S. presidential elections, see “Keepin’ It Real (Respectable) in 2008: Barack Obama’s Pre-existing Music Strategy and the Formation of Presidential Identity,” Journal of the Society for American Music 10, no. 2 (2016): 113−48; and “‘I’ve Got a Little List’: Spotifying Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election,” Music & Politics 9, no. 2 (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/mp.9460447.0009.202. 14 “The Philippines’ Elections: Celebrity Big Ballot,” Economist, 26 April 2007. 15 Associated Press, “Political Clans, Celebrities Dominate Ballots in Philippines,” Asian Journal, 14 May 2013. 16 “The Philippines’ Elections.” 17 Filomeno Aguilar, “Betting on Democracy: Electoral Ritual in the Philippine Presidential Campaign,” Philippine Studies 53, no. 1 (2005): 97. 18 As quoted in Jaileen Jimeno and Annie Ruth Sabangan’s article, “Showbiz Endorsers Rule in Philippine Elections,” Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 7 May 2010. 19 Street, “Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation,” British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6, no. 4 (2004): 435−52, at 437. 20 Richard Dyer, Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1979), 14. 21 Richard Middleton, “Introduction: Locating the Popular Music Text,” in Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music, ed. Middleton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 20. 22 Nicholas Cook, Analysing Musical Multimedia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 20−22. 23 Christi-Anne Castro, Musical Renderings of the Philippine Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 200. 24 American popular music and programs also dominated local radio and television stations. See Elizabeth Enriquez, Radyo: An Essay on Philippine Radio (Manila: CCP, NCCA, 2003), 22−26. 25 Walter Ladwig III, “When the Police are the Problem,” in Policing Insurgencies: Cops as Counterinsurgents, ed. C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 23. 26 While Magsaysay was the first presidential candidate to utilize a jingle, the first Philippine politician to do so was Arsenio Lacson, for his successful bid to become the mayor of Manila in 1951. Like Magsaysay, Lacson appropriated mambo music. 27 Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr., Telebisyon: An Essay on Philippine Television (Manila: CCP, NCCA, 2003), 6. 28 “Editorial: Mambo Magsaysay,” Manila Standard, 16 March 1992. 29 Castro, Musical Renderings of the Philippine Nation, 40. 30 Turino, Music as Social Life, 62. 31 Daniel Boorstin, The Image (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1963), 162. 32 Dyer, Stars, 99−109. 33 Edgar Morin, The Stars (New York: Grove Press, 1960), 135. 34 Cristina Montiel, “Philippine Political Culture and Governance,” in Philippine Political Culture: View from Inside the Halls of Power, ed. Montiel et al. (Makati: Kayumanggi Press, 2002), 1−46. 35 A tirade against rampant electoral cheating in Lanao, a province in the region of Northern Mindanao. “Lutong Macau” is a Filipino expression connoting the fraudulent fixing of a game’s results; it was coined from the way Chinese restaurants dutifully prepared their food in advance. 36 A reference to the 10 percent tax imposed on commercial goods. 37 Personal communication, 21 March 2017. 38 Personal communication, 15 March 2017. 39 Andrew Tudor, Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film (London: Allen & Unwin, 1974), 80−83. 40 Ambeth Ocampo, “‘Mambo Magsaysay’ and Quirino’s Golden ‘Orinola,’” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 March 2010. 41 Carlos Romulo and Marvin Gray, The Magsaysay Story (New York: John Day Company, 1956), 210−13. 42 Amando Doronila, The State, Economic Transformation, and Political Change in the Philippines, 1946−1972 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1992), 95−97. 43 Magsaysay’s son Ramon Jr. and nephew Vicente adopted “Mambo Magsaysay” as their jingle for their respective senatorial bids in 2013 and 2008. 44 “Marcos Revolt Moved to Mambo Beat,” Lodi News-Sentinel, 12 May 1986. 45 “Editorial: Mambo Magsaysay.” 46 Antonio Hila, “Musika: An Essay on Philippine Music,” in Filipiniana (Manila: CCP, 1994), 119. 47 Katherine Ellison, Imelda: Steel Butterfly of the Philippines (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988), 51−55. 48 Vicente Rafael, White Love and Other Events in Filipino History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 125. 49 Francisco Santiago, The Development of Music in the Philippines (Manila: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1931), 14−16. 50 The popularity of “Dahil sa Iyo” encouraged foreign musicians visiting the Philippines, such as the Lettermen, Julio Iglesias, and Nat King Cole, to cover the song in its original Tagalog. 51 Personal communication, 19 March 2017. 52 James Hamilton-Paterson, America’s Boy: A Century of Colonialism in the Philippines (New York: Henry Holt, 1988), 148. 53 Christine Bacareza Balance, “Dahil sa Iyo: The Performative Power of Imelda’s Song,” Women & Performance 20, no. 2 (2010): 124. 54 As president, Marcos commissioned a mural of himself and Imelda portrayed as Malakas (Strong) and Maganda (Beautiful), the country’s mythic father and mother, based on a folktale akin to the story of Adam and Eve. 55 Carmen Nakpil, a former aide of Imelda, said in the documentary: “Filipino masses were convinced [they were] a love team. It was very effective. It was like a soap opera”; Imelda, dir. Ramona Diaz (2003; Unitel Pictures). 56 Personal communication, 20 March 2017. 57 Keyes Beech, “Iron Lady,” Los Angeles Times, 24 October 1980. 58 Personal communication, 20 March 2017. 59 Georgina Born, “Music and the Representation/Articulation of Sociocultural Identities,” in Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music, ed. Born and David Hesmondhalgh (London: University of California Press, 2000), 32. 60 Raymond Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy (New York: Times Books, 1987), 71−84. 61 Hamilton-Paterson, America’s Boy, 174−85. 62 Diaz, Imelda (documentary). 63 Ellison, Imelda: Steel Butterfly, 244. 64 Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 6. 65 Ibid., 19. 66 “From a Symbol to a Leader: The Rise of Corazon Aquino,” New York Times, 26 February 1986. 67 Milt Freudenheim et al., “Marcos Moves Towards a Vote,” New York Times, 17 November 1985. 68 Craig Lockard, Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998), 150. 69 “Top Selling Singles for 1973,” Sounds, 5 January 1974. 70 Whether Aquino and her staff sought approval from the performers and producers of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” to use the track as her campaign song is undocumented. 71 David Joel Steinberg, The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000), 141−42. 72 Fe Zamora, “Iconic Yellow Ribbon—Why It Keeps Waving,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 May 2010. 73 “Filipino Opposition Leader Shot Dead,” BBC News, 21 August 1983. 74 “Eulogy delivered by Corazon Aquino” (archived document), 31 August 1983, Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. 75 Stephen Zunes et al., Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999), 126−33. 76 Joseph Reaves, “Marcos Ready to Call Election,” Chicago Tribune, 4 November 1985. 77 Sandra Burton, “Corazon Aquino,” Time, 23 August 1999. 78 Cook, Analysing Musical Multimedia, 20−21. 79 Steinberg, The Philippines, 142−44. 80 Personal communication, 22 March 2017. 81 Jonathan Corpus Ong, The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines (London: Anthem Press, 2015), 28. See also Randy David, Reflections on Sociology and Philippine Society (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2001); Fenella Cannell, Power and Intimacy in Christian Philippines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); and F. Landa Jocano, Filipino Value System: A Cultural Definition (Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1997). 82 Pico Iyer, “Woman of the Year,” Time, 5 January 1987. 83 Seth Mydans, “Corazon Aquino, Ex-Leader of Philippines, Is Dead,” New York Times, 31 July 2009. 84 Sandra Burton, Impossible Dream: The Marcoses, the Aquinos, and the Unfinished Revolution (New York: Warner Books, 1989), 92. 85 James Fenton, All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of Southeast Asia (London: Granta, 2005), 127−28. 86 Personal communication, 18 March 2017. 87 Los Angeles Times, “Crowds Hail Aquino; Marcos Assails Her Stand on Communists,” Los Angeles Times, 4 January 1986. 88 Linda Richter, “Exploring Theories of Female Leadership in South and Southeast Asia,” Pacific Affairs 63, no. 4 (1991): 535. 89 M. Gonzales-Zap, The Making of Cory (Quezon City: New Day, 1987), 107. 90 “Tearing Down the Dictatorship, Rebuilding Democracy” (speech by Corazon Aquino), 23 January 1986, Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. 91 Seth Mydans, “Campaigning in the Philippines: Bold Power vs. an Icon of Change; Aquino Stirs a Crowd,” New York Times, 28 January 1986. 92 George Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: Diplomacy, Power, and the Victory of the American Deal (New York: Scribner, 1995), 344. 93 Seth Mydans, “Observers of Vote Cite Wide Fraud by Marcos Party,” New York Times, 10 February 1986. 94 Steinberg, The Philippines, 145−49. 95 “Corazon Aquino,” Scotsman, 5 August 2009. 96 Fenton, All the Wrong Places, 129. 97 Fe Zamora, “Estrada: Aquino RP’s ‘Most Loved’ Woman,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 July 2009. 98 Patricio Abinales, “The Post-Marcos Regime, the Non-Bourgeois Opposition and the Prospects of a Philippine ‘October,’” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 1, no. 4 (1985): 37−45. 99 Jackson Lears, Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America (New York: Basic, 1994), 291. 100 Seth Mydans, “Filipinos Favoring Ex-Actor,” The New York Times, 12 May 1998. 101 Cook, Analysing Musical Multimedia, 16−17. 102 Elmina Maniago, “Communication Variables Favoring Celebrity Candidates in Becoming Politicians,” Southeast Asian Studies 44, no. 4 (2007): 509−10. 103 Seth Mydans, “This Actor-Politician Says It’s Bedtime for Bases,” New York Times, 25 February 1989. 104 Mydans, “Filipinos Favoring Ex-Actor.” 105 Personal communication, 19 March 2017. 106 A magazine article described Estrada as “a fat, handsome, bow-legged policeman, off-duty. Or a jeepney driver… . All roles he once played in the movies”; Starweek, 26 July 1992, 11. See also Rolando Tolentino, “Masses, Power, and Gangsterism in the Films of Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada,” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 25, nos. 1−2 (2010): 79. 107 In a nationwide poll conducted in 1998, film actors comprised a third of the individuals named by respondents as “most admired man.” Estrada topped the list, ahead of “father, husband, Bill Clinton, and Pope John Paul”; Social Weather Report Survey (archived records), October–November 1998, Social Weather Station. 108 “Great Masses,” Economist, 21 January 2015. 109 Eva-Lotta Hedman, “The Spectre of Populism in Philippine Politics and Society: Artista, Masa, Eraption!,” South East Asia Research 9, no. 1 (2001): 36. 110 Personal communication, 22 March 2017. 111 Mydans, “Filipinos Favoring Ex-Actor.” 112 Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 195. 113 Isabelo Crisostomo, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, from Stardom to History (Wellesley: Branden Books, 1999), 314. 114 Mark Thompson, “Populism and the Revival of Reform: Competing Political Narratives in the Philippines,” Contemporary Southeast Asia 32, no. 1 (2010): 6. 115 Bastiaan Van de Loo, “The Failure of the Philippine Presidential System,” Asia Europe Journal 2, no. 2 (2004): 267. 116 Carlos Conde, “Estrada Begins Unlikely Comeback in Philippines,” New York Times, 28 October 2009. 117 Benjie Oliveros, “Estrada’s Presidential Bid Another Philippine Aberration,” Bulatlat, 24 October 2009. 118 Joseph Roach, It (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 17. 119 See, for example, Myrna Alejo and Joel Rocamora, “Explaining Erap,” Political Brief 8, no. 2 (2000): 16−27; and Patrick Flores, “The Illusions of a Cinematic President,” Public Policy 2, no. 4 (1998): 115−17. 120 Max Weber defined charisma as a “quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or at least superficially exceptional qualities.” On Charisma and Institution Building (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 329. 121 Michael Quinn, “Celebrity and the Semiotics of Acting,” New Theatre Quarterly 6, no. 22 (1990): 156. 122 Stuart Hall, “Introduction: Who Needs Identity?,” in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Hall and Paul du Gay (London: Sage Publications, 1996), 4. 123 Asian Political News, “Estrada Vows to Campaign to Regain People’s Trust,” 1 November 1999. 124 Shirin Rai and Janelle Reinelt, introduction to The Grammar of Politics and Performance, ed. Rai and Reinelt (London: Routledge, 2014), 1. 125 Martin Wattenberg, Decline of American Political Parties, 1952−1992 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 133. 126 Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 110. 127 Ibid., 113. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Musical Quarterly Oxford University Press

The Sound and Spectacle of Philippine Presidential Elections, 1953–98

The Musical Quarterly , Volume Advance Article (3) – Apr 11, 2018

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Abstract

No other country in Southeast Asia makes its pop idols its national leaders. —Marites Danguilan Vitug, New York Times, 20 February 2004 Jingles were almost always unremittingly cheerful and upbeat, using happy tunes to sweeten the frequently bland information contained in the lyrics. They worked simply, by trying to create a positive affect around a particular product, occasionally promising something, whether suavity and attractiveness to women, or white teeth. —Timothy Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism (2012) Reflecting on how music has been exploited by advertisers to persuade the public to purchase a product, ethnomusicologist Timothy Taylor is evidently referring to jingles intended to sell consumer goods.1 Yet he could well be talking about election jingles, created to peddle not a material product but an individual: more precisely, a candidate for public office. For what is a political campaign but a strain of advertising—an organized effort to influence the voting process within a group or society. A crucial element of that endeavor is campaign music—the soundtrack to a bid—composed (or adapted), performed, and trumpeted to create a positive effect around a candidate’s image. The promise: not suavity but social services; not white teeth but welfare. The target: not a sale but a vote. And with music’s proven competency in subliminal suggestion, jingles have been a potent aid in putting politicians into power. In the Philippines, jingles—originally known as singing commercials—appeal to the Filipinos’ historical predilection toward song and dance, manifested in a musical culture comprising traditional indigenous practices, Western art music, and popular music styles from around the world. Throughout pivotal moments in the country’s history, music has been utilized to express not only elation and triumph but also subversion and protest, particularly during the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupations.2 The historian Horacio de la Costa famously extolled that music is the “jewel” that brings together a country of 7,107 islands and 186 languages.3 Music is everywhere: nearly every household owns a karaoke machine. Variety song-and-dance programs are staples on television. Towns regularly organize singing competitions among residents. Vendors hawk their wares by singing improvised jingles. Traffic enforcers dance on the job, their arms swaying to an imaginary rhythmic beat as they gesture for motorists to stop and go. For many Filipinos, everyday life is a performance. There is a penchant for exaggeration, the reveling in extremes of glee and gloom, like the dramatic endurance of hardships emulated from characters in local soap operas. Crucially, it is a culture where the boundaries of politics, performance, and celebrity are often blurred in the minds of its people; a nation where campaign songs have been an effective tool to propagandize the merits, whether existent or not, of an individual. Through the Peircean semiotic analysis of campaign music and interviews with journalists and voters, as well as the critical examination of audio-visual recordings and newspaper clippings sourced from online archives, the National Library of the Philippines, and the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines, this article investigates how Philippine presidential candidates have utilized songs in order to send cues to voters about the images they seek to project for themselves. In doing so, I do not offer a history of the campaign jingle in Philippine politics; rather, I focus on four case studies of presidential candidates who went on to win their respective elections with the aid of campaign songs. The cases are discussed in chronological order, encompassing four presidential elections held from 1953 to 1998. Exploring the dynamics between candidates and voters, I contend that through repetitive performance and listening, sonic registers shape voter sentiment, resulting in the creation of a politician’s image and narrative. This echoes recent scholarship advocating the sonic as a key site for understanding the production of social identities.4 Ann Cvetkovich asserts, “Political identities are implicit within structures of feeling, sensibilities, everyday forms of cultural expression and affiliation that may not take the form of recognizable organizations.”5 Likely because they lie in the indeterminate interstice of the political and the musical, campaign songs have rarely, if ever, been included in discourses on Philippine nationhood. Yet music is essential in understanding Filipino identity, given its significance to the nation’s daily life. As my examples show, it has played a crucial role in shaping the citizenry’s sense of self and nation. The story begins with Ramon Magsaysay, the first Philippine presidential candidate to employ a jingle for his campaign, in 1953. His upbeat dance song, titled “Mambo Magsaysay,” took stylistic cues from the Cuban mambo music that was then reaching fever pitch in the United States. The second case focuses on Ferdinand Marcos, who ran for president in 1965 with the sappy ballad “Dahil sa Iyo” (Because of You), a song originally written for the film Bituing Marikit (Lovely Star) and performed by Rogelio de la Rosa, one of the most popular Filipino actors of the twentieth century. Indeed, Marcos courted voters like a celebrity, performing his ballad on the campaign trail, often in a duet with his wife Imelda. During the 1986 presidential elections, Corazon Aquino’s jingle was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” a pop song by the American group Tony Orlando and Dawn. The track was first popularized in the Philippines during the return of the exiled politician Benigno Aquino Jr. (Corazon’s husband) to the country in 1983, during which his supporters tied yellow ribbons on trees in anticipation of his arrival. Aquino was assassinated upon disembarking at the airport, sparking the People Power Revolution that led to the demise of Marcos’s presidency and the inauguration of Corazon as president. The appropriation of preexisting Western music continued with the 1998 campaign song of the actor-turned-politician Joseph Estrada: the pop track “Sha-La-La-La-La” by the Danish band Walkers. These cases can be productively studied in succession, as each president utilized music in distinct ways. Magsaysay appropriated the values associated with the genre of mambo in order to portray to voters the vibrancy of his character and the vitality of his political aspirations. Marcos used a film soundtrack already beloved by the public, with the aim of associating the song’s popularity to his identity. Aquino adopted a preexisting Western ballad, altering the song’s semantic codes by performing it in a political context. Similarly, Estrada appropriated a pop song for his jingle, irrespective of the dance track’s lack of connection to his image. In examining these different cases, I employ an analytical approach based on the ideas of Charles Sanders Peirce, whose semiotic theory is grounded on the interaction of three basis elements: the sign, defined as “something that stands for something else to someone in some way”; its object, the entity stood for by the sign; and its interpretant, the result of a process of interpretation in the mind of an observer of the sign and object—such effects may include feeling, sensation, or physical reaction.6 A number of music scholars have adapted Peircean semiotics to suit the peculiarities of musical meaning and performance. Thomas Turino has used them to explore the semiotic power of music to link concepts and impressions with each other. Musical components such as rhythm, tempo, and harmony function as signs that combine to construct the interpretation of a song in the mind of a listener.7 Music’s various elements—and thus its ability to comprise a multiplicity of meanings and references, along with its status as a frequent collective activity—make it a semiotic mode with a rich potential to produce shared views, create collective identities, and transform individual subjectivities, which are attributes critical to the formation of social groups and political movements. In Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation, Turino considers how political rhetoric and propaganda have harnessed, consciously and explicitly, music’s iconic and indexical power to their advantage, using a song’s ability to link images and ideas, “making their fit seem true or natural, even if they are not.”8 Through repetitive performance and listening—and the repeated grouping of a set of signs in the mind of an observer—songs are able to link iconic and indexical signs to people’s construction of reality. As Turino states, “This is precisely the goal in directing people’s thinking.”9 It is a maneuver that can be attributed to the case of campaign songs that, through repeated transmission, link symbols and ideas to the candidate’s image, whether or not authentic connections are organically forged between them. Based on these insights into the ability of music to yield emotional responses and realize personal and social identities, I investigate the jingles’ lyrical content and stylistic features, as well as their symbolic connotations, affective implications, and ideological messages. Moreover, I contextualize the songs in relation to the political and cultural milieux of their time. The case studies indicate that the formation of meaning unfolds in campaign songs through the cumulative and repetitive processes of their performance and listening. Aided by my interviews with journalists and voters for each respective election, I evaluate the effect of the jingles on the image formation and brand building of the presidents, asserting the capability of music to construct “star narratives” of politicians, which in turn reconfigure the relationship between statesmen and the society they serve.10 This leads to the article’s most significant argument: that the tradition of campaign songs in Philippine presidential elections casts politicians not only as public servants but also as celebrities and entertainers. The majority of scholarly work on campaign music concerns the United States, where the election jingle is believed to have originated in 1786 with “God Save George Washington,” composed for America’s first president and sung to the melody of “God Save the King.”11 According to Irwin Silber, campaign songs are intended “to obfuscate issues and manipulate minds” of voters.12 More recently, Benjamin Schoening and Eric Kasper charted a comprehensive history of campaign music in U.S. presidential elections in Don’t Stop Thinking About the Music (2012). Dana Gorzelany-Mostak provides an enlightening examination of how songs can build a candidate’s brand in her 2013 PhD dissertation, “Pre-existing Music in United States Presidential Campaigns, 1972−2012,” which chronicles how campaign music, appropriated from preexisting pop songs, constructs candidate identities.13 In the Philippine context, no known academic research has investigated the subject, though George Caparas provides a colorful chronicle of Philippine presidential jingles in his 2004 article “Songs in the Key of Politics,” for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. In the Philippines, political strategists deem jingles indispensable—with every serious contender, particularly for the presidency, employing a soundtrack as part of their campaign. Prior to the computerization of the 2010 presidential elections, voters in previous elections had to laboriously memorize the names of up to eighteen candidates for national and local posts, and then write their preferred candidate’s name by hand on a paper ballot. A repercussion, as the Economist observed in 2007, is that “those with the best-known names, not necessarily the best policies, tend to win.”14 Essentially, this is how campaign songs have elected Philippine presidents: by disarming voters through harmony and catchy lyrics, and enacting name recognition for the benefit of the candidates. While campaign music has been frequently utilized in U.S. presidential elections—recent examples include Hillary Clinton’s “Fight Song” (Rachel Platten) and Barack Obama’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder)—election jingles have been a more forceful influence on most Filipino voters, due to an inherent and collective penchant for musical performance and celebrity culture. The Associated Press has described the Philippine polls as “a contest over popularity first and political reform second,” resulting in a carnivalesque campaign season galvanized not only by the contenders’ speeches but also by their song-and-dance performances on stages across the country.15 In a critical editorial, the Economist assessed the country’s elections as “an all-singing, all-dancing sideshow, more concerned with parading the candidates’ personalities.”16 The campaign period, which begins ninety days prior to the elections, is characterized by intentional excess, where the public’s senses are assaulted with jingles, slogans, and advertisements, all in the name of brand recall. Filomeno Aguilar, detailing the ritual of Philippine presidential campaigns, quips: “The chaos is tolerated and accepted, and transgressions become normative. Indeed, one can argue that without these excesses Filipinos would not recognize the period as pertaining properly to an election campaign.”17 In establishing their brand identity with the voting public, Philippine politicians have tapped into the popularity of film, television, and music stars, seeking their endorsement and inviting them to appear on the campaign trail, primarily to perform together on stage to entertain voters. Fernando Gagelonia, a media executive, considers such endorsements acts of “transference,” referring to candidates spending millions of Philippine pesos for celebrity endorsers simply to acquire an immediate rapport with a star’s fan base.18 John Street has reflected on the phenomenon of the “celebrity politician,” which he defines as a candidate who adopts “the forms and associations of the celebrity to enhance their image and communicate their message”; the rise of the celebrity politician, he argues, has resulted in the “personalization” of politics.19 Celebrity culture has such a significant hold on Philippine politics that, as former president Joseph Estrada’s case exemplifies, stars themselves have been elected to government posts regardless of their lack of credentials. Furthermore, while candidates run under political parties, the homogeneity of these parties in terms of philosophy and platform has promoted a personality-based electoral system in the Philippines, with voters supporting individual candidates, not entire parties. For aspiring public servants, such nonideological politics has prioritized the creation of a celebrity status in order to win. In my analysis of how Philippine presidents have transformed into celebrities, I invoke the work of Richard Dyer on “stars,” specifically his contention that celebrities are manufactured through the manipulation of the audience, with stars “owing their existence solely to the machinery of their production.”20 Although Dyer primarily deals with film stars, his framework concerning “star texts,” or the formation of celebrity images, is useful for my discourse on how jingles construct “star narratives” for presidents. I also adopt in my investigation Richard Middleton’s notion that in popular music “meanings are produced through dialogue at many levels; within the textures, voices, structures, and style-alliances of the individual musical event; between producers and addressees; between text, style, and genre and other texts, styles, genres; between discourses, musical and other; between interpretations, mediators, and other involved social actors.”21 The examples I examine recognize that an insightful interpretation of campaign songs entails consideration of the multiple and often overlapping dialogues between the texts of the musical event (the song), its producer (the composer and performer), its subject (the candidate), and its listeners (the voters), as well as related musical events, such as songs or genres, the jingle was appropriated from. My framework also borrows from the work of Nicholas Cook, who contends that in television advertisements, the subliminal power of music allows a song to transfer its attributes to the product being sold; a point relevant to my discussion on how songs—and their content, values, and connotations—shape candidate identities.22 Tracing how music defined the Philippines as a nation in the twentieth century, Christi-Anne Castro observes that while the country has a complicated history that “forecloses the dominance of any single cultural narrative about the construction of nation, studies of how music and dance author and authorize nation do tell a story of the importance of the performing arts in nationalism.”23 Ultimately, this article offers an alternative context against which to understand Philippine elections, attempting to move beyond existing interpretations focused solely on the political by engaging in a discourse on musical spectacles that arise during campaigns. My investigation of a neglected cultural terrain hopefully gestures toward a deeper understanding of how music reconfigures the relationship between politicians and the public in the Philippines. Mambo to Malacañang In 1953, an infectious tune sealed Ramon Magsaysay’s landslide victory, launching a trend in Philippine politics. He danced his way to Malacañang Palace, the official presidential residence, with “Mambo Magsaysay,” the first documented jingle utilized for a presidential campaign in the Philippines. It had only been seven years since the country gained its independence from a forty-eight-year occupation by the U.S. and the influence of American popular culture was evident in the local entertainment scene, with American music dominating the programming of local radio stations.24 Taking its cue from mambo, the Latin dance conceived in Cuba, “Mambo Magsaysay” was sung by Rosita dela Vega (backed by the band Ball Quartette and Piltones), who recorded the song for the campaign. The recorded track was then played and heard at campaign events across the country, Magsaysay dancing to the beat of the jingle as his supporters sang along to the vocal line. Excerpts from the song were also circulated widely as thirty-second or one-minute advertisements through radio broadcast. It was an immediate hit, the jingle’s syncopated rhythms enthralling the public, who tapped their feet along with the upbeat song’s dynamic melody and cleverly rhymed lyrics, demonstrating the power of songs in molding topographies of affect and imbuing the candidate’s image with desire. The spirited sound of “Mambo Magsaysay” contradicted its serious subtext. Composed by Raul Manglapus, the two-and-a-half-minute jingle was crafted around Magsaysay’s persona as a combatant against the expanding communist movement in Southeast Asia. A former captain during the Pacific War, Magsaysay was then serving as the country’s secretary of national defense, protecting the nation from rebel guerrillas. The jingle’s two opening verses highlighted Magsaysay’s competence in getting the job done. Prior to his appointment to lead the defense ministry, Filipinos regarded their national army with distrust. Magsaysay elevated the army’s image not only by quashing rebellion but also by deploying soldiers to provide aid in far-flung provincial communities.25 Heartened by the people’s admiration and stimulated to continue his fight against communism—as well as the corrupt administration of his boss, the incumbent president Elpidio Quirino—Magsaysay launched a presidential bid armed with a campaign trimming adopted from American politics: the election jingle.26 Opening with an ascending triadic melodic gesture, the song adhered to the mambo’s conventional structure of verse, chorus, verse, montuno—with the first verse and chorus serving as Magsaysay’s trumpet call of triumph. In Cuban music, montuno refers to a song’s brasher, faster instrumental section with a repetitive vocal refrain, akin to a syncopated vamp. Everywhere that you would look Was a bandit or a crook Peace and order was a joke Till Magsaysay pumasok [entered]! That is why, that is why You will hear the people cry: Our democracy will die Kung wala si [If not for] Magsaysay! Along with his campaign slogan, “Magsaysay Is My Guy,” Magsaysay positioned himself as a heroic figure to the masses (fig. 1).27 The tone of his campaign was populist: behold, an extraordinary individual seeking to represent the interests of the ordinary. It is a theme coherent with his remarkable climb to the top: a former chauffeur and automobile mechanic, Magsaysay worked his way to a university degree before joining the Philippine Army. As a public servant, he spoke in Tagalog, the national language, which made him stand out from his contemporaries—particularly his election rival Quirino, who preferred to converse in Spanish, the language of the elite and educated. Hence, the combination of Tagalog and English lyrics in “Mambo Magsaysay,” especially in the jingle’s montuno, amplified the song’s appeal to the common Filipino, drilling its message home. A 1992 article in the Manila Standard declared “Mambo Magsaysay” the country’s “first Taglish hit.”28 While harmonically sparse, the syncopated rhythm of the montuno lent the jingle a lilting quality, thereby accentuating the captivating rhymes of the lyrics. Mambo, mambo Magsaysay! Mabu-, mabu-, mabuhay! [Hurrah!] Our democracy will die Kung wala si Magsaysay! Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Ramon Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Ramon Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Following a steady 4/4 beat, the jingle was recorded with a guitar, bass horn, trumpet, trombone, and three sets of percussion instruments crucial in producing the ostinato patterns distinct to mambo: bongo drums, timbales, and conga drums. The motive of reiteration extended not only to the jingle’s rhythmic pattern, phrasing, and melodic structure but also to the repetition of particularly pivotal words in the montuno—“Mambo, mambo Magsaysay! / Mabu-, mabu-, mabuhay!”—which then recurred thrice throughout the song. Synthesized with a scattering of clever alliteration, such as “Mambo Magsaysay” and “Our democracy will die,” these stylistic elements yielded an unforgettable track. Moreover, the repeated utterance of the name “Magsaysay” in every verse ingrained the candidate’s image into the minds of listeners. The song also featured a 40-second instrumental break, wherein the burly and handsome Magsaysay often confidently broke into dance, an exuberant act he performed as he went from one barrio to another. He was, quite simply, a presidential aspirant like no other. As Castro chronicles on Musical Renderings of the Philippine Nation: “Perceived to be a kind of ‘man of the people,’ Magsaysay promulgated stories of his lower-class past in order to differentiate himself from the elite, who were perceived to be irreversibly corrupt. He toured Philippine villages to talk with rural people, and he visited soldiers in the field.”29 Traveling around the country to personally court voters was a hands-on approach never before employed by politicians before him, which only boosted the public’s endearment (fig. 2). Turino has contemplated the significance of audiences witnessing first-hand their idols perform their manufactured identities: “It fulfills, to different degrees, this desire of connecting with the artists—whether or not we get a real sense of the people we admire or only the groomed public personas they wish to present.”30 Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Magsaysay campaigning in 1953. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Moreover, Magsaysay possessed, as the historian Daniel Boorstin asserted stars did, “a definable, publicizable personality: a figure which can become a nationally-advertised trademark.”31 Aided by his memorable jingle and slogan, Magsaysay was the first Philippine president who possessed the charm of a celebrity. It did not hurt that he dressed like one, too: vibrant Hawaiian polo shirts were his campaign uniform. Suddenly, it became a requisite for statesmen desiring the public’s attention to play characters, or what Dyer terms “constructed representations of persons.” Their political images thus became no different from star images: “constructed personages in media texts.”32 The identities they portrayed to voters were carefully fabricated, ensuring every image and text relayed to the public was coherent with the grand narrative they wished to convey. Edgar Morin has argued that “industrial techniques of rationalization … have effectively made the star a merchandise destined for mass consumption.”33 As the examples in this article demonstrate, the sizable investment of resources devoted to the production of an effective campaign song has recast the candidate as a product peddled to consumers: the voters. Through his jingle, Magsaysay reminded voters of his most significant accomplishment as secretary of defense—that of restoring their faith in the electoral process. After the widespread fraud that occurred during the 1949 elections, Magsaysay mobilized the army to protect the 1951 polls, resulting in an orderly affair. It was this achievement, and the vision of a better government, that “Mambo Magsaysay” glorified in the song’s second half. Magsaysay exploited music’s role in identity formation in order to establish a personal relationship, built on trust, between himself and the public. It became an effective strategy in a political culture the psychology professor Cristina Montiel describes as highly personal, collectivist, and family-oriented.34 Birds they voted in Lanao At pati aswang pa daw [And ghouls, too] Ang eleksyon lutong Macau [The election was fixed]35 Till Magsaysay showed them how! Too much people’s money spent But no honest government No more graft or ten percent36 If Magsaysay is President! That is why, that is why You will hear the people cry: Our democracy will die Kung wala si [if not for] Magsaysay! Enrique Masola, a former journalist who covered the 1953 elections, witnessed how Magsaysay captivated crowds with the aid of his campaign song. In an interview, he told me: “His jingle was very catchy, the lyrics were very clever and easy to remember. At the same time, it contained a powerful message that inspired his supporters, who sang along to it—all the time—during Magsaysay’s rallies and motorcades. The song was so catchy, some voters even ended up writing ‘Mambo Magsaysay’ on their ballots. That jingle really made him attractive in the minds of the Filipino public, both as a president and as an idol.”37 “Mambo Magsaysay,” as a text and a performance, indeed generated intriguing dichotomies: while bouncy in beat, the song’s theme of no-nonsense reform was no laughing matter. While banging the drum for his grave military efforts, Magsaysay demonstrated he could loosen up. In an attempt to hear from voters who supported Magsaysay back in 1953, I interviewed Maricar, an eighty-seven-year-old retired schoolteacher from the province of Laguna, who told me that although six decades have passed, she can still remember some of the lines from “Mambo Magsaysay,” a testament to the song’s appeal and memorability: “Our democracy will die / Kung wala si Magsaysay!” she recited to me. She recalled that she and her siblings went to one of Magsaysay’s campaign rallies to see the candidate in person, where the jingle served as an anthem for his fans to perform their shared support. She said: “I remember him walking up the steps of a makeshift stage in Mendiola [a street in Manila]. He was dancing to ‘Mambo Magsaysay’ as he entered. We were all clapping and shouting his name. There were also breaks in between his serious political speeches where they would play the song. He would sing and dance along to ‘Mambo’—we all danced along with him, too. It was a celebration, like a street party.”38 Maricar said Magsaysay exuded a “tough but compassionate” personality, traits he demonstrated through the performance of “Mambo Magsaysay” during his campaign. The jingle deftly promoted a hybrid image for the candidate—as both ordinary and extraordinary, as well as a commoner and a protector of the commoners. The appropriation of mambo music underscored this duality, as Magsaysay aligned mambo’s upbeat values to his own: an accessible leadership of high intensity. In Image and Influence, Andrew Tudor proposes a typology of relationships that emerge between a star and an audience. Four categories are useful in understanding the impact of Magsaysay’s public image, or what I dub his “star narrative”: emotional affinity—the audience feel a sense of involvement with the star; self-identification—the audience place themselves in the persona of the star; imitation—the star becomes a model for the audience; and projection—more than simple mimicry, the audience deal with their realities in terms of how the star does with his.39 Through his campaign, the Filipino public felt an attachment toward Magsaysay’s charisma and political prowess (emotional affinity), bolstered by a notion that due to his humble roots, he can relate to their daily concerns (self-identification). He went on to become a role model for many (imitation), particularly to younger individuals who emulated his dynamic personality and leadership (projection). Magsaysay won the elections by a landslide, earning a historic 69 percent of the votes compared to Quirino’s 31 percent. The brand building of the Philippines’s youngest president persisted: he was sworn into office wearing the barong Tagalog, a traditional embroidered shirt worn by common folk—a first by a president. Most history textbooks characterize Magsaysay’s presidency as the humblest and most transparent. Notably, he opened the Malacañang Palace to the public, ordering the forbidding mansion’s name to be changed simply to Malacañang and dubbing it “the house of the people.”40 In March 1957, a year before his term ended, Magsaysay was killed in a plane crash; he was forty-nine. Two million people were estimated to have attended his burial.41 The tragedy only fueled the romanticization of Magsaysay’s narrative, since there has been no other Philippine president as beloved by the masses as he was. The historian Amando Doronila regards Magsaysay’s term as a turning point in a political arena that had until then functioned chiefly through localism: for the first time ever, a single leader commanded the respect and captured the imagination of the nation.42 “Mambo Magsaysay” went on to influence future presidential campaigns, as contenders considered a catchy jingle compulsory to their bid.43 The song also became an anthem for democracy, albeit an alteration in its symbolic codes: in 1986, it was revived as a hymn of protest during the People Power Revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The renewed popularity of the jingle was due not only to its anticorruption message but also to its association with a lionized presidency. Quizzed by reporters about why she chose to repeatedly play “Mambo Magsaysay” on her radio station during the four days of protests that brought down Marcos, the broadcast journalist June Keithley replied: “I knew Magsaysay had been very popular and a very loved president, as opposed to Marcos.”44 Decades later and Magsaysay’s narrative—and soundtrack—remains idolized. His jingle’s closing line, “Our democracy will die / Kung wala si Magsaysay!,” rang true then—and now. Since his term, Philippine politics has been consistently mired in corruption and chaos—and his image has often been summoned up with a mix of veneration and sorrow. “No historian claims that the brief Magsaysay era was our own version of Camelot,” read a 1992 newspaper editorial on the anniversary of Magsaysay’s death. “But more and more, that is the way those years look today to the mambo generation that remembers that brief, shining moment of euphoria that ended 35 years ago.”45 Magsaysay was the first Philippine president to successfully utilize music as an instrument in the manufacturing of his public identity. By transmitting subliminal messages about his image—as a man of the people and of action—his campaign song endeared him to voters, eliciting emotional responses related to his narrative. In appropriating the positive values associated with mambo, Magsaysay was able to portray to the people the effervescence of his character and the potency of his political aspirations. A critical moment that transformed Philippine elections into a contest of personalities, Magsaysay’s case attests to the ability of music to construct identities, shape sentiment, and transform subjectivities. Tale of a Tyrant’s Tune The sentimental song was the overture, the lead-in, the prelude, to Ferdinand Marcos’s big show. Running for the presidency in 1965, Marcos appropriated “Dahil sa Iyo” (Because of You), the theme track of the 1938 film Bituing Marikit (Lovely Star), as his campaign song, the first Philippine presidential candidate to adopt a preexisting Tagalog tune for his bid. “Dahil sa Iyo,” composed by the actor Miguel Velarde Jr., adhered to the stylistic structure of a type of native Filipino ballad called kundiman, “a song which expresses the lofty sentiment of love, and even heroism, in a melancholy mood.”46 Developed at the end of the nineteenth century, the kundiman originated from the Tagalog phrase kung hindi man (if it is not possible). It was a traditional serenade, a devotional ditty conveying longing for a lover, child, or homeland. And serenade voters is what Marcos did through his jingle. Campaigning around the Philippines like Magsaysay, Marcos was accompanied by his wife Imelda, a former beauty pageant winner (fig. 3). Together they combed one city after another, clutching microphones and singing duets of “Dahil sa Iyo,” the song’s backing track amplified through speakers placed on makeshift stages across the country. Their supporters often sang along with them. Although Ferdinand and Imelda did not produce an official recording of the track featuring their duet, the song’s original recording from the film Bituing Marikit, performed by actor Rogelio de la Rosa, was also played during rallies and on radio stations nationwide. In her biography of Imelda, Katherine Ellison wrote of how Marcos dubbed his wife his “secret weapon,” one who captivated crowds with her impassioned singing and complemented the machismo of his image as an intelligent and intense military leader. “She was afraid of appearing before a crowd—until I got her to sing,” Marcos said. “She’d always been a good singer.”47 Capitalizing on the Filipinos’s collective fascination toward their stars, Ferdinand and Imelda portrayed themselves as a romantic couple no different from the schmaltzy twosomes the public idolized on the big screen, keenly advertising themselves as a commodity to be devoured by the masses. The historian Vicente Rafael remarked that the Marcoses conceived of politics as an extension of their personal life: “Singing together at political rallies, they turned their private lives into public spectacles, staging a stylized version of their intimacy.”48 Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos campaigning in 1965. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 3. View largeDownload slide Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos campaigning in 1965. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. “Dahil sa Iyo” features a stirring blend of melodramatic spectacle. Following a 4/4 time signature, the song opens with an evocative orchestral movement. Amid a symphony of strings, de la Rosa—singing in a minor key—begins lamenting the tragedies of his life. During the second half of the first verse, the song modulates into a major key, signaling a more optimistic mood, as he rhapsodizes about his lover rescuing him from misery. Sa buhay ko’y labis Ang hirap at pasakit, ng pusong umiibig Mandi’y wala ng langit At ng lumigaya, hinango mo sa dusa Tanging ikaw sinta, ang aking pag-asa In my life I have long endured The pain and sorrows from love arise. Then you came and redeemed me, You, my love, are my only hope. Carrying on with the same brighter major key, de la Rosa continues his ode with a two-part chorus that establishes a sense of intimacy between the performer and the listener—a mood augmented by the singer’s soothing drawl and tranquil tempo. Dahil sa iyo, nais kong mabuhay Dahil sa iyo, hanggang mamatay Dapat mong tantuin, wala ng ibang giliw Puso ko’y tanungin, ikaw at ikaw rin Dahil sa iyo, ako’y lumigaya Pagmamahal, ay alayan ka Kung tunay man ako, ay alipinin mo Ang lahat sa buhay ko’y, dahil sa iyo Because of you, I desire to live, Because of you, until our dying day. You should know, you are my only love, Ask my heart, you’ll know it’s true. Because of you, I found happiness, And so, I offer this love to you. Enslave me, if you so wish, My entire life is because of you. The opening minor key evokes affection, connoting the performer’s sincerity and wholesomeness. A tender and graceful rhythm characterizes the song’s melody, marked by dramatic intervals typical of a kundiman. The musician Francisco Santiago described the genre as “the love song par excellence of the Filipinos, the plaintive song which goes deepest into their hearts, the song which brings them untold emotions.”49 Bestowed with such potential, the kundiman has been employed as a medium to covertly express patriotism, particularly during the U.S. colonial period (1898–1946), the subject of the singer’s declaration of love no longer a woman, but his motherland. In appropriating “Dahil sa Iyo” as his soundtrack, Marcos exploited the song’s significance to Philippine nationalism. He wanted the patriotic values Filipinos associated with the track to be transferred to his image, employing music as a tool for empowerment and dominance. Marcos not only took advantage of the song’s patriotic connection, but also benefited from its original affiliation with stars and star making.50 His act of appropriation extended not only to the song’s content but also to the narratives that surrounded it—foremost, its link to the song’s performer. The most popular actor of his time, de la Rosa was beloved by audiences and eventually became the first celebrity to venture into the Philippine political arena, elected to the Senate in 1957. Marcos sought to appropriate de la Rosa’s narrative as a matinee-idol-turned-politician, in the hope that the public’s enthusiasm toward de la Rosa would be transferred to him. Marinette Reyes-Agbayani, a journalist who covered the 1965 elections, agreed with this assessment and told me in an interview: “Whenever ‘Dahil sa Iyo’ was played during his campaign, Marcos often lip-synched to de la Rosa’s singing voice, as if pretending to be him—which was smart because Marcos knew how much Filipinos love their celebrities, so he marketed and branded himself like the leading men in cinema and television. It worked—voters considered him and Imelda as these beautiful stars.”51 With Imelda by his side, Marcos channeled “Dahil sa Iyo” to take his image- building to inconceivable heights. The Marcoses framed themselves as the ideal Filipino couple, their perfection both inspirational and accessible, with a fairy-tale story to boot: a poor girl from the provinces moves to Manila to become a model and catches the eye of a budding congressman; they then engage in an eleven-day whirlwind courtship and marriage.52 In singing “Dahil sa Iyo” as a duet, Ferdinand and Imelda theatrically performed their devotion for each other, tapping into the mythology of cinematic couples. Assessing the pair’s performative power, Christine Bacareza Balance observes: “Their ability to simultaneously express affection for each other and tap into larger affective spheres of regional sentimentality connected them to their audience … and widened a sphere of political belonging for certain Filipinos.”53 Two parallel narratives exist in their performance. First, the song’s shift from a minor to a major key embodies Marcos’s promise to steer the nation away from adversity and toward a brighter future. Second, “Dahil sa Iyo” became the couple’s hymn to voters, a performance of their dependence toward their support: “Because of you, I desire to live / Because of you, until our dying day.” Furthermore, they branded themselves as parental figures of a new Philippines.54 As Imelda herself recounted in a documentary, upon Marcos’s election as president he told her: “You, Imelda, are to be the mother of this country. I will build and provide for the structure of this house and you make the house a home.”55 The song’s second chorus introduces a new layer into Marcos’s star narrative, depicting him as a willing slave to his wife Imelda and his constituency: “Enslave me, if you so wish / My entire life is because of you.” In an interview, Noel, a retired accountant who voted for Marcos for the presidency, told me that during campaign rallies, Marcos appealed for the support of the public “by serenading us.” Noel recalled: “Here was this intelligent man—he topped the bar exams, right?—but he approached voters with humility. He possessed a great mind but he touched our hearts. He and Imelda, they sung to millions of ordinary people—because they were showing that they wanted to serve us.”56 Marcos promoted himself not only as the leading man of the country’s narrative but also as a martyr ready to serve the public. He portrayed himself both as a star they could venerate, and as a servant they could depend on. Imelda herself delighted in such dichotomy of images, telling the Los Angeles Times in 1980: “I am my little people’s star and slave. When I go out into the barrios, I get dressed because I know my little people want to see a star…. People want someone they can love, someone to set an example.”57 Annie, a housewife who also supported Marcos in 1965, said in an interview that Imelda was an inspiring figure, particularly to female voters. “Madame Imelda—yes, I still call her Madame—is an icon. There has been nobody like her,” Annie said. “A real talented performer. To this day, her singing voice remains beautiful. She’s a real star who treated her ordinary fans with genuine grace and affection.”58 The manner in which Annie describes the former First Lady—as an icon, performer, and star—manifests the effect the Marcoses had on the public. “Dahil sa Iyo” not only reflected the existing identities of the Marcoses, it also created new narratives for them, regardless of their validity. As Georgina Born, reflecting on music’s hyperconnotative character and ability to constitute inter-subjective desire, contends: “It is precisely music’s extraordinary powers of imaginary evocation of identity and of cross-cultural and intersubjective empathy that render it a primary means of both marking and transforming individual and collective identities.”59 Marcos went on to win the presidency with his emotional ballad, yet his reign was anything but affectionate. His much-historicized twenty-one-year regime, including fourteen years of a military dictatorship, was marked by corruption and terror. Gone was the nation’s loving father figure he pledged he was going to be; as Raymond Bonner chronicled in Waltzing with a Dictator, Marcos turned into a power-hungry ruler who censored the press, plundered state funds, and imprisoned rivals.60 His star narrative, adopted from a fictional film, turned out to be a fantasy. The nation suffered while the couple carried on with their life of fabulous spectacle.61 As she herself admitted in the 2003 documentary Imelda, the former beauty queen continued to treat life as an extended pageant, using the people’s money to procure an astounding collection of shoes and clothing.62 The couple luxuriated in throwing and attending star-studded parties around the globe; Imelda even convinced her husband to build their own disco on the roof of Malacañang Palace. She also continued to entertain with her performances, bursting into song for heads of state and private guests. The revelry finally came to a halt on February 1986. Many Filipinos reached a boiling point and staged the peaceful People Power Revolution to overthrow Marcos’s dictatorship. With the emergence of the political widow Corazon Aquino as an icon of democracy and the nation’s new leader, the Marcoses were forced to relinquish their power. Consistent with the couple’s penchant for melodrama, on 25 February, the night their reign ended, Ferdinand and Imelda stood on the balcony of Malacañang and began to sing “Dahil sa Iyo” to a flock comprised mostly of paid supporters; it served as their final performance as the most powerful pair in the Philippines (fig. 4).63 Figure 4. View largeDownload slide The Marcoses singing on the balcony of Malacañang in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 4. View largeDownload slide The Marcoses singing on the balcony of Malacañang in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. The Marcoses obtained their power partly by drawing on music’s capability to create identities that link “a power centre to its subjects,” as Jacques Attali put it.64 In a grand finale that befitted their musical overture, they relinquished their supremacy to the tune of the same song, only this time in a tone so preposterous it was theatrical. In performing “Dahil sa Iyo” one last time amid the upheaval that surrounded them, they presumably hoped the song would remind the public of the positive values once associated with the track, forgetting the nightmare and focusing on the fairytale. They beseeched to their countrymen: “Because of you, I desire to live / Because of you, until our dying day / You should know, you are my only love / Ask my heart, you’ll know it’s true.” Reflecting on the potency of songs, Attali contends, “Music is a tool of power: of ritual power when it is a question of making people forget the fear of violence; of representative power when it is a question of making them believe in order and harmony; and of bureaucratic power when it is a question of silencing those who oppose it.”65 Hours after their final performance, the Marcoses were airlifted out of the country by American marines. The Marcos epoch began and ended with a musical ode. They arrived with sentimental spectacle and they left spectacularly. Singing Her Heart Out In December 1985, after an event launching her campaign, Corazon Aquino asked reporters, “What on earth do I know about being President?”66 Until then, Aquino had only been known to the public only as the wife of the statesman Benigno Aquino Jr., the chief challenger to the dictatorship of Marcos (fig. 5). After her husband was assassinated in 1983, Corazon was catapulted into the political limelight, becoming the leading figure of the opposition. In November 1985, after two decades of authoritarian rule, Marcos announced that to dispel doubts about his ascendancy, marked by widespread unrest in the country, he would hold a snap presidential election in February 1986.67 Aquino became the opposition’s choice as candidate. Spiritual and charismatic, she embodied a hope that democracy would be restored in the Philippines. As Aquino put it, “The only thing I can really offer the Filipino people is my sincerity.” Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Corazon and Benigno Aquino Jr. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 5. View largeDownload slide Corazon and Benigno Aquino Jr. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. A tone of sincerity permeates the pop song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” which Aquino adopted as the soundtrack of her campaign.68 Performed by the American group Tony Orlando and Dawn, it was the top-selling single in the U.S. and U.K. in 1973 and was already a popular song in the Philippines.69 Aquino and her team did not produce their own version of the track, nor did she sing it live during campaign events. Instead, capitalizing on the popularity of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s original recording, Aquino’s campaign played the track during their rallies and parades across the Philippines.70 The song was also covered by Filipino musicians who supported Aquino, performing it live on variety programs on radio and television; they sang the track featuring its original lyrics and did not find the need to produce a Tagalog version since English is considered a coofficial language of the Philippines. The use of an American pop track as a campaign song underlined the dominance of Western popular culture in the country. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” is told from the point of view of someone who had “done his time,” a reference to serving either in the military or a prison sentence. The song serves as a man’s ode to his lover, imploring her to tie a yellow ribbon around an oak tree in their hometown, as a symbol of her desire to welcome him back into her life. If, when his bus passes through the town, no such ribbon is tied, he will remain on the bus, having understood her choice. The man turned out to be more than welcome, as a hundred yellow ribbons were tied around the tree. I’m comin’ home, I’ve done my time, Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine. If you received my letter tellin’ you I’d soon be free, Then you’ll know just what to do if you still want me, If you still want me Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, It’s been three long years, Do you still want me? If I don’t see a ribbon round the old oak tree, I’ll stay on the bus, Forget about us, Put the blame on me, If I don’t see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree. Bus driver, please look for me, ’Cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see, I’m really still in prison, and my love she holds the key, A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free, I wrote and told her this. Now the whole damn bus is cheering, And I can’t believe I see, A hundred yellow ribbons round the old oak tree, I’m comin’ home. In the Philippines, the song’s popularity peaked when it was adopted by the supporters of Benigno Aquino Jr. Widely known as “Ninoy,” he was the staunchest critic of Marcos’s reign. Following the declaration of martial law in 1972, Ninoy was imprisoned for seven years on unsubstantiated charges of murder and subversion, until Marcos allowed him to travel to the U.S. for a heart operation. Three years later, Ninoy announced he was returning to the Philippines to contest the forthcoming presidential elections.71 His supporters, in anticipation of his homecoming, played and sang “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” during public demonstrations. They tied yellow ribbons on trees near the Manila International Airport, taking their cue from the song.72 It was an act of appropriation that adopted not only the song’s lyrical narrative but also its symbolic associations. When Ninoy stepped off the plane in Manila on 21 August 1983, he was assassinated by armed soldiers. His funeral, the most well-attended burial in the Philippines since Magsaysay was laid to rest, turned into a monumental anti-Marcos protest.73 For many historians, it was at the funeral that Corazon Aquino turned into a national symbol of sorrow and hope.74 She soon learned to channel the public’s outrage by organizing weekly street demonstrations attended by Filipinos from all walks of life—from businessmen and students to the clergy and the working class. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” became the soundtrack of these peaceful protests.75 Originally appropriated from a Western pop group, the song’s significance had been altered through its attachment to the slain statesman. It underwent another form of appropriation when it was adapted to express not support but dissent. It was after Marcos’s declaration in November 1985 of a snap election that, overwhelmed by the public’s support, Aquino announced her candidacy.76 As she said: “We had to present somebody who was the complete opposite of Marcos, someone who had been a victim. Looking around, I may not be the worst victim, but I am the best known.”77 It was a statement that foretold the thematic trademark of her campaign, positioning her narrative vis-à-vis the narratives of her late husband and the incumbent president. While Marcos revived his previously popular song “Dahil sa Iyo” for his bid to remain in power, Aquino turned to the tune that had served as the musical score to her family’s political crusade. In adopting “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” for her campaign, Aquino harnessed not the literal meaning of the track’s lyrics, but the song’s association with the collective struggle of the Filipino people during the dictatorship. Similar to the cases of Magsaysay and Marcos, Aquino’s song was encoded with symbols—of political, historical, and sociocultural nature—that were passed on to her identity. In using a folk song that had been appropriated for her husband’s political narrative, she restructured the song’s meaning and utilized it for the building of her own brand. It was an act of rearticulation that validates Cook’s recognition of music’s ability to make coherent connections that may not be immediately apparent between subjects. As Cook contends, “Music is the discourse that passes itself off as nature; it participates in the construction of meaning, but disguises its meanings as effects. Here is the source of its singular efficacy as a hidden persuader.”78 My analysis of how “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” constructed Aquino’s star narrative entails not a close reading of the track’s musical structure or lyrical connotations, but rather an examination of its ideological symbolisms and affective implications. Specifically, the song forged three main narratives crucial to the image of Corazon Aquino as a political figure: first, a narrative of sorrow, wherein the song portrayed her as a mourning widow as well as a victim like other ordinary Filipinos of Marcos’s turpitude; second, a narrative of nostalgia, wherein the song summoned up the beloved image of Ninoy, with Aquino vowing to continue his legacy; and third, a narrative of hope, wherein the song depicted her as the nation’s new savior, a motherly figure championing democracy for the masses. I shall briefly consider each in turn. During Ninoy’s twelve-hour funeral procession, where more than two million people lined the streets of Manila, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was constantly blared from speakers attached to the car carrying his casket.79 This is the narrative of sorrow: the pop tune turned into a dirge, an elegy to the late statesman. Adamson Ricaforte, a political commentator, told me in an interview: “That jingle was playing everywhere that time—on the streets, on the radio and inside homes, and in her rallies and demonstrations of course. It really touched everyone’s hearts. It was touching, very moving—that song bid farewell to Ninoy, but at the same time it welcomed Cory, his widow, to the political arena. Her whole campaign was like an extended funeral for Ninoy that lasted for months.”80 In choosing the song for her presidential bid, Corazon turned sorrow into a primary theme of her narrative. Each time the song was played during her campaign, she was publicly performing her grief, underscoring how a personal and political battle had been thrust upon her by tragedy. Concurrently, she was performing the people’s grief; she, too, was a victim of Marcos’s dictatorship. The sociologist Jonathan Corpus Ong notes that awa (compassion), damay (mourning), mauulung (pity), malasakit (sympathy), hiya (shame), pakikisama (fellowship), and utang na loob (debt of gratitude) are the fundamental moral codes that govern social and cultural interactions among Filipinos.81 Corazon drew on the people’s compassion and sympathy without appearing exploitative. A mother of five who had not held a political post in the past, she was able to establish a profound connection between herself and the voters, owing to a campaign song that highlighted their shared experience of suffering. By utilizing a song associated with her husband, Corazon allowed the positive values the public associated with the tune—owing to Ninoy’s highly regarded image—to be transferred to her own identity. Some of these transmitted traits, particularly Ninoy’s tenacity and eloquence, veiled Corazon’s political and professional inexperience. She had finished a degree in French and mathematics in New York, as well as a year in law school in Manila, before dropping out and marrying Ninoy. While he rose to prominence to become the country’s youngest mayor, governor, and senator, she took care of their five children.82 As her husband served as the voice of the opposition, Corazon shunned the limelight. It was only in 1972, when Ninoy was imprisoned by Marcos, that she began making public appearances, primarily to relay Ninoy’s statements to the press—an assignment she took on for the next seven years.83 The journalist Sandra Burton observed, “While Ninoy was experiencing his epiphany, his wife was undergoing a crash course in realpolitik.”84 Later, delivering her own speeches during her campaign, Corazon consistently summoned up Ninoy’s image and credentials, suggesting that his political prowess might have been passed on to her through osmosis.85 As Evelyn, a Manila-based nurse who supported Aquino’s presidential bid and attended several of her campaign rallies, said in an interview: “Cory’s campaign appearances always focused on Ninoy—she told a lot of personal stories and anecdotes, and she would play ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon,’ which is Ninoy’s song. Ninoy was very popular before his unfortunate death, and that popularity was passed on to Cory.”86 Tapping into the narrative of nostalgia that surrounded Ninoy, Corazon presented herself as the individual capable of continuing his legacy and enacting the dreams he had for the country. The case of Aquino’s campaign song attests to music’s formative function in the negotiation and transformation of an individual’s identity. The song allowed her to draw on the people’s sympathy for Ninoy, but also enabled her to present herself as the fresh face of Philippine politics, in this way creating a narrative of hope. While invoking his legacy, she concurrently assumed the role of the song’s leading figure, appealing to the public for their support—a ribbon symbolizing their vote. Corazon even adopted yellow as the official color of her campaign, with a ribbon as her emblem.87 Her supporters also begun using her nickname, “Cory,” akin to how they called Benigno “Ninoy.” Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Corazon Aquino campaigning in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 6. View largeDownload slide Corazon Aquino campaigning in 1986. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Cory’s brand identity was constructed by introducing who she was to the public, but also by stressing who she was not, that is, like Ferdinand and Imelda. She was depicted as “almost a Madonna, a saint in contrast to the wily, corrupt Marcos.”88 Similar to how Ninoy positioned himself as the good against Ferdinand’s evil, Cory’s modest nature was in contrast with Imelda’s frivolous manner. The juxtaposition between the two women was particularly pertinent given Ferdinand’s ailing health; he was allegedly planning to pass the baton to Imelda, who would inherit his power in the case of his death. When Ferdinand accused Cory of inexperience in governance, she replied, “I admit that I have no experience in lying, cheating, stealing, killing political opponents.”89 Responding to his barb that “women should confine their preaching to the bedroom,” Cory remarked, “May the better woman win.”90 And indeed, for a citizenry obsessed with stars, Cory turned into the country’s biggest superstar. Voters, yearning for a national figure worth their reverence, were instrumental in manufacturing Aquino’s symbol as an advocate of hope and democracy. The journalist Seth Mydans wrote, “Mrs. Aquino is a symbol, and she campaigns as a symbol.”91 With sixty days and a lean budget to mount a campaign, she utilized the power of songs and speeches to connect to voters (fig. 6). She focused on process, not policy, opting for an emotional touch by adopting the role of a motherly figure rescuing the nation from authoritarian rule. For instance, she popularized a hand gesture made by extending the index and thumb fingers, creating the letter L, which stood for the word laban (fight). Her campaign slogan was “Tama na! Sobra na! Palitan na!” (Abuse must end, enough is enough, change must come). The theatricality of it all only contributed to Aquino’s cause. Certainly, what made her attractive to voters was her depiction as the protagonist in the melodrama that was Aquino versus Marcos. Even the reserved yet influential Roman Catholic archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, framed the circumstances with hyperbole: “Is this a presidential election or is this a fight between the children of light and the children of darkness?”92 It is a pronouncement that speaks volumes about how Filipinos regard the narratives of their national politics—that is, with the histrionics and devotion usually reserved for the narratives of stars. Aquino’s camp used to her advantage the capability of a simple song to communicate complex messages expeditiously. Aware of their campaign’s limitations compared to Marcos’s, they exploited the power of cultural products—primarily music—to get their message across. They did so quickly and fruitfully. Come the February 1986 elections, Aquino proved to be a staggeringly popular candidate. As anticipated, however, Marcos rigged the election results.93 His compliant legislature sought to declare him the winner, provoking the People Power Revolution, the peaceful uprising that took Marcos, and the world, by surprise. In what was also dubbed the Yellow Revolution, an estimated 3.5 million people took to the streets of Manila, garbed in yellow paraphernalia, confronting Marcos’s military tanks with bibles and rosaries. They sang protest hymns, particularly “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” now transformed into more than an ode to a statesman and his wife-turned-torchbearer.94 The song now symbolized love for one’s country. After three days of protests, Aquino was installed in power, becoming the first female president of the Philippines. “Our long national nightmare is over,” she declared in her first address.95 Aquino continued to be the country’s voice of reason after the end of her term in 1992, frequently offering her insights on matters political and cultural: Filipinos fondly referred to her as Tita (Aunt) Cory. When the public attempted to replicate the People Power Revolution by overthrowing the presidents Joseph Estrada in 2001 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005, Aquino joined the street protests. Remarkably, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was revived on both occasions as a hymn of democracy.96 In 2009, at age 76, Aquino died of colon cancer. Her funeral, reminiscent of Magsaysay’s and Ninoy’s in scale, saw Filipinos decked in yellow, lining the streets to pay their respects. This time, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was not sung, yet yellow ribbons were tied around trees all over the country. The former president Estrada, even after Aquino’s role in his dethronement, acclaimed her as “the Philippines’s most-loved woman.”97 A calculated move or not, Aquino used her campaign song to aim for the heart. Music created for her a narrative rooted in an affectionate image that voters latched on to. More than any other president in Philippine history, she epitomized a political culture in which a cult of personality surrounded its leaders; an arena where the possession of an appealing presence and a compelling narrative is compulsory in securing the public’s patronage.98 Her campaign song demonstrated music’s ability to frame singular identities, echoing Jackson Lears’s contention that advertising with sound does not simply animate products, it makes “stars come to life by bestowing on them personality.”99 In Aquino’s case, music imbued the product with prominence. The imagery and ideology underpinning “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” were productively passed on to her brand, bestowing it with immediate intensity, political authority, and an extraordinary affinity with the public. From Hero to Zero By the 1998 elections, Philippine politics had become increasingly intertwined with the entertainment industry, with more than 100 current or former celebrities running for national posts. It was a slate of stars led by Joseph Estrada, who was a film superstar before parlaying his fame into political success as a mayor, then senator, then vice president. In 1998, he set his sights on the top post, becoming the first entertainer—and college dropout—to become president of the Philippines.100 With his generous paunch, slick Elvis Presley coiffure, and black smudge of moustache (fig. 7), Estrada put off many discerning voters. But to the poor, he was their swashbuckling superhero, battling against the establishment. Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Joseph Estrada, with son Jinggoy, campaigning in 1998. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 7. View largeDownload slide Joseph Estrada, with son Jinggoy, campaigning in 1998. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Courting voters dressed in bright orange shirts, Estrada delivered speeches that made little attempt at gravitas. Instead, they were peppered with wisecracks and lines uttered by his big-screen characters. The lighthearted, almost blithe, tone of his campaign manifested in his choice of soundtrack: “Sha-La-La-La-La,” a 1973 song by the Danish glam-rock band the Walkers. Similar to Aquino’s case, Estrada and his staff did not produce their own version of the song, but instead obtained permission to use the Walkers’ original recording, which was then played on campaign stages across the country. Estrada did not perform the song live, but often lip-synched to the track’s vocal line and danced along to the beat. His supporters sang and danced along with him, too. Excerpts from the song were also used in Estrada’s campaign advertisements, which were broadcast on radio and television. Campaign vehicles, typically medium-size vans and jeepneys, drove around towns, with the song blasting from speakers installed on the vehicles’ roof. The pop track had a two-fold role in the construction of Estrada’s narrative: the first involves the symbolic associations connoted by the song’s lyrics, which upheld Estrada’s image as a beloved idol of the masses; the second concerns its ideological implications, as the song embodied Estrada’s disdain toward the elitism of Philippine politics. In the opening verse of “Sha-La-La-La-La,” the singer yearns for his lover, intimating to listeners his desire for her return. It is an overture sung with a recitative gesture, as well as rhythmic oscillations that hark back to the more declamatory styles of musical theater. A marked shift occurs in the chorus, as the singer directly addresses the object of his affections. The snappy lyrics are set to a consistent and clearly defined tune, characterized by an engaging recurrence of an exuberant melody, a thickening of the instrumental texture, as well as the iteration of the words “sha-la-la-la-la.” Repeated thrice throughout the track, the chorus functions as the musical hook that increases the song’s memorability and, as a result, the candidate’s brand recall. There’s a girl on my mind and she knows, I’m thinking of her, On my way through the day and at night, when stars shine above me. She’s been gone for some time but I know, I truly love her, And I’m singing this song, hoping she’ll be back when she hears it. My heart goes sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning, Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the sunshine, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the evening, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la just for you. Devoid of a candidate-specific text, what can such a song bring to a politician’s narrative? Cook argues that musical genres—in this case, the dance-pop style of “Sha-La-La-La-La”—provide “unsurpassed opportunities for communicating complex social or attitudinal messages practically instantaneously.”101 In choosing “Sha-La-La-La-La” as his campaign tune, Estrada sought for the bright and breezy values listeners associated with the popular up-tempo track to be passed on to his image. He took on the role of the song’s love-struck protagonist, reminding voters of the beguiling leading man he had played many a time on film. He summoned up not only the romance concocted by the preexisting song’s narrative but also tales from his own history. Born Jose Marcelo Ejercito, he adopted the screen name Joseph Estrada when he appeared in his first film in 1956 at age nineteen. He went on to star in more than 100 “proletarian potboilers,” his romantic Robin Hood characters enchanting the masses. Later he was nicknamed “Erap,” a play on the Tagalog slang pare, meaning buddy. Entering politics as mayor of San Juan in 1967, Estrada continued to see the world through the lens of cinema. The persona he projected was based on his film roles—the downtrodden hero who takes down the ruling class.102 Occasionally, he blurred the distinctions between public servant and fictional character. “I used to punch the police, the hoodlums in uniform,” Estrada, then a senator, told reporters in 1989. “I knocked them down, just like in the movies.”103 Later, announcing his presidential bid, he proclaimed: “This is the last and greatest performance of my life.”104 The song’s second verse echoes the conversational tone of the first, as the singer preaches directly to his listeners, advising that in pining for one’s beloved, it is vital to keep one’s hopes up. Discouraging their moping, he enjoins them to sing along. The peppy chorus follows, but the words “your heart” replaces “my heart” in the first line, referring to the listeners. If your love’s gone away just like mine, you’ll feel like crying. Sing along, maybe once, maybe twice, let’s try it together, Some sweet day, no one knows, she’ll return and you’ll be happy, Shadows fade in the sun, listen to your heart, it is singing. Your heart goes sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning, Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the sunshine, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the evening, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la just for you. The song closes with two repetitions of the chorus, but neither the singer’s nor the listener’s “hearts” are referenced, instead leading directly with “Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning.” This recurrence is set to a harmonic loop; in the original 1973 recording that Estrada adopted for his campaign, the song abruptly fades out in the last line of the chorus—an open-endedness that underscores the song’s unfinished narrative. Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the morning, Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the sunshine, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in the evening, Sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la just for you … The song’s establishment of an empathic connection between the singer and the listener can be construed as Estrada’s symbolic declaration of being one with the public. “He was our hero,” Biboy, a taxi driver who continues to support Estrada today, told me in an interview. “President Erap—he’s the only president we’ve had who really understood us, the masses, and the hardships that we’re going through. He was masa [like the masses]. He was astig [tough, macho], but he had a heart for the poor.”105 Throughout his political and showbiz careers, Estrada has manufactured an image of being shoulder to shoulder with the happiness and heartaches of the common man. Even his ordinary fashion—tattered shirt, trainers, and black wristband—were markers of his working-class affinity.106 The masses were indeed the cornerstone of his presidential campaign: his snappy slogan, “Erap para sa Mahirap” (Erap for the Poor), was not so much rooted in an authentic pro-masses politics, but a mnemonic device that enhanced his name recall. In response, the public suspended their disbelief, viewing Estrada as their cinematic liberator.107 As the Economist reported: “The hordes who surrounded him burned with a faith that he would shoot up the baddies and hand out wads of dough, just like he did in the movies.”108 Meanwhile, the elite and educated vilified his lack of credentials, and the Catholic hierarchy condemned his gambling, alcoholism, and womanizing; he had a dozen children with seven different women. Yet it was an image Estrada brazenly embraced. Ridiculed for his limited English vocabulary, he responded by deliberately speaking mangled English, even compiling his malapropisms into a book, How the Speak English without Really Trial. His humiliations only endeared him to the public, who vicariously reveled in his successes. Eva-Lotta Hedman observed that through a dialectic of recognition and appropriation, Estrada appeared as if one with “the real people who lived, labored, and suffered nearby, round the corner.”109 With regard to the song’s ideological implications for his image, Estrada utilized “Sha-La-La-La-La” to spurn the seriousness of the political elite. With an obsessive, nonsensical catchphrase, the jovial track bore no obvious political significance, encapsulating Estrada’s carefree approach toward the profoundly critical post he was seeking. In an interview, political commentator Adamson Ricaforte told me: “The song made no sense as a presidential anthem. But it was fun and made everybody smile. Voters loved seeing Estrada performing that song with his staff and his backup dancers, and sometimes even with voters who they’d bring on to the stage to sing and dance with him—and even if he looked funny and awkward dancing with his big belly. Even if it was obvious he was lip-synching. It made the whole thing more entertaining. His rallies were the noisiest that I’ve ever attended. His unusual campaign stood out compared to the typically boring speeches of the other candidates like Jose de Venecia, Alfredo Lim, and Juan Ponce Enrile.”110 In singing and dancing along to “Sha-La-La-La-La” around the country, Estrada lampooned the sternness of his rivals, set himself apart from the stony-faced incumbent president and former military leader Fidel Ramos, and lightened the mood of a nation still recovering from the dark days of Marcos’s dictatorship. His campaign framed his presidency as a protest vote against traditional politics. The former leftist revolutionary Joel Rocamora dubbed Estrada’s triumph “the revenge of the masses.”111 In highlighting the dichotomy between the rich and the poor, Estrada believed that siding with either represented an endorsement of oppression or salvation. Raymond Williams, drawing attention to the complexity of the term “masses,” explained that the grouping revolves around a binary opposition, with one side connoting a “low, ignorant, unstable” mob, the other a multitude viewed as a “potentially positive social force.”112 Estrada drew on both definitions, however superficially: while he mobilized the masses to assert their voice in national politics, he also indirectly magnified the distinctions between everyday folk and the educated elite. This promoted the notion that the masses are simple and good, while the privileged are the opposite. The irony of it all—that Estrada was born to a well-off family and was part of the very government he was besmirching—evaded many voters. He went on to win by a landslide, receiving 40 percent of the total vote, the rest going to ten other candidates.113 During his reign, his pro-poor agenda was proven to be a perfunctory alliance as he failed to engage in significant economic redistribution policies, instead settling with the neoliberal program initiated by his predecessor.114 Merely two years into his term, he was put on trial for the embezzlement of billions of pesos from tobacco taxes and gambling syndicates. In January 2001, street protests reminiscent of the People Power Revolution led to his overthrow. He was sentenced to life in prison but was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his successor and former vice president.115 There is an epilogue. In 2010, Estrada embarked on a comeback: he not only starred in his first film in two decades—playing a patriarch in a family comedy—but also ran in the presidential elections, dubbing his bid as his “final, final performance.”116 “Sha-La-La-La-La” was revived as his campaign soundtrack, this time used symbolically to dramatize a need for political redemption. Remarkably, he finished second only to the exceptionally popular Benigno Aquino III, the son of Ninoy and Cory. In 2013, he was elected mayor of Manila, restarting his political narrative as he returned to his original government post. He was reelected for a second term in 2016 at age 79. Many voters continue to adore him despite his prodigious graft—a testament not only to his populist appeal but also to the criteria Filipinos adhered to in selecting their leaders: a guiding light who will lift them from poverty, or an entertainer who will endear with his escapades? The political columnist Benjie Oliveros protested: “It is only in the Philippines where a disgraced president who was ousted by a people’s uprising would dare run for the presidency again, without atoning for his past mistakes.”117 Magsaysay may have been the most acclaimed, Marcos the most intellectually capable, and Aquino the most respected, but Estrada—prior to his impeachment—was the most venerated president. With an unparalleled charm that stemmed from his film-star past, he possessed what Joseph Roach dubbed the “It-Effect,” one that takes on “a powerful and sometimes even fearsome religiosity of its own, making everyday experience seem not only strange but also enchanted.”118 The parallel between celebrity culture and religious belief can explain why the masses forgave and forgot Estrada’s malfeasance. Many analysts struggle to agree on a justification for his continued political success, often pointing toward an ill-informed electorate or a lack of viable candidates.119 They forget about the power of charisma, especially one that had been cultivated on a public stage for decades.120 As Michael Quinn claimed, “The shift of perception that celebrity allows is a key one, and is extraordinarily powerful. The audience’s attitude shifts from an awareness of the presence of fictional illusion to the acceptance of an illusion, however false, of the celebrity’s absolute presence.”121 With the aid of music, Estrada successfully composed a narrative that established a connection between himself and the public. Stuart Hall proposed that identities “arise from the narrativization of the self, but the necessarily fictional nature of this process in no way undermines its discursive, material, or political effectivity, even if the belongingness, the ‘suturing into the story’ through which identities arise is, partly, in the imaginary (as well as the symbolic) and therefore, always, partly constructed in fantasy.”122 After Magsaysay’s presidency, the people’s expectations of what constitutes a public servant changed. Presidents were not merely stern national commanders, they could also be inspirational figures and charismatic storytellers. Elections became musical spectacles, beginning with Magsaysay’s dancing, followed by the Marcoses’ romantic duets, Aquino’s grief, and coming to a crescendo with Estrada’s showbiz spectacular. Over time, campaigns turned into performances that prioritized entertainment over substance. Regular repetition during succeeding elections turned the pageantry into a habit for both candidates and voters. Such ritual making affirmed the social hierarchy of Philippine elections: performances are participatory from the bottom up but engineered from the top down, thus perpetuating the public’s peripheral position as fans, and the politicians’ as stars. Back in 1999, when corruption charges were filed against him, Estrada was asked by reporters to comment on his plunging popularity. “A nation’s life is like a motion picture,” he replied, summoning the underdog characters he played on cinema. “With proper direction, the next scenes will change. The main character may have taken a beating, but he will recover and the recovery I assure you will be dramatic.”123 Perhaps Estrada will once again revive “Sha-La-La-La-La” as the musical score to a cinematic comeback. Similar to the cases of Magsaysay, Marcos, and Aquino, whose election soundtracks were later brought back to be performed in a different context, Estrada’s campaign song has served as a time capsule for the preservation of his image and narrative, maintaining a bond between the star and his spectators. Conclusion: Seeing Stars Corazon Aquino transformed herself into the leading light of Philippine politics after the death of Ninoy in August 1983. Twenty-six years later, in August 2009, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III mourned the death of his mother Cory. The days that followed saw an outpouring of support for the young senator to step into the shoes of his prominent parents. A month after Cory’s passing, Noynoy made the surprise announcement that he was running in the 2010 presidential elections, a mere eight months away. Turning the nation’s grief into political capital, his candidacy stressed the themes of hope and restoration. Employing two campaign songs, the ballad “Hindi Ka Nag-iisa” (You Are Not Alone) and the rap track “S’ya Ang Pag-Asa, Wala Nang Iba” (He’s Our Hope, No One Else), Noynoy also resurrected his parents’ soundtrack, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” a tune that had come to symbolize democracy and, crucially, the narratives of Ninoy and Cory, which continue to be recalled with reverence by most Filipinos. The yellow ribbon became Noynoy’s campaign logo, and he ended up winning against eight other candidates (fig. 8). Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Noynoy Aquino, delivering his State of the Nation Address in 2011. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. Figure 8. View largeDownload slide Noynoy Aquino, delivering his State of the Nation Address in 2011. Reproduced courtesy of the Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. I conclude with Noynoy’s story because it effectively synthesizes, and further problematizes, the issues raised throughout the four preceding cases. Like Magsaysay, his two original jingles were sung in the vernacular, targeted to appeal to the common Filipino. Like Marcos, he utilized a touching ballad to stir the voters’ emotions. Like his mother Cory, he adopted a preexisting song, with the aim of transferring the positive qualities attached to the original track—and the adoration reserved for the two national heroes associated with it—to his own identity. Like Estrada, he appropriated the stylistic values of a genre—in this case, hip-hop—to reach out to voters with a relatable image. His case demonstrates how today’s candidates, emulating the ways of their predecessors, have mastered the use of campaign media—primarily music—to bolster their fame, propel their agendas, and sell their narratives. Noynoy even starred in music videos of his jingles, appearing with popular actors and musicians. In the case of all these candidates, while the songs alone did not win them their posts, music was a chief contributor to the production of their political brands. Considered collectively as a campaign phenomenon, these examples show the consistent power of songs in carrying symbols, values, and ideologies that construct in the listeners’ minds a candidate’s narrative, whether or not those symbols, values, and ideologies are authentic to the politician’s true identity. They establish how music, as a cultural product consumed collectively by voters, engenders communal solidarity among voters to express their support. Shirin Rai and Janelle Reinelt argue, “Neither politics nor performance can take place without actors who perform and spectators who receive, evaluate, and react to these actions.”124 A compelling story stirs interest in a candidate in an electoral system that has become a contest of personalities. It is an inspiring narrative—an unforgettable character, a distinctive brand—that voters latch on to. Writing about the 1984 candidacy of Ronald Reagan that saw candidate-centered politics soar to new heights in America, Martin Wattenberg deplored a shift of campaign focus “from measures to men, from ideas to character.”125 Noynoy’s case manifests the growing impact of campaign music in Philippine elections. During the time of Magsaysay, a catchy tune was used to disarm voters before drilling the song’s serious message home. Marcos and Aquino utilized music as an intermission to spice up their staid speeches. Estrada’s campaign saw a turn toward frivolity, prioritizing entertainment and eschewing rhetoric. When it was time for Noynoy to solicit votes, it did not take much to convince the Filipino voter, already conditioned to focus on a fascinating narrative rather than a thoughtful political platform. More recently, during the 2016 presidential elections, the five leading candidates all campaigned with a jingle and performed song-and-dance numbers across the country. Rodrigo Duterte, who won the election, was the only candidate who employed more than one jingle; he had five official campaign songs that encompassed the genres of pop, folk rock, rap, and dance, which appealed to the varied tastes and preferences of voters. In Philippine elections, politicians-turned-stars have not only managed to indoctrinate voters with their manufactured identities through songs, they have also cultivated a social process of manipulation that has become a ritualized tradition—one that continues to shape the public’s perception of their leaders as well as themselves as supporters. Williams defined hegemony as “a lived system of meanings and values—constitutive and constituting—which as they are experienced as practices appear as reciprocally confirming. It thus constitutes a sense of reality for most people in the society.” This system, he proposed, turns into a culture.126 As the case studies show, campaign music has nurtured a political culture that emphasizes personalities and trivializes discourse. Williams claimed, “The most interesting and difficult part of any cultural analysis, in complex societies, is that which seeks to grasp the hegemonic in its active and formative but also its transformational process. Works of art, by their substantial and general character, are often especially important as sources of this complex evidence.”127 My examination of campaign music has investigated how the songs sounded, what they meant to audiences, and how they rippled through the culture at large. I have investigated elections in terms of performances, identifying music as a primary tool that candidates use to construct their narratives and shape voter perceptions. Analyzing sound as a social artifact complicates our understanding of the musical and political cultures of the Philippines, upholding music’s role as a potent force in the figuration of societies. Footnotes James Gabrillo is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. His work has been published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Rock Music Studies, Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera, The National (Abu Dhabi), and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The author is grateful to Kariann Goldschmitt, Nicholas Cook, Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, and the journal’s anonymous readers for their feedback and guidance. 1 Epigraphs: Marites Danguilan Vitug, “Celebrity Politics: Star Power Holds Perils for the Philippines,” New York Times, 20 February 2004; Timothy Taylor, The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 98. 2 David R. M. Irving, Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 99. 3 Horacio de la Costa, Jewels of the Pauper (Quezon City: Jesuit Missions, 1946). 4 See Veit Erlmann, Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening, and Modernity (Oxford: Berg, 2004); David Samuels et al., “Soundscapes: Toward a Sounded Anthropology,” Annual Review of Anthropology 1, no. 48 (2010): 329−45; and Martin Stokes, “Music and the Global Order,” Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004): 47−72. 5 Ann Cvetkovich, “Public Feelings,” South Atlantic Quarterly 106, no. 3 (2007): 461. 6 Justus Buchler, ed., Philosophical Writings of Peirce (New York: Dover Publications, 1995), 99. 7 Thomas Turino, “Signs of Imagination, Identity, and Experience: A Peircean Semiotic Theory for Music,” Ethnomusicology 43, no. 2 (1999): 221−55. See also Turino’s article, “The Coherence of Social Style and Musical Creation among the Aymara in Southern Peru,” Ethnomusicology 33, no. 1 (1989): 1−30. 8 Thomas Turino, Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 189–209, at 197. 9 Ibid., 197. 10 By “brand,” I refer to the identity and narrative a candidate projects to voters. See Brands (London: Routledge, 2006), in which Marcel Danesi explores how semiotic theory can be used to analyze brand images. 11 Vera Brodsky Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents (New York: Macmillan, 1975), 144. 12 Irwin Silber, Songs America Voted By: A Thoroughly Factual and Entertaining History of the Candidates, the Parties, the Issues, the Songmakers, and the Words and Music That Won and Lost American Presidential Elections (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1971), 18. 13 For more on Dana Gorzelany-Mostak’s research on U.S. presidential elections, see “Keepin’ It Real (Respectable) in 2008: Barack Obama’s Pre-existing Music Strategy and the Formation of Presidential Identity,” Journal of the Society for American Music 10, no. 2 (2016): 113−48; and “‘I’ve Got a Little List’: Spotifying Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election,” Music & Politics 9, no. 2 (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/mp.9460447.0009.202. 14 “The Philippines’ Elections: Celebrity Big Ballot,” Economist, 26 April 2007. 15 Associated Press, “Political Clans, Celebrities Dominate Ballots in Philippines,” Asian Journal, 14 May 2013. 16 “The Philippines’ Elections.” 17 Filomeno Aguilar, “Betting on Democracy: Electoral Ritual in the Philippine Presidential Campaign,” Philippine Studies 53, no. 1 (2005): 97. 18 As quoted in Jaileen Jimeno and Annie Ruth Sabangan’s article, “Showbiz Endorsers Rule in Philippine Elections,” Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 7 May 2010. 19 Street, “Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation,” British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6, no. 4 (2004): 435−52, at 437. 20 Richard Dyer, Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1979), 14. 21 Richard Middleton, “Introduction: Locating the Popular Music Text,” in Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music, ed. Middleton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 20. 22 Nicholas Cook, Analysing Musical Multimedia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 20−22. 23 Christi-Anne Castro, Musical Renderings of the Philippine Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 200. 24 American popular music and programs also dominated local radio and television stations. See Elizabeth Enriquez, Radyo: An Essay on Philippine Radio (Manila: CCP, NCCA, 2003), 22−26. 25 Walter Ladwig III, “When the Police are the Problem,” in Policing Insurgencies: Cops as Counterinsurgents, ed. C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 23. 26 While Magsaysay was the first presidential candidate to utilize a jingle, the first Philippine politician to do so was Arsenio Lacson, for his successful bid to become the mayor of Manila in 1951. Like Magsaysay, Lacson appropriated mambo music. 27 Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr., Telebisyon: An Essay on Philippine Television (Manila: CCP, NCCA, 2003), 6. 28 “Editorial: Mambo Magsaysay,” Manila Standard, 16 March 1992. 29 Castro, Musical Renderings of the Philippine Nation, 40. 30 Turino, Music as Social Life, 62. 31 Daniel Boorstin, The Image (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1963), 162. 32 Dyer, Stars, 99−109. 33 Edgar Morin, The Stars (New York: Grove Press, 1960), 135. 34 Cristina Montiel, “Philippine Political Culture and Governance,” in Philippine Political Culture: View from Inside the Halls of Power, ed. Montiel et al. (Makati: Kayumanggi Press, 2002), 1−46. 35 A tirade against rampant electoral cheating in Lanao, a province in the region of Northern Mindanao. “Lutong Macau” is a Filipino expression connoting the fraudulent fixing of a game’s results; it was coined from the way Chinese restaurants dutifully prepared their food in advance. 36 A reference to the 10 percent tax imposed on commercial goods. 37 Personal communication, 21 March 2017. 38 Personal communication, 15 March 2017. 39 Andrew Tudor, Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film (London: Allen & Unwin, 1974), 80−83. 40 Ambeth Ocampo, “‘Mambo Magsaysay’ and Quirino’s Golden ‘Orinola,’” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 March 2010. 41 Carlos Romulo and Marvin Gray, The Magsaysay Story (New York: John Day Company, 1956), 210−13. 42 Amando Doronila, The State, Economic Transformation, and Political Change in the Philippines, 1946−1972 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1992), 95−97. 43 Magsaysay’s son Ramon Jr. and nephew Vicente adopted “Mambo Magsaysay” as their jingle for their respective senatorial bids in 2013 and 2008. 44 “Marcos Revolt Moved to Mambo Beat,” Lodi News-Sentinel, 12 May 1986. 45 “Editorial: Mambo Magsaysay.” 46 Antonio Hila, “Musika: An Essay on Philippine Music,” in Filipiniana (Manila: CCP, 1994), 119. 47 Katherine Ellison, Imelda: Steel Butterfly of the Philippines (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988), 51−55. 48 Vicente Rafael, White Love and Other Events in Filipino History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 125. 49 Francisco Santiago, The Development of Music in the Philippines (Manila: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1931), 14−16. 50 The popularity of “Dahil sa Iyo” encouraged foreign musicians visiting the Philippines, such as the Lettermen, Julio Iglesias, and Nat King Cole, to cover the song in its original Tagalog. 51 Personal communication, 19 March 2017. 52 James Hamilton-Paterson, America’s Boy: A Century of Colonialism in the Philippines (New York: Henry Holt, 1988), 148. 53 Christine Bacareza Balance, “Dahil sa Iyo: The Performative Power of Imelda’s Song,” Women & Performance 20, no. 2 (2010): 124. 54 As president, Marcos commissioned a mural of himself and Imelda portrayed as Malakas (Strong) and Maganda (Beautiful), the country’s mythic father and mother, based on a folktale akin to the story of Adam and Eve. 55 Carmen Nakpil, a former aide of Imelda, said in the documentary: “Filipino masses were convinced [they were] a love team. It was very effective. It was like a soap opera”; Imelda, dir. Ramona Diaz (2003; Unitel Pictures). 56 Personal communication, 20 March 2017. 57 Keyes Beech, “Iron Lady,” Los Angeles Times, 24 October 1980. 58 Personal communication, 20 March 2017. 59 Georgina Born, “Music and the Representation/Articulation of Sociocultural Identities,” in Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music, ed. Born and David Hesmondhalgh (London: University of California Press, 2000), 32. 60 Raymond Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy (New York: Times Books, 1987), 71−84. 61 Hamilton-Paterson, America’s Boy, 174−85. 62 Diaz, Imelda (documentary). 63 Ellison, Imelda: Steel Butterfly, 244. 64 Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 6. 65 Ibid., 19. 66 “From a Symbol to a Leader: The Rise of Corazon Aquino,” New York Times, 26 February 1986. 67 Milt Freudenheim et al., “Marcos Moves Towards a Vote,” New York Times, 17 November 1985. 68 Craig Lockard, Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998), 150. 69 “Top Selling Singles for 1973,” Sounds, 5 January 1974. 70 Whether Aquino and her staff sought approval from the performers and producers of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” to use the track as her campaign song is undocumented. 71 David Joel Steinberg, The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000), 141−42. 72 Fe Zamora, “Iconic Yellow Ribbon—Why It Keeps Waving,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 May 2010. 73 “Filipino Opposition Leader Shot Dead,” BBC News, 21 August 1983. 74 “Eulogy delivered by Corazon Aquino” (archived document), 31 August 1983, Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. 75 Stephen Zunes et al., Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999), 126−33. 76 Joseph Reaves, “Marcos Ready to Call Election,” Chicago Tribune, 4 November 1985. 77 Sandra Burton, “Corazon Aquino,” Time, 23 August 1999. 78 Cook, Analysing Musical Multimedia, 20−21. 79 Steinberg, The Philippines, 142−44. 80 Personal communication, 22 March 2017. 81 Jonathan Corpus Ong, The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines (London: Anthem Press, 2015), 28. See also Randy David, Reflections on Sociology and Philippine Society (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2001); Fenella Cannell, Power and Intimacy in Christian Philippines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); and F. Landa Jocano, Filipino Value System: A Cultural Definition (Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1997). 82 Pico Iyer, “Woman of the Year,” Time, 5 January 1987. 83 Seth Mydans, “Corazon Aquino, Ex-Leader of Philippines, Is Dead,” New York Times, 31 July 2009. 84 Sandra Burton, Impossible Dream: The Marcoses, the Aquinos, and the Unfinished Revolution (New York: Warner Books, 1989), 92. 85 James Fenton, All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of Southeast Asia (London: Granta, 2005), 127−28. 86 Personal communication, 18 March 2017. 87 Los Angeles Times, “Crowds Hail Aquino; Marcos Assails Her Stand on Communists,” Los Angeles Times, 4 January 1986. 88 Linda Richter, “Exploring Theories of Female Leadership in South and Southeast Asia,” Pacific Affairs 63, no. 4 (1991): 535. 89 M. Gonzales-Zap, The Making of Cory (Quezon City: New Day, 1987), 107. 90 “Tearing Down the Dictatorship, Rebuilding Democracy” (speech by Corazon Aquino), 23 January 1986, Presidential Museum and Library of the Philippines. 91 Seth Mydans, “Campaigning in the Philippines: Bold Power vs. an Icon of Change; Aquino Stirs a Crowd,” New York Times, 28 January 1986. 92 George Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: Diplomacy, Power, and the Victory of the American Deal (New York: Scribner, 1995), 344. 93 Seth Mydans, “Observers of Vote Cite Wide Fraud by Marcos Party,” New York Times, 10 February 1986. 94 Steinberg, The Philippines, 145−49. 95 “Corazon Aquino,” Scotsman, 5 August 2009. 96 Fenton, All the Wrong Places, 129. 97 Fe Zamora, “Estrada: Aquino RP’s ‘Most Loved’ Woman,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 July 2009. 98 Patricio Abinales, “The Post-Marcos Regime, the Non-Bourgeois Opposition and the Prospects of a Philippine ‘October,’” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 1, no. 4 (1985): 37−45. 99 Jackson Lears, Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America (New York: Basic, 1994), 291. 100 Seth Mydans, “Filipinos Favoring Ex-Actor,” The New York Times, 12 May 1998. 101 Cook, Analysing Musical Multimedia, 16−17. 102 Elmina Maniago, “Communication Variables Favoring Celebrity Candidates in Becoming Politicians,” Southeast Asian Studies 44, no. 4 (2007): 509−10. 103 Seth Mydans, “This Actor-Politician Says It’s Bedtime for Bases,” New York Times, 25 February 1989. 104 Mydans, “Filipinos Favoring Ex-Actor.” 105 Personal communication, 19 March 2017. 106 A magazine article described Estrada as “a fat, handsome, bow-legged policeman, off-duty. Or a jeepney driver… . All roles he once played in the movies”; Starweek, 26 July 1992, 11. See also Rolando Tolentino, “Masses, Power, and Gangsterism in the Films of Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada,” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 25, nos. 1−2 (2010): 79. 107 In a nationwide poll conducted in 1998, film actors comprised a third of the individuals named by respondents as “most admired man.” Estrada topped the list, ahead of “father, husband, Bill Clinton, and Pope John Paul”; Social Weather Report Survey (archived records), October–November 1998, Social Weather Station. 108 “Great Masses,” Economist, 21 January 2015. 109 Eva-Lotta Hedman, “The Spectre of Populism in Philippine Politics and Society: Artista, Masa, Eraption!,” South East Asia Research 9, no. 1 (2001): 36. 110 Personal communication, 22 March 2017. 111 Mydans, “Filipinos Favoring Ex-Actor.” 112 Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 195. 113 Isabelo Crisostomo, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, from Stardom to History (Wellesley: Branden Books, 1999), 314. 114 Mark Thompson, “Populism and the Revival of Reform: Competing Political Narratives in the Philippines,” Contemporary Southeast Asia 32, no. 1 (2010): 6. 115 Bastiaan Van de Loo, “The Failure of the Philippine Presidential System,” Asia Europe Journal 2, no. 2 (2004): 267. 116 Carlos Conde, “Estrada Begins Unlikely Comeback in Philippines,” New York Times, 28 October 2009. 117 Benjie Oliveros, “Estrada’s Presidential Bid Another Philippine Aberration,” Bulatlat, 24 October 2009. 118 Joseph Roach, It (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 17. 119 See, for example, Myrna Alejo and Joel Rocamora, “Explaining Erap,” Political Brief 8, no. 2 (2000): 16−27; and Patrick Flores, “The Illusions of a Cinematic President,” Public Policy 2, no. 4 (1998): 115−17. 120 Max Weber defined charisma as a “quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or at least superficially exceptional qualities.” On Charisma and Institution Building (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 329. 121 Michael Quinn, “Celebrity and the Semiotics of Acting,” New Theatre Quarterly 6, no. 22 (1990): 156. 122 Stuart Hall, “Introduction: Who Needs Identity?,” in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Hall and Paul du Gay (London: Sage Publications, 1996), 4. 123 Asian Political News, “Estrada Vows to Campaign to Regain People’s Trust,” 1 November 1999. 124 Shirin Rai and Janelle Reinelt, introduction to The Grammar of Politics and Performance, ed. Rai and Reinelt (London: Routledge, 2014), 1. 125 Martin Wattenberg, Decline of American Political Parties, 1952−1992 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 133. 126 Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 110. 127 Ibid., 113. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Published: Apr 11, 2018

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