The Candidate


So much has already been written and said about Martin’s candidacy, I can merely re-present one of the articles and let you hear his story in his own words

‘Those who dream to change the nature of Philippine politics may find themselves in fact dreaming the possible dream.’

Dreaming the possible
by JB D. Baylon in Malaya
March 5, 2007

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Last Monday, I had to drive from Legaspi Village, Makati to the studios of radio station DWWW 774 kHz at 23 E. Rodriguez Sr, Boulevard so that I could interview, live, Dr. Martin D. Bautista, one of the three candidates for senator of the Ang Kapatiran party.

I actually hinted at doing an interview by phone patch, telling Dr. Martin that if 6:30 was too early for him, we could do the interview at a later slot anytime during the 6:30-8 a.m. time slot. But he wouldn’t be budged from his willingness to do the interview live – and so I was up and about by 5 a.m. just to make sure I wouldn’t arrive at the studios later than my guest.

He arrived at 6:20 a.m., and by 6:30 a.m. we were chatting away over open microphones.

Dr. Martin is a graduate of the UP College of Medicine, class of 1989, and upon graduation he and his wife were two of about 80 of his class to seek training and the opportunity to start lucrative careers abroad, mainly in the United States. It wasn’t easy, he told me and the program listeners, especially since his arrival coincided with the height of the AIDS outbreak which saw American medical practitioners refusing to handle full-blown AIDS cases – cases which the Filipino doctors took on.

By dint of hard work and innate talent, things eventually turned slowly for the better for Martin and his wife, and eventually they were able to put up a clinic in Oklahoma that did well, what with over 100 patients a day, almost every day of the week.

Many would have been happy at having stumbled upon the “American dream”, and would have begun to enjoy the fruits of their labors; but for Martin, something was nagging him – and that something was the realization that things were not going as well for his countrymen as they were for him.

Over the years he kept traveling back and forth between Manila and the United States, until, almost two years ago, he made a very counter-intuitive decision: he packed up his bags and with his wife and four daughters returned to the Philippines to settle in Bacolod City.

But that wasn’t all; soon, he was drawn to the idea that the changes needed in Philippine society required far more sacrifices from everyone – himself included – and before anyone knew it there he was, one of three candidates for the Senate of the Ang Kapatiran party, embarking on what many would think is a quixotic quest of ordinary Filipinos turned non-traditional politicians hoping to bring back decency and integrity and honesty and even the fear of God into Philippine politics!

Interestingly, many of the listeners of “Pananaw sa DWWW 774 kHz” were more than willing to offer to volunteer their services, telling Dr. Martin that since they had not completed their 12-man slate they were more than willing to add Dr. Martin and even the whole Ang Kapatiran slate to their final list of candidates for May. What did this imply?

Clearly, many people out there are seeking alternatives, and they are willing even to try total political neophytes like Martin Bautista in lieu of the many “trapos” that they are sick and tired of. And who could blame them?

If you wish to know more about Ang Kapatiran, check out their website: http://www.angkapatiran.org. Trust me, the more you learn about them the more you will be encouraged to add one, or two, or all three of the Ang Kapatiran candidates to your May 14 Senate list.

***

Two weeks into the campaign, we see candidates spending princely sums of money in advertising. News reports claim that senatorial candidates Pichay, Angara, Recto and Villar are top spenders, spending mainly on television and radio spots.

There are two critical considerations for a candidate: the first is awareness, the second is conversion. Awareness is all about being known and/or recognized – something that is an advantage of media or entertainment personalities, prominent politicians or controversial figures of whatever calling. Name recall is how others refer to awareness, but name recall or awareness is just half of the game.

The second is conversion – the ratio between those who know a candidate and those who will vote for him or her. This is high for someone like Loren Legarda, who has an awareness level of over 90 %, with over 60 % saying they were likely to vote for her. It is low for someone like Richard Gomez, who also has a high awareness level but who only has an 8 % share of those aware saying they were going to vote for him.

On the other hand, it could be possible that someone not widely known – someone like Martin Bautista, for example, could have a high conversion rate – which means that while very few know him many or most of those who know him would be willing to vote for him. Which is in fact what I think the situation of Martin is – in many ways an enviable situation, if you ask me, because it only means that all Martin has to do is make himself more widely known to improve his chances of getting elected. However, given the shortening campaign period this would require considerable sums of money, something neither Martin nor Ang Kapatiran have.

Then again, if Martin and Ang Kapatiran could by word of mouth get more Filipinos to learn about them, believe in them and be willing to open their wallets to support them, who knows what could happen? Those who dream of a grassroots movement gaining traction to change the nature of Philippine politics may find themselves in fact dreaming the possible dream.

Finding Home
An excerpt from PBS documentary featuring Martin B., Sylvia, and Jeff L. which was screened at the Smithsonian a few years back. For those of you who may still be unaware of Martin’s recent activities, check out his blog “On My Way Home”.

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What’s next, Bautista in 2010?

LINKS:
On My Way Home (Martin’s blog)

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