By ELLEN T. TORDESILLAS
TWO stories that generated passionate exchanges in social media the past days underscore how new media is being used to demand transparency and honesty from candidates and their staff in the campaign for the May elections.
The first story was about the shoes of Brian Llamanzares, son of presidential candidate Grace Poe of the Partido Galing at Puso and the other was the Instagram post of Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, who is the spokesman of the Aquino administration’s Liberal Party, whose standard bearer is Mar Roxas.
The story about the Llamanzares’ shoes was a scoop by the online media Rappler. Brian posted what seemed at first as a harmless photo until someone with a keen eye on sports shoes at Rappler noticed that the 23-year old, who once worked with CNN Philippines, was wearing a limited edition 2015 Nike Mag10 Back to the Future II Marty McFly.
That shoes sold for $19,999 equivalent to almost P900,000 in Philippine pesos. Nearly a million pesos for a pair of shoes.
Why so expensive?
As explained by a blogger Rod Magaru, “last September of 2011, a total of 1,500 pairs of Nike Mag10 were auctioned on eBay with the intention of donating its proceeds to Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Disease Research. They added 10 more pairs in a deluxe package and they were able to sell everything on that year.”
In a country where many workers earn less than P500 a day, wearing almost a million peso pair of shoes is scandalous indeed. It’s worse if your mother is running for president promising to help the poor.
Rappler’s story went viral in social media, shared and commented on by people supporting Grace Poe’s rivals in the presidential contest.
Llamanzares’ explanation that he “ bought it online at P10,000 from my own savings” was drowned by criticisms of “conspicuous consumption.” It didn’t help that Grace Poe came to his son’s defense without addressing the issue but only to defend Brian’s right to buy what he likes as long as he earned the money honestly.
It took Magaru and a sneaker store owner Antonio Aguirre Jr., to point out that what Llamanzares bought was “knockoff edition” of the Nike Mag 10 which sells online from $125 to $385. Minus the euphemism, Brian’s Nike Mag10 is fake.
Llamanzares later on apologized on TV. He said: “I apologize if anyone was offended by my shoes, it was never my intention to upset anyone. I just wanted to buy something for myself after saving up for months.I don’t know much about shoes and I’m not exactly a sneaker expert so when I saw these online at P10,000 and I liked the design, I saved up and bought the shoes.”
With “conspicuous consumption” belied, Poe bashers now say the issue is the morality and legality of her son buying counterfeit items which deprives the government of much needed earnings.
The incident should be a lesson for Brian: don’t buy fake items and stop posting photos in inane poses.
If the young Llamanzares was apologetic about the controversy, Quimbo exuded the arrogance that Aquino administration officials are known for when caught not telling the truth.
Quimbo posted on Instagram a photo of Mar Roxas with running mate Leni Robredo and Social Security Boad Director Eliza Antonino in an enclosed vehicle with a caption: “My busmates sa Tuwid Na Daan Caravan in Bicol.”
A sharp-eyed netizen, however, noticed the three were not in a bus but in a helicopter.
That post was preceded by Quimbo’s earlier announcements that the LP campaign caravan who went to Bicol was forced to take a 10-hour bus ride back to Manila because all flights were cancelled due to bad weather.
Mar Roxas haters immediately pounced on Quimbo. Netizen mariannecis asked:”Kelan pa po naging bus ang helicopter?” bsebastian 86 was more scathing: “Who do u think you’re fooling? Helicopter! Not bus! Trapo ka! Lying scum!”
Instead of explaining the disconnect between the chopper and the words “busmate,” Quimbo countered with contempt: ““Bawal corny dito. Of course it’s a chopper. Hello. Even my 6 year old knows that.”
Social media has its downsides. Truth usually gets derailed by speed. But speed also exposes the unedited side of people.
When they are people who are vying to be the country’s leaders, it’s better that we see them in their unvarnished form.