With the Philippine elections coming up in a few months, I’d like to put on spotlight one candidate I’m quite familiar with because I’ve been a fan but now I have to rethink. Not that we’re friends. This person being my brother’s godfather and being my dad’s college classmate are the slightest acquaintances I have with him– as if those mean anything.
I’d like to discuss the positioning strategy of Mar Roxas, former senator, former Department of Interior and Local Government secretary, and aspiring president.
Wharton and LSE-educated, part of one of the top elite families in the Philippines, he has been struggling to gain the hearts of Filipinos as he tries, time and again, to vouch for himself as “one with the masses.” His strategy that has struck everyone was his senatorial campaign back in 2008 as “Mr. Palengke” (or, “Mr. Market”), someone with a good financial sense who aims to better the lives of local producers by providing larger networks for them, and teaching them the value of financial wisdom. That campaign has definitely worked as he aced on top of the senatorial seat.
However, the same strategy hasn’t been working on his presidential campaign as first of all, presidential seats are way more sensitive spots to take than being a senatorial candidate. This means presidentiables are subjected to more scrutiny, debates and media reach than ever before. These trails have backfired on Roxas as his elite background, his family’s treatment on their sugar estate workers (Roxas is of Spanish background, and his family is one of the first sugarcane estate owners in the Philippines back in the 15th century), and his business dealings during his senatorial and secretary stints, have all been divulged all over the news.
What he can’t make in substance he can make up in sums, and with his x billion-dollar campaign fund, he sure knows how and where to spend his money. Lately he has donated 600 fire trucks to a local province, and 1,000+ brand new police cars to another. All in one month.
His positioning strategy has drastically shifted from being a “Mr. Palengke” to being the Standard Bearer of the Liberal Party, a party with a good name and close to the heart of the Filipinos. Built by Benigno and Corazon Aquino, and by their son Benigno Aquino III now President of the Philippines, the floor is now given to Roxas to take on the tradition. Personally, it does not sound right and there is no stark connection between Roxas and the Liberal Party, knowing that his positioning has diluted and has been revamped again and again based on survey results.
His positioning, always, is to be the “good guy”, the champion against corruption. He has started out really powerful, but by being so much swayed by survey results, he has lost his ground and now shifts to being a “hand me down” of the Liberal Party.
I hope he gets to where he want to be, not by looking outside but more so within. This goes to all political candidates as well. May they face themselves in the mirror knowing they can be proud of what they do to future generations.
Photo credit: http://www.marroxas.org/