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Corruption: Between Nigeria and Philippines


It’s no secret that corruption remains a rampant problem in the Philippines. But can you compare this claim with Nigeria?

Bribery, embezzlement and nepotism are all issues that have plagued the nation for decades, but how does this affect the way young people feel about the upcoming 9 May elections in the Philippines?

To find out, I created a set of fun cards about the Philippines based on the popular party game ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and travelled to the cities of Manila and Cebu to play it with young voters.

Each player was given a set of questions with three different answers to choose from.

They then had to explain their answers about corruption, politics, unicorns and more.

It kicked off with an open-ended question, the big issue that many said left them disillusioned with this election.

“Can’t live with corruption, but we sadly also can’t live without it,” said 18-year-old student Irish Litub from Cebu city.

“Filipinos can’t deny there are a lot of corrupt officials – it’s already part of the Philippine identity. So in my opinion, understanding corruption is already part of being Filipino.”

Manila student Eman Reza Kazemi: ‘For now, corruption is sadly a way of life’

“Corruption? It’s definitely more fun in the Philippines,” said Cebu engineer Robby Martin Lopena.

“Just look at our memes. Corruption may be a serious issue but we Filipinos always try to inject some humour.”

Corruption didn’t break the Philippines. __________ did.

So if corruption didn’t break the Filipino spirit, what did?

“Politics,” said communications student Hannah Solayao. “It actually built the Philippines and destroyed it, so it’s a double-edged sword.”

From the People Power Revolution in 1983, which led to the departure of President Ferdinand Marcos, to coup attempts and states of emergency, politics has rarely been smooth in the Philippines.

But territorial issues were important for players like 29-year-old Marvin Alcantara.

“I’m going with Beijing because they could literally break us due to their dominance over the Spratly Islands. As a Filipino, it hurts seeing other countries like China bullying us.”

And who could forget viral Filipino social media sensation AlDub?

“I believe AlDub actually united the Philippines, they broke social media records instead! They should run for president and vice-president, many people would vote for them,” said 30-year-old engineer Robby Martin Lopena.

Imelda Marcos, widow of Ferdinand Marcos, is famous for her many shoes and her jewellery. For many Filipinos, her name is synonymous with riches and excess.

A special commission was set up to recover money and other assets. This was a card that raised passions.

Patrick Javier Malsi chose: “A tiara can fund the treatment of 12,000 tuberculosis cases”, whose line was used in a recent official anti-corruption campaign.

“It’s unbelievable they are returning to popularity and power.”

“Diamonds aren’t forever, especially not for her anymore,” said Josh Calingasan, who applauded the government decision to confiscate her infamous jewels.

Patty Taboada opted for a wild card: “With the right shoes, you can rule the world – that’s basically what Imelda Marcos did.”

The traffic woes card was a popular choice among card players in Manila, a city known for its snaking traffic jams.

“Drivers like me experience this first hand, we waste so much time just sitting in jams so to create a department just for traffic makes the most sense, ” 21-year-old university student Matthew Yabut.

And in Cebu, a city where traffic was slightly more manageable, there were other issues of concern.

Student Irish Litub loved the idea of creating a department for poverty.

“I’d help poor families and farmers, and especially street children so they can all have a better life and a chance to do something,” she said.

But let’s not forget the fun Filipino spirit.

Sing when you’re winning – if Patty Taboada became president, she’d opt for a Karaoke department

“Karaoke is our national past time but sadly there are terrible singers so let’s make it a crime to sing out of tune because it disturbs our neighbours, something which we can all agree on,” said Patty Taboada.

There was a clear winning card for this question. This was the reference to rape comments made by controversial presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte, who made light of the rape and murder of an Australian missionary.

“His words just perpetuates gang rape culture in the Philippines,” said 20-year-old student Razhev Vener Requejo from Quezon city.


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