Aside from the fact that trolls abound during elections and candidates pay people big sums to attack on rivals, here’s why Brian Poe Llamanzares’ choice of sneakers matters.
Here’s also why, contrary to some friends, it IS also important to distinguish whether the “special edition” Nike sneakers were genuine or fake. Someone on Twitter, who says he knows shoes, insists the pair shown on Brian’s pix (since taken down) are fake.
Context makes a great difference. There are different kinds of wrongs.
If those shoes were genuine, the price would be in the vicinity of P90,000 to P100,000.
We then ask:
a) Does Brian have a trust fund? b) Do his parents (or Lola) give him that kind of allowance?
If the answer is yes, I might start thinking, “oops, entitlement” — and be concerned about insensitivity.
If the answer to a and b is NO, then we ask:
c) Does a fledgling reporter, even for CNN Philippines, earn enough to afford such expensive shoes?
Journalists, unlike government officials, do not have to submit SALNs. But there are written or unspoken rules of ethics that caution against ostentatious displays of material wealth.
Mainly because, aside from a few gods in the media, many of us are right smack in the middle-lower or middle-middle classes — most, actually, in the D class. And because our profession, which is in the business of trust, is also burdened by public perception of corruption.
I don’t think Brian is corrupt. Word easily gets around about that. (Neither is he distinguished for brilliance or exemplary diligence.)
Sen. Grace Poe doesn’t come across as a materially promiscuous mom. I don’t doubt her surprise over her son’s purchase. (To many of us, sneakers are sneakers. She’s probably just as clueless.)
The senator has had many, many opportunities from childhood to young adulthood to strut around like, say, Janet Napoles’ girl — nobody has yet accused her of extravagant displays.
And so we come to the second possibility: That the shoes were fake.
That is not an impossibility. Even the rich look for the best fakes — for them, it’s about bragging rights: “Look! It looks exactly the same as my Rolex!”
For most people, it’s an accommodation between aspirational tendencies and life’s realities.
It’s not a high crime, but if true, then Brian should come out with a quick, clean apology and promise never to do it again. Hey, Ronald Llamas did it, too.
Brian isn’t a child of minor age. He’s an adult, a former reporter. And he has some role or another in your campaign.
Whether you like it or not, his public standing and behaviour will affect you. You either sit him down and drum the fear of god into him — or ship him off to where he can do no harm.
If there’s good reason for him to afford the shoes, say so, acknowledge that it may have been a bit insensitive to show these off — considering his mom campaigns for hungry, malnourished children. Then move on.
If the shoes are fake, acknowledge and apologise. Do not justify breaking the law because millions of other Filipinos are, too. Just apologise and move on.
It’s actually an opportunity for the candidate to explain some economics — without condoning piracy and theft of copyright; instead, urge people to patronise our own, affordable goods.
What you do not need, Madame Senator, are more verbal and mental acrobatics that will just twist you again in knots.