Faith in polls etc. – Manila Bulletin

MEDIUM RARE

Jullie Y. Daza

How do opinion polls like the ones that appear every election season stack up against astrology, feng shui, and simple guesswork?

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, one of the main presidential candidates, was ready to submit his certificate of candidacy on October 1 when someone in his camp reminded him that it might be better to wait for a auspicious date, October 4, feast day of its namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. Exactly what he did.

Politicians might not stand out as pious men of faith, but they are some of the most superstitious people you will ever meet. As one explained, “I need all the help I can get. They are loyal to a color and a lucky number, a favorite shirt that will bring them favorable results during or after an important event. They go to church, like Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto did, before announcing their partnership.

Surveys are also about faith, like believing in feng shui and astrology. The mystical sciences work by calculating how the earthly and cosmic elements are aligned in harmony with nature, planetary movements, and humanity. While the date and time of birth of the claimant (subject) are important to masters in interpreting the data, land-based market researchers use survey questions and answers to produce a sketch of the situation. Investigations reside in numbers, what they call statistical probabilities. Feng shui and astrology work on natal charts as the basis for calculating where fate leads.

Which means polls and charts aren’t foolproof. Prayers are not always answered.

In ancient times, when emperors and kings ruled the world, astrologers were treated like VIPs, given the same honors and respect as a bishop in today’s Malacañang. Among the thousands of books that I have tasted and studied since my early teens, one of the oldest has an opening line on the first page of a fictionalized account of the first empress of China that gave me always accompanied: “The astrologers were dismayed”. (I’m neither an astrologer nor an empress, so I don’t understand fixation with those four words.)

The Empress was so ruthless that she killed her own son to ascend the throne – this part is history, not fiction – thus completing the reading of her chart by astrologers.


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Sandra J. Lacey

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