Philippine presidential election

Out-of-this-world hopefuls

The outlandish candidates include (from top) Mr Maquinana, who introduced himself as the "Hitler of this generation"; Mr Carreon, who said aliens told him to run for president; and Mr Ygonia, who calls himself "Archangel Lucifer".
The outlandish candidates include Mr Ygonia, who calls himself "Archangel Lucifer".PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
The outlandish candidates include (from top) Mr Maquinana, who introduced himself as the "Hitler of this generation"; Mr Carreon, who said aliens told him to run for president; and Mr Ygonia, who calls himself "Archangel Lucifer".
The outlandish candidates include Mr Carreon, who said aliens told him to run for president.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
The outlandish candidates include (from top) Mr Maquinana, who introduced himself as the "Hitler of this generation"; Mr Carreon, who said aliens told him to run for president; and Mr Ygonia, who calls himself "Archangel Lucifer".
The outlandish candidates include Mr Maquinana, who introduced himself as the "Hitler of this generation.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The "Archangel Lucifer", an "Intergalactic Earth Ambassador", and the "Hitler of this generation" - all aspiring to be the Philippines' next president - descended on the Manila office of the election commission this past week, providing comic relief to a routine exercise.

Some 130 registered to run for president this week.

Most of them, especially the "nuisance" candidates with outlandish monickers and even crazier platforms of government, will likely drop out of the race as they lack resources to run a tenable campaign.

The election body's spokesman, Mr James Jimenez, said rejecting candidates outright based on how they looked and what they said would be "contrary to the idea of a democracy".

Among those who were given the opportunity to step onto a stage and talk to the media was Mr Romeo John Ygonia, a 51-year-old "volunteer missionary" with a heavy beard and unkempt hair who called himself "Archangel Lucifer". He said he was "chosen" by his "master" to run for president but would not say who this "master" was.

Another candidate who came with an out-of-this-world credential was Mr Allan Carreon, 43, a waiter at fast-food chain Wendy's.

Sporting a black shirt with the words "Intergalactic Earth Ambassadors" printed at the back, Mr Carreon said "aliens", communicating to him via the Internet and mental telepathy, told him to run for president. He said, if elected, he would give free Wi-Fi to all.

Then there was Mr Jose Larry Maquinana, 41, who introduced himself as the "Hitler of this generation". Clad in a shirt with a swastika patch, the symbol of Germany's Nazi party, he told reporters: "I will raise the strongest technology for defence in all structures."

Another candidate claiming divine intervention was Mr Arturo Pacheco Reyes, who fancied himself as "Moses" leading the Philippines to "an exodus to the promised land of tomorrow". He also vowed to "legalise the four seasons", prompting mirthful remarks from Facebook users, who asked him if he could also repeal the law of gravity.

Antics such as these have become a staple of the Philippines' brand of democracy. But some political observers read their existence as a reflection of a broken electoral system.

"We reap what we sow. As we have allowed escapist culture to dominate our everyday lives and to fill every pore of our being with its residues, so we ought not to wonder why we can't get away from the cult of celebrity," wrote political commentator Randy David.

rdancel@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Out-of-this-world hopefuls'. Print Edition | Subscribe