Over 30 years have passed since Santugon sa Tawag na (Santugon) and Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) first fielded candidates to run for the student council. Since then, the faces and personalities behind the parties have changed, but certain practices and customs have remained constant. For this year’s General Elections, The LaSallian takes a look into some of the superstitions and traditions of Santugon and Tapat.
Every election, all candidates undergo a photoshoot to be used in various forms of campaign paraphernalia, such as profile pictures and tarpaulins.
In an interview with Santugon Outer Core President, Kiara Lin, she revealed that all Santugon candidates cannot cut their hair after having their photo taken. Although she could not identify the rationale behind such practice, the party strictly abides by it.
She notes that the superstition used to extend to all forms of hair removal, including waxing and threading. However, it is no longer followed to that extent in order to maintain proper grooming and appearance since over two to three weeks can pass in between the photoshoot and the campaign period.
In relation to photo shoots, all executive committee (EXECOM) candidates, meaning all five executive board members and eight college presidents, cannot view their pictures until after the printing of their Open Book. The Open Book contains pictures and write ups for all EXECOM candidates, and began a few years ago under former Santugon standard-bearer, Robert Hechanova.
The LaSallian was also able to interview Tapat member Maryss Ong regarding their political organization’s own superstitions. According to her, the candidates and the core members are not allowed to cut their hair before the campaign period starts. However, the rule starts once the organization starts preparing for elections. Aside from maintaining their appearances, Ong considers it as a sign of practicality.
Campaign period beliefs
During the two weeks of campaigning and one week of voting, candidates from both Santugon and Tapat also observe certain superstitions that are intended to be followed throughout this period. Based on interviews, both parties revealed that their candidates are not allowed to touch the flag whether accidentally or on purpose.
There is no clear explanation behind this belief, but the Santugon party as a whole believes it is bad luck for the candidate, and try to prevent any contact between the flag and the candidates.
For Tapat, the superstition is not violated unless the candidates would like to risk losing in the elections. Furthermore, they also follow the rule of not letting the flag touch or fall down to the floor.
In addition to that, Santugon candidates cannot do anything that is deemed as “core work”. For example, they cannot be the ones to knock on classroom doors and ask for time, nor can they hold the plantilla, a list of class schedules and students.
Lin believes this practice has a symbolic meaning in defining the different responsibilities and duties of candidates and core members.
“Parang ang sinasabi mo ay I am ready to do core work. I am not ready to be a candidate. Inuunahan to. So parang that’s also a bad omen,” Lin explains.
Other than having general superstitions, each political party has certain traditions that they strictly abide to each election season.
For Santugon, all the executive candidates and core members train in what they call an EB house. Prior to the campaign period, sometime after the incumbent candidates file their leave of absences, the EB candidates start sleeping over in one house. They stay and train there and only go home on Saturdays to see their families before returning on Sunday night. Usually, it is the home of one of the EB candidates whose house is within a reasonable distance and large enough to host everyone.
Once campaign week starts, Santugon members start and end their day with a Family Prayer. Each morning and evening, all candidates and core members gather in a circle and put their arms around each other. The EB candidates stand in the middle of the circle and each one says a little prayer. After, any other candidate or core member is free to say their intention. Once they’re done, the EB candidates join the circle and start singing their generosity prayer.
This has been in practice for years and can now be observed in the Henry Sy grounds before classes start at 7:30 am. Lin explains that this is their way of thanking God for each day.
After the campaign period and before lull period, Santugon performs a “silent march.” Starting from Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall, the candidates pass by all buildings until they end in the amphitheater. Once there, they lay down all the tarpaulins that were posted around the campus and sing their family prayer.
During the counting of the ballots, all the candidates and core members gather in one room. They aren’t allowed to use their cell phones or any other gadgets, but they can watch movies or eat. When the ballots are almost done being counted, everyone gathers together to pray the rosary, then contributes to the Taya Box.
The Taya Box is an actual box that is passed around. Each candidate and core member is required to put something they value in the box. Lin explains that it must be something they’re willing to give for a derecho vote. She lists application forms, membership cards, personal gifts, and letters as some of the objects that have been contributed to the box.
“During freshman year, there was even someone who gave up a clock vase from [their] mom symbolizing time,” Lin recalls.
However, she emphasizes that it is not allowed to offer a person or any other living being, or even joke about doing so. The party considers it as a bad omen and unlucky.
Tapat also has their own set of traditions, although Ong explains that some of these, such as the hair cut superstition and the flag not touching the floor, are just largely handed down—no one is sure of why these practice have been maintained throughout the years.
The party holds Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to help them in platform and team building. Aside from this, they also hold an actual team building activity weeks before the campaign period, which is for the candidates and the active core members in the political organization to get together and form camaraderie and fellowship within the party.
Prior to the campaign and elections period, Tapat also conducts an Organization Consultation. According to Ong, this is a new tradition of the party; this practice is important and relevant to Tapat, with the purpose of getting the different perspectives and points-of-view of the students here in campus. “We consult different student orgs, whether it be an accredited or non-accredited school org, as well as the Council of Student Organizations (CSO), and many others,” adds Ong.
Tapat also has a usual training place in Br. Andrew Gonzales Hall, but Ong explains that there isn’t necessarily a tradition or superstition behind it. “We don’t train in Andrew lang. It is more of where there are available rooms, which is just always in Andrew,” she shares.
One of the party’s most important practices is the end-of-campaign tradition known as the Flag Sweep, which they say traces back to the ‘80s, when the party still stood against the Marcos administration and its regime. “At the end of voting and of the campaign period in totality, everyone—the core members and the candidates—go around the school, in all the buildings,” explains Ong. “We try to cover as much ground as possible; we usually start at Andrew, then [Gokongwei Hall], and then end and culminate in front of Don Enrique T. Yuchengco Hall, around the amphitheater,” she further adds.
The political party sometimes holds different commemorative events in combination with the Flag Sweep that tend to address the pressing issues and concerns that have been happening around the University and around the nation. In 2015, for example, Tapat held a candle-lighting ceremony in partnership with other school organizations after their march, to address the issue of tuition fees. Ong concludes by saying that the Flag Sweep is a reminder of what the party is campaigning for, what they are fighting for, and for them to ensure that Tapat sticks to its roots and party practices.