[Fair warning: This is a rather long post. I have written it in five parts (excluding introduction and conclusion) so you can always go back to it anytime. I am hopeful that there are many people who care enough for this country and will find value (if not a little diversion) in a long post like this. To my friends in the media—please do not be offended as I know there are still many of you – honest, upright, and credible. Kudos to you all and may your tribe increase! (I am and will always be a supporter of responsible journalism.) However, as in any segment of the population, there are good and rotten tomatoes. It is time to expose the rotten ones so that all of you who are wielding the pen with integrity may be protected and allowed to flourish. I did my best to be very fair in writing this piece but if I had failed miserably or touched sensitive chords, I express my apologies. I will do better next time.
Wanted: Media that we can trust again. [Image courtesy of QuoteAddicts]
Full disclosure: I am not related to President-elect Duterte but voted for him. Some portions here—particularly in the introduction—had been lifted from the document (inputs for governance platform) that I had written and submitted to his team. I am not going to be his apologist but my vote for him came from a long research and soul-searching. There were parts that I did not like about him but when I finally decided to give him my vote, I knew that if I wanted real change to happen in this land, I also needed to change my way of thinking and my tendencies. I have always been an idealistic person, an open-minded positive-leftist (its definition will likely deserve another post), and believe in God. Voting for Duterte did not mean giving up my principles and idealism but if I want this country to benefit from his political will and brand of leadership, I must avoid the pitfall of expecting him to be the ‘proper’ President that we all wanted. If we wanted change, there is certainly a price to pay. I was and still willing to pay it. I then enjoin everyone who truly cares for this country to help this country move forward—and moving forward certainly requires acceptance of some hard truths, avoidance of judgmental and holier-than-thou tendencies, and, yes, a little humility.
Request: Please respect this post and the person behind it. I am a private citizen and have no wish to be embroiled in social media trolling and bashing. I am sure that many will disagree with some of the things that I said here so I want to simply say, “Peace be upon all of us.” I am among the millions of citizens here who only wish the best for his/her country so I hope you will appreciate not just my works in this blog but the context of why this piece is being written. I embrace you all with love and light! Namaste!]
Becoming the change that we want
THE election of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte had been a most difficult if not a miraculous one. Compared with the campaigns of his opponents particularly that of Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party, he has no well-oiled political machinery. The campaign and ultimately victory of incoming President Rody relied mostly on the spirit of volunteerism and the sheer strength of the common people who vigorously bonded together and used social media to claim victory. The results also broke many records in the history of Philippine elections, for example, claiming the highest number of voters’ turnout at 81.62% (Comelec, as cited in Philippine Star, 2016).
The tagline, CHANGE IS COMING, had initially sounded like a typical catchphrase but it soon became obvious that it was a unifying battle cry—revealing the people’s hunger for genuine change. Duterte’s win symbolizes hope amid the people’s frustration, even anger, to the yellow administration and possibly over the long years of oligarchic and inequitable economic and political systems post-Marcos era.
Hopes are indeed high as pronouncements of “inner change” had begun circulating from the moment the people started thinking about the promise of the Philippines becoming a bigger Davao—the city that enjoyed Duterte’s good governance, no-nonsense approach to rule of law, discipline-centered culture, and genuine heart. (Stories of his caring gestures may be easily accessed online.) Suddenly, people are talking about “becoming the change that you want” or the need to “begin change in each one of us.” These are all good signs.
For despite having a strong leader like Duterte, genuine change and societal transformation will not happen if the people are not inspired enough to begin, take part, and sustain change.
This is probably the most difficult hurdle—the Filipinos had become so free that ‘democracy’ is easily misconstrued as the right to practically do anything without regard to the consequence. We have become a nation of “pasaways” (may be loosely translated as brats or hard-headed bunch of people) and to borrow the words of our President-elect in one of his campaign sorties, laws here have become optional. Somewhere along the way, something happened to the Filipino psyche that he is more prone to break rather than follow laws, however simple they may be (e.g., following pedestrian crossing or traffic signs).
Freedom requires a sense of responsibility. [Image courtesy of LifeHack Quotes]
We cry “FOUL!” when stopped by a traffic enforcer for a violation but then, easily, almost automatically, fish our wallets out to pay bribe instead of surrendering our driver’s licenses. Who commits the lesser crime there? Corruption happens even during those fleeting moments when we are in a hurry and want to simply “get the hell out of there.”
We are angry at our corrupt government, yet, we do not seem to apply the same anger when we are the ones contributing to the culture of corruption. This irony applies to the way mainstream media also tries to turn a blind eye on or “go soft” in addressing corruption within its ranks.
The Durterte administration then inspires us to look at our inner core—and embrace, once again, age-old values such as respect and discipline. We are reminded by President-elect Duterte and the people of Davao City to obey laws, respect others, and make some small sacrifices. At this juncture in our history, we are called upon to revisit, uphold, and protect democracy. A revisit means clarifying what does the concept really mean. We need to be reminded that democracy is not about total freedom. It is about freedom with a sense of responsibility.
This post should be contextualized in the basic premise that not even 10 versions of President-elect Duterte can heal our country. Certainly, his brand of leadership is important, necessary even. However, the bigger CHANGE should come from us. And I believe that many people–whether or not they voted for President-elect Duterte–are aware of this.
The people must, therefore, not tire of vigilance; they must resist efforts to undermine their intellect and sensibilities. We had been insulted and treated with disdain even by people we considered friends because we had been bold enough to admit that we support President-elect Duterte. We should not be his apologists but nevertheless refuse to be categorized as “indecent” people or promoters of dictatorship or lawlessness simply because we had decided that we want to give this man (read: his style of governance) and this country a chance. There are perceived risks in such a decision but, ultimately, many of us believe we had weighed the risks intelligently against the deteriorating status quo, where even basic services and expectations like the MRT, peace and order, disaster preparedness, and accessible health care either keep on breaking down or are hardly felt by the people.
Is “sense of responsibility” now missing in the concept of “freedom of the press”?
The last election has also opened up our eyes about the viciousness of political campaigns, compounded by institutions that seem to fall short of our expectations or deliberately assume that we had already been silenced and blinded. The supposedly pillars of mainstream media have joined the fray, taking the side of pro-establishment and yellow army’s demolition jobs, airing haphazardly-done and desperate materials, in the process forgetting how innocent victims (e.g., children) are becoming pawns in the games of so-called ‘adults.’
A basic rule. [Image courtesy of Meetville.com]
It matters who is really saying the truth but we all have a God whom we need to face after our earthly journey. However, what matters most especially is the unmasking of how some of these big media institutions (one of them, ironically, carries Bantay Bata
and Ipanalo ang Pamilyang Pilipino
campaigns),  are the first ones who have disregarded, turned a blind eye to, or kept mum on the rights and welfare of children. MTRCB and Comelec, the very institutions entrusted by the people with clear mandates to uphold rights of children and maintain electoral integrity, had been asked to make a stand but each seems to have pointed finger to the other (Montano and CNN Philippines Staff, 2016).
Philippine institutions—not just in the government—have reached a sorry state where mediocrity and lowered standards seem to be the norm. For long years, we have been treated shamelessly by the establishment (and its instruments) yet we have allowed it because we had stopped using our voice. We have lowered our standards on governance and social accountability so much that we expect so little from our institutions.
We have allowed the government and mainstream media to tweak and ‘twerk’, propagandizing their version of democracy and, worse, forcing upon our brains that the political exercise is really a battle between good and evil (Guinto, 2016)—that those who believe in President-elect Duterte are the bad guys and those who prefer sweet-talking and “proper” politicians are the good ones.
It has become so polarizing that I, for one, kept quiet at first about my decision to support him, concerned that my friends will call me “indecent” or, worse, decide that I must have “gone out of my mind”. True enough, less than 24 hours of my posting an announcement about my decision, I received insulting and demeaning remarks from friends, whom I thought are very open-minded. Someone went as far as describing me as having “wasted my God-given talents.” It pained me personally but beyond the personal pains is a glaring parallelism—this experience became a microcosm of what is happening outside.
The recent events relating to the narrative of President-elect Duterte about corrupt Filipino journalists being killed had been used by many people in the media so much that it became another opportunity at attacking his character rather than digging deeper at its true context. (Poor guy, he never once pretended to be a saint nor was running for papacy but that’s beside the point.) Expectedly, some of the big players in media pounced on it once again, manipulating (or choosing to misinterpret?) words spoken so that Philippine-based newspapers’ headlines looked idiotic and reeking with malice when compared with their foreign counterparts’:
[Image/screenshots courtesy of Du34s]
Not to be left behind, Reporters Without Borders
(a foreign media organization) called for boycott, choosing to interpret President-elect Duterte’s words in the worst possible sense (Associated Press, as cited in Philippine Star, 2016), forgetting to contextualize it as part of a universal truth: that people (whether journalists or not) who have done something wrong to others may likely face a terrible consequence. (Here, I do not mean to disrespect the memories and honor of those who passed on.)
He was stating a hard truth but it is indeed very unfortunate that President-elect Duterte’s style of communication, in itself, appears as a big “liability” (particularly to those who have rigid standards or political biases). He is very strong-willed and a no-nonsense guy and unfortunately (at least for many people’s sensibilities), he will deliver his message in the way that he is already used to. He expressed a sad universal truth, which we ought to acknowledge and reflect on, but his manner of expression and choice of words are definitely going to be subjected to different including malicious interpretations. However, those who have already made up their mind about him (that he is the “bad guy” and against freedom of the press) will find it very convenient to interpret his words according to what they perceive him to be. If they really believe that he is the bad guy, then no matter what he says or does, he will remain to be that person.
A few days after, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines issued a statement about not taking up the call for boycott but, ironically, saying that
…We do hope you will be willing to help us and other media organizations address the often onerous working conditions faced by so many of our colleagues in the frontlines, the long hours for meager pay and, at times, deliberate orders to violate ethics at the risk of losing their jobs, that can push the desperate and the weak towards becoming, as you say, “vultures.” (NUJP, as cited in InterAksyon.com, 2016]
I may be misinterpreting it myself (and committing the same mistake so I express my apologies at the onset). However, the NUJP, by these words, appears (at least to me) like it is practically passing on the bigger responsibility to the future President (and the public in general), to the point of laying down the reasons (excuses? We hope not!) for the culture of corruption in media. Suddenly, it is as if the society shares the bigger responsibility in why their media “colleagues” are pushed to desperation, thereby becoming “vultures.”
Again, no one wants to aggravate the heated arguments but in the interest of raising public consciousness, it appears that many media players have been quick in interpreting President-elect Duterte’s words, but that NUJP (as a representative of many Filipino journalists) is now asking Duterte (and all of us?) not to judge their “colleagues” outrightly. I may not be a credible voice here so I leave it to you, my readers, to interpret NUJP’s thinking. This may be an opportune time to reiterate that poverty indeed breeds crime and lawlessness but it is not and will never be a justification for misdeeds and in the case of journalists, devaluing their work and integrity. It is also unfair to the others who are, despite the pitiful salaries and circumstances, continue to do their job with their integrity intact – following the tenets of responsible journalism.
As the image above says, I am not going to tell anyone how to do his job but perhaps NUJP may want to revisit its statement because unwittingly, perhaps, it acts like a hostage-taker, expecting help while pronouncing his pitiful plight (and holding his hostage at gunpoint). It has made a clear request for help but which comes across as a sort of emotional blackmail.
Moreover, it is rather ironical to see journalists ganging up on the future president for every verbal gaffe but it makes one curious where were NUJP and Reporters Without Borders when the yellow-paid media hacks (to borrow the words of President Digong, let us not f**k each other anymore) had apparently sold their souls and used primetime TV and innocent children in trying to demolish not just the campaign and name of President-elect Duterte but also the opportunity of Filipino voters to have informed decision. I personally felt victimized because it was only when I began researching online did I truly see the big picture—that outside my home (where I normally watched evening news) are already legions and huge crowds of people calling for genuine change and that there are many progressive and pro-women programs in Davao City. These media entities had been angered by what they interpreted as “open season for murder” (NPC, as cited in Regalado, 2016) but remained and continue to remain passive and quiet when every single day, we are bombarded (and murdered?) with distorted truths and unfounded “scoops” by some in the mainstream media.
Some of them (e.g., the yellow-tainted players) had seemed to have become so selective in practicing “freedom of the press.” They were demanding freedom but seem to have forgotten that freedom comes with a sense of responsibility. They want to be free in criticizing every “mistake” of the future President but kept and continue to keep quiet about the perceived massive cheating in the last elections. Why can’t they give the same amount of vigor in ensuring that we will find the truth over reports of massive cheating to benefit Leni Robredo, Mar Roxas, and some of the LP senatoriables? If there is no truth in those reports, it will be better for this country. However, if there is some truth in those, isn’t it time to expose the grand machination?
If they had been truly listening (minus their prejudices and biases), they will most likely appreciate the heart and platform of government of President-elect Duterte—his pronouncements and planned Cabinet appointments clearly indicate that steps will be undertaken to address the plight of workers (not just journalists), farmers, fishefolks, and the marginalized. And so, I make this appeal now:
Dear media friends—please listen to the people. Journalists are not the only ones suffering in this country. There are many shared pains (which the society must address) and media is asked not to monopolize and romanticize theirs for basking in its perceived “superiority” or “rarity” prevents it from really facing the painful truths. People should appreciate your work (those founded on truth) but appreciate that people (at least many of us) are intelligent. Please stop drowning the people with news based on half-truths. You said you want to protect the country and its laws—we say now that we want it, too, but protecting our country entails protecting the sanctity of the ballot and the persons whom we voted for.
You can insist on attacking President-elect Duterte for every “wrong” or “improper” word that he says but we all know that he can fend for himself. However, every time you attack him for his verbal gaffes (instead of considering the profound truth and context of what he is trying to say), you are also attacking our chances at unity. No one wins in this madness. More importantly, the media should not ignore the people’s call for integrity, professionalism, and unbiased reporting as we all work for change. There are important areas that the mainstream media should also address.
Sense of entitlement and double standards
President-elect Duterte stated the hard truths: many media people seem to think too much of themselves. They appear to have been enslaved by the thought that they can destroy reputation with just one story (that oftentimes do not have enough basis), falling asleep on a bed of arrogance. Many use “press cards” as passports for free meals, travels, special/priority seats, and even protection badge against traffic enforcers. Here, vehicles with “MEDIA” on their windshields are never ever stopped for traffic violations. Special eh. One can always shout, “Taga-media kami!” and shove his press card on the face of an absent-minded traffic enforcer, never mind that everyone is agonizing over the same traffic in EDSA. Never mind that the internet allows flexibility of writing stories at home or anywhere there is wi-fi. Never mind that there are alarm clocks and mobile apps now that allow everyone to wake up early so that they can plan ahead and consider the daily traffic grind. No, in their minds, they are a special breed of people, armed with press cards, at hindi pwedeng kantihin, hindi pwedeng hulihin (and cannot be touched, cannot be arrested). They can dish out malicious stories and distorted headlines freely (emboldened by “freedom of the press”) but they themselves cannot accept hard and painful truths.
They may have gotten so used to the idea of being “special” that when, for the first time, a Philippine incoming president, has dished out bitter truths, they reacted in the best way that they know how: manipulate words, twist meanings (according to their prejudices), and distort headlines. (It does not seem to help that the President-elect is brutally frank, has no penchant for scripted speeches and press conferences, and not a sweet-talking trapo.)
Media, mostly fueled by the stiff competition over revenues rather than search for truth, has grown so alarmingly big and powerful that it seems it now finds it difficult to temper its own arrogance and sense of entitlement – becoming a tyrannical force in itself.
[Image courtesy of QuoteAddicts]
However, the surfacing of these hard truths about corrupt media entities and personalities—many of whom are obviously paid hacks and lapdogs—is just waiting to be unmasked and, this time, the once timid society seems to be waking up, emboldened by a strong President who can finally say with disgust, “don’t f**k with me!”
[Did we just hear loud clapping sounds in the background?]
And oh, that awful catcalling came at just the nick of time! I am a woman and find it improper but, once again, media feasted on it as if President-elect Duterte committed a most despicable crime.  As I said earlier, I will not be his apologist—what he did was definitely uncalled for—but for the sake of this country, let him face God and find his own enlightenment. Not even Pope Francis castigated him for that remark about causing traffic during the Papal Visit so who are we to pounce on him and act as if we are all better and holier than him? Gabriela and all women’s organizations should dialogue with him pronto but as we wait for that time, let us assume that like everyone else, he is prone to errors and lapses (at least to society’s standards and prejudices) because that is who he is.
Try to look at his eyes, search his heart (without biases and prejudices) and you will most likely discern what he is saying all along. We have the same enemies. We are all fighting the same battle. He is probably the worst communicator we have ever seen (again, based on the society’s dictates) but we can easily sense his genuine love for this country. Unless he is a very good actor, this man is fueled by patriotism. One can always sweet-talk us and laugh his way to the bank but this man will most likely curse us right and left but deliver tangible changes that we direly need.
Duterte’s victory – reflecting the low credibility and influence of mainstream media?
Is this another hard truth? It may probably take an exhaustive study to ascertain the correlation but one may be tempted to conclude that had the 32+ million voters (the voters who did not vote for Roxas) still believed in mainstream media, President-elect Duterte would not have won. This seems to place the so-called pillars and big operators of mainstream media at their lowest point in terms of credibility and influence.
Sadly, even with this glaring lesson, top media networks have not ceased their efforts and style of reporting. A primetime TV news program only began reporting the development and social welfare programs (including those for women) in Davao City after the elections. It is releasing the news that should have been aired prior to the elections at a time when almost everyone already know about them, thanks to a more credible social media. It is both exasperating and insulting.
What makes it more pathetic is that the style of reporting is still the same. The yellow tinge can still be seen some 5 meters from the television screen or newspaper headlines.
We then ask these players in mainstream media—what signs do they still require so that they can finally accept the fact that many people do not believe it anymore and that we can see through their relentless attempts more clearly than ever? Are the voices of the 32+ million voters not yet enough to spell the words, “Stop the lies and hypocrisy” on its pristine-white walls clearly? To reiterate, these Filipinos (almost 75% of voters) did not vote for Roxas, the obvious “darling” of the top media businesses in the Philippines. The well-funded black propaganda (including a last-minute and desperate call for anti-Duterte alliance three days before May 9) relentlessly aired and reported in mainstream media did not work. The yellow formula no longer works. The faster the mainstream media accepts this, the faster can this country move forward.
It is also a good time to talk about and address mediocrity. It was exasperating to watch a TV network’s news team interview trying to pin down an incoming cabinet secretary, asking him mindless questions that do not concern him, putting a “bait” about a Senator’s “demolition handiwork.” (The three anchors seem to have acted as if viewers do not yet know what the Senator and their network had done to this country during the election period.) A top newspaper’s reporter also asked an incoming official an inutile question, which was intelligently handled by this gentleman by responding, “Do you want me to criticize my President?”
What a letdown to watch and read about these journalists. Instead of preparing and asking insightful and incisive questions about how we can battle corruption in government and address climate change, these journalists are once again towing the line of the yellow brand of madness, asking inutile if not downright stupid questions (sorry that may sound harsh but it is true, right?). The people are not as dumb as the media thinks. They expect more intelligence in reporting. The media demands perfection in the presidency? Well, the people demand that it does its homework diligently as well. The people have had enough of mediocrity.
And those paid ads about “Martial Law” days…
In the spirit of transparency, can anyone confirm who really paid for those anti-martial law ads? Does the channel that aired them honestly thinks that the ads worked? Does anyone really believe 100% that Leni Robredo won? In your quiet moments tonight, everyone, just think. This is not meant to dishonor Ms. Robredo. In fact, I ask her to think and ask herself the hard questions, too. If she is the true winner, I will support her (and even volunteer to plant trees with her if she offers to help in the environment sector). However, let us, for a moment, just think deeply. Who is the true winner in the VP race? Bongbong Marcos won in overseas and absentee voting, right? There had been verified reports of “0″ vote for him in certain precincts, right? There was this so-called “cosmetic” Smartmatic tweaking right in the middle of the sensitive counting, right? There are at least three witnesses willing to risk their lives to testify over what they know happened in Quezon province, right? There is also a recent call from PPRCRV’s Tita de Villa for Comelec to probe the alleged irregularities, right? (Tribune Wires, 2016). (Enough said.)
Let this be made clear—I did not vote for Marcos (I voted for Senator Alan Cayetano) and continue to have reservations against another Marcos in the top two posts in the country. However, I want the truth. The people deserve the truth. Who really won as the Vice President?
Moreover, isn’t it time to heal this land? Healing begins with forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean the condoning of crimes that had been truly committed. However, the Aquinos had been in power for 12 years already—isn’t it enough time for them to pursue justice? Who really killed Ninoy Aquino? Why didn’t the Aquinos pursue and persecute the real killers if they continue to think that we need to hate and reject the Marcoses? The irony is that we had been made to watch those sponsored ads, forcing us to feel the pains of the Marcos years again but they themselves had not really moved a finger to pursue justice. The elections had been made as a fight between “democracy” and “dictatorship” but they themselves had enjoyed being in power for 12 years and then wanted us to give the yellow party another 6 years—for what? So that we can continue to hate the Marcoses while they continue to enjoy the perks of being in power?
We should not condone the injustices during the Marcos years but, we beg you, LP and the decision-makers and paid hacks in media, please stop playing with our emotions and, worse, undermining our intelligence. You have bombarded us with anti-Marcos and anti-Martial law ads—forcing us to believe that the election was a war between good (LP) and evil (Duterte). We are not dumb. We know our history. [For a revisit of EDSA, you may all want to read this article by Tony Lopez, The Lie of EDSA. The link is in the References. You don’t have to believe him right away but I encourage you to dig deeper.]
As what a good friend of mine (a respected and veteran journalist) said, “The Japanese had already forgiven the Americans for dropping the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, while we, Filipinos, we are forced not to forgive the Marcoses.” I second the motion. The LP and its media cohorts have always been showing the world that they are prayerful–posting and airing pictures of masses and Churches–but sadly, ironically, their ads are telling us not to forgive the Marcoses. What is more appalling is not just about forgiveness per se, it is the temerity to force upon us that they are the decent ones, the protectors of democracy, and the hope of this nation, and yet, exerting all means possible (most likely including illegal ones?) to thwart the impending victory of the people through the ballots.
Martial Law era is definitely a painful time in our history. However, it had divided this country too much and is being abused as a political instrument through which an oligarchic rule may be perpetuated instead of being contextualized as source of valuable lessons. It became LP’s chopping board, the ultimate arena where the winning candidates (Duterte and Marcos) had been demonized and cut into pieces.
Fortunately, LP and its media cohorts had obviously lost their grip on the people. With their credibility seemingly sinking so low that not even the alleged massive infusion of LP money into media ad placements can pull up, 32+ million people stood their ground. The fight has not ended particularly for the VP race but, at the very least, we had reclaimed our voice.
Duterte’s failure will be ours, too
We are not condoning the perceived “flaws” of President-elect Duterte. However, let us be reminded that, among other things, people voted for him because of his positive traits like strong political will, executive skills, keen intelligence, clear change agenda, and genuine patriotism. However, those positive traits come with negative ones. He needs to work on those perceived flaws (again, vis-à-vis society’s standards) but we should not even try to put him into the mold of what we think is the right kind of president. I guarantee you, he will always fall short. Let us manage our expectations and such expectations for “proper behavior and good manners” should not burden him, who is already faced with gigantic problems (and people’s expectations that he will solve many if not all of them).
I am not suggesting that he should not listen to the pulse of the people but come on, dear brothers and sisters, let him find his own discernment. We expect too much from him and with such high expectations, he will always fail. For the first time, in a long long time, we have a president who is so brave and nationalistic that he will most likely (with our support) effect meaningful changes but there you are, media, waiting to pounce on him like hungry wolves, fully aware of his Achilles’ heel and capitalizing on it for the prized scoop.
Our brothers and sisters in the media, I make another appeal and pose more questions:
Please tell us, do you really want him to fail? Are your goals for revenues more important than the public good? If so, I rest my case.
Have you become so self-centered that you want the entire country to focus on your perceptions, hurt feelings, and double standards? Why do you expect a “proper”, almost saintly, President when you yourselves have remained and continue to be quiet as the yellow-paid lapdogs continue to threaten democracy itself?
And to you, yellow supporters—we are all brothers and sisters but what are you doing to our country? President-elect Duterte won already. Why can’t you just accept it and support his leadership? Why are you pulling your future President down when you know that his failure will affect us all? Why the online campaign for him to resign? Do you really think that his resignation will help our country move forward? I did not vote for PNoy before but when he won, I kept quiet and respected his leadership because that is the right thing to do as a citizen of this country. You may read this previous blog post here (http://meilbox.net/crying-cops-tell-us-when-anger-is-futile/), as a case in point.
Everyone is called upon to contribute to nation-building, whether red or blue or white. Or yes, even yellow.
Let this government not be vindictive
I had been raised in a conservative family but am, hopefully, a fairly open-minded Catholic. I am doing my best not to judge him and his foul language, reminded by the good teachings of all the world’s religions. I want to be the change that I want to happen. I reflected on it long and hard and came to the decision that the perceived flaws about him (whether justified or not) are the small “price” that I am willing to pay for a strong leadership, better government, a safer Philippines, and transformative changes. I don’t want him to fail because I know that his failure will be the failure of this country.
We also do not want this government to be vindictive, remembering the culture of the LP administration. However, with the change in Presidency and hopefully the start of meaningful reforms, we need to stress that the people are deeply offended and awakening from a nightmare of neglect and incompetence in governance as well as irresponsibility and callousness of many entities in mainstream media. We demand excellence, authenticity, truth, and justice. We will remain vigilant.
In the same breathe, we continue to have faith on and commend the good people of the government and media and the passionate and relentless volunteers and voters. You have served this country well, beyond the call of duty and even at the expense of your own ‘reputation’ because those who controlled power for so long did their best and use massive resources (including the people’s taxes) to convince everyone that this is “a battle between good and evil.”
It is hoped then the next six years will be the beginning of the transformation that we have always hoped for. We need to begin taking the first small steps because we are capable of changing and the Philippines can be a great nation again. The President will lead us but the bigger power lies in all of us.
Before we embark on this transformative journey, let us also draw strength and inspiration from the words of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), who said that
The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them (as cited in Sorensen, 2013).
- Michel Foucault, The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: On Human Nature
With optimism and faith in God who always prevails, let us BE THE CHANGE that we want. Let us participate in how things are being done and make some sacrifices, big or small.
…and please, turn the volume down of your karaoke.
[Image courtesy of The Liberty Eagle]
 Loose translations: Bantay Bata = Watchdogs for Children (or Guard/ Watch Over Children); Ipanalo ang Pamilyang Pilipino = Let the Filipino Family Win
 I had experienced a similar encounter where a former high-ranking government official was a keynote speaker and uttered a very sexist joke. There was a male-dominated audience (it was a fraternity convention) so one can imagine the discomfort of the few women in the group after hearing such a joke. Knowing that it was indeed a joke—unfortunately a very vulgar one—I felt that the best way to react was to share a ‘better’ joke–this time, ensuring that the women’s stand is clarified.
I quickly stood up, asked for the official’s indulgence and cracked a similar joke, but this time, ensuring that my version was wittier. The audience laughed heartily and judging from the reaction, my joke was indeed funnier. I am sharing this story not to undermine the experience of Mariz and many other women in a similar situation—respect for women is no laughing matter—but there are really unavoidable situations when a patriarchal mentality will show its ugly head even through a lighthearted banter. I was sure that the official did not really think of how anti-women the joke was, after all, he simply wanted to be funny. I am not justifying his joke either but the thing is, it was clear also that he wanted to make the audience laugh.
In such a situation, a woman who wants to stress a point about respect for women would do better if she will utilize her innate intelligence, call on the Goddesses of wit and humor, and become the stronger person in the room. Maybe in another time, a woman-journalist can simply say, “With all due respect, Mr. President, that is really uncalled for but thank you for the compliment! Please lang po, umayos kayo or isasama ko na po ang Gabriela sa susunod na presscon!” I am sure she would come out as the winner in such a retort. Many times in very uncomfortable situations, humor can save the day, break the ice, and possibly open meaningful discourses on gender issues.
This is something that many in media fail to appreciate also. We have an incoming president who is so open-minded, accessible, and humorous (despite some sexist jokes, admittedly). He is an interesting story in itself, a very rich source of honest takes and perspectives on social, political, and economic issues. His mind and experiences are a gold mine for intellectual and philosophical discourses. Media personalities should count themselves blessed to have this opportunity to engage the President in a real dialogue, inspired by the goals of nation-building. (Imagine, he does not carry prepared speeches and talks candidly!). It may help media if it considers having a change of mindset, e.g., by connecting with him on the intellectual level rather than waiting for opportunities to pounce on him, sure that he will most likely commit another verbal gaffe.
CNN Philippines Staff. (2016, May 6). Comelec on anti-Duterte ad: We only regulate duration, not content. Retrieved from http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2016/05/06/comelec-duterte-negative-political-ad-trillanes.html
Gonzales, Y.V. (2016). NUJP shuns Duterte’s boycott dare: We won’t abdicate our duty. Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/789023/nujp-shuns-dutertes-boycott-dare-we-wont-abdicate-our-duty#ixzz4AdQD1btn
Guinto, J. (2016, May 7). Roxas says he can beat Duterte in good vs evil fight. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/halalan2016/nation/05/07/16/roxas-says-he-can-beat-duterte-in-good-vs-evil-fight
InterAksyon.com. (2016, June 3). It’s about murder for whatever reason – NUJP writes Duterte. Retrieved from http://interaksyon.com/article/128592/its-about-impunity–nujp-writes-duterte
Lopez, T. (2016, February 26). The lie of EDSA. Retrieved from http://manilastandardtoday.com/mobile/article/200282
Montano, E. (2016, May 7). MTRCB washes hands on anti-Duterte ads. Retrieved from http://www.journal.com.ph/news/top-stories/mtrcb-washes-hands-of-anti-duterte-tv-ad
Philippine Star (Online). (2016, May 9). Comelec records historic 81.62% voter turnout. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/05/09/1581634/comelec-records-historic-8162-voter-turnout
Philippine Star (Online). (2016, June 2). International media groups say Duterte’s comments risk lives, urge boycott. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/06/02/1589388/international-media-groups-say-dutertes-comments-risk-lives-urge-boycott
Regalado, P. (2016, June 2). Duterte declared an open season for murder: NPC. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/06/01/16/duterte-declared-an-open-season
Sorensen, A. (2013). Foucault studies. Retrieved from http://pure.au.dk/portal/files/56599190/4132_15917_1_PB.pdf
(The videotaped debate in 1971 on Dutch TV, it may be viewed here: http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/noam_chomsky_michel_foucault_debate_human_nature_power_in_1971.html)
Tribune Wires. (2016, June 5). PPCRV to Comelec: Probe poll fraud. Retrieved from http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/ppcrv-to-comelec-probe-poll-fraud
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