It has been a year since I started writing under a pseudonym. My main impetus was really to be able to talk freely and participate in online political discussions. When you have friends and family who currently or previously worked in government, it is more considerate to go by an alias when you are airing critical views.
I also could not resist making a crack at the weird (and I use the term in the Macbeth sense, with awe and fascination) Philippine political blogosphere which seemed dominated by people who I found…unconvincing. Particularly, from my perspective some of these widely followed writers and bloggers wrote just to promote and defend the current administration. It was natural that my online politicization begin in the familiar, among the people whose background I share. Unfortunately the people in my milieu seemed still to be stuck in 1986, particularly many in the “intellectual liberal” class, and many from my old alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila.
Many Filipinos online, even those I knew who were in academe or possessed expensive educations, appeared to lack the ability for critical reading and thought. Never mind the concepts of GDP and debt ratios, they were suckers for the most outrageous claims and arguments. (For example, do we really believe unemployment in the Philippines is 6%, when France has an unemployment rate of 10%?). This made them easily manipulated and controlled. They would believe stories from fake news sites and repost them unwittingly. This, when even the mainstream media was a minefield of bias, of editorials masquerading as news.
Confession time. As a former yellow army foot soldier myself, I voted for Pnoy and I now know that was a mistake. It took me as long as Mamasapano to actually say enough is enough. It took me awhile to care enough to take a second look at what was really going on in the country. As a banker I found it odious the way people were ignorantly buying the Aquino government’s claims of economic miracles when these were achieved on the back of OFWs and a global low interest rate environment. Despite the successful spin, the Aquino administration was woefully short on significant reforms on the economic front. Having lived with economics and statistics my whole professional life, I know the only numbers that matter are jobs and less starving Filipinos, and this administration has been woefully inadequate by both measures.
But Filipinos are not anything if not stoic and forgiving. Many a mistake over the past 6 years would have brought governments down in other countries. The last straw was the lack of empathy of Aquino himself. He forgot that aside from being Head of Government, he was also Head of State, a national symbol and rallying figure for unity. Like a character in a Greek tragedy, he was brought down by these traits of his character, destined to act the way he did. In reality, that was the only way he could act. It was his nature. The arrogance was just icing on the cake. In Aquino’s entitled upbringing, so out of touch with the rest of the country, I saw myself. I realized the apathy I felt was the polar opposite of the activism and desire for a better country that we all shared thirty years ago.
Now here we are, a day before a very important and dramatic election. The polls and surveys indicate a Duterte win. However you think of Duterte, there is no denying the new ideas that were thrown into the national debate because of his candidacy. Some of these were topics I already believed in, but was doubtful any politician would ever pick up. Topics like system change, constitutional reform, federalism and parliamentary form of government, all are overdue for national consideration. But majority of Filipinos are unaware of these concepts, or else too stuck in the paradigm of an American-style democracy. It was exciting to see the huge and emotional grassroots support Duterte was getting from a large segment of our nation which had previously been excluded, or excluded themselves from national politics. Duterte followers have myriad and various reasons for choosing him, but all share the same feeling in their gut that drastic change needs to happen.
However which way you vote tomorrow, I wish you peace. I would also like to thank the people who agreed and disagreed with me over the past year, people who liked and commented on my blog or on FB posts. For the people who I offended or irked, I can only say that I was also offended and irked at times, so even stevens. I learned a lot from all of you. There are those of you who write with passion, and humor, and heart. I hope you all keep it up for the good of the country.
See you at the polls.