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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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Yup, this is an article about that Filipino pop culture hit, the Aldub street series. It’s that Filipino powercouple show which has been breaking the internet with the current record-breaking 26 million+ tweets last Saturday, just in case you were busy inside your cave. These are crazy figures with viewerships comparable to Pacquiao fights. 
Alden Richards + Yaya Dub = AlDub
But why is this tandem so appealing? Why did it have mind-boggling ratings and tweets? On this article, I put my two cents as a casual young male viewer who relies on Facebook re-runs at night.

In an articleI’ve written about Filipino TV shows two years back, I’ve mentioned that we can infer from the Time Magazine data that there are more people who own TVs than those who have access to the Internet – thus, still making our boob tubes the main avenue for entertainment and news. But because of the ever-changing communications landscape, social media has now penetrated our households; thanks to the internet providers... and free data.
Even the Taiwanese superstar Barbie Xu of the Meteor Garden fame, was intrigued, too. 
But with TAPE Incorporated’s Eat Bulaga, these two platforms were successfully merged by having Yaya Dub (played by Maine Mendoza), a YouTube star with a decent following because of her Dubsmash videos; and with the up and coming leading man, Alden Richards. And true to their 36 years of experience to, Eat Bulaga merged the traditional and the social media by sensitively discerning the two stars’ accidental on-screen chemistry early in the middle of the “Juan for All, All for Juan” segment. The Tito-Vic-Joey line-up has been the pioneer for variety shows and it just proved how well they can capitalize on the waves of Internet fandom, too.
The first 'real' meeting of the two.
The improv show, I observed has general appeal to people of different age rainbow. It appealed to the majority of music-loving Pinoys: the choice songs of the street series are composed of interesting audio snippets relatable to many.  From K-Pop dance tracks to Westlife, from Eva Eugenio’s Tukso to krumping.

Also, the show’s format is split-screen, appeals to the OFWs and the long-distance lovers whose only communication is through the same split-screen internet video calls. It also has the elements of a typical Filipino humor, especially reminiscent of the pre-2000s comedy with the “going-back-to-life” of the late funny man, Babalu.
Wally Bayola as the feisty "Lola Nidora".
Another important element of the series’ success is its raw element. I am a huge fan of stand up comedy and improvisational comedy and these subtle elements can be seen on how JoWaPao (Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, and Paolo Ballesteros) jelled and exchanged on-the-spot punchlines. The Jose-Wally tandem has been an element of Eat Bulaga for quite some time and this series was a manifestation of their comedic prowess. With the addition of Paolo Ballesteros to the duo, I see that they are the possible replacement for the TVJ in the next years when the latter decides to retire. And as an aside, I come from Mindanao’s fruit basket province, so it cracks me up when they mention about fruits: santol and rambutan.

And just where’d you find a Pinoy TV show where the Princess hangs on a jeepney or a quick-changing bald actor who instantaneously becomes a househelp from a cranky old lady – all in drag? The scenes day-by-day were carefully written so that the next happening would leave the viewing masses in a guessing game. Also, the protagonist-slash-antagonist of the series, Lola Nidora, would once in a while, insert words of wisdom, especially about proper conduct.
The main cast of the series: L-R: Paolo Ballesteros, Wally Bayola, Maine Mendoza, and Jose Manalo.
That’s why even the Catholic media is all praises for the show’s emphasis on spreading morality, virtue and good values. What made this appealing even to our celibate brothers is its seeming revival of cherished Filipino traditions on courtship and chivalry. It is a contrast to its rival show’s - for lack of a better word - “pimping” of a young lady to the Twitterverse. Or a gay guy kissing a recently-wedded fellow mainstay.
The 'barakos' in Dau, Mabalacat City, watching a Saturday episode of AlDub.
Of course, I honestly think that if only we can turn a smidgen part of our Aldub attention towards greater national issues – it’d apparently do staggering changes in our society. But I also came to understand that this is what light entertainment is all about.  Escapism remains to be the culprit; and we need it in order to get away from the hassle and bustle of our daily lives. Watching a Godard film would not do the trick.

Our collective mind was already strained by the daily grind that the majority of us don’t want to flex our mental muscles anymore. That giddy feeling we get from rom-com has far greater rewards than intellectual discussions, undoubtedly.
Fans flock to watch the series at a mall. Photo grab from Facebook.
I honestly think that despite some opposition to its shallowness, the Aldub mania brings good stuff in Pinoy TV. Aldub is a game-changer, a forerunner in bringing a soap opera to the streets; it is a theatrical show which unravels before your eyes on live TV. It’s wholesome and it’s definitely light. It is a ‘throwback show’ in a repackaged, modern outer shell.

Time and again, Eat Bulaga has proven its mastery of the art of wooing the masses since 1979. It seems there’s no stopping TAPE Incorporated from its tracks, and when would it finally stop? When would the Aldub fever subside?  We would just know on the right moment; yes, that’s tamang panahon.
One of the most anticipated sports event in this region, the 28th SEA Games in Singapore, had been recently concluded. And despite the previous forecasts for the Philippines; that we might land in the third or fourth place overall, our teams came up with relatively paltry results in the region: we landed sixth of the eleven competing Southeast Asian countries. Ahead of us in the rankings are Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

This biennial event also became memorable because of the infamous viral video of Pinoy divers John Elmerson Fabriga and John David Pahoyo. The two divers became internet sensations because of their cringe-worthy flops during the men’s single diving events, where they scored zeros in the men's 3-meter springboard competition last week. Both divers claimed that they only had four days to practice for the event.
The infamous "Splash Brothers". Screen grabs from Sports Singapore.
Sure, our cagers and boxers maintained dominance in the region, but in other fields we’re not as good as we think we are. We fell short of our predictions of 50 gold medals; and instead, came up with only 29 golds. It goes to show how little support our athletes are getting for their trainings. Those two Johns are no exception.

No wonder we don’t get a shot for those colored medals in the past four straight Olympics. In fact, our last best Olympic showing was 90 years ago in the Los Angeles Games where we bagged three medals. And now, the question remains: How can we revive Philippine sports?

More than just a self-loathing, I believe that the Philippine government had been ignoring the cry of our athletes for quite a long time already. The last time we had a president who took sports seriously was FVR.

While this country should have tapped on the huge potential of our Filipino athletes, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee seemed not to be doing their job of helping this become a reality. Rumors of mismanagement and power struggles between heads of the PSC, POC, and of NSA (National Sports Association) have been widespread for years now. Talk about palakasan.
One of our very few Olympic medals: This one is for 1964. 
I had the chance of talking to last year’s bronze medalist in the Asian Games for taekwondo, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. She told me that her fellow athletes need international exposures and better facilities in order to effectively compete with our Asian neighbors. She revealed to me that up to this day, our athletes are still allowed to train at the dilapidated 86-year old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
The blog author with Filipino jin and
Asian Games bronze medalist, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. Photo taken in 2014.
Anjelay's observation is correct; in fact, our country devotes a measly sum for sports development. To check some figures, Singapore’s annual budget for sports is about 7 billion pesos – the PSC, on the other hand, allocates only 750 million annually.

Sports is a wonderful thing; it has the power to inspire individuals and uplift them from their current situation. It is an organized and competitive physical activity requiring fair play, will power, and unity. All those last three qualities this developing country greatly needs.

As for the not-so-satisfying rank in the Southeast Asia, it's not enough to just require our athletes to bag the gold medals without adequate support and funding from the government. Our athletes need nutrition, physical and mental conditioning, among others.

We’ve been talking a lot about Filipino Pride, it’s high time to back that huge braggadocio up. Are we waiting for Timor-Leste to finally catch up with us?
Last month, the Asian country of Nepal was rocked by a 7.8 earthquake killing nearly ten thousand people. After a couple of weeks, another quake with scale of 7.2 on the Moment Magnitude System hit taking the lives of many Nepalese. Yesterday, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 shook Kanto Region in Japan.

With these unfolding natural events in the Asian Region where the Philippines belongs, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently released the Valley Fault System (VFS) Atlas which show the faultline and the localities projected to be affected should an earthquake occur. This fault wherein two plates bang against each other, has been by many scientists as already “ripe” that may possible move within our lifetime.

When this fault moves, it will produce a magnitude-7.2 earthquake (experts refer to as “The Big One”) which may hit any time within the densely-populated metropolis.
According to the collaborative study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and PHILVOLCS, the last time an earthquake originated from the said fault was in 1658. The VFS is an active fault system in the Metropolitan Manila which is composed of two fault segments.

First is the 10-kilometer long East Valley Fault (EVF) in Rizal Province and the 100-km long West Valley Fault (WVF) that runs through the areas of Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Cavite, and Laguna.

Because of this incessant warning, the early rounds of which started more than a decade ago, the local governments were already notified and requested by the national agencies to prepare for such calamity as the damage can be very extensive.

According to the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study, it was revealed that a 7.2 tremor in the metropolis may cause the destruction of about 40% of both residential and commercial buildings and may kill nearly 34,000 when it strikes during night time. Accordingly, about 84 barangays (smallest administrative regions) will possibly be affected by this earthquake.

A trickling of catastrophic events would then ensue: blackouts due to the collapse of 13-kilometer electric lines, destruction of about nine bridges, and the devastation of about half a million houses. Streets will also be wrecked and the connection of water will be cut off by the tremors. Sea and airports will also be in ruins.

And with this perceived apocalyptic event, the Philippine local government units are trying hard to respond to this catastrophe. Construction of structures in the five-meter buffer zones is greatly discouraged while residents are obliged to evacuate their dwelling within the buffer areas. Emergence of various tall buildings has to abide by the building code in order to withstand the earthquakes. The MMDA now has about 21 disaster response equipments in strategic areas around Manila which contain tools that can be used should The Big One strike.

Despite this, a more unified proactive response is still needed. MMDA Chief Francis Tolentino, in a press conference stressed out that the current quake readiness is “less than 5 of 10”. Communities need to be more serious in their emergency preparedness drills in order to ensure the safety of the millions who reside and work at one of the most populous cities in the world.
These 10 safety measures just might save your life during the occurrence of a strong earthquake: 

1. If accessible, go to an open space like an open field or a wide lawn. If it isn’t possible, seek shelter under strong furniture during the initial tremor.

2. If the building is still perceived to be hazardous after the initial tremors, get out to a safer, open place.

3. Avoid seeking shelter near shelves, unstable or high piled materials, or hanged objects that could fall. Stay away from glass windows, panelings, and doors, too.
4. If inside a building, never use the elevator. But in case you are inside an elevator during an earthquake, exit at the nearest floor immediately. Push the emergency call button for assistance if ever the car stops.

5. After the earthquake, do not use the elevator until evidently safe.

6. Have your flashlights and batteries ready in case such disaster occurs at night.

7. After the trembling, rescue trapped persons and help in evacuating the injured. You may also administer first-aid to the injured people before professional medical assistance arrives.

8. Secure your property from looters. You may also assess the extent of the damage report that to bank officials.

9. Store food, water, medicine, matches, and other essential items for emergency use. Tune in to radio stations for news and safety advisories.

10. More importantly, have the presence of mind and don’t panic.

Photo Credit:
Experts predict that the West Valley Fault in the Philippines is already "ripe" and may cause tremors anytime soon. About a hundred kilometers of this fault would pass through the localities of Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Cavite, and Laguna.


Quezon City
Bagong Silangan
Batasan Hills
Blue Ridge B
Loyola Heights
Matandang Balara
Pasong Putik Proper
Ugong Norte
White Plains

Marikina City
Industrial Valley

Pasig City
Bagong Ilog

Makati City
East Rembo

Taguig City
Bagong Tanyag
Bicutan (Upper, Central, Lower)
Maharlika Village
Signal Village (North, Central, South)
South  Daang Hari

Muntinlupa City


Dona Remedios Trinidad
Pulong Sampalok
Sapang Bulak

San Lorenzo

San Jose del Monte City
San Isidro
Ciudad Real
San Roque


Bilang Baybay

Gen. Mariano Alvarez
San Jose



San Pedro
Sampaguita Village
San Antonio
San Vicente
United Bayanihan

San Francisco (Halang)

Sta. Rosa
Sto. Domingo



Photo Credits:
         According to the annual list of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN) for the upper house, the following are the Top 10 riches senators in the Philippines as per 2014 data:

10. Grace Poe
Net worth: P89,464,819.36

9. Sonny Angara
Net worth: P100,357,100

8. Serge Osmeña
Net worth: P100,770,000

7. TG Guingona
Net worth: P113,382,062.32

6. Juan Ponce Enrile
Net worth: P121,053,463

5. Bong Revilla
Net worth: P181,870,650.12

4. Jinggoy Estrada
Net worth: P192,808,545.13

3. Bongbong Marcos
Net worth: P200,598,008.22

2. Ralph Recto
Net worth: P522,006.655.21

1. Cynthia Villar
Net worth: P1,983,480,135

        On the other hand, here is the rest of the list from ranks 11 to 24:

11. Pia Cayetano – P78.2M

12. JV Ejercito – P75.5M

13. Alan Peter Cayetano – P73.4M

14. Franklin Drilon – P74.1M

15. Miriam Defensor- Santiago – P73M

16. Tito Sotto – P64.3M

17. Nancy Binay – P62.5M

18. Loren Legarda – P39.61M

19. Lito Lapid – P34M

20. Bam Aquino – P24.5M

21. Gringo Honasan – P21.2M

22. Koko Pimentel – P18M

23. Chiz Escudero – P6M

24. SonnyTrillanes – P5.5M

Photo Credits:'Bong'_Revilla_Jr_-3.jpg
Naming, as the saying goes, is the earliest act of creation. When we create something, we use a label for it to be identifiable and distinguishable from others.

That’s why each time a person tells you that they just had a new-born baby, we immediately ask for the little tot’s given name. And this privilege is especially reserved for the parents. This does not hold true only if you’re Lam-Ang. Secretly cringing if the name doesn’t sound right is, but optional

You see, this simple act is extremely important because our respective names will become who we are. And whether we like it or not, these series of letters will have a huge impact on how our lives will eventually turn out; it may actually provide the je ne sais quoi to our otherwise monotonous existence.
Scientific name: Phaseoulus lunatus.
Everyone has a story on how their names came to be. You were probably named after a flashy president’s wife, your mom’s telenovela actress, or after your dad’s favourite element in his high school chemistry class. Some have generic Pinoy names, while some have unusual ones; and others prefer their aliases like Mohagher Iqbal.

My name doesn’t sound odd. In fact, JR is very common here in the country. My name just looks odd on paper. You see, my brother and sister have two first names: Jasper Ian and Celeste Mae. I, on the other hand, have two letters: JR. Just those two letters stingily joint to form that thing called “first name”.  As if it isn’t odd enough, it was the attending midwife who suggested the name to my parents; to which they acceded.

In the Philippines, it is impossible not to have acquaintances named Mark, Joy, or Ann. We have a bunch of Michaels, Johns, John-Michaels; or Michael-Johns. We, Pinoys, also have this habit of repeating names for nicknames. One senator is named Bongbong while the vice president is called Junjun. You probably rubbed elbows with a Mac-Mac, Jan-Jan, or Ling-Ling – all of these names are recurs just in case you did not hear it on the first try.

As time goes, our naming system evolves with it. Gone were the days when we christen our kids with names like Ciriaco, Procopio, or Manuelito. Possessing these names now, gives the name-bearer, first class tickets to Ancient Filipino history. That is why, more parents are getting creative in choosing their child’s name. As an example, I have a high school buddy named “Xyrilloid”. Yes, that’s X-Y-R-I-L-L-O-I-D. That’s probably worth a hundred points if it landed on “Triple Word Score” in Scrabble.

We, Pinoys, also have delightful family names that go with our distinct first names. Our foremost pugilist, Manny Pacquiao’s last name is from the Filipino word, “pakyaw” which means wholesale. Indeed, he “wholesaled” most of the Mexican boxers. A certain Lucky Chan may make us think of a person who does not possess a six-pack abs. Some last names, amazingly, fit one’s profession. Take the recent bar exams passer, Christian Apollo Lawyer – he’s already a ‘Lawyer’ even before passing the licensure exam!

You see, our history is responsible for this: the Chinese, the Spanish, and the Americans all contributed to this smorgasbord of Filipino family names. And this can be traced in 1849, where the Spanish released the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos.
During that period, Governor General Narciso Clavería, noticed that the early Filipinos do not possess last names. The one personal name became insufficient as an identifier for tax, and census purposes; thus the concept of the surname catalogue for the Indios.

The Spanish Government then had drawn up a list of approved names from which our ancestors came to choose. This explains why most of the Filipino surnames are borrowed from Spanish, from the calendar of saints, or from retained but Hispanized, pre-colonial names.

Our present system was adopted from the American “three-fold” pattern: given name, middle name, and surname or family name. And this current naming scheme gave our parents more leeway in choosing the kind of first name they felt like giving to their hapless offspring.

Having lived in the Lanao area, I also found out that the Maranao parents may opt to use the father’s first name to serve as his child’s last name. In the Iloilo province, on the other hand, an ingenious system was devised by the Spanish colonizers. You may recognize a person’s hometown by knowing the initial of his or her surname. If it starts with an “M”, as in Morales; he probably came from an “M-town” like Miagao. If your family name is Gomez, your lineage may probably be traced back to the town of Guimba. Truly, the Pinoy family names are much differentiated from those of Vietnam or Korea where Nguyens and Parks abound.

But whatever the system of naming is, one thing is constant: names are a great deal for Pinoys. And the same couldn’t be any truer for domestic politics. In this side of the globe, name recall is very important.

Having a famous family name may help you win a political office – even without much experience. If you are married to a famous celebrity, your chances for bagging that win in those senatorial polls will be brighter than that of the average Juan dela Cruz. That’s why our streets are displayed with tarpaulins of our dear politicians; in order to bore their names into our psyche.
Our names establish our existence. Whether it has something to do with a kind of life we’re going to have, our name gives us character. Just think of the comedy gold of the “FEU surname wars”, or those ordinary people having celebrity namesakes at “Humans of New York”. Names will always be part of our being.

While some people may not be totally happy with their unusual names that they have it judicially changed, most people accept it. May it be Teofilo, Xenocrates, or JR, most of us simply choose to live with it.

And there will always be that moment when someone calls your name – no matter how cringe-worthy it may sound – it becomes sweet music to your ears. Just like in a song, the message is still more important than its title.

Blogger's Note: This article of mine appeared on GMA News Online last 17 April.

Photo Credits:
There sure is a lot of arguing everywhere – which is great.
Debates help us generate more knowledge and help move issues forward. And as funny as this may sound, arguing helps us reach the ultimate goal of understanding each other.

Whether in a debate competition, in a classroom discussion, or in a simple colloquy with a friend, arguing is an enjoyable skill that can be developed.

Having debated in the university and law school, here’s my Top 10 tips on how to argue better:
10 – Define the Terms, First.

Whether face-to-face or internet word wars, the basic truths in a debate have to be established first. A good illustration of defining the fundamentals is St. Thomas Aquinas’ classic work, Summa Theologica. In it, Aquinas starts with the basic points, presents arguments and rebuttals, and moves on with each point as backed by logical statements.
9 – Get Your Facts Straight.

Do not state that something is correct unless you absolutely know it. Engage to argue only if you know you can win based on facts – do not make up arguments on the fly.
8 – Never Veer Away from the Topic.

Auto-pilot your arguments anchored on the original topic. Do not get entangled in a whole new debate. Remember to complete the first topic before giving time to the smaller ones.
7 - Don’t tell your opponent that he (or she) is “wrong”.

Instead, show him why he is wrong through good counter-arguments.
6 – Look for Points of Convergence.

Get the other side to agree with you by making agreeable statements. It may be a statement of fact not exactly related to the debate – and this will help you win the psychological aspect of the debate.
5 – Do not be Afraid to Ask Questions.

We learn this in law school: the “Socratic Method”. When your opponent makes a statement of fact, inquire deeper by asking questions which are designed to expose its weakness. Asking them for examples is a good way of digging their version of truth.
4 – Avoid Ad Hominems.
Do not resort to name calling by attacking their person. Compelling arguments are the keys to winning – not by insults. Attacking their grammar, or spelling, is not a good idea, either. If the other side does attack your person, congrats, you’re close to winning.

3 – Keep Your Cool.

You should not raise your voice when you argue. Be remain calm at all times. You can’t win debates by being the louder one in a yelling match - it is won by the person with the most convincing arguments. Especially on the Internet, do not let your emotions get you. Refrain from using all caps and save it only in emphasizing a certain point.
2 – Know When to Keep your Mouth Shut.

After making a strong argument, you may let your opponent do all the talking. They may actually give in just to get out of an uncomfortable situation of silence. Many arguments have been won by NOT arguing anymore.
1 – Concede if You Lose.

Be graceful in defeat; be polite and concede the win. There will always be a time when your opponent gets the better of you – but don’t worry – there’s always another debating day. Humility shows that you are a worthy opponent even if you lose, and being graceful in defeat is something that is always appreciated.
Yesterday, exactly 67 years ago, the late President Elpidio Quirino was sworn into office after President Manuel Roxas’ untimely death. The humble Ilocano statesman, who at one point served as a barrio teacher, became the sixth president of the then young Philippine Republic.

And in celebration of the momentous event, the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation (PEQF), officially launched Ako, Pilipino! at the Ayala Museum. It is an advocacy campaign which aimed at celebrating the three positive values that backboned the late president's administratioin: tolerance, goodwill, and love.
TV personality Miss Cory Quirino, the granddaughter of the late president, spearheaded the launching of the yearlong celebration known as “EQ125” - with the hopes of bringing back of the Filipino national pride.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair, Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno, led the speakers by mentioning the 12 volumes of massive narrations of the origins of Philippine barangays, towns and provinces as instructed by the late Pres. Quirino. Israel Ambassador Ephraim Ben Matityau talked about his country’s gratitude for Quirino, who formerly served as the Secretary of the Foreign Affairs, guided the Philippine’s decisive United Nations vote in 1947.
The PEQF President, Atty. Aleli Angela Quirino, on the other hand, stressed that the highlights the values that guided the former President in his everyday life and principles. She also highlighted Quirino’s tolerance; on how he forgave the Japanese POWs after the war.
Bernard Kerblat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative to the Philippines, talked about Quirino’s goodwill as he welcomed white Russian refugees driven out of Red China by offering them a safe haven in Tubabao Island in Samar. This, I have to say, is one of those finer points in yesterday’s event which are not usually mentioned in our history textbooks.

Ruby Quirino-Gonzales also shared the family’s experiences that reflect the character of the President at the trying times of the Second World War. President Elpidio Quirino’s love for his family and country was further expounded by the event host, Cory Quirino, by recounting her earliest memories of her grandfather.

Dr. Joven Cuanang, the Adviser for the PEQF, talked about the “true Filipino spirit”; while  well-known TV personality, Lourd de Veyra, had the crowd in stitches by sharing his thoughts on the president. I approached the TV5 host moments before his speech, and told him the “chamber pot controversy” had not been mentioned yet. As I predicted, the only mention of the controversy was on de Veyra’s speech. The golden arenola, by the way, was never proven to have actually existed in the very first Senate Blue Ribbon inquiry.
The event the proceeded with the official launching of Ako, Pilipino!, and the unveiling of the dedication wall. Singer Isabella, which happens to be the late President’s granddaughter, sang “Pilipino Ako” at the background.

The launching sparks the long string of activities for the year-long celebration: the launching of, “Guro to Pangulo Awards”, Prof. Winnie Monsod lectures on the economy, Jaime Laya on education, Ambeth Ocampo on Philippine-Japan relations, Bernard Kerblat on the history of refugee arrival, the launching of Quirino museum in Vigan City, among others.

The blog author with former BSP Monetary Board Member, Ignacio Bunye.
Blogger's Note: The PoliTikalon Blog reports this event with much honor being one of the two blogs that were asked to cover the occasion. This blog is grateful to the Media Affairs Director Daisy Sabangan of the CID, Incorporated.
Note: This is a repost of the article I've written for the Definitely Filipino blog. It was shared for about 3,700+ times.

Welcome to this modern-day world where we can communicate to anyone, anywhere in the globe – with the click of the mouse.

And because of our fondness of keeping up with the trend, we were quick to adapt. In this country where about 37 million uses the Internet, our country remains as one of the most active in this global village.

And while the internet should have posed a greater opportunity for the Pinoy’s brilliance to be expressed and paraded, it seems that it made the turn for the worse. This is because, this innovation in communications cannot distinguish between bad and good; it just wildly spreads it all around. This is the moral weakness of the world wide web.

And the Pinoy virtual presence is a manifestation of our age-old love for gossip, for voyeurism, and for our innate proclivity of meddling with other people’s lives. I am convinced that for the most part, we are quite low on the introversion department – as if the act of publishing our comments is our sacred obligation to the world. And the odd thing is, each time a hot-button issue comes along, most of us become instant analysts. From the typical sidewalk chats of the istambays, this Filipino pastime of critiquing had spilled over the cyberspace floodwalls.

We, Filipinos, have a say in almost everything. We heavily criticize anything or anyone: case in point, our Head of State. He is being criticized in all aspects of his life: political decisions, tax plans, or his hairstyle. Even the snippiest internet bystander has an opinion on how to ‘revive’ the president’s deforested crown of glory.

When the son of a jailed senator “accidentally shot” himself, we were quick to give our psychological theories in the social media. When Mayweather officially announced his fight with Pacquiao days back, most of us quickly became boxing analysts – complete with our own fight predictions. When the PNP-SAF had a botched operation last January, we instantly became military strategists on Twitter; we also have a say on how Toni Gonzaga hosted the Binibining Pilipinas last night.

Our newsfeeds are frequently bombarded with messages. Mostly, hurtful messages. Most of the masses take turns virtually thrashing each other in the Internet; some give comments based on poor appreciation of facts or just instantaneous reactions without perusing a shared article first. Add to these the bashers and harassers which are the tell-tale signs of the sloping of the Pinoy cranial ridge. And in this social media age, it’s now easier to comment, to respond, or to pick a word war.

But why are we like this? Maybe the life here in the tropics is so dull that we need to live a separate virtual existence as a form of escape? Or probably, because if we can share other people’s demise, we may just feel a little bit better about our lives? Or maybe because of our “commentary-oriented” media culture?

Our broadcast stations are rife with talk shows and programs designed for a certain person to talk about anything under the sun. We are constantly fired upon by the broadcast media’s gifts of gab – and they frequently take advantage of the masses’ emotions to manipulate public opinion.

And with this trend of fostering viewer interactions, they ask for phone-in questions, tweets, or Facebook comments which get to be published and read in real-time. Seems innocent but this produces know-it-alls who seemingly think that because they have so much knowledge – thanks to Google – that their opinions become all too-important. Fault-finding, is easy.

And our netizens comment just for the act of commenting. Most often, we post responses which are not well thought-out, much less politically correct. Or some are just proud to comment “first”. And worst, the pessimistic tirades online are published by people who cowardly hide behind their masks of anonymity. After the brouhaha in the cyberspace, what’s next? Did the keyboard warriors enlist in the military to fight against the BIFF?
In this democracy, it is a privilege for us to examine and openly criticize various aspects of life in this country. Netizens are entitled to their opinion without having to fear for our lives; we are not in the seventies anymore. Yet, we should remember that the letters we type on our keyboards do not aptly embody our emotions or the underlying nuances of our messages.

And like what I said to the MSU-Gensan delegates on my blogging seminar last month: a lot of people do not have the right to their own opinions because they do not know what they are blabbering about.

But after all the tête-à-têtes and the ad hominems, what is required from us is to take intelligent actions. We should not just bury a controversy with another.

Does our country need critics? Yes. It is just proof of the Pinoy’s active mind. It gives us the time to analyze and learn from our collective experiences. But if we have a culture of critiquing without action, all might just come to naught. Because what have we done in our own backyards? We blabber about the things distant from us, but fail to see what is happening in our own communities.We always fail to listen to the few wise voices because we are too busy talking ourselves.

We have to remember that the way we talk in the cyberspace is the reflection of our reality. It forms our consciousness. How we post our comments in the wide web explains our dreams and direction as a people.
This constitutionally-guaranteed right to speech carries with it, our duties and responsibilities. We have to criticize fairly by getting the facts right and this way, we influence other people correctly. We have to be responsible internet users by treating our fellow netizens the same way we do when we meet them in person.

We don’t have a short supply of critics in this country. We have seen a lot of those during the congress’ own version of the Mamasapano inquiry. What we need are doers.

And having said that, it’s time to end this critique. I guess I’ve said enough.