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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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JR Lopez Gonzales 1:30 PM 0

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.

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