Published on January 17, 2017.
From where I stand it is clear to me that there is no conspiracy to oust President Duterte; what there is is growing resistance to Dutertismo. Those are two entirely different things.
On previous occasions I have identified three troubling aspects of the Duterte presidency: the high number of killings in the war on drugs, the hasty pivot away from the United States and toward China, and the rehabilitation of the Marcoses. As best as I can tell, these are the sources of rising public discontent, and the proof is accumulating both in the surveys and in the streets. The same polls that show a general support for the war on drugs reveal an equally robust majority concerned about the killing of mere suspects; a majority also mistrusts both China and Russia, countries the President likes because they share his contempt for human rights. The corpses, mainly of poor Duterte voters, continue to pile up in the alleys, while anti-Marcos protesters have taken to the streets and will do so again.
But to appreciate that there is no conspiracy, all one needs to do is take a look at the disarray of Duterte critics, who cannot agree on messaging, plan a sustained program of political action, or even unite behind Vice President Leni Robredo. There ARE movements, or stirrings at least, but as far as I can tell they are issue-oriented: fighting the culture of death, including the proposed lowering of the age of criminal liability; determining the future of the Philippine-American military relationship, especially in discussions within the armed services; campaigning against the Marcoses’ return to power.
All these are legitimate political exercises; only those who equate criticism with ouster plans would see them as destabilizing. Continue reading
Published on March 4, 2014.
For lack of space, an article prepared by Inquirer Research on the so-called myths of Edsa 1986, as seen by political scientists, did not see print last week. I was especially struck by the view of Benjamin Tolosa Jr.—a friend and indeed a fellow citizen of the streets in the 1980s—because he cogently summed up not only the worldview that many Filipinos (myself included) subscribed to but also the history that it helped shape. I reproduce Tolosa’s view, which he shared with me by e-mail, below. Continue reading
Published on February 25, 2014.
The idea that most Filipinos are deeply disillusioned with the People Power revolution is merely conventional, and needs to be empirically tested; I think the reality is somewhere between benign ignorance (many see Edsa 1986 only as an event in history, the occasion for a school holiday) and active acceptance (some continue to see it as a source of genuine change). At least that is how I interpret the 2011 Social Weather Stations finding that 20 percent of voting-age Filipinos embraced Ninoy Aquino as a genuine hero, next only to Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. Aquino’s martyrdom makes full sense only in relation to what happened a thousand days after his assassination, on Edsa.
My view, it almost goes without saying, should be subject to validation, too. Continue reading
A skirmish on Twitter. Published on March 15, 2011
ALMOST THREE weeks ago, Sen. Gringo Honasan and musician Jim Paredes traded taunting tweets. That doesn’t sound like much, but in fact the harsh exchange turned out to be both controversial (it animated online discussion and was reported as news) and consequential (it raised substantial questions, for instance about the nature of historical awareness and public discourse in the Age of Twitter). It also drove home the point that the legacy of Edsa 1986 remains very much a work in progress. Continue reading
The third Egypt + Edsa column, in which I try to make sense of something unexpected that Teddy Locsin, a writer I deeply admire, wrote, for a new website. Published on March 1, 2011.
AT FIRST I did not know what to make of it. Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s rambling essay on the Egyptian revolution for the new TV5 website, Interaksyon.com, manages the unlikely feat of praising people power while burying the spirit of Edsa. Having admired Locsin’s elegant prose and muscular reasoning for a long time, I kept looking for hints, in the essay that bears the time stamp “21-Feb-11, 7:13 PM,” that he was merely joking. I regret to say, however, that “People Power in hieroglyphics” seems to have been written in earnest. Continue reading
The second column on Egypt + Edsa. Published on February 22, 2011.
WE ALL “know” Jaime Cardinal Sin called the people to Edsa exactly 25 years ago today. But he wasn’t the first to do so, and it wasn’t Butz Aquino either, the first leader of the so-called “parliament of the streets” to bring a sizable delegation to Camp Aguinaldo, where a military breakaway group led by Juan Ponce Enrile, then the defense minister, and Fidel Ramos, then a lieutenant general and second-in-command of the Armed Forces, had retreated. It was a group of civic-spirited friends, who rushed to the AFP headquarters to show their support and, once inside, found a reporter from Radio Veritas, who put them on the air. Continue reading
Without meaning to, I ended up writing three related columns on the Egyptian revolution and Edsa 1986, and the light they shed on each other. This first column was published on February 15, 2011.
PREPARED a second column on the daang matuwid as the standard by which we should measure the Aquino administration’s performance, especially where it comes up distressingly short (working title: “Crooks in the daang matuwid”). But the sweep of history in Egypt and some sweeping remarks in this newspaper and in several comment threads online about the nature and legacy of Edsa 1986 force me to leave that for another day. Continue reading
In which your friendly neighborhood columnist tries to take the long view. Published September 1, 2009.
I would like to suggest that the “long decade” from 2011 to 2022 is shaping up to be a make-or-break period for the Philippines—not so much as a state, but as a nation. These years are rich in “teaching moments,” as we have now learned to say, in the affiliated subjects of nation-building and nationalism. If, as many of us agree, the country’s fatal weakness is an inadequate sense of nationhood, the coming years are a crash course, a get-it-while-it-lasts opportunity, in learning to love the nation. Continue reading
Published on February 24, 2009
I thought the use of former acting award winners to pay personal tribute to the acting nominees at Monday’s Oscar awards — to substitute the tribute for the usual name-and-video-clip nomination routine — was a deft touch. It delivered on what first-time host Hugh Jackman had promised, a depression-era awards rite with more show and less biz. It dramatically welcomed the nominees into an elite fraternity of talent (Anthony Hopkins’ lauding of Brad Pitt’s “magnificent” quality as a “character actor” left Angelina Jolie beaming; Shirley Maclaine’s praise for Anne Hathaway amounted to a benediction). Not least, it reminded a global audience that the movies have a long, storied tradition. And that that tradition must be welcomed, assimilated, transcended, lived — in sum, reckoned with—in every movie worth the name.
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Malacañang’s calculated snub of the Edsa I anniversary is offensive on many levels, but it is on the level of tradition that the offense cuts deepest. EDSA I as a political event defined the democracy that was restored, however haphazardly, in 1986; to slight it, or to leave it out of the narrative altogether, is nothing less than an attempt to redefine the tradition behind our democratic project.
The second part. (Second installment courtesy of YouTube, that is.)
First part of the 2006 Inquirer documentary I helped with.