Shock activism! Have Filipino ‘activists’ become the very politicians they presume to criticize?

philippines_activismIt seems when things happen to be convenient for us, we are willing to lower the bar of the standards of decency we apply and the principles we presume to pontificate about. Recall how jeepneys were once regarded as “ingenious” quick solutions to what at the time was a grossly-misunderstood issue of mobility in a war-ravaged country. But jeepneys have since gone on to become permanent reminders of just how deficient in imagination Filipinos are. Turns out the “ingenuity” of Filipinos never progressed beyond jeepneys in the subsequent decades that followed and, to this day, Filipinos continue to fail at imagining modern public transport on a scale befitting a modern country.

In the same way, shock activism of the sort practiced by costumed “crusaders” who advocate what presumably are progressive ideals are to the second decade of the 21st Century what street parliamentarianism (a.k.a. ocho-ocho “edsa” people power “revolutions”) were to its first decade when Patalsikin na now na was the slogan of choice.

How do we expect people to develop an intelligent regard for the way they suss out and evaluate their politicians and the issues that plague the nation if we have bred a new generation of “activists” who encourage people to gawk at their colourful costumes, outlandish spectacles and circus sideshow acts? Next time you criticise a politician for dancing and singing on the campaign trail, look back at activists like these who themselves embody that very trait we detest in politicians and think about whether or not they are instilling the right ways of thinking in the starstruck folk who mindlessly follow them.

Seems like the scourge of shock activism has only had the effect of spreading even thinner the already stretched intellectual faculties of the Filipino voter. Not only do they have to cut through the songs and dances of their politicians, Filipino voters now also have to peel off the layers of showbiz spectacle flashed by their activists in a rather sad and increasingly futile search for substance.

As I said in my recent article on Kris Aquino’s plan to run for governor of Tarlac, for traditional politicians the amounts of money at stake are enormous — big enough to trump any desire both on the part of the politicians and the people who swing from one side to another to really give a hoot about what is the “intelligent” or “logical” way forward for the nation. For the current crop of shock activists, on the other hand, the stakes are different. The prize is all in their head. The need for attention and the false sense of validation that comes with being surrounded by cliques of like-minded followers has become the be-all-end-all motivation in a world of so-called “social media pratitioners” competing for memetic domination.

Intelligent discourse is just too hard and too much of a bore for the A.D.D. Generation, and like their traditional media counterparts, “activists” are beginning to reflect the character of the audience they scramble over one another to acquire.

By presenting the issues using the same approaches politicians do, through spectacle, circus acts, no-substance symbolism, and clever catchphrases, the trajectory of the “new” political activism is becoming evident. When the line between who the messenger is and what the message is becomes a blur, and the messenger by all intents and purposes becomes the message then, sad to say, we are all back at Square One once again — back to a world where celebrity is trumps all, and where the “droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant” dominates the national political discourse.


Post Author: benign0

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15 Comments on "Shock activism! Have Filipino ‘activists’ become the very politicians they presume to criticize?"

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‘Walk around with a piece of paper and look busy’ The old army mantra in the philippines is ‘pass lots of minor laws, but avoid the big issues’. 3 strategic changes would change the political and economic landscape for the better, and have a ripple effect beneficial to all – politically, economically, and socially. – Anti-dynasty – 60/40 investment amendment – Freedom of information. ( and maybe abolition of pdaf/pork barrel for good measure). But whilst little minds and self interested politicians sweat the small stuff and consciously maintain the status quo/avoid major issues, then expect to be riding clapped… Read more »

I see you got the hint.


Shock activism is underrated these people are not elected and so there’s no long and painful trial to get rid of them like the politicians, these people are almost god like and usually nothing is done they hit the road and get another job or possibly pick up as a wetting lord, so screaming out the window “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take anymore” seems to be an effective tool and should be practiced more often.


Getting angry and trying to ruin other people have been so overrated as ways to change the world. The better thing to do is to channel it into useful action. Like writing helpful articles on this blog site. hehe

Other than that, write SM or other establishments. Better talk to them rather than diss them in front of everybody.

Johnny Saint

That is a very vitriolic thread. And particularly disturbing that Carlos Celdran would countenance a suggestion of murder. And for what? Because someone disagrees with his antics? It is appalling how Celdran believes the whole world revolves around him.

“Interesting how these people – who I have NEVER met – can make a hate site full of libelous shit about me.”

Really? is solely devoted to hurling invective comments at Carlos Celdran? Disgusting.


This is weird, I just wrote something aboout digital dramas.