Why political debate in the Philippines is dead

Back in 2008 when I was conscripted by Nick Cugtas, then “Editor-not-Chief” of the now-defunct pioneering blog site, Filipino Voices (FV) to contribute to his “wisdom of crowds” project, the Philippine blogosphere was far more dynamic and diverse. Twitter was not yet the in thing back then and, as such, the dumbing-down effect of having to “debate” over 140-character snippets that spend all of 5 minutes in the part of a scrolling “timeline” visible on a screen was yet to infect the Philippine “intelligentsia”. So blog posts were the primary currency of articulate and structured ideas exchange at the time.

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Leading the pack from the earliest days (perhaps starting as far back as the mid- to late-1990s) was The Noted One, the venerable Manuel L Quezon III. His blog Quezon.ph was the go-to blog at the time, but surrounding him were real heavyweights, Connie Veneracion’s Sassy Lawyer, the PCIJ Blog directly led at the time by Sheila Coronel and the late great Alecks Pabico, and the alluring Rom Sedona on Smoke Talk.

By 2008, when FV went online, the golden age of Philippine blogging was about to go into full swing. Another collective blog, Edwin Jamora’s (a.k.a. Reyna Elena) BarrioSiete had also sprung up adding more fire from an even more “diverse” group.

Another noted blogger Angela Stuart Santiago took stock of the brewing blogo-storm at the dawn of this golden age in her June 2008 piece Battle of the Blogs. By 2012, however, she was already writing about the end of that two-year golden age in her retrospective 2012 piece Blogging in the Wind. The wasteland that was the Philippine blogosphere of 2010 she described as an abject discrediting of Nick’s “wisdom of the crowd” vision for FV. “FV had lost its appeal long before that. The ‘wisdom of the crowd’ never quite showed up; it was impossible to tell who was winning, if any, what argument,” wrote Stuart-Santiago; “and then cory died, FV turned yellow, and then died, too.” The same happened to Jamora’s Barrio Siete. After turning yellow and supporting the candidacy of Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III in the 2010 elections, it eventually disintegrated as well.

What Stuart-Santiago also wrote describing the blogging landscape in 2012 may as well describe the landscape today in 2015, three years hence…

this is all to say how silent, if not kind, the blogosphere is these days, in contrast to the arroyo years. you would think that there’s nothing to question, nothing to criticize, the aquino administration is doing a great job. but since it’s not true, in fact little has changed so far, i figure that most bloggers choose to give the president the benefit of the doubt until, well, who knows, until his term ends? meanwhile, radikalchick and i get a lot of brickbats about being negative, we must be anti-pinoy daw because we have little good to say about the presidency of cory’s and ninoy’s son, and why daw are we not practising journalistic ethics, as in, presenting both sides of an issue, rather than being so critical.

I’ll offer a theory as to why things are “quiet” nowadays in the Philippine blogosphere. But first let us get two obvious major contributing factors to that silence out of the way:

(1) the disappearance of The Noted One, Manuel L Quezon III into the intellectual black hole that is the government of President BS Aquino; and,

(2) as mentioned earlier, the advent of social media which turned formerly serious article writers into cluckety 140-character noise makers.

Outside of those two factors, for me, the real reason the Philippine blogosphere has gone silent as far as real “debate” goes is because the “good guys” are in power. So effective was the 25-year ad campaign to deeply-ingrain the “goodness” of the Yellow brand of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan in the Filipino psyche that criticising top scion BS Aquino today gives people the same heeby-jeebies as, say, cracking Jesus Christ jokes. The beholdenness to the Tarlac saints is virtually religious-fundamentalist in its fervour.

Every now and then, a little boy would apply a child-like innocence to call out the nakedness of Emperor Noynoy Aquino. Unfortunately most people choose to believe that the Emperor is simply wearing clothes made of threads invisible to fools. This mass hypnosis continues today. And a lot of people prefer not to see a world outside of this delusion much the same way the simulated world of The Matrix proved comfier to the half-brained majority of what was left of the human race in that 1999 Wachowski Bothers sci-fi classic film.

To be fair, it is hard to get through to people who to their dying breath fancy themselves a “special” people who hold a monopoly on “goodness” and, whenever said goodness was challenged, would quickly whip out their ace victim card.

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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28 Comments on "Why political debate in the Philippines is dead"

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Sick_Amore
Guest
Is it dead? GRP na kasi ang socio/political blog na namulatan ko (came across the blog last year. Never found something close to your prowess since. I also read that of Ellen Tordesillas sometimes). I heard of MLQ3 but I didn’t know that he’s the king of local blogosphere. So he’s gone yellow and quiet. And the rest of your “peers”, too. Leaving the country to fall into a hell hole dug by the “good guys”. That’s sad but so what? That doesn’t stop GRP to continue to carry out a political debate when you fight what they missed. Don’t… Read more »
S-tambay
Guest

who the fuck is joe america, i cannot see my post
Probably it is only intended for pople who make believe on daang matuwad…I want to see pnoy in front of firing squad with trillanes will order
“puwego”on espionage and treason

woo
Guest

I have one of their last names :P.

woo
Guest

No. It’s not Aquino.

881Hayden007714Toro
Guest
First, we Bloggers (commenters) are mostly not Journalists. I, myself don’t know , anything about Journalism. “Filipino Voices”, was where, I started blogging, until it supported the candidacy of Benigno Aquino III, for Presidency. I believe, that Blog Websites, should be a “Forum”, where all people of :political beliefs; religious beliefs;people without any beliefs; people with various agendas; people who can contribute their knowledge; people who can also contribute their ignorance; people who write with sense/nonsense; YellowTards; any stripe of being mentally retarded, etc…can present what they can present to other bloggers…it is the reader who has the decision to… Read more »
ChinoF
Member
What’s that saying? That timing is a bitch, or when it’s too good to be coincidence, it probably isn’t? I say that because that opening of FV and seeming escalation of “debate” online was at around the same time Arroyo was ending her term. It was like they were setting up for it – a gathering of shills. Then Cory Aquino died. Bam. Setting up the Aquino son on the blogs seemed to be the accidental element, but they were already set up to prop someone. That was around the time I hooked up with the Get Real Gang, since… Read more »
Vincent
Guest
“Why political debate in the Philippines is dead” – Let me see… among the people I am with with everyday… 1) They’re busy with their work and livelihood that politics is just another buzz in the media which is understandable; but what I seem cannot forgive are: 2) A few of them are content with what the media is feeding them. Example: They are angry because China has occupied a portion of territory in the South China Sea. Ask them how big, they don’t know; what is the basis of China’s claim, they don’t know. They’ll just say it’s baseless.… Read more »
Ricardo_Diaz
Guest

Unfortunately, the regular Filipino mind is heavily brainwashed thanks to a combination of both culture and limited media choices that the rest follow. Despite the internet being there.

The only thing that can happen now is nature taking its course. The Philippines is one giant Darwin awards ceremony waiting to happen.

Dale Gozar
Guest
Nice observation Vincent I have to admit, I’m guilty also of those you describe: -Busy @work & livelihood -Never mind politics -Believe media 100% -Brainwashed/hypnotized Until Typhoon Ondoy almost killed me and my family, I started to question, be concern and pay more attention on what is happening around, surrounding, weather, and Politics, etc. I soon realized I need to be involve and because of my technical experience, exposure & profession I started to ask and seek answers to the following: 1. Why Typhoon Ondoy (2009) suddenly came w/out warning, preparation or advice from government? 2. Why every year Philippines… Read more »
Vincent
Guest
Thank you and thank you too benign0 for posting this as featured comment. I hope that someday I could write for GRP if you’ll let me. Dale, sometimes one needs to experience a disaster first hand to fully understand its magnitude and learn from it. There are those that are lucky enough that they realize the seriousness of a situation by merely watching it or hearing others’ experiences and prepare for it. For most Filipinos, I noticed that to them debate is what they’re seeing in shows like Face-to-Face. A show that features people exposing their family qualms and other… Read more »
d_forsaken
Guest
Is there any point in public/private debate in Failippines society where hardly any Failipino has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think? At first, they’ll only dislike what you say, but the more correct you start sounding the more they’ll dislike you. Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument. It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it. If you’ve got the truth you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn’t prove it. The clash of ideas is not weakness. Truth reaches its place when tussling with… Read more »
Ricardo_Diaz
Guest

If George Orwell were alive today, he’d be dumbfounded by the different kind of tyranny the Philippines suffers under.

The Filipino is not trapped in any kind of physical prison. Its a mental one cultivated by the ones in power. As the “masa” are more than willing to shovel down the “truth” the Philippine government likes to dole out.

Sammie
Guest

Does the majority of Filipinos even know what the correct meaning of a debate is? Alam lang ng mga nasa kanto pag sinabing debate away gamit ang mga salita.

Nakakainis na nakakalungkot.

Dick S. O'Rosary
Guest

Theres an American living somewhere in the Visayas who writes about the Philippines. The crowd there is quite yellow.

William Beene
Guest
benign0, how do I start my own topic here and post ? I need to vent before I explode living here in the Philippines ! DRIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES: HOW THE DRIVING HABITS OF THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES REPRESENT THE OVER ALL PROBLEM OF WHAT IS WRONG HERE !TO WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE MAJORITY OF FILIPINO DRIVERS: I do not say this with prejudice….I would say it to any race , white, black , brown, Purple who treat their country like the Filipino’s do in the Philippines: YOU DON’T DESERVE TO LIVE IN THE PARADISE YOU LIVE IN!… Read more »
Not Tony B
Guest
Well said Mr. Beene! Everything you said about the driving and whole traffic chaos in this country is spot-on! I’ve been saying this for ages: when there’s no LAW ENFORCEMENT, there will be anarchy! There’s no civil law enforcement – disposing trash properly or men peeing against walls out in the open in sight of everyone with no consequence. There’s no traffic law enforcement like name it – everything from the drivers to pedestrians violating every law you can think of! Jaywalking? Check. Speeding? Check. Illegal lane change? Driving on the shoulder? Tailgaiting? Two cars occupying one lane? No stopping… Read more »
William Beene
Guest

Also well said , Not Tony B! Last week late at night we went to MCDonalds…I parked at the Park, got out to open th edoor for my wife and there is a PNP Patrolman standing behing the jeep next to me taking a piss ! Not a private jeep, a PNP jeep ! If it wasn’t so ridiculous I would be furious, but it just proves the point…no one respects the police here and there is a reason why…. they represent the “City of Keystone” where law enforcement makes you laugh ! Sad , but oh so true …….

ChinoF
Member

Simply put, the political debate during the time Benign0 mentioned was contrived, and those who are really doing meaningful debate (like us) are pushed to the sides or are on the receiving end of mudslinging. So it’s a hard fight of sorts, but we keep at it.

angela
Guest

i was thinking “salad days,” with a “golden age” yet to come. but maybe you’re right, benignO.

angela
Guest

seriously wonder, if mar doesn’t make it in 2016, how the noted one plans to reconfigure himself.

Vincent
Member

This is one of the kinds of debate I usually hear among Filipinos – https://youtu.be/s5cdl8J093g