Those who went out and did point-by-point “rebuttals” of the now famous gone-viral YouTube video AQUINO COJUANGCO: FACTS THEY DONT WANT YOU TO KNOW HD miss the point. The point, in my opinion, is that there is a whole swath of information and history that is not routinely highlighted by mainstream media. Yet, blogger Marck Ronald Rimorin makes it sound as if the mega-wealthy Aquinos and Cojuangcos are the hapless victims in this situation…
But in peddling a lie, the video misrepresents itself as fact with people gobbling it up: while it fails in its function as a historical resource, it more than succeeds in its function as a cog in the machine of anti-Aquino, Marcos-apologetic, self-mortifying propaganda.
…and calls up the scary spectre of a possible “misrepresentation” of the cherished “identity” of the Filipino (an “identity” the coming to terms with I might remind, is in itself a headscratcher of an exercise)…
The fact that the video is untrue brings our history to imbalance, and along with it our identity, our connection with our past, and our visions of the future. The fact that the video has less historical rigor than expected and demanded should have consequences in the way we see ourselves, and effects in how we build our nation. Oh, how easy it would be to divide the world between “evil oligarchs” and “good intellectuals.” The world is more complex — much more complex — than that.
We might recall that it was the Aquinos (like any other Filipino political dynasty on a mission to grab power) that bulldozed over sensible evaluation of political candidates with a presidential campaign that heavily-leveraged pedigree over platform and emotionalism over logical rigour.
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Rimorin who describes his day job as being “in advertising” should talk. Advertising is all about creating emotional hooks that don’t necessarily have direct moorings in the facts of the product being pitched. That part of the job is left to the ability of the average consumer to grapple with an abundance of choice, while advertisers are left free to apply the creative license that gets them paid the big bucks. Tough luck for Da Pinoy in that cognitive department.
Consider how the Philippine presidential campaign of 2010 offered the political equivalent of a supermarket of choice to the average Filipino voter. Lots of publicists — a.k.a. “media consultants” — made a lot of money off that one. Thus it is no surprise that the candidate who pound-for-pound, fact-for-fact was the most unqualified among the lot for the job of President of the Republic of the Philippines was chosen. That says a lot about the power of advertising.
So who is really the “victim” here?
Even by the longest stretch of the imagination can we not picture the Aquinos and the Cojuangcos — with their deep and extensive network of lieutenants permeating Philippine Media (and even some so-called “research” firms) — as the underdogs in a “contest” of influence. My colleague Ben Kritz was one of the first to highlight the fundamental con underlying the Aquino campaign of 2009 in his seminal piece The Non-Platform of Noynoy Aquino published back in August of 2009 where he summarises the (non)essence of then candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s pitch to the Filipino voter…
Aquino states that “attempts to weaken our democracy,” “government excesses and misgovernance,” “attempts to impose a repressive government,” and “lack of access of the powerless and the oppressed” are the problems he wishes to address. This is simply grim rhetoric in search of definitions or examples, not a valid statement of the problems or issues. Likewise his plan of action is devoid of, well, action — instead, Aquino vows to “continue to hold government to account,” “oppose attempts to impose a repressive government,” and “be the voice of” a certain vaguely-defined constituency. And why will he pursue these meaningless “objectives?” Who knows? Aquino doesn’t trouble himself or the electorate with a rationale.
Indeed, one of the more pompous and self-righteous “promises” in the pseudo-platform that, at the time, was published on Noynoy’s campaign site comes across as a bit quaint today…
“Be the voice of the powerless and the oppressed, those who do not have access to our government and are, thus, victims of injustice.”
This sounds not too different from the way we supposedly “simplify the complexities of our history to the cleave of Rich Against Poor, Landed Against Unlanded, we no longer tell history: we tell history the way we want to because it entertains, because it evokes emotion, because it looks good” — evvvillll things that Rimorin the self-described Ad Man accuses the producers of AQUINO COJUANGCO: FACTS THEY DONT WANT YOU TO KNOW HD of doing.
And, as history had revealed since, Aquino’s spectacular win at the polls was pulled off on the back of the very “propaganda” that our Mr Ad Man now puts up as our society’s greatest evil.
Unlike those of us who are accused of “re-writing” history to suit our preferred views of the world, Aquino and his team of publicists have extensive histories of simply erasing evidence. Shortly after Kritz’s piece (and a few more that followed it) invited scrutiny into Noynoy’s claims of a “platform” he plans to run on, the information simply disappeared, leaving behind this quaint error message:
In my brilliant investigative reporting piece Noynoy’s platform: HTTP 404 — File not found, I wrote…
I can’t help but highlight yet another irony that escapes the collective mind of the Philippine political establishement and its cadre of “expert” analysts.
Aquino’s glossing up of his website and the disappearance of the only section in it that would have housed the only semblance of substance underpinning his candidacy is symbollic of our society.
YouTube publisher PinoyMonkeyPride who produced the video only evens the score and scored one big for the real underdogs in this game. Tit for tat. One world view is presented and another to counter it is tabled as well. That’s when debate begins. Is either side up to the task of teasing out The Truth? That remains to be seen. Filipinos after all have an extensive track record of keeping The Truth under wraps. As I said earlier, those who cry “foul” over what is nothing more than a presentation of alternative views completely miss the point. The point is that there is an alternative take on history.
Everyone was aware of what was going on. We just chose not to know.
I’m no fan of the Aquinos or Cojuangcos but, to be fair to them, I can’t really say that there is anything in their history that they did that warrants their being made out to be any more villainous than the average oligarch. After all, vast tracts of land and fabulous amounts of wealth aren’t acquired by being nice guys. All we need is a big bunch of suckers who are willing to sell and a handful of savvies who are wanting to buy. And that pretty much sums up Philippine history. We are, ultimately, a society of sellouts ruled by an elite cadre of investors.
As I once quipped:
Great nations were not built on good intentions. They were built on business sense. Real change in Pinoy society will never be achieved through the “sacrifice” of altruistic “heroes”. True change will be driven by people who find no shame in expecting a buck for their trouble.
Perhaps if the Aquinos and Cojuangcos just lose the whole bullshit about their being God’s prayerful gift to the Filipino and just take a more real perspective with regard to their true place in our society — as the shrewd landowners and cutthroat capitalists that make modern economies out of substistence societies imprisoned by their heritage of smallness — then perhaps we’d all get along and stop fooling ourselves.
Then again, is it really a case of the Aquinos and Cojuangcos not wanting us to know certain “facts”? If you ask me, I think Filipinos prefer to simply remain comfy in the bliss of their ignorance, look up to the sky, open their mouths wide, and pray.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.