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.

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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.

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

  1. ‘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 out jeepneys for a long time to come, as they siphon off taxpayers money to ride in suv’s, or monopoly business owners travel in limos with no need to innovate, compete or provide even half-decent customer service.

    The rewards in politics are so great it only attracts the criminal elements and corrupt who have no compunction at killing rivals in the pursuit of easy money and entry into ‘society’.

    Where else would uneducated nobodys get 50 – 100 million pesos a year tax free for doing nothing, and have a population which accepts it!!

    Civilised countries put them in jail. here legal games/bribes ensure justice is an irrelevant spectator, and the law of the jungle monkeys rules.

    1. Simply disgusting, is it not? I fully understand your sentiments. I tell you what, do something different. On your way to work, drop by to one of the primary or secondary school and observed how they behave in a Flag ceremony. You will be surprised. Their performance is pretty much conducive as to how we adult performs our duties and responsibilities.

      1. Wonder what Celdran will run for in the elections after this one?

        Tears for Fears: “Everybody wants to rule the world.”

        1. If Ricky Ricardo decides to quit for good Celdran could take over. He has the experience. He performed the sacrament of last rites on GRP. Shows you what a crowd he has going for him, they all believed his baseless statement. Guess to giddy at the thought of “jailhouse rock”.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. Wealthy people could care less about some westerner complaining they have what works for them and they just get stuck, SM corporation, I am convinced doesn’t hire Westerner’s for a look-see at the way they set up their stores, eat all you can spots and grocery stores, many of the restaurants also won’t accept the credit cards, try to walk into a store and ask for a product, there’s all sorts of employee’s standing out front picking each other up while you walk in and nobody will have a clue what you’re looking for, I asked this lady at an appliance store if they sold crock pots and it was her section she was standing right there and she said no, I walked just 5 feet and around the isle and there was a crock pot, so employee’s spend little time knowing their products and spend more time picking each other up or trying to pick up foreigners.

      1. Of course, SM hires Filipinos only, and expect foreigners to be the customers. And the sales people are less educated and sometimes not trained, so you can’t expect them to know the wares properly, I noticed that too.

  4. 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.

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