Dystopian Science Fiction: Science Fact In The Philippines?

My first exposure to Dystopian science fiction was, strangely enough, an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In this particular episode, the heroes in half-shells find themselves in a future ruled with tyranny by the series’ main villain Shredder. I don’t remember all the details but, as a kid at the time and having no real understanding of what was happening on the show, it scared the heck out of me. To placate me, my grandfather, who was still hale and hearty at that point in time, explained to me that the future Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michael Angelo found themselves in wasn’t real but was a possibility. It wasn’t the real thing but it could be. Needless to say, the end of the episode felt like waking up from a bad dream and that, I think was how the idea of a “Dystopia” was embedded in my mind just as the idea of “apathy” was implanted into my brain by Care Bears, of all things.


Anyway, on with my point. Well according to a lot of Dystopian sci-fi writers, the best way to create a Dystopia is to convince people that they don’t live in one. To get the people to believe that the dysfunction and suffering they’re experiencing is not just common but “normal” is the ultimate goal of tyranny. Like a teacher once taught me, when you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, the frog will just jump out. However, put the frog in a pot of water and slowly raise the temperature until it boils will kill the frog because it won’t notice until it’s too late.

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I have always wondered why Dystopian sci-fi is so rare in Philippine TV just as I have mulled over cosmic horror and why it is isn’t exactly popular in the Philippines. I’m not exactly sure but I think it was the commenter Marius who said something along the lines that the Philippines has essentially become a Dystopia straight out of the mind of Alduous Huxley. Indeed, now that I’ve come to think about it, if North Korea is often compared to Orwell’s 1984, the Philippines can be easily compared to that of Huxley’s Brave New World because of the common Pinoy’s addiction to pleasantry and an unwillingness to even acknowledge the deadly cancer that has essentially infested the nation’s system.

I once remember asking a woman if she kept with any interesting sci-fi shows like Walking DeadHeroes, Lost or Stargate and her only reply was that she hated shows like that because they stressed her by forcing her to think. However, despite her apparent dislike of stress, she seems to enjoy shows like The Legal Wife or My Husband’s Lover whose showcasing is actually more stressful to me. Well, there are people who say “to each his own” but it says a lot about how small-minded the common Pinoy is when they prefer to focus on the small dysfunctions of society over the utterly massive issues that is essentially killing the nation if it isn’t already dead.

Dystopian sci-fi has always struck me as a cautionary tale of what could be. That, if we aren’t careful, our society might just become a nightmarish landscape ruled by despots. Unfortunately, this lesson is lost on many Pinoys because there’s no real way for the common Pinoy to know whether or not they live in a Dystopian society.

14 Replies to “Dystopian Science Fiction: Science Fact In The Philippines?”

  1. Those rabbits stopped fighting the system, because it was easier to take the loss of freedom, to forget what it was like before the fence kept them in, than to be out there in the world struggling to find shelter and food. They had decided that the loss of some was worth the temporary comfort of many.

    1. After all, quoth Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Unfortunately, this is the case with the average Pinoy.

  2. We are the FROGS…and the Feudal Oligarchs, like Aquino and his cahoots, are slowly BOILING us…

    We have the Squatters, sprouting like mushrooms. We have the DAP, PDAF, Pork Barrel bribery, MILF/ISIS/Al Queda unholy alliance, China annexing one by one, our territories, etc…

    Yet, we Refuse to Notice, we are being BOILED slowly…until, we will be all thoroughly COOKED…

  3. One genre that might be more obviously relevant to Filipino society is Gothic horror. It’s not just about black magic and vampires and monsters, it’s also about psychological horror, corruption in the human soul, and enormous abuses of power (political, physical, sexual, emotional, what have you).

    I mean, we have all the creepy supernatural beings, we just need to add the tyrannical, corrupt, conniving and murderous characters and start writing Gothic fiction.

      1. I actually saw parallels between the likes of Padre Damaso and Padre Salvi with Father Ambrosio, the title character of “The Monk”, a Gothic novel by Matthew G. Lewis, written in the 1790s.

        Ambrosio is also a Spanish friar, by the way, and his list of crimes include rape, murder, (non-rape) breaking his vows of celibacy, and—spoiler alert—a deal with the Devil. Everything the Filipinos in power are presumably guilty of and more.

  4. Some western shows still are popular among pinoys here whose main staple is still tfc, but i have some qualms with them:
    Game of Thrones – they dig the noodies and the teleserye-style family dysfunctions, but the first-time watchers always ask “sinong bida?”.
    Grey’s Anatomy – holy shit, it’s melrose place in a hospital! on with the partner-swapping (never mind the risk of std infection, theyre all doctors).
    CSI – Technobabble up to level 11. Though pinoys werent exclusive to the dumbing down of forensics caused by this show.
    Superhero shows like Flash, Arrow, Smallville, SHIELD – Kasi uso, baby!

    I still wonder why shows like Person of Interest, The Blacklist and even veteran show Supernatural (which i really thought would be ripped of into some basterd teleserye version at some point like okatokat did with the x-files) dont make it to most pinoy’s watch lists.

    1. Oh, and about sci-fi? all they know is the star trek: tng which they dismiss as “campy”.
      Mention things like Galactica and Firefly, you get “ano yun” looks.

      1. Star Wars is also in their meager plate of what they know of SF. I mean, who hasn’t at least seen the movies much less heard of the name?

  5. I’m not going to go all political on you but take this article as a show of interest in the genre that is dystopian literature. When you’ve finished with Orwell and Huxley. Check out books written by William Gibson, Philip K. Dick and Neal Stephenson. These are the fathers of the genre now known as Cyberpunk. If you’re into pen and paper RPGs I recommend Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2020, BESM’s Ex Machina and Savage World’s Interface Zero. Have fun! 🙂

  6. Filipinos are masters in the art of maquerade & puppetry. Dystopian work (film/books) is baffling & scary as it confronts us with the vastness of space,time, reality and the smalleness, irrelevance of our daily,mundane, “fun” lives. The more accessible, relatable,daily onslought of neighbors,family,co-workers,friends,politicians behaving badly,miserably is a more pressimg concern for the masses as they look for ways to cover-up,hide,replace reality (with Entertainment of course!), and when shown to them that there are other people (on TV) who share the same sufferrings, they are filled with hope and a sense of “community”, a safety in numbers mentality.

    Individuality and difference are not valued in a tribal,mass/group, institutional worshipping people.

    It’s great how the writers here(Grp) all have these connecting/uniting ideas…I.e. Unethical flaunting of wealth, envy, etc.. The Philippines in its unfortunate geography & history has become the Mexico of Asia (sorry to disparage the other country) due to the Spanish & American colonization and infliction of the “Fiesta/Religion” and “Consumer/Democracy” mentalities of the 2 colonizers.

    As with both “values”, they perpertrate addictive, cyclical, self-loathing, pretentious,narcissistic & hypocritical behaviors and now the drug culture. So in fairness to Filipinos, we need a lot of regressive therapy to undo the “historical” mind, passed on thru genes and our environment.

    This article & writer’s interests gives me a clear picture of this site, really thoughtful & introspective, by the way.

    Also agree on the sci-fi tastes, Supernatural (the “author” & musical episodes were the best examples of dystopian worlds),also Gibson is the dystopian God of Gen x/y (Pattern Recognition book), must see new movies: Automata, Ex-Machina,Signals, series: Mr.Robot, old series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight Zone, and an old B-movie as in Bad but makes you go “hmm”! that scarily reflects our current society, watch “Idiocracy”. If you really want to delve into the relationship of power, humanity & sex “Story of O” (book author still unknown to this day).

    Keep up the awesome work!

    1. For me the ultimate in dystopian fiction would be George Orwell’s classic “1984”.I may have read it 22 years ago but remembering “Big Brother” still brings me chills to the spine. From its doublespeak jargon (Newspeak) to its methods of suppressing/brainwashing its populace, there truly is no escape from Airstrip One.

      Also of note is another favorite of mine, Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”. I haven’t tried Gibson’s novels, hope to eventually get around to reading them.

      I sometimes envy people like Hyden Toro since they are OFWs and can get away from the madness that is this country, but I’m stuck here. My medical condition disqualifies me from any overseas job opportunities…

    1. No man, it’s just you who’s lost and confused.
      you comment based only on one post, and didn’t even justify your comment. Typical Pinoyfail lack of logic.

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