To every Filipino ‘activist’ slogan, always ask: ‘And then what?’

And then what?
(Photo source: Inquirer)

The thing with “activist” slogans proliferating in the lead up to that big 21st September rally being hyped all over social media is they all express a call to “stop” or “end” something. They are so the same and so unoriginal that you can list them all here and kind of forget which timeframe or era they belong to: “Stop the killings”, “Oust [insert name or president here]”, “End impunity”, “Tama na, Sobra Na”, “Patalsikin na, now na!”.

One forgets sometimes. Is this 2017, 2006, 2001, or 1983? Indeed, template activism makes Philippine politics seem like Groundhog Day. Because Filipinos are so incapable of original thought and are severely deficited of imagination, they are unable to lay out a roadmap beyond the end of the latest outrage fad. It is high time Filipinos junk this style of dimwitted activism and modernise their approach to calling for “change”. Filipino political chatter needs to evolve from being a retrospective backward-oriented school of thought to one that is prospective; i.e., forward-facing and focused on possibilities.

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For every new “activist” slogan, one should routinely ask:

And then what?

Stop the killings. And then what?

Pray for peace. And then what?

End tyranny. And then what?

Oust Duterte. And then what?

Filipino “thought leaders” remain imprisoned within the same thinking that made the 1986 “people power revolution” such a disappointment — that Filipinos fail to propsper because of some sort of social ill. Kesyo their government is “authoritarian” and their president a “tyrant”. Kesyo there is not enough “freedom”. Kesyo there is not enough “democracy”. Kesyo there is not enough “equality”. Kesyo there is no gay marriage. Kesyo there is rampant corruption.

Kesyo this. Kesyo that.

A lot of these “activist” movements are based on these excuses and ignore the fact that people who are built to succeed succeed under any circumstances. Take the Chinese-Filipino community. They were subject to the same governments and “social ills” that native Filipinos were subject to throughout their histroy. Yet they are now captains of Philippine industry and exert disproportionate control over the national economy.

Suffice to say, Filipino “activists” don’t focus on character and fail to ask the more important question:

Is there something about the Filipino character that predisposes their society to chronic failure?

An important feature of “democracy” that these activists seem to deliberately leave out of their rhetoric is that, in a democracy, the quality of leaders reflect the quality of the collective character of their constituents. In short, Filipino leaders were chosen. They do not rule because of a birthright or a mandate from heaven. They are products of the “people’s will” that these very “activists” wax poetry about ad infinitum.

But, see, it is one thing to lament problems of one’s own making. Democracy, after all, guarantees that every failure — and success — in leadership are ones directly influenced by the vote, ergo the “popular will”. It is, however, the height of national immaturity to fail to consistently attribute both good and bad outcomes to character. Rather than explore what character traits led to a certain outcome, Filipinos are taught that external forces are at work to thwart success — like “tyrants”, angry gods, “injustices” caused by “Satan”, and, yes, those “greedy capitalists”.

If we look today at what underpins the latest fad activism surrounding the 21st September Martial Law anniversary, it is all about Filipinos being “fed up” with a certain prevailing order of things that leads to their being “victimised”. Look deeper into the rhetoric about it and you will be hard-pressed to find anything to do with what one could do at a personal level to improves one’s individual chances of overcoming the social ills that these activists have sloganised.

The success of a rally may be measured by volume of turnout, of course. The question is, does volume necessarily translate to quality or substance?

After that next big rally, and then the next one, and then the one after that, Filipinos should ask: And then what? More importantly, they should ask the same question next time they see the next “activist” slogan shoved into their social media timelines.

11 Replies to “To every Filipino ‘activist’ slogan, always ask: ‘And then what?’”

  1. The trouble and problems of the Pinoys that lead to the embitterment of their country, Philippines is NOT to “end” or “stop” this and that, something external to the Pinoys. What is needed here is to really STOP and END anything inside of them – all negativities that lead them to external, physical and social turmoil. To STOP and END the external turmoil, Pinoys need first to END and STOP their internal turmoil. We need to first deal with the “wolves”. There’s no use praying for peace, no use going to churches and pray for anything. When activists sit for negotiations to STOP and END something, they will achieve nothing because the “wolves” didn’t deal with what’s important – their negativities. There’s no internal transformation.

    1. Ross: Filipino goals never seem to extend beyond panicking about some immediate crisis. They lurch from one crisis to the next, never looking further ahead, never trying to prevent the crises from happening in the first place. Always taking half a step forward and sixteen steps back because they’re so busy firefighting.

      Instead of blathering about stopping this or ending this, they need to start talking about STARTING something. Let’s start a national education program. Let’s start a functioning pension system so people don’t spawn hundreds of kids to support them. Let’s start a world-class health service dedicated to keeping Pinoys healthy instead of patching up their self-inflicted diseases and injuries (firefighting again). Let’s stop waiting for the government to fix us, and fix ourselves.

      In short, the Filipino needs to actually set some goals beyond dealing with whatever immediate problem he’s created for himself.

      Never going to happen, of course. All we can really do now is wait for China to repossess the entire country after Duterte fails to pay back the debt he’s racking up.

  2. Shouting slogans; changing the leadership of the country; being against anything lead to nothing.

    We had EDSA, but EDSA produced the same bankrupt leadership, myths, false heroes, false saints, fake news and fake history, more of the same and even worse…

    We removed Erap Estrada…same old shit. Corruption, patronage politics, thievery, incompetence, etc…

    These Running Dogs of Aquino Cojuangco “Hakot Demonstrators”, will be shouting , the same idiotic slogans, used 30 years ago. Same people who were in power, will be in the rally. However, these people were the people who made the country worse, and more of the same…

    Same old tactic, only different and younger faces. I wonder who are pulling the “strings”, at ther back of these people !

    1. What’s so funny is that these EJKs are a norm here before Duterte came into the picture. It’s that the media never even reported it.

      They only focus more on a figure, rather than to look at the bigger picture.

  3. After 14 years of trying to explain elementary logic to Filipinos, I give up and I’m returning to civilization (sort of with tRump in charge) where I will work to rid the earth of that shit heel.

    I have no hope that even in my grandchildren’s lifetimes (my oldest CHILD is almost 8 Y/O) will this failure of a 4th world country ever make any progress whatsoever.

  4. These “activists” probably say, “I’m right, world, so obey me!” But when the world doesn’t obey, out comes, “tuta ng korap! Pro-Marcos na gago!” Some guys just don’t know how to accept reality.

    1. See, there’s your million-dollar question right there. You make the rhetorical statement “Surely they plan a lot better than Duterte…”. The question is Do they? By “they” presumably you mean the Opposition, right? So if you, who seem to think so highly of them, aren’t even sure if they do have a plan “a lot better than Duterte[‘s]”, what makes you so certain that there actually is a more coherent path forward than the path Duterte is taking his country?

      I think you could do a bit better than that. That is, of course, if you honestly believe the Opposition’s proposal is actually better (assuming they actually do have said proposal).

    2. Surely they plan a lot better than Duterte has with this fucking drug war.

      Gotta go with benign0 here. So… what is the plan?

      If you go with the “ah, basta” excuse, then you’re looking for serious trouble here. Leni Robredo once suggested about the legalization of crystal meth/shabu w/o ever thinking about the dangers what that illegal substance could cause. That’s why I;m very convinced that Robredo is another stupid idiot.

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