Why is Philippine politics so full of drama?

If the Philippines got a penny whenever wonder over its dysfunctional politics is raised, it’d be a First World country by now. Indeed, emotionalism reins supreme in the National “Debate” there. Facts and critical thinking routinely take a back seat to shrill hysterics exchanged amongst its foremost “thought leaders”. Social media had exacerbated this predisposition to unproductive mudslinging and the landscape is increasingly hopelessly paralysed.

The most evident manifestation of this dysfunction is the continued coalescing into cults of personality among the country’s chattering classes. Having been utterly crushed in the 2022 national elections, the Yellowtard-Communist Axis — regarded widely as the bloc of left-of-centre “liberals” — are a scattered, hopelessly-fragmented and ineffective force. For its part, having taken hold of the nation, the arguably right-wing “Unity Team” of winning tandem of Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte — now President and Vice President respectively — are now seeing their support base polarised into the Marcos “BBM” and Duterte “DDS” camps.

The common denominator here, aside from the traditional stupidity of the “debate” surrounding these “developments” is continued beholdenness to personalities. Issues are not unpacked in this “debate” through the application of systematic thinking. They are regarded from the lens of the perceived personal loyalties of the actors and agents contributing to it. It is easy to see why no conversation moves forward. The intellectual bankruptcy of the landscape turned what is supposed to be a free market of ideas into a deadly minefield where most great ideas get blown up trying the navigate it.

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One has to be baduy to make a mark as an “influential” in today’s political chatter. But even in cultivating a baduy persona, one needs to be consistent. Failed presidential candidate Leni Robredo learnt this the hard way when she made a misguided foray into baduy theatrics during her ill-fated campaign. She is supported by a community made up of Manila’s chi chi private school elite to which she makes a woke social justice appeal. As such, her pedestrian antics come across as absolute cringe.

Leni Robredo’s pitch to the masa seemed to suggest that she assumed Filipino voters are stupid.

One can easily argue that all this merely mirrors society today in the age of social media and the shortening of attention spans this state of things has induced. However, all things being equal, Filipino minds have proven to be particularly predisposed to being easily-swayed by theatrics. Even before social media became a thing, Philippine politics was already known for its showbiz character and lowest-common-denominator “debate”. Even before the Internet became a ubiquitous household technology, Filipinos were already voting uneducated celebrities to office and gushing over unqualified scions of manufactured “national heroes”.

To be fair, all this makes Philippine politics fertile ground for the sorts of “influencers” we see today — baduy and malaswa and all mukhang pera. There are no principles at stake, only personal brands and access to power. This is pure capitalism in an industrially-bankrupt economy — except that no assets are created and brand equity is fleeting as evident in the way once-prominent personalities flame out under the weight of their individual dependencies on patrons and lack of a foundation of stable principles. Add to that an inability to innovate in their approach to messaging and we get what is all clearly evident today — an intellectually bankrupt society.

35 Replies to “Why is Philippine politics so full of drama?”

  1. what if the philippines is meant to be an intellectually bankrupt society from the start..

    one cannot really expect much more from a bunch of singing cooks and waiters , gleefully descended from the smiling and contented seafaring gypsies of aboriginal taiwan

    1. This is the argument that I have been advocating (or proposing): The ontology of Failipinos and simply accepting their fate as they are: A bunch of cheap laborers thriving in an intellectually bankrupt society, only surviving by benevolence of foreign aid just to keep up with the rest of the World.

      In addition, the lack of industrial foundation (or skipping this phase) in pursuit of living like Americans by doing labor and glorifying it to meet their ends. The entire nation can simply be viewed as one big school (as Zaxx put it in his article) which only views those who think critically, regardless of their discipline, as instant ‘thought leaders’.

      No, I don’t care if the nation supplies the shortage of dirty jobs abroad; this should be a telling problem that is stared right at everyone’s faces. Because the only way to thrive in Failippines is to become baduy, do stupid shit on social media, and get instant moolah.

      Apparently there is no cure in being Failipino; Just the way things work.

      1. what if , the filipino doesnt really need a cure.

        the filipino is just who he is and is quite happy with it.

        who needs industry when you can order any auto part online, at your doorstep in 5 days?

        1. The kind of giving them bread and circuses- drama, showbiz, gossip, remittances- just to keep them fat and lazy? That’s already who they are. Ain’t nothin’ gonna change that!

        2. exactly

          the time for revolutions is done

          the whole world is set in its place, more or less.

          everyone in his own role, everything in its own place, yes even the inuits

          the final stage is acceptance

        3. Yes. They ok with it. Hence, it serves a purpose to be the sick man of orient and the world.

    2. The anointed laughing stock of the world. Yes. It serves a comedic perhaps, role like a third rate court jester.

  2. lee kuan yew can work wonders with angry chinese fishmongers..

    but can he work the same magic on smiling gap toothed rum addled gypsies?

  3. Politics is drama everywhere. As an Alaskan Independent Journalist, I have been reporting on the political soap opera there for decades. Some 25,000 Filipinos live in Alaska and I am visiting to learn about the country that should be our best friend in the world. I offer this previous story as evidence that Philippines is not unique in political drama:

  4. That is an ignorant question but I am a teacher so I will tell you it is not proper to call Indigenous Alaskans “Eskimos”. If you read my work you might learn that Alaska entered into a Native Claims Act in 1971 and Native Corporations are now a major economic engine of the state.

    1. sure why not

      after white man took the land, oil, and gold enough to make a leprechaun blush.

      lets call them “indigenous” and give em some money to warm their igloos

  5. Yes, I do agree with one of your posts who says that the Filipinos are intellectually bankrupt. Blame it on the so-called ‘baduy’ culture that for people to be ‘in’, one must follow those fads that in reality, do not yield something that are very uplifting, enriching to the mindset and make us forward-thinking.

    Not to be outdone is that ‘baduy’ culture that stems from our attitude of what I best call ‘parochialism’; this hinders us from enhancing our personalities and mindsets further as we fail to attempt to free our mind and exert our experimental and creative efforts to elevate as well as empower the mentality and perception of our countrymen away from the status quo of the mediocre, shallow and hackneyed. This is very much reflected in the ‘hanggang dito lang ang alam at kaya namin’ syndrome as evident in the way we refuse diversions of higher pursuits such as reading or surfing the net on more profound topics such as art, cultures, technologies and other matters of human interest to broaden our knowledge or even engage in healthy discourses on issues that are happening on the global arena (and their impact among us Filipinos), but opting instead for undesirable pastimes like petty gossip, the pursuit for easy money, the lifestyles and gimmicks of our ‘artistas’ and celebrities and involving ourselves with the world of showbiz intrigues and other forms of escapism instead of devoting to more productive, nation- and people-building pursuits. It is high time for us to give support of that layer of Filipinos who have the inner depth, intellectual curiosity and innate capabilities who adhere to a benchmark of substance and quality to develop, nurture and mobilize the mindset of that critical mass that can serve as that tool to generate socio-economic, political, cultural and attitudinal reforms that, in the long run, will mold us to be more competitive, more disciplined and more respected vis-à-vis the outside world.

    Viewed on a much more introspective angle, that sense of intellectual bankruptcy coupled wit parochialism also generates that element that the Filipinos need most: DISCIPLINE. Beginning with self-discipline which can set good examples and permeate to others in the long run. Self-discipline, in turn, leads to the formation of responsible citizens. I am very much reminded of the ironies that I observed during my travels in the more civlized and democratic, free-thinking societies like the Teutonic countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), the Netherlands and Denmark where, despite legalized nudism, the streets are spotlessly clean and crime rates are low, where everybody, regardless of whether they are Conservative, Centrist or Socialist, follow simple laws and ordinances with out complaining simply because they agree that those rules benefit one and all in the long run. Or during my trips to Hong Kong in the late ‘80s and mid’90s where, thanks to British rule, the strong sense of punctiliousness has furthered a fetish for efficiency—and propelled the territory into one of the world’s most successful economic powerhouses. This, despite the laissez-faire attitude towards business and personal matters plus the fact that Hong Kong has never experienced any election under its British masters!

    Then let us not forget Singapore where, during my visits, I have always been amazed at how the late great Lee Kuan Yew—whose governance is a combination of ruthlessness, vision, charisma and credibility—skillfully and successfully combined Asian discipline with the very strong regard for law and order, system and efficiency in governance that has been a legacy of British rule to create the dynamic, prosperous city-state.

    We also need to get out of that shell of parochialism and learn from those positive traits that have molded other citizens of different parts of the globe to be more proactive, forward-thinking and proud of where they come from. I strongly agree when one of our respected economists not long ago stressed that the Filipinos who want to attain higher pursuits can have a bit of Swiss diplomacy, the Teutonic regard for law and order, the punctiliousness of the British, the firmness of the Indians, the sagacity of the Chinese, the discipline of the Japanese and the determination of the Koreans, Taiwanese and Singaporeans.

    1. Only the introduction of more foreign culture to Failippines will only realize the need to break parochialism, as much done when OFWs decide to retire back to home country and implement what they have learned.

      1. I respectfully disagree. We in the west have heard the siren call of “multi-culturalism” and it only causes confusion and promotes division. Every person must be treated with dignity and respect and honorable people will find a way to build for good in any culture.

        That said, there will always be whiners, too…

        1. Finally, I have been meaning to say this.

          As a Westerner, your ideas of diversity and multikulti is wrong. Don’t even try to push it in particular Southeast Asia, where much of its diversity has been normalized before colonialism even parked their boats in the region.

          The Failippines has already subverted itself to different colonial powers, yet still think in primitivo times despite being at the mercy of great powers. Maybe a more practical approach in improving its people is to significantly displace them / reduce their population / normalize cross-breeding other than the talk of ideologues?

  6. This is what happens if people don’t vote for problem solvers. For example, instead of preferring lawyers to run for senators, people just outright voted for non-lawyers. Imagine having a college degree or masters or even a doctorate degree yet at least one of the politicians who also run your country doesn’t even have a college degree and some officials have pending cases, some others have issues and there are officials who are convicted of a crime already. This is one reason why I say that Philippine society is horrible, people there are bad voters in general. Why not look for a political candidate’s credentials and track record instead of just fame and what they promise? Why do the society in that country allow themselves to be governed by these kinds of people? Smart people would feel insulted being governed by politicians who are not smarter than them.

    1. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. is not a lawyer but he is the current Philippine President.

      He ranks no. 36 among the 100 Notable alumni of University of Oxford.

      Though his wife, the First Lady Marie Louise “Liza” Araneta Marcos, is a lawyer and an academic.

    2. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. is not a lawyer but he is the current Philippine President.

      He ranks no. 36 among the 100 Notable alumni of University of Oxford.

      Though his wife, the First Lady Marie Louise “Liza” Araneta Marcos, is a lawyer and an academic.

      1. Oxford said that he only received special diploma and didn’t finish the course. One thing I see good he did however is suspending MIF.

        However, it’s just not about him. Look at the senate, you have senators who were charged with cases and who were already convicted of crimes. What do they get, a senator/media broadcaster who orders other gov’t officials as if they’re his subordinates. He can’t treat cabinet members like they’re below him because legislative and executive have separation of powers. He became too powerful because people support him despite the extreme arrogance he showed. Those he berated in senate hearings are engineers, doctors, lawyers, but what college degree does he have? Teodoro lost the senatorial election yet he’ll be a lot better in that job more than several senators.

        Philippines deserves this because of their horribly low standards, no wonder many politicians there just say that they’re pro-poor, they give money to the poor, make empty promises and grandstand.

    3. It’s the Failipinos that dictate what they want for their country to prosper backwards- Vote someone who is like them- underdogging, no credentials, all ‘people pleasing’ personality, corruption-grabbing, inept, inutile… The list goes on!

      Failipino society is insanely stupid to the point they will do it again until something happens.

    1. n the neverending night, the white man transforms into a howling fanged flesh eater who sucks out the fat of the unsuspecting natives.

      then henceforth, proceeds to take their land

    2. in the neverending night, the white man transforms into a fanged chupacabra who sucks the fat out of unsuspecting natives.

      then henceforth, takes away all their land.

    3. sometimes, on the fortnite when the moon is full,

      the white man just skips all of the fat sucking and proceeds directly to the taking of the land.

    4. Why worry about Filipino drama, politics and more? Those things are beyond your control. In short, you can’t do anything about them unless you become president or dictator who has the resources to control the state of the country. This country will continue to move forward no matter what happens. Just control what you can control, and do what you can do. Sad, but in reality, we are all sojourners of this life.

      100 years so like 2023, we will all be buried with our families and friends. Strangers will live in our homes that we worked so hard to build. And someone else will own everything we have today. Most of our possessions will be given away or thrown out or destroyed including the car that we spent our fortune on and are probably be scrapped. Our descendants will hardly know who we are nor will they remember us. How many of us know who our grandfather’s father was? After we die, we will be remembered for a few more years, and then we are just a portrait of someone’s wall. And a few decades later, our history, photos, and deeds disappear into oblivions. We won’t even be memories.

      If we pause one day to analyze these questions perhaps we would understand how pointless it is for us to worry about the things that consume our minds daily. If we could only think about this shortly, our approaches and our thoughts would change, and we would do things differently. Perhaps we would feel more free to enjoy ourselves and our lives that we are living.

      1. That’s simply what you call “not giving a fuck and go our own merry ways.” Everybody does that. The difference is, if you can actually tell, can you afford running the opposite direction knowing these truths?

        If you are a nihilist, better off killing yourself. If you are after something else, be insane about it. It’s simple, really.

      2. Plato once said that one of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is ending up being governed by your inferiors. Anyone with a decent brain doesn’t want that and being governed by inferiors is an insult if you ask me.

      3. Thus, it comes down to individuals taking personal responsibility for their future fortunes and the pathways they choose to achieve their respective aspirations. The standout observation across the national “debate” is the way “activists” suggest that political leaders account for significant input into people’s personal prospects. This constitutes cushy assurance that one’s prosperity is is someone else’s responsibility.

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