Filipinos must REFUSE to be manipulated by Philippine media!


A concerted effort is being done to paint the President as a tyrannical despot, a threat to human rights, in the global mainstream media. UN seems to be coasting along. This is going towards the direction of lumping him with the hated dictators such as Qadaffi, or Milosevic, and others who presided over the massive violation of human rights among their own people, some even reaching genocidal proportions.

Even here at home, attempts by LP and anti-Duterte human rights advocates to liken him to Ferdinand Marcos are palpable.

Except that Marcos is now seen in a better light by the Filipino people. His son almost won (or in fact has won) the Vice Presidency.  So this strategy of painting a Marcos into Duterte may just backfire.

And these Western agents of a decontextualized form of liberalism, clueless of the specific nuances inherent in cultures and in local histories as they are, fail to appreciate the nuances of our historical, social, political, cultural, economic, philosophical and psychological landscape.  As structuralists would argue, the social institutions and the meaning systems embedded in culture, are largely responsible in defining the trajectories of history that unfold in a given setting. We are not Sudan.  We are not Bosnia.  We are not Rwanda or Guatemala.  We are not Libya and the Levant.

We are made of a different structural landscape, and our habitus and quotidians, our worldviews, our pains and horrors, and our hopes and dreams, have to be appreciated in our own contexts, and not of anchors in some foreign TV network, a journalist reporting on the Philippines, a UN official, or even a Westernized Filipino academic or human rights advocate.

During the tumultuous period of the first Aquino Presidency, when I was in Hawaii, a Pakistani friend of mine wondered how can we as a people manage to smile and even cheer as armed groups are battling it out in one coup episode of the several that visited Cory.  She asserted that had the things that happened to us as country happened in Pakistan, there would be bloodshed.

Anderson Cooper marveled at how people in Tacloban managed to smile despite the pain of losing not only their properties but their loved ones.  He even exhorted the whole world to learn from us, for surely we have taught humanity a powerful lesson for surviving.

There are many more stories.  Traffic for us is negotiated not as legalistic rules but by a system of feeling what others do and adjusting as a community.  We are perhaps the only people who laugh when somebody slips, not as a sign of insensitivity, but as a way to let the person who slipped know he or she is just fine.  When we see a Pinoy in another place, we instantly make a connection even if contrived.

In this social and cultural landscape, with this concept of political order, and with this kind of psychology based on kapwa, how can one even imagine that we can easily descend into mayhem just because our political elites are at each other's throats?

Hell,  we will not.

We are made of a stronger stuff than that.

In fact, to a soap-opera addicted mass base, this political drama is just one big reality TV.

So, this is my advise to the global media, and the purveyors of horror. Come to us.  Learn our history.  Understand what makes us a community.

And to the Filipinos who love to paint a grave and bleak picture of our future, this I have to ask you. Where have you been all your life?

Antonio Contreras as posted on Facebook.


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