A Marcos Presidency Means a Post-Truth Philippines. Young Filipinos Deserve Better.
I voted for the first time on May 9th, in a national election that’s since garnered global attention, primarily due to the spotlighting on the presidential candidacy’s two frontrunners: the leading presidential bet — and current presumptive president — Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and the leading opposition candidate, outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo.
Anyone keeping track of the past months leading up to the election would notice a deeply divided, at times turbulent landscape among the Filipino citizenry. While we do operate under a multi-party system, at second glance there are primarily two ideological groups at odds with each other: loyalists to the Marcos family, and those critical of his entire dynasty, beginning from the elder Marcos’ authoritarian rule in the 1970s down to their present ongoing mass campaign to modify their role in Philippine history.
The term “Orwellian” is often overused in describing events of political significance, but it is the only one I find most fitting in an election period riddled with untruths and oligarchical power plays, backed by decades-worth of history revising.
The past few days post-election have been a blur of confusion and frustration, with fellow members of my generation in the opposition sharing a collective grief and sense of doom for our future. And who can blame us: after over two years of a poorly-handled pandemic, followed by an imminent war in Europe with palpable economic ramifications, as well as a global economic and climate crisis, this national election came at a unique time, with so many hungry for change; the hope for a better standard of living.
So where can we go from here?
Many members and volunteers of the opposition have since recognized the vitality of grassroots conversations in re-educating our countrymen. But with less than a year of Robredo’s campaign period, there was preciously little time. I can only hope we hold on to the necessity of these methods, though they will undoubtedly take much time, effort, and lots of patience.
And yet I keep thinking: is a grassroots solution even possible? With decades worth of disinformation at such a massive, vast scale enforced largely among the most underprivileged in the country, is it even possible reshape such well-maneuvered indoctrination? Would it not be far more efficient and to cut off the proverbial hydra’s head, hold the Marcoses legally accountable for the many, mass crimes? Recent history says we may have missed our chance, something I still grieve for.
I’m sure I’ve no need to enumerate on the dangers of a post-truth society, although we’re already seeing some slowly unfold in real time. The threat is real: another Marcos presidency opens up the possibility of a brutal oligarchy — as well as the peril of a second martial law, if not in name then in covert practice and indoctrination. Where once was guns and military rule in the 1970s, there now is social media disinformation campaigns, aided by the local wealthy elite and foreign tech titans. I do not pretend to be an expert political analyst, but I recognize the threats to freedom, equality, and justice when I see them.
Writing all this now, it’s occurred to me that I’ve just lived through a significant occurrence in Philippine history, albeit one I still struggle to make sense of, as I’m sure many among my generation do. But it’s also unfolded another truth, one that no disinformation can cover up: young Filipinos are present, engaged, and active, and are willing to come together. That is a radical thing. These are the prologues to movements of lasting social change.
We are a nation with a bloody history, but we’re also a nation with a history of revolution borne of ideology and literature. It will undoubtedly be a long, arduous road ahead, one that will take several years before taking effect. But I hold on to that historical hope that ideas, literature, and information can still create revolutions. We have done it before; it has always been in our blood.