Throwing back to articles written during and after the 2016 Presidential campaign, because I realize these are the words I go back to, this is still why I think we need to get our acts together, beyond the partisan politicking and the moralizing elitism. And I think, three years since, that we’re getting there. We have three weeks to go, and a lot of ground to cover for the five candidates that represent change in the Senate: #22Colmenares, #23DeGuzman, #25Diokno, #36Gutoc, and #59Tanada. We gotta do better than 2016 because no one else — least of all the Liberal Party with all its cash and machinery — is doing better.  

***

Ir/relevance
May 22 2016

If there’s anything the campaign season and election results might teach us it’s how irrelevant we are to the outcomes of political exercises such as choosing our leaders.

And I mean us, the middle to wealthier classes who are on social media, writing and reading and speaking in English, our minds swirling with foreign books and films and TV. I mean us, the Martial Law babies of the 70’s, who grew up on Marcosian history but also came of age in the years post-EDSA ’86, and the democratic cultural and political space it allowed us. I mean us, who claim freedom, invoke it, live off it, but do not know a life where we fight for it with our blood, do not know to struggle with freedom from hunger, need, want.

I mean us, artists and writers, performers and creatives – cultural workers all – who, in this most divisive and critical of elections could’ve, should’ve, would’ve been the voice of reason, the voice that balances what is good with what is delusion, what is bad with what is worse, never speaking in terms that are white and black, good versus evil, because we know the pitfalls of archetypes and stereotypes, we can read spin from a mile away, we can see every shade and tint of gray.

We are skilled at distance, at seeing bigger pictures, at telling larger narratives. It keeps us sane, above the fray, disengaged even when we are in the midst. Our politics is beyond the elections, we like to believe, because the real work for nation happens after it, in the six years of necessary struggle with new leaders, in this perennial resistance we nurture because we are aware of our systemic dysfunctions, those that are never fixed, because rarely admitted.

Let it be said that during election season 2016, our partisanship and our biases got the better of us. Let it be said that too many fell into the black hole of namecalling and trolling, of taking a moral high ground that is precisely what has won this election for candidates we thought would never get into power. (more…)

Been going through my old columns, and realized I had worried about Duterte long before he won the elections in 2016. And that ultimately, we have gotten what we failed to address squarely all these years, and all throughout the Liberal Party presidency of PNoy. This is also what’s making HNP so powerful in the Senatorial fight for 2019. Re-posting because maybe there are lessons to be learned, maybe because I am still hopeful we can get out acts together on this last three weeks of the elections. Hope springs eternal. — KSS.

Beyond bad words, or deserving Duterte redux
December 4 2015

If I did not have concepts of human rights and violations, abuse and killings, in the back of my head, and I watched Rodrigo Duterte for the first time on November 30, I would think it refreshing how this man did his proclamation speech.

It was all extemporaneous – even seemed to lack an outline really – and was without any of the motherhood statements and clichés that we’ve heard from the slew of Presidential wannabes we’ve been faced with thus far.

The speech was real and honest. Speaking like no other candidate before him, speaking of everything from the womanizing to the killings, revealing how he would converse with people on a regular basis, and cussing and cursing ‘til kingdom come.

We keep complaining about spin, and how we don’t get a sense of who these candidates really are. And now faced with someone like Duterte, we don’t know what to do either. (more…)

Been going through my old columns, and realized I had worried about Duterte long before he won the elections in 2016. And that ultimately, we have gotten what we failed to address squarely all these years, and all throughout the Liberal Party presidency of PNoy. This is also what’s making HNP so powerful in the Senatorial fight for 2019. Re-posting because maybe there are lessons to be learned, maybe because I am still hopeful we can get out acts together on this last three weeks of the elections. Hope springs eternal. — KSS. 

Deserving Duterte
November 29 2015

If there’s anyone that I am now afraid might win the 2016 elections – because who knows what kind of electorate we have at this point – it is Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Yes, there are pros and cons for all the Presidential candidates and the possibility that each will win. But what Duterte promises are such simple, common sensical things. What he promises are things that all Presidential candidates should be promising, and they should be promising it with a progam to back it up. A holistic take on peace and order and public safety that need not fall back on action star rhetoric, and need not mean committing every human rights violation imaginable. (more…)

In 2012, I published Of Love And Other Lemons, a book that’s deceptively about love, but which is really about growing up Pinay in a country like the Philippines, where womanhood is difficult and painful and confusing, and feminism is not a word I use thoughtlessly. In 2013, in a talk with the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas, I was asked if I considered myself a feminist. I said no, not because I do not believe in the principles of feminism, but because I know my place in the context of Filipino feminists who are out on the streets, organizing on the ground, talking to real women who represent the majority who are impoverished, and fighting for their basic rights to live decently just as human beings. I had said then: nakakahiya to call myself a feminist given what they do, dahil para sa’kin sila ang tunay na peminista.

Six years after, in 2019, and I still believe much of what I said then. I still think that the form of feminism that is most important in a place like the Philippines where class and privilege are the crucial markers of difference, is feminism that’s out on the streets, that is in touch with the lives of the majority of women on the ground, that is fighting for basic human rights, that demands justice for the oppressed and disenfranchised, that seeks change and development that includes the majority who are poor, that refuses to see them as burdensome, as collateral damage, as charity work. The task is simply for people’s basic rights. And that can only be women’s rights, too.

What has changed though, is this: I dare call myself a feminist now. (more…)

Wrote this for the book launch of “Na Kung Saan” by Teo Marasigan, February 6 in UP Diliman. The task was to talk about intellectuals in the time of Duterte, na nakapaloob sa forum na “Kamalayan at Kultura sa Panahon ng Pasismo.”  

I met Teo in college, in the 90’s, but only built a relationship with him in the Gloria years, in the late 2000s, when so many of us, my Nanay Angela and myself included, ended up using the internet for blogging. This was pre-Mocha, pre-paid mob, pre-Facebook boosting and trolling.  Then, people were still writing long-form articles, well-threshed out yet open to discussion, in fact begging for a discussion, naghahanap ng makakausap tungkol sa mga isyung panlipunan. May biruan pa, may collegiality. These were the years of the Arroyo presidency, before Facebook and Twitter took over the internet — and a chunk of our intellectual culture.

But of course there were many other reasons for the death of blogging and critical-political thought. There was the fact that many of the critical bloggers during GMA’s time were absorbed into PNoy’s three-headed communications team. I remember two years into PNoy’s leadership, being told by one of those writers who had ended up in Malacañang: kayo na lang ng nanay mo ang hindi pa namin nakukuha, ang hindi pa bilib sa’min.” Or something to that effect.

Natawa ako, na nadismaya: ‘yun pala ang ginagawa ng gobyerno, “kinukuha” “pinapabilib” ang mga kritiko-intelektuwal, isang paraan ng pagpapatahimik. (more…)