If there is a lesson to be learned from the outcome of the 2019 elections, it is this: the Duterte machine — guns, goons, gold, plus propaganda — is a success, by ALL counts, and it doesn’t even matter that chief propagandist Mocha didn’t get a seat in Congress.

It has succeeded because we were all oblivious to, decidedly ignoring, all the signs that this leadership would move hell and high water to get the Senate and Congress it needs to continue, Presidential ill-health and worsening poverty and discontent notwithstanding. To be clear: the election results are not a referendum on Duterte — there was enough irregularity, questions of fraud, massive vote buying to disabuse us of that (— it’s so bad Duterte himself has pretty much admitted to fraud.)

But the fact that they were able to get those Senators proclaimed despite all those irregularities, with nary-a-difficult-to-ignore public outcry, that is the referendum we should be looking at. It is also the “referendum” of the past three years. The truth is, beyond the count, we had let Duterte and his people get away with “rigging” this election, so to speak, ensuring a win, no matter how well the opposition(s) campaigned and how much money they put out (think Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas).

Talo na tayo sa eleksyong ito bago pa man tayo bumoto, bago pa man magsimulang magbilang ang COMELEC. We were losing long before campaign season, long before people even declared their intention to run. In fact, by the time we realized there was a slate we could all get behind, we had already lost. How? Let us count the ways.


Here’s a piece I wrote in 2011 on Kin Misa’s work, which I think now was ahead of its time, but what do I know, what do we know really, about life and death, rejection and struggle, except to try and make do, make from, make regardless of everything else that happens around us, until it is time to say no. Let it go.

Here’s to you Kin. Happy trails. — Ina. 

The end of the (art) world in Kin Misa’s online exhibit

There’s never reason to go online before seeing an exhibit as far as I’m concerned. This means being blown away by fantastic work when I least expect it, at the same time that it means coming across horrid exhibits that I travel two (or five) cities for. Always, I allow myself to be floored. Yes, that’s me living on the edge. But what of an exhibit that only happens online, for reasons that are about what’s real and concrete, and about creativity and imagination? What happens when an exhibit rejects my notion(s) of art spectatorship, as it rejects the usual audience, doesn’t get the standard patrons, won’t follow the rules — spoken and otherwise — for art and exhibition in this country? What happens is rust and color by multimedia artist Kin Misa.  (more…)

Were we cheated in this elections? I don’t know. Are these elections credible? Not at all.

It’s not even just the results. It’s the irregularities we have heard and / or experienced, it’s the reports of broken down vote counting machines and faulty SD cards, and reports of voters’ receipts coming out with names they didn’t shade on their ballots, it’s the massive vote-buying on the ground that the police admitted to before election day.

But I think what makes this election incredible is not just what happened on the ground (and what was happening long before campaign period — we’ll get to that in another essay). It’s what happened when the precincts closed, and our votes were to be counted, transmitted from the vote counting machines all over the country to the COMELEC server and the transparency server in Manila. (more…)

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.  


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…)