I've been spewing negativity on social media since last night; sorry about that. I'll take just one more opportunity to speak my mind before I go off the grid for the rest of the week to cool down. I can do better than to let my emotions rule over me.
The results of the election have been disappointing, to say the least. It has been proven time and time again that in this country, popularity, name recall, and charisma trump integrity, intellect, and action. This comes as no surprise, but it has never been less frustrating. It's convenient to call the 30+ million who voted for the winning candidate idiots, but to go that far wouldn't make me any different from the hordes of fanatics who have been taunting Leni supporters since last night. Some of them may have good reasons to vote as they did, and while I do not agree with them, I respect them. And even if most of them voted as they did out of petty reasons such as name recall, winnability, regionalism, and deference to elders, to name a few, it would be unbiblical and reprehensible to call them fools. Everyone has a voice and a story, and deserves to be heard.
In my opinion, the greatest threat to the Philippines is not another dictator, incompetent leadership, growing debt, or the loss of foreign investment; it's Filipinos themselves. For decades we have nurtured a culture of patronage that has bred corruption, impunity, injustice, and mendicancy. Many of us, in one way or another, have weaponized the seemingly noble concept of "utang na loob" to keep others beholden to us. In keeping with humanity's lack of a penchant for critical thought in recent years, we have chosen to be oblivious to gaslighting and manipulation and relish in entertainment that numbs us further. We have relished in a culture that glorified poverty more than it inspired anyone to work for (or even dream of) a better life. But that's not the worst part; despite recognizing these toxic aspects of our culture, which brought us to where we are now, we are conveniently fatalistic on the subject of changing it for the better. "Nakaugalian na yan, di na natin mababago yan," (That's the way it is, there's nothing we can do) we often tell ourselves.
If your chosen candidates won, congratulations. You have every right to celebrate; just don't be a (forgive me) dick about it. Always remember that you do not owe them; they owe you.
And for those of you who are just as pissed, if not more so, as I am, give yourselves time to grieve. But after all the grief, after we've all cooled down, we should direct our energies to fostering a change of culture. To say that it's an uphill battle is an understatement; I reckon it'll take at least two generations and the most ruthless information campaign this country has ever seen to make it happen, but a little progress is better than no progress at all. Culture is no sacred cow. It's a human construct, and just as it takes humans to create it, it also takes humans to change it.
Thoughts of emigrating have been flooding my mind all night, but even if I do, I still look forward to retiring to a better country with a more promising future than the one I leave.
Cover: Patrick Ilao via Unsplash