For some of the people I know, it seems like someone has died. I had to shake off my own lamentations to realize that there have been others who have worked tirelessly on Leni’s campaign and placed all their hopes on the will of the Philippine voter aligning with their vision of what is right. This is a loss indeed for the side we know as Yellow. The election of Bong Bong Marcos indicates a repudiation of the ideas embodied in the EDSA Revolution, a moment that I watched in awe as a child-exile. For me, It will always represent the best moment in Philippine history. Since it lingers mostly in my imagination, it is filled with screams of joy and fireflies and the buzz of pride in being Filipino. How could the country forget? How? How?
I am hearing from “my side” and they all seem to be pointing to the same factors: a strangely high-end vote count, an unusually fast time to count results, a young voter population with no memory of EDSA, poverty, poor education…that sums it up. What they probably don’t get is that the 30-year party that followed EDSA excluded a lot of people. Power reverted to a basket of the old oligarchs, assets were returned to them, and they continued to run the country like the exclusive club that they were. They were exclusionists. And those who voted for BBM got nothing out of them.
It is also clear that camp BBM took a page right out of the US Democrat playbook. That is, they politicized teachers, involving them in polls and probably, starting six years back, encouraging them to teach students a different history about the Marcos family. Sound familiar? In the United States, politicized teachers our youth into a liberal path that some outgrow as the enter the real world. In the Philippines, employing teachers in furthering a political agenda could be even more powerful given that the population is so young.
To the many people going through a lot of pain at this moment, after you’ve processed this defeat and shed tears, in a few months or a day or a year, I implore you to do this one thing: do not cancel the other side. You can dislike BBM all you want. Those at the top need critics. But, if BBM is going to be around for a while, cancelling the BBM supporters will only serve to isolate you and your follow-on generations. I know because this is what happened to me. When I was a child, my father, understandably traumatized by five years in political prison, demanded that my brother and I not associate with his enemies–and he put a lot of people on that list. We grew up during the height of the Marcos dominance of the Philippines, in exile in the United States. As a result, our exposure to Filipinos was limited and we became Americans. Don’t repeat that error. I see from Facebook comments that people are considering this path. However, for your own relevance and the relevance of the next generation, who will probably have to continue this fight, don’t give the silent treatment to Filipinos who don’t agree with you.
The future has changed substantially. A Marcos-controlled Philippines may last decades. The efforts to undo the power BBM has just gained may be enormous compared with the successes realized. Resorting to cancel culture is not an effective way to fight this. We are all still Filipinos and we need to keep an ongoing dialogue with people of all political leanings in order to keep our arguments relevant. Just like what happened to me as a child, in cancelling the other side, you may only serve to cancel yourself.
Hang tight. It cannot stay cloudy forever.