The endlessly growing curiosity within me has brought me into this endless journey of learning. The willingness to learn – which roots from the acknowledgment of the necessity of inquiry for the progress of human thought – has led me into the continuous immersion to stimuli, seeing the world for myself with both eyes, hearing the voicing thoughts with both ears and touching the reality with both hands. The tremendous drive lead into squirming seats and jittery legs for the compelling desire to see the world does not permit the individual to sit still and content himself with social media and with the seemingly easy access to knowledge.
The algorithms of social media which pander the regressive cause of political correctness and the pre-existing prejudices within ourselves serve as filters that limit us into seeing only the partiality of the world made from our convenience and the projections that originate from the perspectives handed out by others which we accept.
Wanting to see the world and the countless stories that unfold everyday in order to connect with the people, the journeys that I have done have been enlightening as the dynamics of humanity constantly upsets the pre-existing notions that I was upholding.
Those journeys have brought realizations that public opinion has become a matter of perception on how an individual assumes the people in his community as the claims on the consensus of public opinion have become rhetoric that led to nowhere, as one delusional iron butterfly has once said: perception is real while the truth is not.
The rifts that I saw that separated the projected public opinion (from social media) from the actual opinions that I have extracted and derived from countless interviews and conversations with the people that I knew from my journeys have unraveled the fragmentation of society and the divisiveness that ensued.
That divisiveness seems irreconcilable as the stubbornness and aversion towards confrontations prevent bridges from connecting across. The bridges are often sabotaged by personal pride. That stubborn pride produces a string of misuse of some of the familiar human states. Obedience is erroneously equated with mindless submission. Optimism is maligned into being equated with the inability to accept realities. Humility becomes a rhetorical tool of accusation for someone being schooled with facts. With such misaligned and pretentions on the societal values, reconciliation back to the adherence to the truth was constantly sabotaged.
To dodge through saboteurs in the pursuit for the truth, I took the tedious detour by embarking into various journeys, sometimes using public transportation, and sometimes on board my bicycle. It is with those journeys that I learned how rampant is the political ignorance which led into the election of the roster of buffoons last year. It is with those journeys that I sadly learned how unaware the people are with the institutions that arose from their mandate, leading them to be prone to abuse and manipulation by the exploitative politicians.
That particular journey that I embarked on exactly 10 days ago was my attempt on an exodus to the north as the National Capital Region was locked down due to the pandemic becoming full-blown as a result of the government’s ineptitude and incompetence with their leniency and indifference against pleas for preventative measures which rang unheard for 6 weeks.
The sane journey is what led me into being stranded in this mountain barangay of Pintong Bukawe in San Mateo, Rizal.
The brewing worries that built up a week ago have encountered their dissipation as the tranquility and serenity has soothed the soul that finally adapted to the remote conditions of the settlement deep within the Sierra Madre mountains of Rizal.
However, another thing has begun to brew within the restless mind that is being plagued by worries that are caused by the turmoil within politics which proved to be integral to humanity and society.
Let’s face it: everything is political. Politics encompasses the choices that we make, the manner we interact or choose to not interact with various people, the manner we treat people…everything… even on how parents raise their children: whether for their kids self-fulfillment or for their own self-fulfillment…even on how it became customary for the youth to act as if they are the retirement plan of the generation that preceded them… even on how older people shushed the ones younger than them on the basis of seniority, not on the merit of reason…even on how a girlfriend or boyfriend manipulates the other to their advantage…even on how people change narratives to their benefit…and even how some people who are admittedly politically ignorant discourage others from political participation in order to hide their naivete.
The main reason perhaps – on the lack of realization on distinguishing politics for what it is – is a matter of threshold of degree on expanse on which a person will recognize that it is politics.
Politics is the art of government. Whether it is the way how you manage your own schedule and routine or the way how the government manage a populace with its policies, that is still politics.
Politics is conflict and cooperation. Whether you had a verbal spat with your neighbor, or had a dispute over a land, that is still politics. Whether the government asserts its rights over a distant shoal or has altercations with some foreign diplomat who made inappropriate remarks, that is still politics. Whether the whole neighborhood prepares for a fiesta or the government decides with the land-grabbing superpower to explore the land that was just grabbed, that too is still politics.
Politics is consensus and compromise. Whether a whole class agree upon where they will be going for their field trip or Congress voting in favor of a bill, that is politics. Whether it is a lover sacrificing his own feelings in order to make the person that he loved happy or a country relinquishing its sovereign rights over a whole sea to prevent exposes, that too is politics.
Politics is power and authority. Whether it is you complying to your parents’ curfew or you deciding not to pee on some pole because of some city ordinance, that too is politics.
Politics is an all-encompassing aspect. It has dynamics. It has machinations. It exerts influence in our daily lives. Those that reduce the complexities to simplifications as mere “politics” only admit their ignorance towards politics in general.
Politics, involving power and authority, has the more precarious and subtle undertones. Most of the people preach non-participation to what they conceived as “politics” for that reason of either wanting to have a fellow sheep in the herd of mindless docility or not wanting to have competitors or challengers in the influence and power that they give.
“Sumunod na lang kayo [Just comply].” “Huwag na kayong kumontra [Don’t dissent].” You will often hear that, apart from the incompetent public officials, from the religious preachers, particular that rambling idiot who named his sect after the old ways. That idiot, extending his pretentions on the Bible to politics, society, and government, thinks that raising his voice equates to raising a valid point. A man – who attempts to debunk the expansion of the universe by saying that the moon and the sun should be moving away too if that was “true” (He hasn’t heard of relativity. I guess.) – is in no right to be heard of when the topic involves politics and government. His “sumunod na lang kayo”, along with his hostility towards those who dare to question him, is really just his call to submit to his authority, in the pretention that he represents the Supreme Being.
Such exertion of influence of the religious preachers is reminiscent of that of the Spanish Friars back when the Philippines was still Spain’s colony. It was seemingly an influence and authority that no one can defy. It was seemingly an injustice that no one can overcome and a silence that no one can break, if not only for our forefathers like Rizal, Bonifacio, Aguinaldo, Mabini, Jacinto, and many others, who defied the orders of “Sumunod na lang kayo”, broke the silence and voiced out against the injustices.
Their acts of defiance have defined what a Filipino spirit is. Their criticisms did not equate to non-cooperation to initiatives meant for the common good, as what a modern-day fanatic would think. They demanded more of their leaders while contributing with the adherence to the universal principles of freedom and education. There will be no independent Philippines if not for their criticisms and acts of defiance. If some people are trying to dissuade following such examples of critical thinking, then they shouldn’t be considered as Filipinos. Rather, they should be still regarded as indios, ever docile and ever mindless.
Sadly, even though Rizal and Bonifacio did their part, nothing much changed in society, due to the irony of a society with lots of dynamics within it is not much dynamic in its entirety. It is mainly due to the fact that the state, or government so to say, has the strength to penetrate societies but has the weakness in implementing changes in society. It is mainly due to the elite families, particularly in the provinces, which went unchecked of their powers after the colonizers, which regularly checked on them back then, left, forming a dynamic between the central government and those provincial elites, weakening the institutions and bureaucracies in government while entrenching those families in power.
The dynamic culminated into a provincial elite carrying the societal values and policies from his bailiwick to the national government, leading to an authoritarian rule for over twenty years which crippled the Philippines. That elite, Marcos, has been the pinnacle of political warlordism on which Duterte, the current president, has been aiming to achieve, with him capitalizing on the pandemic to impose military rule and his ruse on using the pandemic to negotiate some special powers.
However, unlike Marcos, Duterte was not mainly elected explicitly due to the coalitions and endorsements among the provincial elites who ensured votes for presidentiables throughout the latter half of the previous century. He was rather elected through a wave of popularity that stemmed from the tall tells, the internet trolls, and the fake news that surround him. Hence, the provincial elites are not bound to him. To still force them into submission for some time, Duterte has used the drug war to terrorize and intimidate those provincial elites. However, his government’s incompetence which led to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines and his government’s move to pass the buck to the local governments ran by those provincial elites whom he wanted to be the scapegoats, have ticked those provincial elites off, resulting into a show of competence in governance and crisis-handling, more than Duterte would ever dream to be.
Although fuming at the government’s pronouncements and spins, I, who is still stranded in this remote barangay, am more than contented on how the local government here in handling the situation. They have even fetched my bicycle that I left in the neighboring barangay (which was in Antipolo). I finally got my hands again on the handles of the bicycle that brought me in this journey. However, as I brought my bicycle to the neighborhood where I was staying in, the alpha dog, Digong, who had traumas of bikes running over him according to his owner, began attacking my bike with such ferocity and contempt.
Maybe Digong hates me going into journeys after all.