Thinking Pinoy: 2 Friends talk about BBM Supporters and the Romanticization of Martial Law

May 22, 2016

2 Friends talk about BBM Supporters and the Romanticization of Martial Law

Is the resurgence of Marcos supporters attributable to the fact that most of us are children of the lumpenproletariat? Can we immediately expect someone to join a cause that he cannot relate to?

TP asked JC to read TP’s “Quantifying Discontent: An Analysis of the Bongbong Marcos Phenomenon” and tell TP her thoughts about it. Both TP and JC are staunchly Anti-marcos but instead of outrightly proselytizing against the Marcoses, they are first trying to listen to the “other side”.

TP: I am amazed doon sa thread ko about the BBM phenomenon. Some of the Marcos supporters are not as bat-shit crazy as I initially thought.

JC: Nice to know. Although as far as I know, the living conditions during the early 80's were not as peachy as they would like to paint [GMA]. Oh well.

TP: Yes, pero kasi ang tanong ay makakaramdam ka lang ng "lack" if you have a point of comparison. Hindi ka maiinggit kung wala kang kaiinggitan. You get what I mean?

JC: Yes. I actually appreciated the article. Very sober and fair.

TP: In the article, I didn't really say things got worse, but that things remained the same. Things technical got worse, but only marginally, so it’s safe to conclude that things remained the same. Particularly, income distribution is same, so parang if the GINI index gauges "mass inggit" then there it is. (Note na wala pang GINI index for 2015).

JC: Agree. I guess as far as I'm concerned, however, I feel the improvement because there seems to be a ride in the number of the middle class [Philstar] plus the fact that working abroad is no longer the only option for decent source of income.

TP: Rise of the middle class? Yeah, I will agree that the middle class is getting bigger thanks to BPO and OFW remittances, but the question lang ay “at what cost?” In your case, I can attribute it mainly to OFW remittances because your parents were OFWs so generally, you can consider yourself an exception.

Kasi, OFW money gave you a nitro boost kumbaga. Does that make sense? Ako kasi, Pre-Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) Money gave me the boost, because my parents benefited from the deluge of money before the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis [PBS].

JC: True. Pero issue pa rin sa family namin na we had to grow up away from our parents.

TP: Yes, that’s the cost you had to pay. In your family’s case, yun ung sagot sa “At what cost?”, pero how about mainstream Pinoys who never had the opportunity? Yung mga tipong economically forced to stay within the borders or were too scared or were too insufficiently educated to take risks? That comprises the majority of Filipinos. That group includes my parents and grandparents.

JC: Yes. I can see why they're prone to that thinking.

TP: Thats what I am trying to understand. Pero yung thread sa TP is interesting. Basically, most of the pro-BBMs’ stance is “If you were apolitical in Marcos Era, you're fine.” Now, we can argue all day about importance of activism and all but two things remain. First, most people are apolitical until recently, i.e. they didn't give a shit about politics until this election season came along. Second, most martial law victims are major political dissenters. So I felt like I found “the divide”, i.e. most Pinoys are apolitical while Martial Law victims became victims basically because they were not apolitical.
Tingnan mo lang yung sinabi nung isa kong reader:
Hi TP, I was a preschooler when Martial Law was declared. I lived in Manila for almost 28 years. My family were so poor those days we never had the time to think about martial law, the Marcoses and politics. We spent our time and efforts earning a living, working so hard up to midnight in the streets of Divisoria and Mendiola. I never experienced any of those "cruelties". On the contrary, I felt safer then. No rugby boys, no riding in tandem, or maybe massacre in a residential area? We were, I would say quiet people.

I was a "batang kalye". I frequented the area of Sampaloc and Mendiola. My school years were spent in these places. So I really don't understand why some Filipinos would try to "force" us to believe bad things about that Martial Law. Some even say "we are ignorant"! Is it our fault if nothing of those "atrocities" happened to us?

So how do you know or validate if Marcos was really at fault for all those things? He had lots of cronies, that even served the different administrations after him. Some of the business tycoons got rich because of him.

Can you please tell me the profile of the Martial Law victims? 
Basically, what I am saying is you can't immediately expect someone to join a cause that he cannot relate to.

JC: Yes. Plus, painting the Marcoses as the polar opposite of a now heavily criticized Aquino administration helped the revisionism.

TP: Yes, that is the shit. Kasi if the Yellows mess up bad, people will look for the opposite of Yellow. Now that the Cojuangcos successfully painted Marcoses as their opposites, ayan na nga ang BBM movement. Yes, “mess up bad” is a very relative term, pero "things not changing for the better" since 1985 can be categorized as "mess up bad".

JC: True. In all honesty, I was neutral/contemptuous of Noynoy until I felt some improvement in our lifestyle.

Media has always portrayed the Martial Law Era as a battle of Good (Cojuangco-Aquino) vs Evil (Marcos), but what happens when the Cojuangco-Aquinos mess up so bad?

TP: Lucky you, pero have you discounted other explanations? Kasi, hindi kaya bifurcative yung attribution mo? I mean, was the improvement in quality of life mainly attributable to Aquino admin, or can it be sufficiently explained by a variable that has nothing to do with Aquino management?
BRIEF: A Bifurcation Fallacy [Fullerton] happens when one immediately argues that a subset of all possible explanations is the actual explanation for a certain event. For example, I ate day-old spaghetti and drank an expired milkshake yesterday, then I got diarrhea. I commit bifurcation when I say that I got diarrhea solely because of the spaghetti, when in fact, the milkshake could have explained it too.
JC: I still believe that life has improved for a lot of people since the 80's. But it hasn't trickled down to more people.

TP: Darling, Life has improved a lot. Just look at life expectancy. Filipinos are living longer [UN]. Kaya lang kasi, my point is “Has mass society discontentment decreased?”

JC: Like you said, humans are naturally insatiable.

TP: Apparently, the bottom 10% holds an even smaller proportion of the nation's wealth in 2015 than in 1985. The poor are poorer, marginally poorer, but still poorer [TP: BBM Phenomenon].

JC: Ang hirap kasi ng comparison... The 10% of the population back then is a different number to the 10% of today.

TP: We are talking about proportions, so I don’t get the purported difficulty in comparison.

JC: And no, I do not attribute everything to the Aquino admin. But you can't deny that it has helped. Plus, definition of poverty then and now.

TP: Ayan mam ha, take a look at the table below:

We can see that poorest 10% of Pinoys in 1985 holds 2.77% of GDP. In 2012, they hold 2.45. Meanwhile, the richest 10% got 2% more than what they got in 1985. Yes, the numbers are marginal, but it means greater inequality at worst, zero significant change at best.

JC: Meaning?

TP: Meaning the bottom 10% still feel that they are not at pace with the rest, hence the discontent.

Ganito yan, imagine mo lang na nililibre ka ng 8-slice pizza ng barkada every day since 1985. Tapos dalawa tayo sa barkada. Since 1985, ang hatian ay 7 slices for me, 1 for you.

Let’s zoom to 2015. kahit lumaki na ang diameter ng pizza, alam mong 1 slice ka pa rin, and then and then yung nanlilibre tells you, “Matuwa ka na dyan kahit hindi patas ang hatian!”

Oh, e paano ka niyan hindi maaasar?

JC: I see your point. But the pizza diameter has increased. Shet gusto ko ng pizza.

TP: Oo nga, nagutom ako bigla. Pero yes it has increased obvious naman yan, pero yung discontentment levels did not. Kasi when I am a head of household, I evaluate my standard of living based on other heads of households na kapitbahay ko ngayon, not based on people from 30 years ago.

JC: I can't argue against that. I can agree that the discontent is valid.

TP: Ok so kunwari ok na tayo sa discontentment. Ngayon, paano sosolusyonan yon sa 2016 Elections? Given the political choices noong May 2016, we had only two options: (1) Radical Change and (2) Continuity.

Walang ibang choices e, in the sense that Poe, Roxas, and Binay are all Cojuangco-backed, i.e. Cojuangco ang power-behind-the-throne sa tatlong yan. We can argue about the nuances of each of the three, but for the masses, that is what they see, kasi ang messaging ng tatlo sa campaign period never attempted to insinuate na “Oi di kami tuta ng Cojuangco!”

This image was one of the most-shared and most-liked posts in ThinkingPinoy. Artwork courtesy of Leovegildo Bautista.

JC: While the alleged Arroyo-backed non-Cojuangco candidate offers a better alternative

TP: Fine. For now, let's assume Duterte is Arroyo-backed, even if arroyo actually backed Binay [Rappler].

JC: Wait, I am confused... What are we discussing here?

TP: We are trying to understand how the masa thinks so I am refining the question.

JC: Ok.

TP: Pinoys are made to choose between (1) another Cojuangco-backed regime that will pretty much assure everyone that things stay the same, or (2) a potentially Arroyo-backed regime that has no certainty of change, but there’s at least a slim chance of it happening.
Ang point… “anything but the status quo” ang peg ng masa, at best. E what is anything but the status quo? Radical Change. Walang nag-offer ng mas vanilla na solution e. Si Poe, puro puso lang pero walang malinaw na direksyon, so hindi bebenta ang brand niya ng change.

JC: Yes. I have accepted that.

TP: So feeling ko, abstraction is not the strongest suit of members of mass society, i.e. they find it hard to envision a sufficiently near future with a totally new power structure, so the best solution they can see is to go back to the past before the Cojuangcos happened, i.e. the Marcos Era, because it's what they remember best.

JC: And romanticize.

TP: Possibly or Exactly. Ayon ka na rin lang sa back to the 80s peg, karirin mo na rin ang pagromanticize ng 80s via confirmation bias [Nickerson 1998]. 

BRIEFConfirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to errors . In the case of BBM, it's the preconception that we were better off in the past.

JC: Hay... Sad, but true. I can honestly understand and maybe even sympathize with the masses who need to hold on to a vision of better living conditions compared to those of today. Haller? I Iove historical romance novels.

TP: Kasi, alam mo, minus Martial Law Education, my parents and even my grandparents, do not have personal, first-hand anecdotes about Martial Law abuses. I could have actually been part of the apathetic masses, until I joined the Philippine quasi-intellectual elite via UP Diliman. Gets mo konek? Note the term quasi, i.e. nagfi-feeling na intellectual.

JC: But the privileged few who have had access to “proper education and lifestyles”, glorifying the martial law days and glossing over the human rights violations, di ko talaga kaya, those are the people I've blocked. As for the masses, I think it may be understandable.TP: Well, to be honest, at the moment, hindi ko kayang tanggapin sa sarili ko na ok ang martial law e. However, we need to initiate dialogue. To do that, we have to reframe the discussion. Instead of the hardline good-vs-evil ang peg, dapat empathy from both sides ang guiding light, especially since much of socially-aware mass society are like me, who is a child of the Lumpenproletariat [Worsely 1972]. The approach should be like, “Ok, kami lang ang victim, pero here are X reasons why you should sympathize with us.”
BRIEF: Lumpenproletariat is the layer of the working class that is unlikely ever to achieve class consciousness and perhaps even an impediment to the realization of a classless society [Cowling 2002].

JC: Those who have resources to educate themselves, no. Some of them are so whiny and entitled.

TP: Bakla, classic Kübler-Ross model. Yung mga whiny and entitled, nasa denial stage pa mga ‘yon. Give them time. Political discourse is new para sa masa.
The Kubler-Ross Model

BRIEF: The Kübler-Ross model postulates a series of emotions experienced by survivors of an intimate's death, wherein the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance [Sanchez 2007]. In BBM’s context, it’s the death of a long-held belief.

JC: Sorry. Maybe after a month. Nag-init na naman ulo ko kagabi dahil sa mga ‘yan.

TP: Oo sige lang kasi pati ikaw denial stage pa rin lol, o baka anger na. In fairness umuusad ka na.

JC: Haha. Denial o anger regarding what?

TP: Your frustration over the incongruence of your views with those of your facebook friends.

JC: Ah, dedma na muna. Ang dami ko pa ginagawa e

TP: Sige lang baks. Go lang ng go. (ThinkingPinoy)

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