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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ombion: Political Satire as a Social Weapon

THERE used to be a joke in the progressive political circles and religious institutions that says if the Americans are known for their efficiency, Chinese for patience and resiliency, Russians for determination, Vietnamese for courage, the Filipinos are simply great for their humor.

The Filipinos find power in humor; used it both as a defense to ease their sufferings from poverty, and a tool to face oppression and exploitation by the powers that be.

In the struggle against the Marcos regime, Filipino humor finds a good channel in the political satire popularized by politically conscious Filipino educators, writers, artists and leaders wanting to rally the people against the ruling regime.

The use of political satire has contributed much to breaking the climate of terror imposed by the Marcos regime. It was a creative way of educating, organizing and mobilizing people to concerted actions.

In broadcast dramas, television shows, cultural plays, street theatres, newspapers, political satire was very effective in demonizing the regime, or certain key political figures identified with the regime's core, and as well as sending political action messages to the victims of the regime.

Political satire as a social weapon became an integral component of the progressive movement; in many cases it provided the militant and confrontational character of the movement appeared lighter to both its friends and foes.

Some alternative newspapers and sectoral publications, including underground ones, adapted political satire as important element in their choice of form and content.

In the post Marcos era, especially during the Cory Aquino and Ramos regimes, political satire continued as important element in the cultural and propaganda movement, including mainstream media practitioners and artists.

One such example was the 'Pugad Baboy' comic strip of Filipino cartoonist Pol Medina which became so popular among ordinary folk since the ’80s.
'Pugad Baboy' which literally means "swine's nest" showcase domestic life of Filipinos involving drama, adventures and tragedies.

Oftentimes, it touches on general sentiments of the people against crooks and tyrants, and occasionally spoofs on the regime, government leaders and politicians, even showbiz personalities and social "usiseros" in controversies.

Medina's choice of distorted yet popular characters like the Sungcal family, the Polgas, the Sabaybunots, the Lamouns, among others, made it easy for Filipinos to personalize the issues and link them to their own sufferings and struggles.

'Pugad Baboy' is a typical form of political satire which made Medina both an entertaining and disturbing figure for the social elites and the status quo.

Another was the Sic O Clock News, an evening TV show in the post EDSA ’80s to early ’90s. Led by the late progressive comedian Rene Requistas, it caused political waves on the grounds and in the corridors of power because of its satirical commentaries against the status quo.

Some other TV shows and reportorial messages in recent years, occasionally use political satire to get their political messages to both the state and non-state forces, the rich and the poor, the young and old.

Political satire, or one that makes people laugh on their miseries even as they continue to wage struggles for social reforms and change, will continue to play an important role in the shaping of our national consciousness, of decolonizing our mindset and lifestyles, of persuading every one of us to fight for a better future.

Today our country is beset by the same old fundamental problems that remain unsolved and turn our people to be more apathetic.

Some sectors tend to become grim towards same issues and are not easily moved to actions. They seem to be politically tired and confused. They prefer to wait for "end game scenario".

For this, the use of political satire can just make them laugh over their problems, and in the process find themselves already drawn to collective actions.

In today's environment with the rapid growth of internet, websites, social media, online magazines, blogs -- political satire can easily become viral especially when it adopts to new forms and dimensions of consciousness development.

What makes a political satire attractive to all classes and sectors is its ability to make people laugh over their load of problems.

When people begin to laugh, their heart beats faster, their horizon for change is widened, and their energies are fueled to make social actions.

Political satire or its like form, will easily make issues of crooks, corruption, pork scam, poor leadership, wages freeze, poor services, soaring prices of basic commodities, privatization of strategic state utilities, Philippine government puppetry to imperialist powers, and what have they—more laughable and enjoyable to listen, simpler to understand, less threatening to the apathetic, and exciting to act upon.

There could be more creative educative and propaganda forms. The bottomline is, let's value Filipino humor as a social weapon for collective actions for change.
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