Velez: Small things and other matters

THE debate on the presidential granddaughter’s pre-debut photoshoot in Malacañang prompted one newspaper editorial to point out how such “petty” matter has divided us.

“While relatively insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, all of these incidents show a quality that is lacking on our political stage,” this editorial writes.

This editorial raises a valid point. Amidst the many issues, from Martial Law extension to the looming price increases expected next year with the new tax reform, how come we have settle to such an issue to divide us?

But perhaps, this is a reflection about the fault of our culture and politics, dominated more by hate and non-issues. More pointedly, this editorial points that the fault is perpetrated from the top.

For instance, we have long been assaulted and drowned by fake news that feed on words of the acid-tongue president that divide us. Any good intention or advocacy or discourse from the Left, from NGOs, from the religious gets to be bashed and branded. How in God’s name has defending human rights, protecting Lumads and urban poor become a “dilawan” or a destabilization issue. This is how the pro-Duterte flock attacks such good intentions by throwing doubt and vitriol.

While fake news is primarily at fault, there is also the shortcomings of the corporate media, who focus more on the traditional sources in government and the military, and the controversial and the trivial, that the voices of the poor are not given much space or weight.

For instance, we see how media personalities bash jeepney strikers and the urban poor for defending their rights, or how they throw doubts on why Lumad students are articulate. They all miss the issue that the media should be the watchdog on the government because of the state of the poor.

Another problem is how our educational institutions are late in becoming aware of how passive, apathetic or disoriented the current education is becoming. It used to be that schools place value on youths becoming critical and independent minded. But the state of education now is more attuned to produce young people to follow rules and choose career paths based on academic achievements. The focus is more on the individual rather than society.

These factors contribute to a population that seems confused, easily taking down information without context and discernment. Perhaps these are machinations that benefit a system where the population is passive, and a populist leader who would throw words of misinformation, fear and bias to a propaganda army to chew on.

But we go back to the question, why focus on such small or petty things like a seemingly harmless debut photo shoot? Is it the flaunting of sparkling gowns and jewelry that are expensive? Is it the grandiosity amidst the hardships and the deaths of young people?

Or perhaps given that legitimate concerns and issues are pushed to the margins through bullying, and the first family displays a certain happiness in these times of divisiveness, such small matters could spark something. Just remember Marie Antoinette.

*****

(tyvelez@gmail.com)
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