Editors Note: This editorial was published last January 28, 2018. With the resignation of the controversial Communications Assistant Secretary, the issues raised herein may have since remained relevant and worth our thoughts.
The calling out of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson due to her acceptance of the UST (University of Sto. Tomas) alumni award got President Duterte’s detractors falling over themselves over the opportunity to pour more hate against her—a person they accuse of spreading fake news and, ergo, is undeserving of the Palace position.
The UST Varsitarian’s rabid condemnation of her generated a climate of abhorrence across the campus. This is just about as blistering as the “Mochang tanga” spoof of the Ateneo de Manila University’s The Guidon.
Her “gaffe” at her description of Mayon Volcano as being near Naga City only added fuel to the fire.
One would think that by now, her reputation is in tatters.
But, as things happen too fast in today’s social media world, the people react to news they read, and react to the reactions of reactors.
The responses to those berating Ms. Uson, mostly from the country’s intellectual and literary elite, reveal that vitriol cuts both ways. One person’s response is met by another’s counter-response. Having been programmed to think that only THEY are entitled to an opinion, they are now surprised that there are, in fact, those who respond to their hatred.
The fact is, about 90% of Filipinos do not think like them. That’s the majority, if you can’t do the math.
If there is one thing these Filipinos do not like, it is to be berated and shamed. Centuries of direct colonial rule, and a century of residual colonial mentality have bred in us the disdain for ruling elites, and a love for the underdog. We love the little train that could, and identify with the oppressed in telenovelas. This is because the sense of disempowerment and prejudice run in our subconscious.
Like Rodrigo Duterte, Mocha Uson has emerged as the underdog being bullied by the elite. The stronger the hatred from the elite, the more they are endeared, to, well, the majority.
This all becomes relevant when one looks at the changing power relations between the masses and elite in this country. The rise of social media has birthed an explosion of narratives to challenge "dominant" ones often apparent in mainstream media.
And one emerging narrative is that the 90% no longer feels ashamed of who they are, despite their often tawdry clothes and imperfections. The Everyperson has risen. And Mocha Uson, with all her limitations, is one of them.