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Our choices and their consequences

/ 12:15 AM May 15, 2022
The author (right) on the set of one of his films

The author (right) on the set of one of his films

All strings have been pulled to get sympathy from voters. Propaganda, truths and fabrications have been pushed upon us online and elsewhere, with the film and entertainment industry also having been employed in the elections. Now that the votes have been cast, we must live according to the consequences of our choices.

This time around, politics and entertainment have been tied to each other more than ever. Those in the film industry became actively involved and outspoken about the color they favored. But the election results are in, whether there was fraud or not. Complaints are being raised, as other losing camps have done in the past.

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We have seen how politics can destroy even the strongest ties—families and friendships have been broken because of politicians, even when many of them offered no guarantee of being able to fulfill their promises.

Artists traded barbs, people got angry, and after all that’s been said and done, you don’t really know how to undo the damage done or how to pick up the pieces.

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Instead of uniting us, these events and personalities have somehow cut us from each other; Filipinos mark each other as pro- or against their favored politician, as if a person should be judged by this alone, though our preferences reflect a side of us.

We are an emotional people, easily swayed by what we feel—and we make decisions based on this, for good or for evil. We are seduced by appearances and impassioned talk that many become fanatics.

Reality

Certainly, there were times when I became a fanatic myself. We fight for those who seem to represent us, even though the truth is that, at the end of the day, many of them eat with silver forks while their believers live in a hand-to-mouth existence. We believe we know them, so sure that our feelings tell us the truth—but this only shields our eyes from the facts before us.

The elections made me think about the difference between mainstream and independent filmmaking. When I started making alternative films and had some success, some people were happy for me—or at least that’s what I thought. And it felt good.

But when you think of it, they make up just a very small percentage of people—for no matter what I do, whatever recognition my films may have received, it isn’t mainstream … just an “alternative” choice. And I have come to terms with this.

This is similar to the campaign period and the election results. A candidate may feel good that those around them support them and are actually happy for them—but some are not. You assume they understand you and your purpose, but in reality, that’s just a small group behind you—not the masses, not the people who feel, think and suffer differently, and just wish to escape.

You may offer them something more real, but few of them want that. It’s possible that some even want to be deceived, maybe because living in a dream-like state is more comfortable and does not cause pain.

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It may be that the most vocal are those who happen to be in the upper or more comfortable classes. But the film and entertainment industry, though probably the noisiest and most noticeable politically, is just a small group among thousands. We may be everywhere, we may show the lives of our people, but we are not the whole Philippines. There are things we cannot see, and sensibilities we aren’t attuned to.

Choices

From a place of comfort, it’s possible that many of us do not perceive that there are still Filipinos who have no electricity or access to basic services; people who are hoping for a change, even when they do not sufficiently know the truth or understand what kind of change their choices will bring upon them.

Can the masses—or the majority—be blamed for their choices? People choose according to what they’ve been taught, or what they think they know—and God knows it isn’t in the best interest of some politicians to invest in uplifting the people financially and intellectually, or to have highly educated citizens.

The corrupt would prefer many Filipinos to be reliant on them and not be able to think for themselves, to just sit watching videos on social media and wait for the fulfillment of the promises of the leaders and clans they’ve been programmed to admire.

An educated nation will try to choose the lesser evil, and will probably not be swayed by constant deception. It must be accepted, however, that the majority of Filipinos voted the way they wanted to.

You can teach people to love or choose differently, but change does not come overnight. I do not want to be a pessimist, but speaking for myself, I know that it’s difficult to even change ourselves. It would take years, discipline and consistent effort to become better than before.

As to making sweeping changes—that might take a miracle, and events like the Edsa Revolution only happen once in, say, 50 years. And when you think of it, we can keep replacing leaders, but the problem lies not just in the national government; it pervades cities, towns, barangays and families in a cycle that is difficult to stop.

The result of the election is divisive, and we’ll hear the “I told you sos,” but it’s easy to talk after the fact. Still, I guess, we’ve had small victories, and we must be content with that, for now. That a big percentage of Filipinos has participated in the polls means more people have become aware—not exactly of what is right or what their duty is when they vote, but that they have the power to change things.

If sports or entertainment personalities have landed seats in the government, expectations may not be high, but perhaps it’s the output that matters. Educated and not-too-educated politicians and clans have led our institutions for decades, but our country has remained in the state that it is.

For the entertainment and film industry, I wish that after all the services many of us have rendered in the elections, those who have been elected will acknowledge our needs, because we are among the first they see when they plan to campaign for office.

Though we have been failed many times, we cling to the hope that each election would spark a change for the better; that our country would be able to rise on foundations not built on corruption and lies; that elected officials would look upon our people with genuine compassion, or be moved to action.

We cannot always expect those in power to work for us, but we can work on ourselves. It is important to reflect on what we have become. This is where we are right now. But several elections from now, where will our choices take us?

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