Artwork by Lloyd Evangelista

To be a Young Filipino amid the Marcos Jr. Regime (Part 2: Beat Populist Demagoguery and Disinformation with Community-based Investigation)

We must uncover the truth; give it a heart that connects with the community, give it legs so it can walk to the next town; give it wings so it can travel across our islands; and give it hands so it can embrace and push each community to act for its fundamental rights to land, living wages, education, health care, and a higher quality of life.

Last of two parts. Read part 1

Launch Community-Driven Investigation Movements and Advance the struggle for social welfare and human rights

Given the dire situation, what can we do?

Recognizing the political and economic gravity of the situation, it is only one thing for us to make social media efforts in popularizing counter-state disinformation efforts. However, one thing we learned from the electoral campaign is that an information war is no longer just about releasing correct information, but in breaking through the echo chamber which undoubtedly requires the manpower and money to release consistently. These are resources which a regime concentrated on a family rich on ill-gotten wealth has more than enough head start.

Seen from this perspective, the prospect seems dire for both the coming years. But to one-sidedly end analysis in political despair is to not understand the gaps from which a real solution can arise. The only known answer is to focus on spreading awareness of the struggle against rumbling stomachs, the demolitions, the land grabs, the rising prices–all the “little events” happening all over the country which need to be documented, analyzed, and told the world over.

As we are still not far from Marcos's promises for his term, now more than ever is the time ripe to investigate and advocate for better programs, budget for social services, subsidies for food security, and job generation. We must actively put Marcos ability to keep his promises to the test. If we are able to enjoin the masses in their legitimate struggle for these things; they will see for themselves the lies and rabidity this regime is willing to go to retain their self-interest.

The challenge for us is to increase our fact-finding and disseminating capacity both in the popular and mass platforms, with weight on grassroot communities. All efforts to get likes, followers, win awards for progressive films and literature, to be interviewed in mainstream media, are decisive steps to seize space in the popular. But all of these must lead inevitably to going to the mass-level; to the very communities with concrete problems and people.

These can take on the form of modern mosquito press, community-based social media and journalism, mass organizations, community development efforts, social work efforts, writing guilds, coordinated sensing forms, and other forms of data gathering during this regime.

The concrete aims of such a movement are:

  1. To find out the concrete conditions of the People
  2. To find out their immediate demands
  3. To coordinate with other communities in turning these demands into policy change movements. It is through the struggle for righting historical wrongs and for these concrete and legitimate demands that not only could we win victories for the people, but the nature and operation of the state and the ruling clique becomes more manifest. We begin to see who funds the projects, how the military police will find ways to repress, etc.

We must advocate for students, scholars, media and cultural workers to go to communities and join their struggle to acquire basic necessities and human rights as not only their research subject matter, but as participants and stakeholders in the research outcomes. We should strongly advocate and create platforms and events where these outputs become part of information campaigns on both popular and local mass spaces.

But the most crucial is to make community-based circles for correct information to land, that cuts across echo chambers. This could be study groups, interest or advocacy groups, or community-based/driven media and literature. We should organize efforts for free screenings and distribution of progressive and empirically-correct media and literature on the community level, as well as printed newsletters where ordinary people can submit their feature stories and experiences.

Every strong and successful social movement began with a popularization of the analysis of conditions; then organized and mobilized the people based on the logical conclusions to move forward. History has shown us that in the process of investigating and organizing based on truth, the people become holistically aware of the nature of conflict in society, and find the spaces for which victories can be achieved. This gives us hope, for this means that in a regime of lies, political smokescreens, and mental gymnastics, only a mass movement organized on the truth can win.

Illustration by Leven Sangalang from Nolisoli article: How Disinformation is a Major Symptom of a Sick Democracy

Refine and Develop the most powerful weapon: Organization

But the search and dissemination of truth is not enough. We can no longer be complacent with having done expose’s and said our critiques of certain policies. We must uncover the truth; give it a heart that connects with the community, give it legs so it can walk to the next town; give it wings so it can travel across our islands; and give it hands so it can embrace and push each community to act for its fundamental rights to land, living wages, education, health care, and a higher quality of life. If the information we spread can report what it sees; and yet has no heart or limbs, then can we truly say we are spreading a living truth?

Speaking plainly, this means that our campaigns for truth must naturally result in bigger and better organizations. Even if the common people outnumber the elite, through their usage of an organized state apparatus, they are able to get what they want. The conclusion from this is we must take organizing seriously if we are to stand a chance against an organized neo-dictatorship of the elite.

It is in this context that we must remind ourselves of these:

  1. Get organized and unceasingly organize others, wherever we are, because organization is the chief tool of an oppressed people;
  2. Struggle for what is right, just, and good inside and outside our organizations. To continuously remold ourselves and help others in unlearning habits and perspectives which are harmful, for the seeds of a better way of life begin at the struggle for a better society, which is now;
  3. Boldly learn things outside our comfort zone, whether it be history, economics, organizing, research methods, agriculture, philosophy, basic engineering, graphic design, or interpersonal communication; because the people have problems which require skilled solutions. We must not let our formal education get in the way of what and how we can learn;
  4. Learn to trust and be humble with respect to the masses and our comrades while we individually build our strengths and skills to be dependable as well, because a true understanding of social struggle bears the fruit of tireless persuasion and service, not arrogance;
  5. Consciously check up on our comrades and the masses, because caring for others and organizing amid a world pushed to soul-crushing individualism has proven to be a radical tool for social change;
  6. Develop our perspective of hastening to contribute to the people’s victory, while having patience for people and things to develop; to avoid one-sidedly hastening or slacking by having a concrete and empirical view of the situation at all times;
  7. Never be satisfied with the way things are if there are more efficient ways to strengthen our unity and style of work as an organization/people.

Resolve All Weaknesses and Decisively Advance the Living truth

We cannot simply find solace in knowing that history points towards the defeat of reactionary rule. We must rekindle the mindset of the most trailblazing generations of Filipino youth who spent their youths trying to advance towards an emancipated society in their lifetimes. If we know we will win in end, then we must act to make this victory concrete immediately.

To uncover and spread the truth which empowers the masses to organize actions for a life where one can breathe freely without worry is our central task.

There will be sacrifices and hardships but behind us and standing with us are the youth from the First Quarter Storm Generation, youth activists after the Marcos Sr. years, and of course, a sea of Filipinos and working peoples the world over who continue to unite with our struggle for a better quality of life for peoples of all oppressed nations.

Our generation of anti-dictatorship Filipinos must vow to resolve all weaknesses, gather our strength, and decisively advance in an organized manner. Let us take a deep breath, muster our strength and prepare ourselves for what we should make out to be the last war against elite dictatorship.

Submitted by: Dylan Magto

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Institute for Nationalist Studies

Institute for Nationalist Studies

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The Institute advances ideas and information campaigns on social issues to ferment a nationalist consciousness for the interest of the people’s welfare