IF one looks objectively at developments in the past decade or so, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s (BBM) landslide victory — the first majority president in our history ever — was inevitable, although his own political acumen was also a major factor. These developments are as follows.
First, the Yellow elite-manipulated revolution has been a failure, and the masses have gradually realized that the Yellow forces that started with Cory Aquino’s regime have served only their class.
The last Yellow regime, that of Benigno Aquino 3rd demonstrated how rotten it was — in its incompetence (the loss of Scarborough Shoal and its belligerent stance toward China, the Mamasapano massacre, the colossal mishandling of the Super Typhoon Yolanda’s disaster), in its ruthless highhandedness (the removal of Chief Justice Corona and the persecution of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo), and in its corruption (mainly the hijacking of the budget through the Disbursement Allocation Program). After Aquino, to use the Yellow’s own favourite slogan, the masses’ realization was: “Never again!”
Second, the Yellow’s hegemony over Filipinos’ minds through their control of mainstream media had been broken by the rise of social media.
It is ridiculous — as is most foreign media’s explanation of Marcos’ win — to claim that Filipinos have been so gullible to believe fake news in social media, especially Facebook, that favored Marcos. I have never heard of anybody changing his or her choice for president after reading fake news about him or her. What social media does is to amplify or expound views people hold but which they haven’t been able to articulate or to get more arguments and information for. The fact that Filipinos are supposedly one of the heaviest users of Facebook and social media is very misleading. Most Filipino internet users track the blogs and Twitter accounts of celebrities or watch free TV movies.
Rather social media has given many thinking Filipinos a venue to express their views, and be read by others, thus dismantling the myth of mainstream media as the only source of information and truth. Indeed, there are more respected public-opinion influencers in social media than in print media today.
Third, history, as all social science does, has moved on after three decades. History, as I learned long ago from my Ateneo history classes, is not some unchanging artifact like a receipt of Rizal’s lottery bet or even a copy of the 1899 Malolos Constitution. History is rather a narration or analysis by historians, always really tentative, of what these artifacts mean. As the renowned historian Edward Carr pointed out in his book What is History (our textbook in our history course): “The thought of historians, as of other human beings, is molded by the environment of the time and place.”
Thus the history that has been dominant of BBM’s father’s martial law, has been the history to justify in the 1980s and even 1990s the Yellows’ unconstitutional toppling of Marcos, that he was a brutal dictator, that he ruined the economy, and so on.
But past historical narratives change with the discovery of new material previously hidden or unknown. Thus I have presented the transcripts of the Congress hearings on the so-called Corregidor massacre to prove there never was a “Jabidah massacre,” that it was merely a devious move by the top opposition senator then, Benigno Aquino Jr., to expose Marcos’ plot to infiltrate Sabah to incite Muslims there to rebel against Malaysia. Thus I have presented lists of alleged human rights victims during martial law to show that most of these were not that innocent, but were communist or Muslim separatist guerrillas engaging in armed struggle to topple the state, and their leaders.
I wish somebody would get the transcript of the Marcos trial in Hawaii over alleged human rights abuses. The references by scholars to it indicate that it was a kangaroo court, rushed in two weeks with a jury of only six Hawaiians who thought the Philippines was Paraguay. The judge even ordered the defense not to utter the word “communist” so that Jose Ma. Sison, one of the principal complainants, could not be described as the chairman of the Communist Party.
What the Yellows condemn as “historical revisionism” is a nonsensical term. History like all sciences or disciplines is continually revised, and developed to conform to new information or new paradigms.
The Filipino masses — 60 percent of those who voted for BBM — think the Yellow narrative of martial law is a lie, invented by the Yellows, who therefore deserve to be toppled.
Fourth, it is President Rodrigo Duterte who paved the way for BBM and his daughter Sara’s landslide victory. It was the Yellows’ fatal mistake to have had two candidates in 2016, Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay, the more “traditional” Yellows throwing their resources against the latter. The Dark Horse Duterte came from behind capturing the imagination of Filipinos who were starting to really rebel against the Yellows’ highhandedness.
Duterte took on the Yellows head-on, and weakened drastically their media apparatus, especially the powerful ABS-CBN broadcasting network. The Yellows, prodded by US help, opposed his major initiatives, his war against illegal drugs and his rapprochement with China, which they thought were controversies which could bring him down.
They thought wrong. And with the benefits flowing from these two Duterte initiatives, the Yellows were discredited, and thus politically weakened drastically, perhaps even fatally, since it was Leni Robredo who was at the forefront in opposing Duterte on these issues.
By 2022, the Yellows led by Robredo were so politically weakened that BBM, buoyed further by the Filipinos’ realization that martial law wasn’t really such an era, had the presidency for the picking.
Fifth, but even with all these four factors going for him, BBM would not have won by the landslide if not for his political acumen. He was playing the long game, and his bid for the vice presidency in 2016 was part of his plan to eventually win the presidency. While filing cases claiming he was cheated, he supported Duterte while building up his image as a non-confrontational, unifying politician. He didn’t even — at least to my knowledge — debate with, much less quarrel, with the Yellows on his father’s track record during his martial law days.
Marcos also quietly employed science — that is, opinion surveys and political strategists — for his bid for the presidency. For instance, he tracked through polls whether people’s perception of his father was a big obstacle to his presidential bid. It wasn’t: 45 percent of Filipinos looked favorably at his father in 2009; this gradually rose to 55 percent in 2016 — as Duterte referred to him in such kind terms — to 72 percent in 2021, which meant his father’s image was an asset for his bid. I don’t know if BBM did similar opinion surveys on his mother Imelda. But isn’t it so noticeable that Imelda has been totally absent in his campaign?
BBM’s political brilliance though was his success in getting Sara Duterte to be his running mate, although I am not privy to information on whether it was she who offered to be his running mate.
Whatever happened, Sara as his running mate amplified the perception that he is the political heir of Duterte (whom most Filipinos see as a good if not the best president ever) who would continue his bold but effective leadership of the country. Duterte’s not openly endorsing him was even a clever move, as it insulated him from the accusations involving human rights abuses against the outgoing president, making him the kinder version of Duterte.
BBM was standing really on the shoulders of two giants, his father and Duterte, and had a good head on his own shoulders. How could he not win by a landslide against a fraud of a candidate, who really obviously can’t boast she stands on the shoulders of Cory and Noynoy?