How Filipinos Get Lost in a Deluge of Information Amid EDSA 36

MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-six years after the Filipino people marched to overthrow a dictator, they are about to forget.

In one Episode Newsbreak Cats hosted by Rappler Investigative Editor Miriam Grace Go on Thursday, February 24, Rappler Editor-in-Chief Joel Salud and Multimedia Journalist Rambo Talabong, and Ateneo de Manila Development Studies Program Director, Jayeel Cornelio, addressed the deluge of information that threatens to reshape Filipinos’ memory of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

It comes less than 100 days before the 2022 high-stakes election where the late dictator’s son and namesake, presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., leads the pre-election polls for Filipinos picking the country’s top job. .

According to the episode panel titled Eleksiyon and rebolusyonhow the Philippines got to this point stems from a number of factors: extensive disinformation campaigns, insufficient education about the years of martial law, and distrust of mainstream news sources.

On Friday, February 25, the Philippines commemorates the 36th anniversary of the “bloodless revolution” that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos from his 21-year grip on power. Under his administration, Amnesty International estimates that around 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured and 3,240 were killed.

“Alternate History”

A lot has happened from 1986 to 2022, with the Marcos not only revising history, but introducing “alternative history,” Salud said. It started with the Marcos mandate and continues today with historical revisionism.

Gumawa [sila] ng bagong realidad na madaling mag-latch ‘yung mga tao (They created a new reality that people easily latched onto),” he said. “Once maniwala ka doon, hindi ka makaalis (Once you fall for it, you can’t get out of it).

Salud, who was a 23-year-old freelance journalist during the People Power Revolution, cites the example of when Marcos Sr. hid his illnesses from the public. He was considered an “indestructible” leader who could not be overthrown. For the first time, when the Marcos family fled the country after the revolution, the public “saw Marcos weak – politically, physically, psychologically”.

‘The fear was rampant because it came from all sides -‘yung kuwento ng chismis, ‘yung salitaan, kasi nga, walang media (the stories, the gossip, because there was no media). Nothing to trust, no one to trust,” Salud said.

The myth of “great leader” Marcos and other lies about the dark times under his dictatorship continue to thrive in disinformation networks. Talabong takes care of that when he and Rappler researcher Jodesz Gavilan produce short videos in a weekly series called Marcos Imbento, Bistado. The series debunks the lies about the Marcos family and martial law.

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Using social media, everyone in disinformation became famous in the “magic time” of the Marcos dictatorship. For siyang panahon talaga na gustong balikan ng tao, and kinukuwento sa bata na ang ganda ng panahon ng panahon Marcos and napakahuhusay ng mga Marcoses, and ito is nore-strengthen on all social media platformssaid Talabong.

(Social media is truly awash with misinformation and lies about the “magic period” of the Marcos dictatorship. Marcos was a great time and the Marcos family was knowledgeable which is reinforced on all social media platforms.)

How Filipinos Get Lost in a Deluge of Information Amid EDSA 36

The series is one of many Rappler efforts in the fight against misinformation, where Talabong cites documents and facts about atrocities from the Marcos era. But because it goes against what many people have been taught to believe about martial law, Talabong said a lot of the immediate reactions are “hate” and “rejection”.

Luckily, Talabong said, there are still some who show their support for the show and encourage the constant telling of the truth.

Challenging textbooks

Sociologist Cornelio pointed out that textbooks may have been lacking in educating new generations about the Marcos dictatorship.

If you did a content analysis of textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education, Cornelio said, you would see that Philippine presidents are always considered based on their achievements. There may be a sentence about the Marcos dictatorship, but that’s it, he says.

“It’s a very sad way to look at our history – always celebrating the good things, but not [remembering] the bad things. Thus, the ability to criticize, the ability to question, hindi na-e-exercise ‘yun mula pagkabata (these are not exercised from childhood),” said Cornelio.

Talabong said “influencers” who engage in misinformation online are further criticizing mainstream education, saying students shouldn’t listen to textbooks that are “Aquino-controlled” anyway.

Alam natin na puwedeng criticizing youth, vulnerable pero by sila. At ‘yung youth na nagiging fanatic, nagiging influencers din sila. So nagro-roll over and oversaid Talabong.

(We know that young people can be critical, but they are always vulnerable. And young people who become fanatics can themselves become influencers. So, it repeats itself over and over again.)

Distrust of traditional sources of information

The immeasurable disinformation networks have also cast doubt on traditional sources of information such as the media and schools, Cornelio said.

The sociologist pointed out how attacks on Rappler may come from trolls, but some of them still come from real people who have learned to distrust the organization. ABS-CBN’s rejection of the franchise, as well as credible historians and storytellers, has become more easily inadmissible.

Cornelio, who specializes in the sociology of religion, said some Filipinos in the predominantly Catholic country have grown weary of listening to the church, as more and more Catholic church units have begun to dive their feet in politics. (READ: Over 500 priests and nuns endorse Robredo for president)

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“It’s really a massive mistrust that a lot of Filipinos have towards these traditional sources of knowledge: the media, the church, history, school, education, etc.,” he said.

The information absorbed by the new generations comes from “a million and one sides”, commented Salud. “This is democracy on steroids.”

“It’s a scary thought if we really think about it, when you start taking a democracy and abusing it to such an extent that people start losing the ability to think for themselves and make a decision towards what is right,” added Salud. .

The need for warm bodies

Investigative editor and Newsbreak Chats host Go said ultimately voters will be most influenced by the people they meet on a daily basis.

“If you are a young person, what fight are you fighting if your impression of the Marcos years comes from the stories of your parents and grandparents? … In polls, when you ask voters what the biggest influence is in their decision of who to vote for, it’s always your family members, clan leaders, community leaders,” Go said in a medley. of English and Filipino.

Is it too late to influence the current trajectory of the Marcos’ return to Malacañang? Salud said that even though there is little time left, it is important to give the campaign a “personal touch”.

“In my experience, in all the campaigns I have covered, ang isang nakita kong effective ‘yung tao-tao (one thing I saw effective was face-to-face meetings). Hot bodies meeting hot bodies, shaking hands, going for it and feeling your sincerity that you want to serve them,” he said.

With the 2022 elections taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, time will only tell if Filipinos can make informed decisions with or without personal dialogues. Elections will not only determine who Filipinos want to lead, but which side of history they believe in. –

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