by Patrick Gerard Fernandez Torres on Sunday, 06 November 2011 at 01:56
I love Game of Thrones. Best piece of fantasy literature I picked up since Lord of the Rings. Unlike the usual examples from the genre, magic and other fantastical themes are kept in the background. Sure, there are dragons and dark freaky creatures that held the known world under their dark dominion but they’ve haven’t been seen for years and yes, there are sorcerers and warlocks but the maesters of the Citadel sniff at their supposed occult powers as nothing but ‘higher mysteries’ that would eventually be explained by rational knowledge. What keeps the story going is the cutthroat backstabbing and open warfare by Westeros’ noble families in their quest to outwit, outplay and outlast each other and gain the ultimate prize - the privilege to sit on a throne made of still-sharp swords and get to be hailed as King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. That is a refreshing variation from stereotypical fantasy fiction that makes the plot utterly compelling. I mean look at all these characters, they are so human. So human it feels like you can actually see them in the real world.
And as a matter of fact you can. Imagine all these noble families fighting it out over who’s going to get a really badass title but instead of fighting for the Lordship of the Seven Kingdoms they’re after the Presidency of Seven Thousand One Hundred Seven Islands and you can see where this is going.
Much has been said about how a few powerful families comfortably occupy the social pyramid that is the Philippines both in academic circles, where they came up with really intellectual sounding names to describe it (elite democracy, oligarchic patrimonialism, bossism, machine politics etc.) and in the not so academic circles (aka barbershops,tsismis centers, tagay joints and the like) with charming words like kurap and trapo. And now a series of videos that have more or less gone viral accuse none other than Benigno of House Aquino The Third of His Name, President of the Seven Thousand One Hundred Seven Islands and his mother’s family House Cojuangco of Tarlac of being part and promoter of this oligarchy along with assorted charges such as but not limited to, misleading the good people of the Philippines regarding their family’s legacy and role in the Edsa Revolution.
The first one I watched is called “NINOY + PEOPLE POWER: Hidden Truths the Media is not Telling Us”. It’s less viral (in my Facebook that is, it’s got more views on YouTube because it was posted earlier) and more weird. Although the makers of the video begin with a disclaimer stating that they do not intend to “offend, insult or humiliate” Filipinos in general or a particular Filipino, one is not comforted by their promotion of websites like antipinoy.com. And the way the video is made makes them sound like crackpot conspiracy theorists fresh out of a Dan Brown novel. They did get a lot of facts straight, tough. Like Cory being in Cebu when people started to go to Edsa, for example, and the attempted coup by Manong Johnny Enrile and Gringo Honasan who wanted to set up a military junta to replace Marcos and even how Apo Ferdinand couldn’t have killed his frat brod Ninoy because he was seriously considering his greatest rival to be his best replacement. The video even has the scholarly rigor to mention its sources, many of which are credible. But in the end the video is guilty of the same sin it condemns: Hiding Truths.
No matter how much they claim that it isn’t Marcos propaganda, the portrait they paint of him makes our man Macoy seem like a good guy who built a lot of neat stuff (Like the Coconut Palace), promoted nationalism and basically wanted to make the country into something really great but the Communists in China sent their “radical” student, farmer and worker cadres to throw molotov cocktails at the Presidential Palace and generally making a lot of mess that he was forced to declare Martial Law, and that Marcos was such a benevolent leader because he sentenced Ninoy to death but didn’t carry out the sentence and was even so gracious and merciful that he sent the man to the US for medical treatment out of the goodness of his heart. You just gotta love Marcos after watching that part. And it gets even better. Marcos was legitimately elected during the Snap elections but because of the actions of Cardinal Sin, summoned “hakot crowds”, “Veteran Professional Communist Protesters” (Note on how the pejorative emphasis on Communist makes the video sound like some Cold War holdover) and curious civilians (which I think can be translated to usisero), he was driven away by People Power. Poor Marcos.
Never mind that the so-called “radical” students, farmers and workers were the embodiments of the popular outrage against the foreign supported-oligarchy (which Marcos didn’t abolish btw, he simply replaced it with homies from his own crew). Never mind that our trillion dollar debt came from the Marcos years. Never mind that he and his cronies got lots of juicy kickbacks for all the beautiful stuff they built. Never mind that Ninoy and all the journalists, activists and political opponents of Marcos were denied a trial by an impartial tribunal. Never mind that the Martial Law years silenced an entire generation of Filipinos and warped our political culture and institutions. Never mind that the Snap elections were so fraudulent that there was a stiff movement to boycott the polls and after the election the computer guys from the Comelec walked out of the vote count because the numbers that were displayed didn’t match the numbers they were getting. Never mind that he prevented the airing of the last five episodes of Voltes V. This is the part that makes the video, which really had the potential of being an intelligent critique of the Edsa myth, degenerate into a crazy mixture of truth and untruth that the gullible will believe in its entirety.
The other video is more recent and more sober. It’s called “AQUINO COJUANGCO: FACTS THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW HD” (side note again: HD here would most probably stand for Hi-Definition, I included it anyway so we get the full title), from the same uploader but less conspiracy theory-ish than the other video. It recounts how the Cojuangcos rose to prominence, allegedly because of Revolution money from Antonio Luna, how they got their hands on the infamous Hacienda Luisita (Hint: having Pres. Magsaysay as a wedding ninong was a big help) and the track record of the two Aquino presidents on the Agrarian problem (Keywords: Mendiola Massacre, Extra-judicial killings, CARP, Stock Distribution Option, Hacienda Luisita Massacre). Much of it has already reached the media, especially during the last election, where PNoy was the darling candidate of the media, though, unsurprisingly, not all media outlets gave it much coverage (*cough* ABS-CBN *cough*). This is a nice place to put in a quote from Michel Foucault about the relationship between power and knowledge but I confess I still haven’t gotten the feel of his prose so let’s just pretend I put one here and move on. All in all, this video, minus the creepy part starting at 13:00 where it plays Noy’s election jingle backward to unravel it’s purported subliminal content, really does educate the unaware and hitherto apathetic about the extent to which our society is dominated by a socioeconomic elite to which our duly elected Chief Executive happens to belong.
Okay. So we all hate the Cojuangcos because of the vids. But now what? For every Lannister that makes it to the Iron Throne you have Baratheons, Tyrells, Martells and exiled Targaryens (not to mention a few Littlefingers) eager to take its place as Paramount House. They call their banners and denounce the tyrant/usurper/bastard sitting on the Iron Throne only to replace him with a new bigshot who concerns himself with either wenching or beating the snot out of the other Houses so they don’t replace him with someone else. And as the 1% lords bicker among themselves the 99% smallfolk live out their lives in poverty and ignorance, oblivious to but victims of the nobles’ total war even as winter draws near and the friggin’ Others are trudging their way towards the Wall. What should the 99% do? Perhaps it’s time for them to stop being pawns and become real players in the Game of Thrones. If they do, either they win or they die. If they don’t they are killed by decades-long winter or the Others will turn them into mindless zombie slaves (i.e. They still die). In short, now is a great time for them to unite because they have nothing to lose but their chains.