No two words in recent memory have elicited such a polarizing response from the general public. On one hand, she’s a cultural behemoth that has transcended the usually impenetrable walls of standard journalism. On the other, she’s the epitome of ignorance and oversimplified thought. However, taking sides is not an issue that I plan on dwelling on. Talk of her journalistic competence (or lack thereof) is relative to various people and will only add fuel to an already raging fire. Focus instead will shift to what she means and symbolizes in today’s society.
Indeed, it’s easy to denounce Uson as a nuisance. Her messianic view on her favorite statesman calls for nothing less than critical skepticism. To add to that, she has also written more than her fair share of foolish posts on her page. Yet, it’s hard to ignore a figure that has amassed a following of nearly 4 million, more than a handful of which are online friends of mine. She must be hitting a raw nerve within the public.
Uson, as personal research has revealed, is actually the daughter of the late Pangasinan RTC judge, Oscar Uson. As per previous reports, the older Uson was assassinated in 2002 after receiving a plethora of death threats prior. During this time, his daughter was a second-year medical student at the University of Santo Tomas. Of course, judging from the present, that path didn’t work out. Uson then turned to performing, which is one of her passions, and the rest is history.
Before embarking on the writing of this piece, I had no clue whatsoever as to the back story of Uson. The only thing I knew then was that she was the front woman of the (in)famous Mocha Girls, and I believe that a lot of people share this limited knowledge about her. Learning about her personal experience thus renders me slightly more empathic towards her cause.
Like many Filipinos, she spoke from a cave of despondency and rage. She was aghast at the murder of a loved one and grew angry at the lack of justice served. This is a more than understandable predicament, even for someone who has fortunately not encountered such a terrifying occurrence. With the advent of Duterte and his firm anti-crime stance, she was able to find a safe haven, a man who represented everything his predecessors weren’t, a man who promised of justice as no longer a lengthy, laborious process, but rather a swift hook to the chin. Gone would be the days of esoteric legal talks; it would be fairness in the form of speedy retributions. Simple and quick.
It’s easy to sympathize with such sentiments, especially if you’ve experienced similar circumstances in your life. And with Uson’s Facebook page, people with the same mindset have finally found an avenue that caters to their beliefs.
Yet, the Uson phenomenon doesn’t stop there, and this is where the issue gets out of hand. Uson and her followers have begun conducting a class war on so-called ‘elitists’ they perceive to be critical of the president. The page has called for boycotts of traditional (not to mention reputable) media outlets such as The New York Times, Reuters, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Rappler, among others, on the basis of their ‘anti-Duterte’ stance. The comments section of such initiative posts are rife with fiery exclusivist rhetoric—it’s either you’re with them or against them. For example, one comment states, “This president is for the poor. Balang araw mga kababayan ko na nagmamahal kay Duterte kakailanganin niya tayo. Itong mga oligarch at mayayaman na nasanay sa pera at kapangyarihan will definitely want him out. Ipaglaban natin si Duterte.”
At this point, Uson’s page is no longer an outlet for Duterte supporters to converge but rather a war room, where a virtual battle is being waged. Check out any news report or feature on the recent trend of extrajudicial killings by any other media outlet and surely there will be people criticizing the credibility of the story and calling it biased. Even the latest statements from the De La Salle and Ateneo administrations on the spate of killings were met with countless hysterical allegations of insensitive elitism.
The democratization of media has paved the way for Uson to establish a channel to air her thoughts and opinions on the Philippine political landscape. I have no qualms with that. In fact, I find it highly applaudable that she has decided to partake in discourse with regards to the future of the nation. But what was once a very brave effort is now a joke in itself. The very same ideals that the page rallied against before are now the same ones it so fully embodies and espouses—ignorance, overt patronization, and reactionism.
By no means do I possess clairvoyant abilities, but if recent history is anything to go by, then I ought to muster up the patience to tolerate the eventual verbal barrage I’m going to receive after this article is published. It’s sad, really. Freedom of speech, which is the greatest tool a concerned citizen can possibly use, should work both ways—both for you, and for those people who hold an opposing view. For Uson and her followers, I say this: be smart. And I mean that in the nicest and least demeaning way possible. Take the time to hear out other opinions instead of immediately shooting it down due to a conflict of interest. Stop creating gaping divides by holding so tightly to your political alignment—widen the expanse of your thoughts. Lastly, please don’t be the vacuous figures people make you out to be.