At the tail-end of 2017, Bebang Siy invited me to judge some 18 blog entries that talk about fake news for the Saranggola Blog Awards. While many of the entries were taking from the same sources and tended to be redundant, the more interesting ones were those that tried to bring into their writing the more personal effect of being bombarded with lies and falsity and exaggeration that take the form of the news. The two other judges, even when we didn’t sit down to deliberate, actually had chosen the same winners I did.
It was certainly an experience that gave me hope: both for blogging and for writing. Because it reminded me of a time when blogging wasn’t about keeping a Facebook Page and microblogging, that is, writing statuses that detail your activities of the day, i.e., Asec Mocha, and most other Duterte Diehard Supporter pages. Neither was it about keeping a blog site that’s nothing more than reactionary, living off what’s happening on social media, and leeching off what’s already trending, i.e., Jover Laurio’s Pinoy Ako Blog.
And yes, I put them on the same level. And yes, there is every reason to question any media entity, i.e., the Philippine Daily Inquirer calling Laurio Filipino of the Year.
Because anyone who even spends time reading through Laurio’s site would find that she employs exactly the same tools, the same tone, the same kabastusan that we find offensive in the DDS microblogs and fake news-propaganda sites. Like them, she is not discussing issues: she is merely responding to, reacting to, what the DDS are saying, and only on that superficial level of (1) reminding them of what they said in the past, (2) pointing out promises, statements unfulfilled, (3) defending the party that she believes in.
Guess who else does those three things? Duterte propagandists. At marami rin silang resibo.
Laurio has entries that are but a series of questions dripping with malice and insinuations that are based on unnamed sources; she calls out Duterte officials and ends by saying versions of: “Sana hindi po ito totoo …” or “Kung mali ako …” Both these strategies are used by Duterte propagandists. These are no different from Asec Mocha using the world “allegedly” when she used to make her baseless accusations (she’s been very careful to keep from doing that of late), and ending her criticism of Liberal Party Senators, or mainstream media, with “Nagtatanong lang po!”
Laurio does not hyperlink to her sources — something that RJ Nieto (one of her favorite nemesis) actually takes seriously — and I’ve caught her often enough leaching off other Facebook pages’ content and passing the content off as her own. She then gets comments like “ang talas talaga ng mata mo Pab!” Yet the same information was posted on the Facebook page of We Are Collective days before she even put it on her blog.
She is clearly a Liberal Party ally, but pretends to be otherwise by putting in pretend-critical posts of say, Leni Robredo; but also revealing her LP ideology in posts about say, the Kidapawan Massacre of farmers (it was scripted, she says), or questioning the takeover of abandoned decrepit housing by members of Kadamay in Pandi Bulacan. She equates Judy Taguiwalo with the New People’s Army (NPA), and then defends herself by saying Duterte did it too after the DSWD Secretary was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
But what does that say that Laurio mouths exactly the same things as the President she hates? That same President that she herself says seems to have amnesia, is a liar, and of whom she asks: are you bipolar? or do you have split personality? because he does not keep his word, she says.
Words. This is what this battle is about: and Laurio uses exactly the same words to get back at the propaganda that we insist is unacceptable, is bastos, is troll discourse, coming from the government and its supporters. She is one of many sites that obviously seeks to give Duterte propagandists a dose of their own medicine, offense versus offense, hate versus hate. That doesn’t make her any better than them, even when she’s on the other side of the fence.
Sure, the divisiveness and kabastusan started with the the Duterte Diehard Supporters. But certainly Laurio’s blog is fanning the flames of that divide, instead of taking a more objective, because analytical, stance, talking issues, doing research, showing us what good (micro)blogging is about. Sure she has survived bullying and shaming, but so have Mocha and Sass Sassot. There is also no excuse for Laurio posting about the purported prostitute card of Sass; neither was calling Sass by her old (male) name acceptable, and the excuse of “I didn’t know mao-offend ka,” just makes it worse: you’re telling me that it was borne of LGBTQ ignorance and not hate or shaming? C’mon. Who’s going to believe that?
Apparently, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which is telling of the state of mainstream media. There’s also anyone else who thinks Laurio valuable, while saving her from the valid questions that we ask of the DDS propagandists: who’s funding her blog? how does she earn her keep? who does her blog serve? who is she propagandist for? what does she silence?
Laurio is being given the freedom of not having to explain where she comes from when she speaks, and where her political loyalties lie; she is being absolved of the enterprise of offense and kabastusan her blog also lives off; and she is being celebrated for the same kind of shallow, call-out, reactionary, troll discourse that we all insist is wrong with Duterte supporters taking over Facebook.
If this is the kind of heroism we celebrate for fighting fake news, lies, and falsity, then I don’t want any part in it.
Instead, here are better people to celebrate. People who threshed out discussions about fake news, about living with it, and fighting it. As I said at the awarding ceremony for SBA, blogging to me was always about writing. And writing is about thinking. And in a time of microblogs and reactionary blogs, and the PDI thinking “frequency of posts” is something to celebrate, taking time to think and write and blog is the best form of resistance. Sadly, so few do it.
Here are some of the people who do:
Maria Kristelle C. Jimenez’s “Fix ‘Yon, Fiction!”
Gerome Nicolas Dela Pena’s “Must Read: “Viral, Trending, and Shocking Revelation of a Flying Octopus.”
Rommel F. Bonus’ “Fake News -Mga Super Effective Tips Kung Paano Mapeke at Kung Paano Mameke.”
Ryan V. Labana’s “Ang Post-truth, ang Fake News, at ang Sampung Utos.”