Theorizing a Public Issue # 1: GMA’s pardoning of ERAP.

I know this is late but this is the only time I have organized my thoughts about this. I really feel so betrayed when Erap was pardoned by GMA. It was 2001 then, my senior year in St. Scho Manila. I, together with my batchmates then, lead anti-Erap rallies in St. Scho which eventually made us part of the actual EDSA dos when the envelope wasn’t opened during the Impeachment trial. I had the chance to actually experience the Impeachment Trial then, when we supported Clarissa Ocampo, who was a Scholastican then when she was in high school. I participated wholeheartedly during the EDSA dos which I believe became a part of who I am. This was the time that I feel that I am contributing something in history and in society; being a productive member of society. When the man who committed plunder and dishonesty to the Filipino people stepped out of Office, it felt empowering. I was part of the youth then, ( and I believe until now. hehe) 18 years old getting ready for college, it was really very empowering. It felt like I can actually make things happen and ready to face any challenges that would come my way.

6 years after, now part of the labor force, no longer that positive in things to come in Philippine Politics only made me more disenchanted ( thanks to Max Weber), with my reality. Actually experiencing being the breadwinner of the family, I can no longer feel my youthful self; that empowered young woman then. I am now facing the reality of life, how hard it is to make ends meet. Thankfully I can still have some simple luxury in life but thinking outside of my personal self makes me wonder where is justice?

Having a sociological mind still haven’t gone out of my system. Adapting from C. Wright Mills ” The Sociological Imagination”, public issues do not separate from private issues. These 2 domains do not have absolute separatism from each other, in fact they overlap. Dichotomies like these might create conflict on one’s notion of reality but it could also help us create pragmatic decisions. Wow, I remember my Sociological Theory professor, Ma’am Marcia. Let me reiterate, acknowledging the existence of both dichotomies will help us pragmatic about it. Now, grounding this “theory” to my actual experiences based on the socio-historical circumstances I am currently experiencing, I would say that I am still on the verge of thinking about it. A public issue such as GMA’s pardoning of Erap directly affects me because I for one contributed to his ouster and I felt that my sense of self that felt then was empowering felt betrayed. My principles on this particular issue affects on how I think about the government, justice system and even my own culture. As I remember while I was watching ANC, an Anthropology professor from UP Diliman was interviewed and according to him this particular issue is a clash of Filipino values: the value of being forgiving and the value of being firm on making decisions. Again, another dichotomy here that is being worked here. I believe that this is a clash of 2 bigger dichotomies, traditionalism and modernity. Different cultures have molded us to these 2 ideas, and now conflict is arising. It is really mind boggling on how you would incorporate these 2 far-fetched ideas into one unifying pragmatic action.

On the macrolevel, it is a rational decision for GMA to do that since she is desperate for the support of the Filipino masses. Rationality, as I could remember is doing calculable actions no matter what it takes just to meet the ends. I remember Machiavelli’s “The Prince” here. For Social Science majors, you know what I mean. GMA’s actions were calculated and all the qualms of other institutions or parts of society ( coming from the functionalist perspective) doesn’t really matter, because the masses play a bigger part in the upcoming 2010 elections. Just imagine all the waste of time and money then. It seems that everything is really a show. Borrowing from Goffman’s ideas, this is just a role play; a theatrical show but in this particular situation, people were not internalizing their roles. Well Goffman didn’t say that everything is consistent because people play different roles in life. Clashing of values play a big role in the inconsistencies of people’s decisions, I believe.

Am I still making sense here? To sum it all up, I am just expressing my dismay on pardoning Erap for everything he has done to the Filipino people. This is no different with the Marcos situation, look at them in government office again. I don’t want to be disenchanted with my reality, as much as possible I want to have a positive outlook in Philippine society.

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