In denial | Inquirer Opinion

In denial

12:30 AM May 20, 2022

Having been so open and active in the Leni campaign, I get to read as part of the algorithm of Facebook many commentaries related to the election. And I do not get one side alone, which is the side that watched another side take the elections. Against the side I had helped are plenty of jeers, scornful, and gloating comments and posts. Par for the course and expected from the quality of the other side.

Except for one statement from the Sara camp that was asking her followers to reach out to those who did not win. However, she is only the presumptive Vice-President and will, in due time, be the spare that vice-presidents play in our kind of democracy.


When members of the pink movement post their frustration, their sadness, and opinions, the most prevalent response of the side that will sit as president and vice-president is that Leni and her followers, including me, are in denial. I believe that there is much of that denial in us.

There is often that phase of denial in human beings when they experience a sudden shock or trauma. Again, normal and expected. Time and again, we go through denial stages when someone dear dies, or when we are told that we have terminal illnesses. Hard, excruciating truth yet we go in denial. However, we do move on because life continues and we stand on its energy; we are carried by it despite our pain and suffering.


The temporary denial of loss is part of life’s cycle. We are naturally armed with coping mechanisms to experience and, then, survive. We who suffer that kind of a loss have to go through the pain but the transient nature of the tragedy allows the suffering to fade with it. I have less to worry about that denial because it is pre-ordained and self-correcting.

My worry is another kind of denial, the one that is less transient and can, in fact, sustain itself through a lifetime. Imagine being in denial for a lifetime. What a miserable life that would be, in perpetual separation from the real, the factual, the authentic. Imagine seeing the world through lenses of illusion or lies. That will mean a continuing disconnection with reality other than quick, unsustainable brushes with it. A pitiful, myopic pathway.

If we ask psychiatrists, psychologists, and many social scientists as well, humans have a part of them that holds on to illusions or fantasies. It may be a coping mechanism, or it may be the extension of childhood habits that were so embedded on the imagination. From a purely clinical perspective, however, that is still living in an unreal world. But the immature are like children, still largely incapable of seeing objective reality, much less accepting it.

Growing up means expanding the human capacity for grasping the real and dealing with it, the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful. Growing up is building our character, our intelligence, and our resilience. At the same time, dreaming is not set aside, it is not discarded like a used rag, it is simply being fused with reality. Because dreaming can deliver visions, aspirations, and be the fuel to pursue careers, to invent, to build families and societies. Growing up can mean differentiating childlike dreaming and adult fantasizing.

The poor also dream like anyone else. Look at all their children’s books and see the stories they read or are taught – not any different from what other children get. Unfortunately, the poor can hardly move from dreaming. Imagining, or fantasizing to more real-based processing. It is not because they are less human, but simply because moving towards reality and grow at the same time is too difficult for the young of the poor. It is less painful to keep enough of fantasy land in their psyche.

That is the in-denial state that is much more difficult to transcend than adults losing an intense political campaign. It is truly sad that our people, from their material poverty, do not have the full exposure to possibilities from an environment with few opportunities. The burden of landlessness, homelessness, and hunger plus all the permutations from these ugly foundations, force their victims to hold on to fantasizing. They spend money in many games of chance like jeuteng or lotto believing the odds are better than a slow climb out of poverty.

The path of empowerment is the human path to self-fulfillment. It demands awareness, the courage to see the truth no matter how ugly or painful, the capacity to respond in a productive or heroic manner, and a keener sense of the collective or nation beyond the family unit. In other words, the common good from a common sense. Something the impoverished, materially or emotionally, are often incapable of attaining.


Which, then, brings us to our own in-denial state. I do not mean just political losers but also the winners. We must understand why we lost as they must understand why they won. Any side can be in denial but the losers will have an easier time moving beyond denial. First, there is the pain. Who wants to stay in pain? Second, there is reality. I do not believe the election winner won fair and square. Reality, however, will see him installed as president.

Many like me chose a candidate because she revered the values we adhere to, the same virtues we teach our children, the same rules we apply to our work or businesses. With or without a candidate, we will simply live out what we believe in as much as we can.

Unlike me, many chose a winner for their own reasons. However, because their candidate will assume a powerful position, they will expect promises made by YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook to materialize. They may stay in denial forever.

Losers have their pain while winners have their challenges. Both can be in denial, but not for long.

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TAGS: campaign, Elections, Leni Robredo, Robredo
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