Arguing as Filipinos | Inquirer Opinion

Arguing as Filipinos

/ 05:46 PM May 22, 2024

Many Filipinos have felt the frustration that seeps in when, in an argument with a fellow countryman on their Facebook comment section, they feel that they are talking to a brick wall. 

In this present day, disagreements abound on topics like the number of EDCA facilities, the Marcos-Duterte rift, or a certain mayor in Tarlac. But what people on opposing sides of the issue may share is the common idea that they have the right to share their opinions for the betterment of the Filipino nation. In fact, I would consider this increasing trend in political participation to be the true birth of the Filipino nation. 

The truth is, the mass communications infrastructure in 1898 was such that a complex narrative of political struggle and identity could not be effectively communicated to about 1-2 million people, a vast majority of whom were illiterate, without in some way suffering some form of distortion or being lost in the grand scheme of things. 

In other words, a whole archipelago in 1896 could not suddenly gain that one cohesive national identity that would unite all people and families under one banner.


The identity that did exist in 1898 was a thing of elites like Jose Rizal, and these ideas are among the only ones we remember today. But as we all know, elite ideas are not always congruent with those of ordinary people. Yet, the one advantage that this present century has over the time of Rizal is that there are now spaces in which everyone can interact on more equal terms, regardless of social class. 

Anyone can write a post on Facebook, and that post will survive as long as Mark Zuckerburg’s server allows it to. In it, people from two different worlds—two different perspectives—can easily come together and discuss issues of national importance. 

Benedict Anderson always said that the nation is an“imagined political community,” and by “community,” he meant a “deep-horizontal comradeship” that transcends class inequalities (Imagined Communities, pp. 6-7), and I believe that social media is a step forward for that becoming a reality in the Philippines. We are forced to face one another’s perspectives and acknowledge that there might be something we can learn, even from those we disagree with.

People who have disagreements on national issues (be it the West Philippine Sea issue, Alice Guo, or Duterte vs. Marcos) may hate each other’s guts with a passion. But they are at least talking to each other about things that they agree matter to them. 


This does not make a person more right or less wrong, but it does tell us that we are beginning to care for our nation and assert our right to have a say in the way things should be. Hence, we should not treat our interlocutors, no matter how wrong or stubborn they may be, as enemies. We should treat them as partners in our common duty to contribute to the welfare of the Filipino people. 

This time, so different from the time of Rizal, is ripe for a mass national awakening: and in having these sorts of frustrating, tiring, and exciting conversations, we are slowly allowing ourselves to reach a new understanding of what it means to be a Filipino.


Daniel Tyler Chua is a writer taking up a 6-year integrated Master’s Program at the University of Asia and the Pacific. He is the founder and president of the Collegium Perulae Orientis, an academic society founded on Catholic principles.

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