Built-in contradictions and antagonisms | Inquirer Opinion

Built-in contradictions and antagonisms

12:16 AM December 02, 2016

There are times when I deliberately enter a controversial situation or take on a controversial issue. When I do, it is to inject my perspective, of course, but after discerning that my perspective has enough merit (or more than enough) to be worth sharing. I do not want to rabble rouse, but I do want to disturb the reader to consider a point of view that may bring clarity, that may encourage, that may contribute to an individual’s well-being or the collective good.

It can be difficult to remain objective at times. We each have our preferences or our wishes. We each have our favorite personalities, too, those we have an emotional attachment to, or those whom we may not know personally but admire nonetheless. And, of course, we have the opposite, personalities whom we dislike or resent for the harm and pain they may have caused us; or those who just come across as stupid, or crass, or hypocritical—whether we know them personally or not.

But each week, I write an article and share my thoughts, my views and my sentiments on an ever-growing number of fields of human interest. Most can be taken as political in nature as politics touches all of our lives in many ways, but I try to be nonpartisan as much as I can. Partisanship belongs to campaigns and elections, those moments or periods when a community or nation is confronted with choices to make, with having to retain or change leaderships. But when these events shall have passed, partisanship should leave as well.


It is simply unfortunate that, in our case in the Philippines, partisanship is hard to let go. Unfortunate, really, because sustained partisanship not only nourishes an already divided people but actually prevents optimum productivity. How can one’s life be that productive when one part of us wants to destroy even as another part wants to build? For those who asked questions about what was meant when I quoted an astute teacher and patriot, Dr. Emmanuel Q. Yap, when he said that our situation has “built-in contradictions and antagonisms.”


Simply put, we contradict ourselves (“we” as you and me and “we” as the people of our country) when we ourselves set in motion to waste our efforts in building with efforts at destroying. Simply put, we are predisposed, because of our partisanship, to be antagonistic towards those who points of views of behavior do not conform with ours. This situation was referred to as the “current dispensation”, the way things are in our lives, individually and collectively, a dispensation that is decadent, terribly pro-colonial, rotting in its obsolescence.

What I understand about being pro-colonial is less about how wrong the colonial ways were or are, but how we are attached to them, right or wrong, without any benefit of objective evaluation or assessment. Many of the ways introduced to our minds and socio-political systems were and continue to be sound. But results must be the heaviest factor in determining whether, in fact, the results are outstanding, average, or damaging. Partisanship prevents us from even processing things with objectivity. And the conditioning enforced by colonial administrations, without free choice on our part, automatically make us like or dislike almost like robots.

Who can argue about the advanced state of many developments in the West, the West being those who colonized us? We want development in many areas of our national life, especially the material kind, the economic prosperity that many Western nations enjoy. At the same time, our desire for the good things they have blind us to their own weaknesses, even if those weaknesses also wreak havoc in our cultural and political systems. This is what is meant being “pro—colonial.”

In our culture, too, there is a natural creativity but not a natural propensity for manufacturing. We, thus, excel, in all creative work, whether it is in aesthetic design or engineering designs. At the same time, it has never been natural for us to immediately think of manufacturing. Manufacturing often happens because a foreign influence is able to penetrate and reverse what seems to be a distaste for manufacturing. I thought before, as in several decades before, that a factory setting contradicted the natural setting of nature in a tropical environment. We can hold on to what is natural for us but that means investing our values and resources to do so. The fact is, though, we want the products of manufacturing as well—another contradiction that we have to resolve in our lives.

Antagonisms. Yes, do we have a lot of them. Our salvation, though, is that the greater number of Filipinos, while pre-disposed, is influenced by the demands of daily life to stay out of partisan debates and actions. These antagonisms, though, remain a deadly threat to the collective because those who harbor active antagonisms have greater opportunity to practice it and have a greater reach to the public. With the advent of social media intensifying radio, print and television, the antagonisms are quickly heard, seen and felt. In fact, we are bombarded with these, creating unusual stress to the body politick. The proliferation of trolls, too, those who are either fake accounts or paid, and worse those who are both, pollute social media with hate, anger or fear, evoking the same in others. Our predisposition for antagonism, created and fanned by continuing partisanship, is a ready market for trolls.

It may be that Prof. Emmanuel Yap had not yet appreciated the power of advancing communication technology. But if he had lived long enough to witness it today, he would be manifestly affirmed in his observations about our pro-colonial dispensation, our built-in contradictions and antagonisms. I wish I was as articulate as that revered teacher because I would have to follow suit anyway, hoping for a powerful and consistent articulation of our historical truth, the beautiful and the ugly of it, so that our younger generations can, at least, move away from mistakes we never learned.

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TAGS: Communication, partisanship, social media

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