If we have the penchant for patterns, we would probably notice that most years of our lives, we spend in
circuses, or carnivals—or peryas. Such funfairs are never fair and not incessantly fun. Upon further reflection of our shared experiences, as cliché as it may sound, we derive lessons from these rides of life and learn to move on to the next attraction; unless we take the machines from the owners, destroy ones that do not suit our needs, take what remains and operate another system.
But for now, we have been undergoing changes that seem familiar, but not quite. Thus, the title of the
column: a portmanteau that, needless to say, documents preposterous objects, ideas, acts, etc., for posterity. So that we will not forget and commit the mistake of assuming how history repetitively proceeds in a circle of same old dead ends, and not in spirals that progress toward an end that vanishes as it appears to be nearer.
For instance, if we take Marcos and Duterte as characters of a historical text and compare them, they seem alike in most aspects. Both issue a call to arms for official state nationalism, with fascist undertones or, perhaps, overtones. For the conscious, state violence is apparent; however, the rightist turn seems covert and subtle because of a manufactured mass movement of online avatars devoted to nation-building- for-a- better- future-for-the-children through a drug war that has been killing children as collateral damage. Adding to the body count is the hysterical all-out war against the communists, the word-war with its founder seems like a fliptop battle, but with actual rape, violence, casualties and human rights violations of varying degrees. All the blood spilled, for the sake of one of world’s fastest-growing graveyard called the Philippine Republic.
Seems familiar? Not really. Duterte contributes something entirely new. Something beyond Macoy and Imelda, the Malakas and the Maganda, the Father and Mother of the Bagong Lipunan (New Society). The ubermensch Tatay Digong is an exemplar of what future scholars of axis studies shall call the “fentanihilist”.
“Fentanihilism”, as I’ve seen in a dictionary through a vision from the hereafter, is defined as “fentanyl-induced rejection of religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.” To end the excruciating pain due to drug addiction, Oplan Tokhang saves them and sends them to a different kind of heaven that fentanihilists do not necessarily believe in. The drug war is a new low to reach a new high.
Some may say that such a framework is similar with Marcos’s. But that is not the case; he didn’t smoke out narcos. Then, Malakas saved people infected with communism and quarantined them so the contagious disease would not hinder the New Society’s health goals.
Now, Tatay saves people from drugs by taking drugs himself—so that we, his [foster] sons and daughters would not have to suffer for it, and just focus on the free education he enacted into law: a Faustian deal that involves tax reforms that might be fun and fair if one is under the influence of methamphetamine or other kindred substances.
With this sampling, I hope we can learn to appraise and to appreciate the efforts of other people, including powers-that- be. We give them what is due and discuss them, as relevant materials of our great civilization, for preposterity. This column shall serve as a repository of materials and notes about those materials, so the next generation of Filipinos will certainly take a great deal of pride in their official national identity.
About the author: Tilde Acuña teaches and studies at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature in the University of the Philippines. His works were published in Kritika Kultura, Likhaan, Pingkian, hal., High Chair, Bulatlat, and other publications.