2016 on X: From political to personal

Raisa Serafica
2016 on X: From political to personal
From the elections and the Marcos burial to various advocacies and campaigns, the X community saw an increase in civic participation from netizens

MANILA, Philippines – It was an eventful year for the virtual world in the Philippines, to say the least.

From fake news and burning phones to mixed realities, the country witnessed both the bad and good sides of technology. For better and for worse, this led to increased participation of netizens in cyberspace.

We’ve seen this on X, a free platform for expression made for, and run by, the Rappler community. It was harnessed by online users to initiate discussions on an array of subjects, ranging from national issues to topics affecting their personal lives. 

In 2016, the stories posted by the Rappler community on the platform cumulatively reached almost 3 million page views. Here is a wrap of stories published this year on X:

#PHVote: Analyses and commentaries

The country’s May 2016 polls was the first social media-led presidential elections. In an unprecedented turn of events, the online world, including the X platform, transformed into a battleground of memes, analyses, commentaries, and even fake news.

Who won’t vote for Mar Roxas? Why will Duterte win? How is Grace Poe ready to lead the nation? What is wrong with Duterte’s rape jokeWhy did Miriam Santiago choose Bongbong Marcos as VP? These are just some of the questions and analyses shared by supporters and critics of the presidential candidates on X.

Netizens were also quick to share their reactions to the candidates’ performances during the presidential debates that were held in Cagayan de Oro, Cebu City, and Manila. (READ: Lost in the echo chamber)

Fortunately, the discussion did not just revolve around personality politics. The online community also raised issues relevant to the campaign, including federalism, the crime rate, and the rise of fake news. As netizens condemned those who spread fake news in an effort to shape public opinion, some also urged the Filipino electorate to be critical in their choices.

Support for the eventual president also flooded X. In the post entitled “The confessions of an anti-Duterte, a supporter shared how he became convinced to vote for Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Response of a Dutertard)

Under the Duterte presidency

The active participation of Filipinos online did not taper after the elections, especially as several controversies erupted under the Duterte administration.

For example, Erwin Rafael used X to spark a much-needed discussion on the tax reforms proposed by the Duterte administration. He argued that while the re-bracketing is middle class-friendly, the poor would be excluded from the direct benefits of income tax reform. “Would the proposed tax reforms help achieve the goal of reducing inequality?” Rafael asked. (READ: Duterte team’s proposed tax reform: Why shift the burden to the poor?)

When the Davao City night market bombing happened in September, Liavel Badillo noticed that many Filipinos failed to empathize with those affected by the incident. “We are creating a society devoid of empathy, a mass of people who cannot see that they themselves could be slaughtered,” she noted in her widely-shared post on X, urging others to empathize with the families and friends of those who died.

Extrajudicial killings and human rights were also favorite topics on X. In a post entitled “The Purge: Killing for Convenience,” an X user shared how 3 of her relatives died at the hands of a drug addict. Despite this, she spoke out against the extrajudicial killings happening in the country, saying that even drug users can change for good. (READ: UP Political Society’s stand on EJK and related incidents)

Months into the Duterte presidency, has change come? According to Madison Dominguez, it hasn’t. For Dominguez, the recent resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo as housing chief over her “irreconcilable differences” with Duterte proved that nothing has changed in the Philippines.

Marcos burial

But if there’s one topic that generated the most noise on X, it would be the surprise burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Coming on the heels of the burial, Exequiel Jun Villego talked about a poem entitled “Apo on the wall,” which he said reminded him of the importance of always looking back on the past. This was echoed in “A Millennial’s Reflection in the Age of Marcos 2.0,” where the author highlighted the importance of educating others and organizing communities as the country moves forward after the controversial burial.

In line with educating others, Mike Alcazaren wrote a millennial’s guide to Martial Law while Rappler’s Zak Yuson crowdsourced and listed reading materials on the Marcos dictatorship, Martial Law, and the years after the Marcos regime.

At the peak of the Marcos burial controversy, photos of St Scholastica students circulated online. Netizens asked: Should students be allowed to join rallies?

Responding to this, Serena Estrella wrote a widely-read article on X about reasons why parents shouldn’t send their daughter to St Scholastica’s College – and the one reason why they should. This post was the second most read on X in 2016, reaching more than 150,000 page views. (READ: #ThankYouStScho)

Sharing wisdom and inspiring courage

Student organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also harnessed X to inspire courage and promote their own advocacies and activities. (WATCH: 100 student organizations start publishing on X)

For example, the UP Materials Science Society used X to post weekly trivia on its publication for Wisdom Wednesday. The org has written about Olympic medals, synthetic microfibers, dentures, and even Christmas trees.

Rappler partner GenerationHope ran their #GivingTuesdayPH campaign using X.

It was also through X where UPLB Enactus promoted its project, Amiga, one of the winning ideas in this year’s #HackSociety. UST UNESCO also used the platform to promote its relief operations for those affected by Super Typhoon Lawin (Haima) in Cagayan Valley.

Likewise, NGOs such as Project Pearls, Youth Sports Advocacy, and Philippine Toy Library published stories on X to spread word about campaigns.

Open letters

The Rappler community didn’t just talk about politics on X. In fact, the most read article on X in 2016 is a law student’s open love letter for a news reporter. It was read more than 200,000 times.

There were other topics close to the heart that were tackled on X. For example, Rappler’s Don Kevin Hapal wrote about his experience getting bullied in high school. “What bullies see as just ‘having fun’ makes people look down on themselves and not see their worth. It breaks confidence, harms reputations, and undermines one’s ability to perform,” Hapal shared.

Jed Cortes, on the other hand, wrote about when loving comes hard.

These personal stories, like those about politics and social issues, resonated in the Rappler community, garnering thousands of views each. Rappler.com 

What is your favorite story on X this year? Share it in the comments section!

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.