[OPINION] A Toni-BBM postscript: Take a stand

I got pretty mad last week over Toni Gonzaga-Soriano interviewing Bongbong Marcos, and letting the former senator further whitewash Marcos-era history. It kind of reminded me of who I was at my core: a writer influenced by the things they see, hear, smell, feel or intuit.

A few weeks ago, it had been the somewhat controversial game Axie Infinity that fueled a creative surge in me. It was a game unlike any other I’ve played before because of its merging of digital and physical worlds – a “metaverse” quality.  

There are only a few things in the world I like writing about than a good video game, although of course my interests have expanded since my FHM magazine days, where my last story would be a cover girl profile on 2000s Japanese adult star Maria Ozawa. From one Maria to another, I made the transfer to Rappler, where, of course, I would be much closer to the world of politics.

What’s my point? My background had made me feel like having a political opinion was out of my lane. It took me a little while to realize – and I envy the lifestyle writers who have always been able to be politically vocal – that whatever your background is, you do have a right to a political opinion. A big political event can stimulate you just like a good movie, song, or video game can – and you have the right to write about it or express yourself in the ways you know best. 

Politics should never be bigger than your life. How you feel about something, and how you propose to express those feelings, are bigger than politics. You have a right for your opinion to not be suppressed or invalidated by people saying you’re just being “woke,” as if that’s a fault of character. If it comes from a genuine place, being “woke,” which I define as having the ability to form new ideas that challenge tradition, and established power, fuels progress. Who hates new ideas? Those who would like to cling to old power, to old ways – and keep everyone disciplined in a straight line.

Politicians who are fresh, creative, humanistic, and progressive will get my vote, not the uncreative, cynical type who’ll suck out the hope from you, because it is hope that inspires one to think of ideas that – hopefully – lead to a better life.

So I appeal to you to find a leader that will give you hope, and not a leader that purposefully divides a nation for their own gains. 

Our progress lies in creativity, measured optimism, and having a soul: Lahat tayo gusto bumuti ang buhay at sumaya. Pwedeng magkamali ang isang tao sa kanyang pagsubok na kamitin ito, sa paghabol ng pursuit of happiness. Bakit, sa hindi kakauntaing kaso, kamatayan ang dapat agad ipataw ng ganun ganun nalang?

Sa ating pagpili ng mga political interviewers na tatangkilikin, pumili rin tayo ng isa na kayang magpahalaga sa mga nahirapan o nawala o namatay nung panahon ng Martial Law. Inimbitahan naman na si Toni na mag-interview ng mga Martial Law victims, at sana nga’y paunlakan niya ito. 

Sinabi naman rin niya sa isang interview with Wil Dasovich na “I look at all of them as people who have stories to share no matter how bad a person is, no matter how good a person is, no matter how canceled a person is in society. Every single person in this planet has a powerful story to tell.” Kaya bakit nga hindi isang Martial Law victim? 

Maybe, perhaps, writer Pete Lacaba and former CHR chair Etta Rosales, who were among the victims interviewed in the Imelda Marcos documentary Kingmaker? Or maybe one of the victims from the Buzzfeed social experiment-style video that let young people hear victims’ experiences first-hand for the first time?

Bongbong has had his turn. Martial Law victims more than deserve theirs.  

If Gonzaga-Soriano had also been serious about being a political interviewer, she had to know her responsibility to society, especially in an upcoming election year where politicians are trying to actively shape people’s opinions. With the 2022 elections less than a year from now, the voters need the highest quality information to make an assessment for themselves in the best possible way.

A BBM supporter asked me in the comments section of a post on the Toni Talks-BBM matter: “Eh, sino ka ba??”   

No one, really, just a writer – but also one among many who've expressed their anger at the interview.

You have a right to express your political opinion simply because you are a Filipino. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Now is not the time to be silent. It’s not enough that you urge people to register and vote. The election is happening right here, right now, and not just on that singular date in May 2022. 

You have the power to sway it now, with a simple comment or post, or a simple like on a comment you agree with. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.

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