At no other time has the Philippines been as deeply-divided as it is today. A virtual civil war is being waged on the Net between the “Dutertards” and the “Yellowtards”. Because current President Rodrigo Duterte is from Mindanao — the first president from the Philippines’ deep south, no less — the battle lines between the ‘tards are almost drawn latitudinally pitting North versus South a-laAmerican Civil War. It’s another one of the Philippines’ knockoffs of the history and culture of its former colonial master.
But this geographical division is not equal. This war line does not bisect the Philippines at its centre. Rather, it seems to be drawn just south of Luzon, just a hop south of the border of Metro Manila’s megacity limits. Wait, ok, maybe further down south past the Bicol region’s border perhaps so we take into account the yellow-hued bailiwick of “vice president” Leni Robredo. One can argue, a second line also bisects Luzon, with a latitudinal line drawn just north of Metro Manila, separating the “Solid North” that constitutes the bailiwick of the Marcoses.
This is a “digital civil war” that seems to have isolated Imperial Manila’s political influence past its northern and southern frontiers. The liberal-leaning “Yellowtards” who are mostly the latte-sipping iPad-tapping social media warriors they fancy themselves to be owe their current besieged situation to their leaders in the Liberal Party who had spent the better part of the last 30 years constantly reminding Filipinos that the “in” folks wear yellow pins on their shirts and “all the rest” wear a variety of other colours.
The old traditional notions of polarisation — the “haves” and “have-nots” — is now obsolete, replaced by the Yellows and the All-the-Rests. Duterte was, as it had turned out, the long-awaited leader of the All-the-Rests — the guy who finally united all the non-yellow-wearing peoples of the Philippines. In all ironies, the unifying artefact has always been there — the national colours.
Of course, colours and identifying to one prefix to “tard” or the other is one thing. What is really needed to bridge — and ultimately heal — the uncrossable gulfs between circles, cliques, and camps in Philippine society is to crush the disease that created these wounds to begin with. People who identify with colours other than the Philippines’ national colours are what constitutes today’s national cancer. Crushing the pseudo-ideology that underpins the “Yellow” camp is the first step. It needs to be stamped out from the national consciousness — so that rationality, common sense, and strength in conviction can once again take its prominent position in the national psyche.
But the more important step of all — one that would sustain a national strength borne of true “unity” — is to create substance underneath our notions of nationhood. Unless the Philippines can be clear on what it stands for as a nation, there can be no strong nor better Philippines — only the shell of a state we see and experience today.