Mocha Uson is a familiar face throughout The Philippines as her online presence has made her one of the top commentators and personalities in the country. Her fame led her to being appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) under President Rodrigo Duterte. As a staunch supporter of federal constitutional reforms, Mocha has recently been criticised by those who objected to a video she posted of her colleague and friend Drew Olivar. In the video Olivar discussed federalism in a light-hearted manner as he sung the words “I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede, i-pepe-pepe-pepederalismo” which refers to the female genitals and breasts. Some have criticised the video as vulgar even though the language was far more tame than that of popular hip hop music while the comical dance conducted by Drew Olivar was no more suggestive than the moves that earned Michael Jackson millions of Dollars in the 1980s.
Furthermore, fake news reports have suggested that the video was made with tax payer funds even though it was made in Mocha’s private capacity as an activist and entertainer – vocations that she has continued to perform alongside her official role as has been the understanding from the moment she was appointed to a government position.
With male Senators who are at least twice Mocha’s age mercilessly criticising her, the optics both at a national and international level bode poorly for Mocha’s critics. Was the video a bit vulgar and a bit silly? Of course it was. But has it also achieved its only intended purpose which is to get more Filipinos and the young in particular to engage in public debates about federal reforms? The answer is clearly yes.
Taken in totality, the barrage of criticism against Mocha for posting the video looks like a washed out group of mostly old men ganging up on a young woman and her friend for the “crime” of trying to awaken the young in order for them to become more engaged in the political process. While there are many serious discussions about the need for long overdue constitutional reforms, such debates will be meaningless if they are not loudly amplified.
Because the mainstream oligarch controlled Philippine media is opposed to just about any proposals suggested by the popular President Rodrigo Duterte, it is necessary for non-corporate outlets such as Mocha’s to get people engaged in the issues as much as possible. Any developing nation with a large population must work to cultivate rather than alienate the young. It is nothing short of anti-democratic to see old senators with greying hair verbally assault Mocha Uson as though her youthful exuberance is somehow a crime.
In reality, Mocha’s youthful exuberance and that of her friends, colleagues and supporters is an asset to a country that is widely in need of a great political awakening. But it is not just in The Philippines where the young and active have been criticised by a gaggle of has-beens. Even a superpower like China was criticised when one of its youth orientated Youtube shows on Xinhua was characterised as “racist” mainly by Indians living in western states, simply because a young Chinese presenter played the role of an caricaturised Indian when explaining last years’s Donglang/Doklam border crisis to a young audience.
The result of the video from China like the video produced by Mocha was to get more young people to discuss vital political issues. In no way can this be a bad thing even if the process might be less than “elegant”.
Proof of the fact that sensationalism is often necessary in order to convey a message of vital importance, it is clear that while Mocha’s recent conversational video has garnered national criticism, her very serious interview with Orion Perez, a scholarly and highly informed campaigner for federal-parliamentary reforms in The Philippines gained less attention. Perhaps now more people will watch Mocha’s very serious interview with Orion Perez in light of her silly video with Drew Olivar bringing the issue to the wider attention of the public.
In the great film Lawrence of Arabia, the following line was uttered by the character Price Faisal in the context of a military revolt transition to a period of political settlement:
“Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men. Courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace. And the vices of peace are the vices of old men. Mistrust and caution”.
At a time when The Philippines stands on the precipice of constitutional change which will impact the lives of future generations, people should reject the mistrust and caution of the old, the cynical and those who think they know best even though their record shows that they could have hardly done a worse job of serving the people. The optimism, humour and good will of Mocha should not be rejected just because she posted a video about politics that is less vulgar than most music videos have been over the last 35 years.
All young people do silly things – this is called being young. It is the old and foolish who put a nation in danger for anyone who lives long enough to become grey and wrinkled without attaining the wisdom to match it is someone who has clearly been a failure as an individual and therefore is a failure to those he or she intends to serve.
The Philippines needs constitutional reforms to grow into the great nation it has the potential to be. People should embrace a future for people like Mocha rather than those who will hardly even live long enough to see the changes that Mocha and her colleagues work tirelessly to promote.