A clarion call of genuine freedom
Early in the Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President said:
“I am a President of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony and I do not have any master except the Filipino people. Nobody, but nobody!”
When Duterte spoke these words, one could feel the righteous anger not just in his voice but in his entire body. This was a man who in a few words lashed out against an attitude that for centuries tried to put the Filipino people in a box – a box in which there is no free thought, no freedom of choice and no freedom to see the world in any shade of colour other than black and white.
Duterte has done much to kill off the colonial mentality, but sadly much still remains as such things are not possible to shift in a day or even two years. Making the colonial mentality all the more difficult to overcome is the fact that the colonial mentality is perpetuated by many in media outlets opposed to the leadership of Rodrigo Duterte. In this sense, the colonial mentality has become weaponized by such media outlets because of the fact that the colonial mentality keeps Filipinos afraid of thinking freely and thus, it keeps the owners of the thought monopoly in control of a wider flawed socio-political narrative.
What is freedom of thought?
Freedom of thought is even more important than freedom of speech. While freedom of speech is a term which defines one’s legal ability to say what one wants in the public space, ranging from the sacred to the profane, freedom of thought implies one’s personal and private ability to consider that there is more to life than the simplistic categories of thought set out by social elites, powerful media empires, organised religion and the wealthy who use their riches to shape the public narrative in their favour.
For example, thinking freely means that one can embrace the leadership of President Duterte whilst criticising the political system of The Philippines as established by the 1987 constitution. Most Filipinos who argue for a shift to a federal-parliamentary system (including Duterte himself), argue for just that.
Thinking freely means questioning the nature of the long US-Philippine relationship but without forming any hatred against the American people and without automatically accepting everything said about the wider world by America’s chief superpower rivals.
Thinking freely means being able to compartmentalise various aspects of thought without taking sides in a binary “us versus them” fashion.
Thinking freely means being able to respectfully disagree with those one normally agrees with, while disagreeing with those on generally opposite sides of a thought spectrum without losing one’s ability to think rationally.
Rappler’s colonial mentality
I have personally come face to face with a media outlet which operates under the colonial mentality. When one of Rappler’s employees suggested that my own words in praise of Rodrigo Duterte’s policies were only shared by Filipinos on social media because they wanted to ingratiate themselves to a Russian government that Rappler falsely and insultingly claimed I am associated with, the most dangerous part of such false allegations is that these accusations deny the agency of free thought to Filipinos. So whilst Rappler tried to insult me, they were in fact insulting millions of Filipinos who can think for themselves, want to think for themselves and would not appreciate Rappler insinuating otherwise. This includes both supporters and opponents of Duterte, as well as supporters and critics of my own independent voice.
The idea that Filipinos cannot think freely but only choose to advocate for certain positions because they think that they will become materially enriched by relations with foreign regimes which allegedly share these certain positions, is not only a supreme insult to the Filipino people, but it is predicated on a neo-colonial assumption that Filipinos can only think in ways prescribed by outside forces that are not only more powerful but more intelligent than Filipinos.
This is not just a self-loathing attitude, but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy among those exposed only to media outlets like Rappler and nothing else. Furthermore, such an attitude may be indicative of psychological projection – accusing others of doing that which one does him or herself. Even though Rappler may well disappear sooner rather than later because of purportedly low readership, the disease of the colonial mentality is sadly bigger than Rappler. Perhaps the fear among ‘Rapplerites’ that the neo-colonial mentality is being recognised for what it is, is the reason that my email to Rappler saying the following has still not elicited a response:
“But whilst I disagree with your interpretation of recent developments in the aforementioned geopolitical developments, I am appalled by the defamatory insinuation that you have made which implies that pro-Duterte media outlets have re-published my commentary because of “connections to Russia” which I do not have and can easily prove that I do not have in a court of law.
When President Duterte spoke of shaking off the colonial mentality, this is what he meant. It is nothing short of condescending to imply that Filipino website managers and social media activists only share content from foreigners because they want to ingratiate themselves to these foreigners. The truth is that like those in many nations, Filipinos have minds of their own and are naturally attracted to content which speaks to issues close to their hearts and minds. Clearly, my content does just that, otherwise Rappler (which obviously is anti-Duterte and have the full right to be so) would not be so fixated with the fact that a non-Filipino like me loves The Philippines, loves President Duterte and is loved by many intelligent, kind hearted and patriotic Filipinos.
You are perfectly entitled to hold different views and I maintain my offer to engage in a videoed debate on such issues with someone who has an opposing viewpoint. I believe this is what makes our world a better place”.
When being called out for exhibiting the colonial mentality, Rappler ran from civilised debate rather than engage in it. This is what happens when one is not prepared to think critically but is instead only prepared to think in terms of column A versus column B.
The colonial mentality needs victims
Just as traditional colonialism requires physical victims, the colonial mentality requires legal, economic, emotional and psychological victims. In order to define one side as “us”, it requires a “them”. If a unified “them” does not exist, the person or persons exhibiting the colonial mentality will simply invent the “them”. Specially, Rappler criticised not only me based on lies that I represent a foreign government (in this case Russia, although it could have conceivably been any government), but also heaped the same insultingly false criticism on an intelligent, patriotic and pro-Duterte Filipino who I have had the privilege of being interviewed by. His name is Rado Gatchalian and this is what he has said about the matter:
“Over the past few days my name is being dragged as a ‘certain Rado Gatchalian who lives in Australia’ who is one of the personalities linked to Russian disinformation network.
At first, I don’t want to waste my time mincing my words to discuss about this comical conspiracy but as days go by — as my name is being mentioned in different social media posts, it left me no choice but to write this short article.
Together with Adam Garrie and my co-patriot Ms. Sass Rogando Sasot, our only commonalities are deep admiration for President Rodrigo Duterte and a fascinating love for the Philippines.
Personally, I am even prouder to be connected with Adam Garrie who is well-knowledgeable about Philippine politics. It is no surprising that a man like him admires President Duterte. In fact, I have met and interviewed a number of foreigners particularly based here in Australia who admire Duterte. For Adam to support President Duterte is admirable knowing that he is an outsider yet he has a passionate interest about our country.
What is wrong for being connected with this admirable and remarkable man?
If you would like to be more objective, I encourage you to read the two written interviews I did with him. If only you would read it thoroughly — you would find immense knowledge and wisdom from the series of questions and answers between Adam and me. We talked about history, culture, politics, and even philosophy.
These are the links:
The next question is this: is there really a Russian disinformation network? The burden of proof is addressed against those who imply that there is one.
I would be very interested to know.
If I am really a Russian puppet and spy — I would demand a round-trip ticket to Russia! I have always wanted to visit this huge country.
For a fact and for the record — the only possible link between Russia and me happened 30 years ago. This was when I represented Russia in my primary school days during United Nations’ Week celebration held in the month of October each year. Not only once did I held the title Mr. Russia but twice.
Well, it’s funny, isn’t it? Or is it somehow prophetic? I swear if that episode was the start of my link to Russian disinformation network — it could be the most strategic and comprehensive conspiracy project ever held.
Assuming for the benefit of the doubt that I am indeed a Russian puppet — how could it be possible that a “certain Rado Gatchalian who lives in Australia” who is certainly a nobody would get the interest of this Russian network. Who is this ‘certain Rado Gatchalian’ that could possibly move mountains and build propaganda materials to make sure that President Duterte wins the presidency?
It would be a shame for me and for this networks to even slightly claim for the victory of PRRD. He won because the majority of the Filipino people love him.
Whether I exist or not, whether there is Russian disinformation network or not, Duterte would still undoubtedly win the presidency.
The Duterte Victory is not a conspiracy.
It is a fact.
It is a noble fact.
No thanks to that ‘certain Rado Gatchalian who lives in Australia.’ He only writes poems and commentaries and organises global support for Duterte. It is nothing compared to what President Duterte has sacrificed and done for the Philippines and the Filipino people.
I hope this is enough to clear my “certain” name.
From Australia (not Russia) with love,
A “certain Rado Gatchalian who lives in Australia”
The anti-scientific nature of the colonial mentality
Not only has Rappler made assumptions that Rado is attached to entities that he is not, that he thinks exactly like someone else (me in this case) which he does not and that he isn’t even worthy of being referred to with respect (it is naturally de-humanising to call someone “a certain Rado Gatchalian”), but taken as a whole, Rappler has assumed that Rado’s views are the product of a devious motive rather than a sincere belief in his people. Here, one sees clearly that in the absence of fact, those with a colonial mentality rely on assumptions designed to fit their narrative. This is not only anti-scientific, but it is deeply dangerous to society. The fact that when presented with no scientific fact, those with a colonial mentality jump to assume the worst rather than something neutral, is a further sign of the deeply psychologically perverse nature of the colonial mentality.
Sadly, even some of those who support Duterte have fallen into the trap. A pro-Duterte Filipino who I shall not name took to social media to say that while he agrees that Rappler is not a source of repute, he believes that I personally must be motivated to talk about The Philippines and President Duterte with the frequency that I do, due to alleged but false connections to a foreign regime. Unlike Rappler, this man was far more forthright in his deduction. He stated:
“The first clue is that no white guy with no obvious ties to The Philippines would spend so much time and thought on the President of The Philippines. I mean, let’s be honest, the geopolitical importance of The Philippines is not exactly that high up there”.
The above statement is the colonial mentality in action and this statement furthermore demonstrates the effectiveness of the colonial mentality among those who unlike most Yellows, speak sincerely but still get some very basic facts wrong. While I accept that a foreigner and one not from south east Asia speaking about The Philippines is a statistical anomaly, it is only an anomaly because Filipinos have allowed themselves to be convinced that their country’s geopolitical importance is “not exactly that high up”. Whilst The Philippines is not a superpower like China, nor an economic miracle in action like Singapore, I truly believe that The Philippines could become one of ASEAN’s most important countries if crucial constitutional/economic reforms were made.
The fact that a foreigner who thinks freely can see this but many Filipinos who are still trapped in the colonial mentality cannot, makes me realise that my work is actually far more important than I even realised. This is the case because so long as mental slavery exists, those speaking from a position of freedom have a right and perhaps even a duty to inspire others to throw of their chains and embrace critical thinking, reason and logic.
José Rizal was executed for his opposition to colonialism, whilst Rizal was also a man whose freely thought out ideas proved to be far more frightening to the colonisers than his political organisation. Rizal was of course one of the founding fathers of the modern Philippine national awakening, yet over 100 years later, far too many are still asleep. In most cases it is not the fault of the proverbial sleepers themselves, as they are taught to think in a small minded colonial mentality by those who might claim that they want the best for The Philippines. But even if one was being supremely charitable, people and organisations like Rappler only want second best for The Philippines and this goes for all of those who either consciously or unconsciously exhibit the colonial mentality.
Just as the United States has frequently sold or given The Philippines old military equipment that the US would have otherwise thrown on the scrap heap, now Rappler cannot even invent a new and original conspiracy theory but is instead borrowing a second hand “Russiagate” allegation from America.
I for one believe that not only does The Philippines deserve better, but that it can actually attain that which is better. The first key to such a revelation is to think openly, freely, critically, logically and in a manifold rather than binary fashion. I am not ashamed that I believe in The Philippines more deeply than even some Filipinos. In life, like in international relations, sometimes the confidence felt by others is sufficient to inspire confidence in one’s self.