By Aldrich Allaga

Cartoon by Joseph Idusora 

Since May 9, I never listened to the news until lately.  

I extricated myself from everything that went on in the internet: disappointment brought by the elections, frustration from the rising inflation, the growing percentage of unemployment, the red-tagging of universities, journalists, and farmers,  just the chaos stirring in social media. Moreover, I pledged myself that this July, I would avoid all political articles and headlines for my sanity in light of Nutrition Month, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

To remain socio-politically aware in today’s times is crucial as it is tiresome. Battling the plague of disinformation day by day seems to rest on the shoulders of those who wield the weapon of knowledge.

While social media have played a role in empowering the youth, giving them an avenue to voice out and plead for change, they have also become platforms to generate and perpetuate toxicity and disinformation.

Above all else, cancel culture seems to reign over social media, in tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube vlogs- you name it. There isn’t any crevice in social media untouched by some form of bias or opinion that polarizes viewers. Controversy sells, after all, but I find it more stress-inducing and taxing than beneficial for my mental health.

Take for instance, a misleading and politically-motivated post that aims to slather a specific name.

“Robredo, affiliated with the NPA?”

Fact Check: FALSE!

If the “laughing” reactions weren’t enough to convince you to scroll by, then perhaps the battlefield in the comments section will.

Amidst the chaos of online banter is you- an eager netizen seeking to have your daily scoop of current events. Every day, you consistently choose to be at the forefront of opinions, until you realize you are slowly numbed into a state of apathy, simply wishing to finish the threads of information in your news feed. 

The last six years have been tainted by the blood spilled by lawyers, journalists, and human rights advocates who sought for justice beyond the boundaries of what seemed like a suffocating government. 

According to Rappler’s and other affiliated groups’ findings, by 2021, 61 lawyers have been killed under the Duterte administration, which is more than the 49 lawyer killed over 44 years prior to his presidency. It is worth noting that Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has ordered and encouraged the indiscriminate killing of alleged drug users and criminals.

In attempts to exterminate democracy and freedom of the press, the National Trial Court on May 5, 2020, ordered the shut down of ABS-CBN, the country’s leading media network, over its expired franchise despite constant efforts made by ABS-CBN has made for its franchise’s renewal. This left over 11,000 workers unemployed and the vulnerable state of democracy in the hands of vloggers and influencers to perpetuate disinformation.

In more recent news, Rappler is now on a tightrope, on the verge of being unjustly shut down by The Securities and Exchange Commission, further jeopardizing journalists in the country. As someone who aspires to pursue journalism in the future, the instability of press freedom in the country presents a big concern to my future, and perhaps, what’s to be left of our so-called “democracy.”

We voted for a government that instilled hope with the promise of change, but shackled and silenced the people who truly fought for it. 

All these, but May 9th was my tipping point. It revealed to me that all the aforementioned events led to the depressing election results that everyone had to bear. Win or lose, this year’s questionable elections made nobody completely satisfied.

If you, like many others and I, are experiencing the same stir of emotions- we’re not defeated, we’re just tired.

It is almost unavoidable nowadays to participate in the mainstream conversation; people would rather stick their nose into today’s socio-political climate than to resist the urge of jumping on the bandwagon.

What the majority of Filipinos lack is a strong sense of will that discerns when and how to interpret information. Such as journalists, whose lives depend on the news they lead,  one must be mature enough to handle and maintain the integrity of information once they enter a discussion. Unfortunately, for many, this is not the case.

Yet you, as a Filipino, desire to understand the current landscape of events despite the ruckus of social media. Each time you educate yourself, you amplify the voices of those who were silenced by unbearable conditions, a stifling system, or an oppressive administration. 

In doing so, however, you likewise acknowledge our shared limitations as humans that we have a capacity in interpreting the information we receive.  We could only take in so much before words get lost in translation, damaging and stunting our ability to completely digest facts.

As July marks Nutrition Month, understand that your mental well-being is as important as your physical health conditions. Take time to appreciate and renew your dignity, as you continuously choose to sympathize with the situations of your fellow Filipinos. “Conventional wisdom suggests that by "sleeping on it," we clear our minds and relieve ourselves of the immediacy (and accompanying stress) of making a decision.” (Grohol, 2009); our minds need refreshing as much as buffering laptops do. Remember that you are not alone and that others before, alongside, and after you bear the torch or truth in hopes of diminishing the plights of fake news.

What we need today are youthful spirits whose will to fight is surmounted by their compassion for people. We need to bank on the diligence, perseverance, and the strife that the youth was put through during the 2022 elections while uplifting the voices of the marginalized.

In resting, we find a clearer vision of what we want to achieve as a youth; we persist in the fight of what we have been dying for these past few years: a cleaner government, solutions that are inclusive and practical to the needs of the times, and a race of Filipinos who seek to revisit and not to revise history.

Once you have rested long enough, embark once more on your quest for change; there are bigger battles awaiting to test, but not break our spirit. Surrendering is not losing the war, but withdrawing to regain the needed strength to re emerge triumphant once again. And I think I’ve had enough rest- nothing will ever conquer my spirit for journalism and my fight for the truth.

Pagod ka na ba? Rest. One day’s rest and another day’s hardships will never waste the sacrifices of the Filipinos for the next six years.