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The collective rage

Rhona Canoy .

SO… The public response to the councilor is a phenomenon that needs to be looked at closely. I don’t know that there has been anything quite like it in Cagayan de Oro’s recent history, and it can only be described as a sense of the collective. It’s rather difficult to think that all this is focused on everyone’s reaction to what he did to my dad who (to my misfortune) is seen as some sort of local icon. It has grown way beyond that.

Whatever dislike or contempt people have felt through the longest time was obviously made worse by the feeling of helplessness. That this one cringeworthy individual can have so much bullying power is astounding. Stories are emerging of how he has verbally abused people who timidly suggested to him that he not park in a no parking zone (it seems to be his favorite misfeasance). The descriptions are graphic. The hot burning glare, the very loud ranting, the insults, the wild gesticulating, the profanity–all in varying degrees–all bringing out some primitive fear response to a sense of danger. It has been more than enough to keep people at bay, and incapable of response.

Now that there is a feeling of collective anger towards him who must not be named, people are finding courage to stand up and speak out in realizing that there are many who share the same emotion and thoughts. The phenomenon of courage in numbers. I suppose the tipping of the balance from evil towards good has something to do with it. It’s puzzling that so many were held at bay by mere bad manners and temper. It is even more puzzling that many people find the uncouth behavior engaging and admirable.

I think the admiration first came about because many people felt oppressed and believed that they had found a champion who could speak and act for them. That’s easy to see. Whatever the councilor was like when he first gained fame, I can’t say because I never paid him any attention until this incident with my father. But I listen to people say how they first saw him as their voice, the one who would fight their battles, the fiscalizer. I don’t know that he has done much to deserve these “titles” at all. If a very loud voice and a very foul mouth are all one needs to show the public his might, then perhaps the people have been fooled.

Through the years, his behavior has escalated and become more and more egocentric and surely narcissistic. His actions are more self-serving than anything else. And he has evolved into a media bully. A bit difficult to reconcile when one thinks of the fact that many of his followers are parents who would find the same behavior in their children totally unacceptable. And the rest, apparently the many, have suffered him in silence and fear. Forward to the current protest and signature campaign against him. That people are coming out in droves to show their support and be counted can only be likened to a tire violently exploding after being under ever-growing pressure. Like the famous line in the movie Network, “I’m mad and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

It has grown to be more than a matter of personalities, although that’s how this all started. It is now a matter of decency, and of people speaking out after being bullied for a long time. Frankly, I doubt that there is any hope that the councilor is going to evolve into a better man. He seems to find pleasure in being what he is, although he is currently at a loss as to how to regain the precious ground he cannot seem to hold on to. The desperation, the insecurity, the false bravado are showing. The fame so desperately sought has come, but not in the form expected.

When DxCC put him back on the air a couple of days ago, for whatever business-related reasons, the public response to it has been less than positive. People have found a sense of justice and balance which they felt was denied them for so long, and are not hesitating to expess themselves any longer. From the perspective of family, this decision to allow him to return to broadcasting is certainly a form of betrayal. But, objectively speaking, it is understandable how such a decision is necessary from a business standpoint because it is after all a matter of survival. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s okay with me. Really, the greatest blessing of family is that there is a sense of kinship. On the other hand, the greatest curse of family is that we don’t get to pick who we’re related to.

The councilor’s infamous return to public performance has been met with much opposition, and the public doesn’t seem to want to take it lying down. Talks of boycotting the station, protests in front of the premises, a noise barrage when they drive by, taking steps to bring down ratings–there seems to be a growing sense of community empowerment. People are realizing that they can do something after all. And actually are doing something. The signature campaign, instead of dying down, is gaining  strength. It will be curious to see how this all works out.

The fervor is born out of a sense of good rising up against and defeating evil. A sense of protecting ourselves from decay. Most of all, a sense that we are not as powerless after all. I suppose people can only be kept down for a time, but not for all time. I mean, look at what happened with Marcos. Yes, it did take many years, but people rose up eventually. Maybe in a way, this is Cagayan de Oro’s version of people power. That we are finding our collective strength. Granted, it is like a toddler learning to take the first wobbly steps, but there is a sense of growing certainty and focus that cannot be denied.

Some members of my family (both immediate and extended) are more than dismayed at my adversarial and very public stance in all this. True, the first few days, I restrained myself–oh yes, what you saw was actually restraint–out of respect for their discomfort. But then I realized that this is not about them. Nor is this just about my father. This is about the collective standing up and saying “enough is enough.” And if something in my flamboyant personality can help rally the troops into victory, then I will do my part.

This is war, and I say bring it on.


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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