By Elliot Dimasuhid
“Our family is quite close since we casually bonded together.”
Ice* (real name withheld), a senior high student, sees his connection with his parents in this way. They frequently engage in conversations about his academic pursuits and their favorite family activities.
However, when it comes to politics, Ice confessed there is a contrasting account that he finds difficult to understand, “Almost everyone in the family is [a] BBM [supporter],” he said.
BBM or Bongbong Marcos is the more familiar and famous nickname of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Sr., who won the presidential elections last May.
The country has heard similar stories like Ice’s countless times—the tales of a liberal youngster trying to inform the family of the disinformation-filled campaign of BBM, only to be slapped back with rhetoric that demonizes the progressive values pushed by former vice president Leni Robredo, who ran against Marcos.
Some families have ended these conflicts, but for the majority, the election of BBM to the presidency continues to raise divisions.
Difference in outlook
We are currently experiencing upheaval, uncertainty, and instability in our homes. All of a sudden, parents are gripped by fits of terror. In an effort to be too protective, they have attempted to discourage their children from expressing their political opinions, while others have responded with rage and sorrow. The outcome is a rising estrangement between parents and their children. Households are now waging wars between the youth and the adults as parents claim are very different from their children.
Ice’s family argued that their all-out support was due to sharing the humble roots in Mindanao with BBM’s running partner, Vice President Sara Duterte—as if such a geographical feature validated ardent praise for BBM. Discussions of human rights would be confronted with his parents dismissing him and seeing the victims as “liabilities in society.”
“My parents are definitely not open-minded. Whatever approach or methods I try to get them to realize the transgressions and immoralities in their viewpoint or standing, they still strive to fortify their unjustifiable stand. They voted for BBM and Sara Duterte in the name of being a Davaoeño,” he shared.
His schoolmate Claudia* (not her real name), is also questioning how her parents supported BBM.
“I don’t know if this has something to do with our family being patriarchal or just blind idolization, but my parents support candidates who have a strongman kind of leadership, an iron fist,” she said.
The narrative of Kimy* (not her real name) is considerably different. Although her parents tolerate views that differ from theirs, they do not let these ideas sway their opinions.
Her parents reasonably accepted that she has her own political beliefs. Because of her father’s left-leaning principles, he had a crucial influence in shaping her political ideals. His stances highlight the struggles of the masses, particularly those who are oppressed and marginalized.
“I remember [when] we got into a heated argument about a [Davao region] politician who held a lavish wedding while the people she represented were suffering from injustice. I defended the politician, while my father sided with the masses. As he presented me with arguments, I began to see how I was on the wrong side. It awakened the ‘humanista’ in me, which led to the cultivation of my political ideals now,” she shared.
Kimy’s mother, on the other hand, was drawn to right-wing ideals since they matched her conservative values. “She supports candidates belonging to political dynasties because, for her, powerful backgrounds heighten a politician’s credibility,” she added.
“They are steadfast in their stances because, despite my persuasion to my mother, she still won’t shift her support. My parents are similar in some aspects but they are polar opposites when it comes to political stances and the support they attribute to a politician.”
The conflict between the enforced values and the political preferences of their families continues to be a subject shared by the three. Many young individuals, like Claudia, are deterred from speaking up by the persistent phrase used by adults: “Bata pa kaayo ka (You’re still too young).”
“I don’t really talk about [politics] to them out of fear,” she admitted, feeling that she isn’t qualified enough to convey and defend her stance against adults who had lived through prior administrations.
With that being said, what then is the root of this generational divide? Is it only a short-lived stage of development? Why do adults behave in such a bewildered and hostile manner?
It is not enough to simply say there is a generational gap to rationalize the rising estrangement between parents and children. There is a fundamental difference in perspective—something more profound than mere age difference or outright revolt against authority.
When the race between BBM and Robredo got more intense during the peak of Halalan 2022—impacting countless individuals under the guise of political extremism—the chokehold on all three tightened.
Ice recalled a heated debate about their presidential candidates during a family gathering.
“They gravely detest the opposition as they see their goal as [an] obstruction to the government’s plans. They also villainize Atty. Leni Robredo, since they see her as a weak, inefficient, and ‘puppeted’ leader.”
Claudia expressed the same sentiment, “Grabe sila ka bilib sa mga nahimo nila that sometimes I wonder if mag cross ba sa mind nila ang mga mali na ilang nabuhat (They are so awe-struck about what they have done that sometimes I wonder if their mistakes have ever crossed their minds).”
Taking a stand now differs from those trivial pastimes with which the youth were expected to divert themselves during their academic years; it goes beyond a passing phase of youthful agitation. It is not one of those tendencies that cause fleeting irritations between children and their parents.
Ice, Claudia, and Kimy construe the victory of BBM as a reminder of their continued servitude to the nation’s existing political hegemony.
“When the victory of BBM came, my family was in a festive mood kay ‘napildi’ ang pikas kampo tapos powerful reigning lagi ang tandem kay Marcos-Duterte (the other camp lost, and the Marcos-Duterte is the powerfully reigning tandem.),” Claudia said.
“After BBM’s major lead in the electoral polls, they already declared and believed he was the winner. They did not discuss much about the topic and other controversies surrounding it since they already expected the victory,” Ice lamented.
Such supporters perceive the presidency as a trophy—a testament to how highly they hold the terrifying beliefs of the Marcos regime. The paradoxes in human nature are reflected in the rapid euphoria of an ego boost.
Filipinos are inevitable pawns in the idolatrous politics of the country. People in a divided nation are driven to despise one another, suppressing meaningful collective action before it ever has a chance to grow. Fanning the flames, supporters on both sides of the political spectrum concentrated their attention on a childish ideal. Rather than being centered on issues, the election was focused on criticizing individuals and minorities.
Filipinos had lost sight now of the importance of supporting political values instead of idolizing politicians, in contrast with the determination they exhibited when they ousted the late tyrant during the EDSA uprising, 36 years ago.
Unity is still far from arm’s reach. Ice, Claudia, and Kimy acknowledged that several family members are straying farther from each other due to their perceptions of the BBM-Sara Duterte regime.
As a nation without a concrete route for the future, the last thing that citizens should do is split apart because of political fanaticism. Families should rather hear each other out and realize the importance of demanding good governance and being critical of the government. The “united” Philippines that BBM envisions would swiftly crumble, and the devoted Filipino families will burn with it as the aftermath of Halalan 2022 rages on.
*Ice, Claudia, and Kimy requested anonymity, thus the author didn’t use their real names.
Elliot Dimasuhid is a freelance illustrator who uses art to provide dashes of color, a writer, and a journalist. He’s a HUMSS student and the Editor-In-Chief of The Blue Bridge at Ateneo de Davao University Senior High School for AY 2022-2023. He loves crafting narratives with impact, whether it’s about queer youth, culture, or social issues.davao city, Elections 2022, Leni Robredo, Marcos Jr., philippines