Tag: philippines

Ang Bantayog

Reading Time: 10 minutes

On September 23, 1972, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law.

An expansive digital monument stretches before you, laying out 11,103 candles. Once a day, you are invited to light one and wait a moment, each candle representing a name from the HRVCB’s (inexhaustive) Roll of Victims. When lit, a name (at times, a life lost)–is revealed & remember, the candle burning on to represent a life taken.

‘The Monument’ is an internet art piece that speaks to memorials, mourning, and memory as experienced by machines and technologies. Dithered candles flood the screen under a fog as you scroll nearly infinitely, accompanied by a log of remembered names, soundtracked by an ethereal composition with loose whispers and the sounds of matches struck in the background. Utilizing the inherent nature of the browser and internet to create a networked experience for gathering, memorializing, and also forgetting—it exists to mirror the struggle of collective memory as experienced in the past 51 years since the imposition of martial law, more than to be a lasting marker or true spatial memory. Here, the website poses a monument as an infrastructural question: how do we gather, maintain, and remember, together?

The monument lives on the URL http://ang-bantayog.com.

One and whole

There are two ways to experience the monument, ‘one’ and ‘whole’ – that alter how ‘memories’ are shared: collectively or locally.

In the ‘whole’ version of the monument, memories are communally shared… When others light a candle, you’ll hear their match and remember a name, too.
A collective memory reaches farther.

As one alone, it would take approximately 30 years for each candle to be lit: the magnitude of loss paced with the decay of human & machine memory. As memory is saved within the browser localStorage, it is erased when the viewer’s (browser) history is cleared.

Of memory and memorialization

Intentionally programmed & designed to keep ‘defaults’ in mind, the monument operates within the environmental constraints of its technologies. For instance, ‘localStorage’ is used to store the ‘names remembered’, a form of data storage without expiration that is usually only erased when the user’s (browser) history itself is cleared. The website itself is accessible by a temporary domain (e.g. an equivalent to acquiring ‘property’ on the web, in exchange for a human-readable address in the URL). The enormity of victims and loss also make it nearly impossible for most machines to scroll past a few hundred candles, with most browser windows often shutting down. These mechanics are intentionally used as metaphors (often intimately analogous to their real-world equivalents), the limitations of machines not too different from those of man. While the common assumption is that technologies to be faultless and everlasting, in truth, they are often manufactured to be just as scarce, our hardware maybe just as fragile as our bodies. 

Of digital space and revisionism

Beyond the organic decay of memory, we live in an era of intensified revisionism and political repression: a digital environment that contributed to the election of the ousted dictator’s son, Bongbong Marcos, who now sits as the 17th president of the Philippines. The internet coexists as a place of liberation & of learning, and simultaneously one of immense loss & repression. As technologies are reflections of human will & of power, they have the potential to exacerbate real life inequities just as they do the power to redistribute agency and knowledge.

The technologies used to program the monument represent the decay of memory, the burden of externalized knowledge wrought by the new digital era, the active potential of technologies to rewrite history situated within a post-colonial internet with militant origins. Most often, these manifest as questions of environments: of visibility, optics, and both tangible and social infrastructures that dictate how we commune, and remember. In the website as an exercise of visibility, we are moved to consider who and what we pay attention to (the monument asks every visitor to wait for at least a minute before participating in a lighting), how often we return (such as the candle lighting being limited to once a day), and whose lives are afforded the privilege of remembering.

The monument is an imperfect site. By nature, it can never be a true ‘memorial’. Rather than a more lasting monument to memory, it will exist as another memory itself. It is perhaps more symbolic of the struggle of memory. It is transient, temporary, and tethered to the technologies it’s built upon—which falter more than man. What does it mean, to mourn and become in digital space? In between waking, remembering, and action, can we ‘never forget’ online? Perhaps the only way to combat the rate of decay is to collectively gather, and remember—as when the infrastructure that holds our memories fail, human hands might rebuild then.


Russell Ku of Rappler wrote an article about Ang Bantayog, but I also wanted to share the full question-and-answer I was sent over and wrote out here.

1. What was the process in making the “Ang Bantayog” website? How long did it take you to put this website together from conceptualization to publication? 

  • I’ve long been making browser-based art, thinking about websites as a worlding exercise in investigating the environmental and infrastructural. As I’ve been physically distanced from the Philippines since coming to the US for college, I have been interested in treating websites as space, literally as sites, as a form of gathering & social practice.
  • ‘Ang Bantayog’ was conceptualized and developed in April 2023 in response to my growing interest in digital preservation and memory, and the current administration & political landscape that arose for lack of that. I developed an early version with candles flooding the screen in a seemingly infinite vertical scroll over two days, inspired by the layout of other martial law activations I’ve seen, from stone markers to activated street memorials. I reached out to Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s May Rodriguez & Karl Ramirez in May via email to share the draft & concept behind the piece to get their thoughts, and then picked up the site again around September 19th to develop both forms of ‘memory’ to speak to the shared labor of memory and the power of the collective against the degradation that any one individual might phase. I launched it soon after, purchasing the domain on the 20th.

2. What were the challenges in making the website, especially given that you’re commemorating all 11,103 victims of human rights violations of Martial Law in the website? 

  • The challenge was in understanding that this is not a true commemoration, that it would ever be an equivalent to a monument. A website positing itself as a memorial might be doomed; dwelling on the web itself means continuously losing access to one’s own past. I’m creating something that by nature is designed for its own disappearance, as a memorial to those who have disappeared. 
  • My practice’s nature is about visibility and infrastructure, operating in full awareness that the sites I make, like those of early net art pioneers or community archivists (such as Mon Ramirez’ Arkibong Bayan), is always at this risk. I am most interested in commemoration as catalysts and interventions, and so this is an exercise of collective memory more than the impossible act of replicating memory itself. Preservation, of immaterial sites and of memory, is a [communal] act. Embracing the ephemeral, transient, and instability of the internet has made this piece a reflection of the past 51 decades of struggle to fight, remember, and convene—a continuation of the people’s struggle beyond just a passive recognition of an atrocity, as if long gone. It is a closer reflection to what people have struggled for before.

3. Why did you decide to focus on the 11,103 figure of state-recognized human right victims for the project, especially when Amnesty International notes there were 3,240 known extrajudicial killings, 34,000 documented tortures, 70,000 imprisonments, and 77 recorded disappearances? 

  • The magnitude of terror and loss far exceeds the 11,103 names drawn from the HRVCB’s Roll of Victims. I scraped and drew from this list as it was important for me to highlight names on the website, akin to how names are etched on physical memorials, all while recognizing that it is inexhaustive. Even if these names represent just a fraction of an incalculable loss, I was struck by how few have record of life online, beyond their name on the roll on this one government website’s table. In a way, further circulation of their names in digital space–which is just as territorial and pervasive as real space–is one means of resisting their erasure. There’s an immense politic to who is remembered: who is visible, who receives the infrastructure for recognition–and who answers for this is in control of history, or the perception of it.

4. What were the feelings you had when developing this website? What went through your mind as you went on with the project? 

  • I make to connect: myself to the question of memory, to the struggle at home, to my own contentious relationship with my technologies. 
  • After the site’s launch, I keep a tab of the ‘whole’ version open at all times and hear the sound of a striking match every few minutes; I am glad to feel interdependent in the work of memory, and of recognition of our environments that work to repress it.
  • Many times I scroll to a lit candle and try to look into the name presented, finding no record of their life online but a listing on the HRVCB’s website—which is the most heartsinking part. I hope for other records can further take on to continue recognizing these names for their courage, sacrifice, and people they were: instead of just the harm done to them ascribed by a seemingly arbitrary point system.

5. You mentioned in your post that “[you are] thinking about the internet coexisting as a place of liberation & of learning, and also of immense loss & repression,” especially it’s also online disinformation that led to the election of the late dictator’s son to Malacañang, what do you think is the role of the internet in the present in helping people remember and never forget about Martial Law atrocities? 

  • The internet was the source of my political awakening, as with many of my peers and mentors. It is also where I am fearful of seeing those around me, even my loved ones, succumb to extremism and hatred. As one of the most potent reflections of human behaviors & will, the internet accelerates how we learn, but might also exacerbate divides.
  • Infrastructurally and socially, the Filipino internet is not distributed or designed in a way that allows everyone to truly ‘learn’ or ‘remember’. Algorithmic feeds constrain access to a diversity of information & tend to extremism and the manipulation of bad actors; many Filipinos face inequities in accessing adequate hardware & connectivity, and corporate ‘free internet’ programs are distributed with nebulous intentions; local narratives & community histories (such as that of many martial law survivors) often go under/undocumented on the internet, or if they are, might be suppressed and lack the avenues for apt distribution. This is what I think about in terms of ‘loss and repression’.
  • I view the internet most as a tool and medium, thinking about it in its simplest roots for networking. It has potential as an archive, a place of discussion that transcends many (but not all) material limitations—but only when the internet becomes a more agentic place, one where its consumers are better equalized in distribution, authorship, in making it.

6. What do you think can Filipinos and other institutions can do to retain or instill collective memory of Martial Law? 

  • Continuing to preserve physical & digital artifacts, to steward folk & local practices of networking, memory, and sharing, and to broaden often myopic viewpoints of who gets to be ‘remembered’, ‘preserved’ is crucial… Memory is a collective & lifelong practice. To remember beyond physical (or digital) monuments, to remember even when there might be no record but the voice, to provide individuals alike the tools and funding necessary to understand and deconstruct the past, and to recognize that no one institution has authority over narrative… ultimately, it is in how each of us remember.
  • The record is a tool for both oppression and liberation, and no database or flattened table of names is in itself a whole story: these are all merely structures to which we then form narratives that we tell each other to understand the past.

9. I know that you are active in your “Philippine Internet Archive” initiative to combat revisionism and disinformation online, how is your project going? What are the challenges in taking on such a big step to archive the history of the Philippine internet and what are your plans for the future? Why did you decide to take on such projects in the first place? 

  • The ‘Philippine Internet Archive’ is a bit of a misnomer just like ‘Ang Bantayog’ is. More than a traditional archive or collection, I’m working on it as a history of Filipino networking that decenters the internet’s militant, colonialist roots and instead looks equally at those who make its access possible: Pisowifi vendors, infrastructural maintainers, tech laborers, call center workers, and alternative media publications. I’ve been conducting interviews over the past 6 months (often at 5AM my time!), but majority of our efforts are centered on Kakakompyuter Mo Yan!, a digital exhibition commissioning 20+ artists for new media works, software, and performances that explore technology’s intersections. 
  • Living and ‘liberating’ myself online for as long as I could remember (I made my first website when I was 7 years old), I realized that I’ve been using websites as an exercise to preserve myself and all that I loved. To situate myself on the internet, to make myself seen, to embrace the labor of maintenance, hosting & service, alongside all the transgressions of presentation and performativity have been my central questions. I’d like to dedicate my whole life to my nation, and this question is even further unresolved when you consider the internet’s relation with territorialization and erasure (I gave a talk in Copenhagen last month on domain names, identity, & colonialism), e.g. in the dissolution of democracies or even in national memories of the former Yugoslavia.

10. Given the latest technological developments at the moment such as AI, how do you think technology can still help in helping people remember things that we’d not feel comfortable revisiting or to hold people to account, especially as I earlier mentioned that it has also led to the spread of disinformation? 

  • Technology can help us be more agentic and discerning of our time and attention if wielded properly. Developments that blindlessly favor optimization & the performant (such as algorithmic feeds, user-optimized content, some AI use cases) offload the work of scrutiny, discovery, and discernment to oft corporate interests that do not work in our favor.
  • I’m more interested in traditionally antiquated technologies that do not seek to rewrite human behavior in the guise of augmenting it.
  • Some people see technology as extensions of their body or mind. I suppose it is a question of whether it is the human that shapes their technologies, or the technology that is shaping the human—the latter of which always includes the question of the human in power behind that shaping.

Mob Play

Reading Time: 13 minutes

The culling begins with the comments section. On Christine Dacera’s death, the weaponization of social media, the sensationalism of false justice, and lessons we have yet to learn.

During the New Year, Christine Dacera’s coworker Rommel Galida woke up at 10AM. He found her deep asleep in their hotel room’s bathtub, passed out from a New Year’s Eve party they attended together with other friends the night prior. He put a blanket over her and returned to bed, waking up a few hours later to see her fully unconscious and turning blue.
Rushed to the hospital, Christine was quickly declared dead. Autopsy pending and investigation underway, the case reached mass attention as the eleven men with her were named suspects. Immediately, the Philippine National Police arrested three of them – including Rommel – charged of rape-slay (rape and homicide); the others still at large.
(The Philippines is the only country that uses the term rape-slay.)

“This is a fair warning. Surrender within seventy-two (72) hours or we will hunt you down using force if necessary.”
Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Debold Sinas

With her companion’s names lined up, the nation turned. The act of desecration is an easy one if given the backing. This case was perfect: it came with the new year with everyone at home and hyperfocused on the next public case that would become dinner table conversation, resurfaced the deeply-rooted misogyny and sexism often tabled, and Christine was so human. She was a graduate of the country’s most prestigious university, worked a dream job, died far too young, and like any other victim – was completely undeserving of her fate.

Denouncing these names and declaring them enemies of the nation, online civilians took to poor discourse about rape culture (the hashtag of choice for Christine was #ProtectDrunkGirls, which is problematic in its own right; if not this, then #NoMeansNo repetitions), shitty ad-filled clickfarms publicizing the same paragraph about Rommel Galida’s entire work history, and the passed Christine amassing over a hundred thousand Instagram followers.

Each article and hastily-written post shared over and over with “CTTO/credits to the owner”, her being memorialized alongside Facebook caption screenshots, reduced and condensed with each share.

In the Name of Justice

The Philippines is a nation swayed by men throwing money at us across variety shows, smoothtalkers and dramatics no different on the television than in make-believe radio courtrooms, and morning news filled with celebrity chatter.

Political partylist ACT-CIS also added onto the witchhunt, promising a Php100,000 bounty for any tips that people could share. ACT-CIS has historically been linked to the sensationalist broadcaster Raffy Tulfo. Here, little acts of kindness like returning lost wallets are praised, and family disputes turn into entertainment for the masses. Tulfo screams and curses at the poor in scenarios where there really is no suspect, only victims, mass entertainment more than any form of rationality.

What release broadcast media provides is immediacy. This is why Filipinos tag Tulfo onto cases, throw away arguments with “Isumbong mo yan kay Tulfo“, and place their notions of justice in the hands of a cursing celebrity with the power of trial by the public. No – in Tulfo’s world, public school teachers are perhaps given more scolding than failing policemen. What Tulfo demands is action in the present, providing ultimatums for whoever can’t present themselves in radio to millions of listening Filipinos. He still dangles the threat of charges and police intervention, results that could not have come from the people who go to him since of course, they are common folk who will not be listened to. To Tulfo it goes. Katiwalian, kassamaan, at kalokohan! They swear to fight against.
The same kind of immediacy is why Rodrigo Duterte has rose in popularity. Our country’s cycle of populism is too predictable as his vigilante-style, state-sponsored death squads soothe the most vulnerable into a feigned sense of safety –– until they themselves are the victims. The spectacles of Tulfo justice and Duterte’s wrath are no different from each other, really; yet, clueless, bored teenagers and workers claw at the first opportunity to become who they detest most. Social media becomes vehicle to enact our own kind of decree: humiliating and harassing the family of each victim, digging through their history and offering no sense of reprieve. We become our own arbiters of justice, often masked through anonymous accounts and the flood of rage.

Lessons from the Boston Bombing

In April 2013, 3 were killed and 264 more injured in a bomb blast close to the Boston Marathon finish line. Memorials sprung along the streets, exhibitions of running shoes marked with the names of the runners were stacked together before yellow trim, and the world cried in solidarity.
Three days after the bombing, the FBI released images of two suspects. Grieving and shock turned into vitriol, silent solidarity turned into a hunger for action and revenge. This becomes near-ritualistic after any mass disaster: seek the villain, latch on, and destroy them.

Brown University student Sunil Tripathy had gone missing a month prior to the bombing, pausing college due to a long history with depression. His family put together photos, callouts, and messages on a Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi page. At the same time, /r/findbostonbombers sprouted on Reddit, anonymous usernames plowing over missing person pages and public directories to take their own investigative path. With a seven rule spreadsheet embossed with “DO NOT POST PERSONAL INFORMATION” as the most important one. With thousands of ears pressed to Boston police scanners and any ounce of speculation, Sunil’s name was mistakenly tweeted out as Boston Bomber Suspect #2.

Left, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev –– the side-by-side comparison with the then-unnamed suspect caused a mass witchhunt against Tripathi

With the early revelation, social media became a victor. It had solved the case and identified the victim before any news outlet, emerging winner as the tug-of-war of media. Politician Greg Hughes, as primary Twitter spreader, lauded the swathe of anonymous detectives: “If Sunil Tripathi did indeed commit this #BostonBombing, Reddit has scored a significant, game-changing victory. Journalism students take note: tonight, the best reporting was crowdsourced, digital and done by bystanders. #Watertown.” More journalists retweeted the claims, further spreading the unverified accusation against a missing, suicidal student.

On April 23rd, Sunil’s body was found in Seekonk, near Providence Rhode Island. He had committed suicide.

Sunil was most visible case of misidentification and mob outrage, but far from the only one.

In the Name of Christine

The act of misdirected anger after mass disaster is not new. 9/11 brought the world over to an unprecedented war on terror and waves of casual, racist brutality. Chinese-Filipinos born and raised in the country are spit on, isolated, and refused services after the wake of the Coronavirus; casual posts articulate the issue of “Mainlanders” in encounters at milk tea shops and condominium elevators in a country that believes it’s impossible to be racist.

Social media platforms have given us this sickly addicting taste at control. The words that seep into the public hegemony of course, come cherrypicked to whatever fits the hivemind most. These platforms also allow the darkest sides of our inhumanity to rise: mild inaccuracies and mistakes, if you don’t have the appropriate amount of social capital to back you, are left as permanent marks. In cases like Tripathi’s, even unnecessary death sentences.

Christine is loved, but this act of love and grieving has implicated friends desperately defending themselves against new revelations: Christine’s death was ruled to be of a sudden aneurysm, lacerations and marks on her body as natural results from sex from days prior (the way people discuss her personal relationships are another issue). Information about the gathering she was attending actually being a gay party (many of whom in the community fear public outing), testimonies from her friends ignored in public discourse.

“Paano po naging rape? Bakla po ako. Never po ako nakipagtalik sa babae ever in my life.”
Translation. How did it become rape? I am gay. I never had sex with any woman ever in my life.

The Philippine National Police declared the case as solved while suspects were still missing, enumerating a loose four-element list before ending the post with #WeServeAndProtect. Here, they painted themselves as the people’s victor too, and an ally in a joint witchhunt.
Digging through the case, it’s fucking impossible to find any details of the investigation. Any other statement from the arrested victims is buried, or non-existent. Christine’s face, her friends’ faces, all the suspects names blur into one. Statements and ill-worded posts from random accounts dominate public discourse over news outlets and words from journalists, the spectacle crowning.


When Micahel Foucalt recounts public execution, he notes that they were more than just a mere act of justice – they were a “manifestation of force.” Public theater is grotesque, hypnotizing, and promised assurance and trust in the state; it worked as a public deterrent. Bodies hung on pikes, left on nooses, shot and bagged in cardboard at the side of the road, left pooled in Quezon City suburbs––they are all one and the same. Our collectivism calls this as more than an issue against Christine’s family, far more than personal matters. We’ve incurred the wrath of a nation: a sin against the state, of the people, of something so close to home. When we hang bodies dry with words in a hyperdigital society, how close are we to manifesting this rage into physical death itself––disproportionately affecting the poor?

The same weaponization is precisely what propelled Duterte to his victory in 2016. It’s what silences dinner table conversations, machoisms of the father distancing themselves from their left-wing children. It’s what propelled us to a senatorial slate in the 2019 midterms fully consisting of Duterte’s allies, including a daughter of a dictator, the President’s personal aide, and men who have surrendered on counts of graft and fraud. We’re facing a mass punishing, given a false sense of power when the social media spectacle truly only serves those already in authority. In the case of Christine Dacera, the outing of Dacera’s friends to hastily write off a case and turn the people to the police’s debt.

Witness Exposed Police said "Mission Accomplished" to Daughter After  Shooting

Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, and the Saviorism of the Philippine National Police

December 20th, just a few days before Christmas. A video circulates of a young girl with her off-duty father in a heated argument with some unarmed neighbors. Sonya Gregorio and Frank Gregorio were setting up rudimentary noisemakers, custom around the ritualistic Filipino Christmas practices. Sonya, 55, hugs her son – nestled on her lap as she attempts to prevent him from further fighting with then-officer Nuezca––bystanders are wailing, unable to intervene and in fear for their lives. Nuezca’s daughter further antagonizes the mother and son, yelling “my father is a cop.” Her phone up, face in blind apathy. He threatens the elderly Sonya, then shoots her and her son in the head –– continuing even while they were bleeding out on the ground.

Before the video’s events, neighbor Alyssa Calosing reported that Nuezca had already been physically assaulting Frank, hence his mother sheltering him and holding him back. Right after the incident, Jonel and his daughter walked –– motionless. Videographer stunned, empty, completely number. You can hear Jonel Nuezca faintly speak, “mission accomplished,” as he walks away.

Jonel murdered two innocent, unarmed neighbors in broad daylight –– uncaring of the crowd of people around him. Alone, this was far from his first act of malfeasance; Jonel had been previously charged with two homicide cases, acts around his neglect of duty, and was cleared of two killings in 2016 in a buy-and-bust operation; in alignment with Duterte’s rise to presidency and militant crusade against addicts. Kill them all.

Over 7,000 people were killed in a six-month period at the start of Duterte’s drug war. The Philippines has the fourth-highest murder rate, adjusted for population. Isolated, we top the list.

While Duterte has denounced Jonel’s actions (of course, it was caught outright on tape), we remain desensitized to the onslaught of brutality, repression, and nauseating violence that has become commonplace in Philippine society. Instinct becomes to mob. Pathology is to seek justice. We circle around the idea of the death penalty since it’s the best way to measure death: living by centuries-old philosophies in the vein of Hammurabi now as we did in our imbalanced histories.
Misconduct still thrives. Like the discourse surfacing over rape culture in a patriarchal Philippines, we see trickles of blame shifting to victims (e.g. what clothes were you wearing?) that allow for larger violations––assault, rape, death. It takes pyramids about culture for a blinded nation to understand what the accumulation of fear can mean.

We idealize extreme cases where an individual can be implicated for the crimes of a larger society, forgetting that the larger picture of accountability looms and will simply allow for more slips and deaths to happen. That is, our sense of justice and hearts need to contain familiar stories, graphic videos, or an impending sense of that could be us for the common man to wish to act. Even when we do, we fail to detest the more productive part of the problem: the national phenomenons and systems that continue to let police bury murders under the rug and award themselves from it, the mob mentality against the Nuezca that can easily turn into death wishes to any sleight of hand. If he killed your mother, he deserves to die. It’s why the most Catholic, religiously devout country in Asia devote themselves to extremes––the abundance of suffering and poverty, the underpaid defending millionaires, the death penalty for the fellow poor––all as larger orchestrators of these systems go unscathed. The Filipino way is to kneel at the altar and thank god, while praying for justice in the most grotesque of ways.

Jonel Nuezca’s daughter has her name publicized. A Twitter search away and people have debunked her entire educational history, her Facebook friend’s list, and the death threats that follow her. At twelve, people have put up fake Facebook pages of her, imitating her real Facebook account (which isn’t hard to find), her personal profile picture at nineteen thousand shares––detailing wishes for her to die. They share collages of her and her family, explicitly recounting how they wish for her mom to be assaulted, editing her photos and putting together YouTube videos parodying her.
In the same breath, liberals who had advocated for the raise of the minimum age of criminal responsibility exhale in relief, knowing that it still currently stands at twelve. They rejoice that she is covered.

Just like how other cop families are utterly deplorable for attempting to step in and say that their fathers are an exception, Jonel Nuezca’s daughter is victim of a broken system. This is not the first time her father has killed, not the first time his office will kill, and far from the first time that his force will in an age where they are Duterte’s pawns and heroes.
As the Commission of Human Rights begs for people to take down photos and names of the young girl, people are unrelentless. The witchhunt is the act. They care less about the fate of the victims or the power that enables these injustices to come into action over and over. They are magnificent in their act of vilification, of mimicking their President, of taking hand in the act of implication. In the end, they wipe their bloodstained hands away and deem him an outsider, get praise for the “good ones” in an industry where there should absolutely be no errors, and know they’re at peace––until the next.

We become no different from the murderers. Our trials only fuel the subtle, manipulative evil that we fear. Impassion pleas to act only brutalize the way for the next.


In the Philippines, collective memory is a weak, if not non-existent concept. We know this in many ways. We knew this when we marched to overthrow a dictator beginning February 22, 1986, then elected his daughter back into office three decades later. We know this because our justice runs on ads and broadcast dystopia that we allowed to fall with the death of ABS-CBN, and never question why petty thieves get worse sentences than politicians who steal millions from the country. We know this when Duterte is back in power, directly copying the tactics of a former dictator beginning with the assault, jailing, and killing of student journalists that fueled the insurrection. Christina Dacera’s death is now being used as a force to alienate the long-oppressed queer community in the country further, with no room for suspects to speak. They’re not even fucking doing any work on the investigation. The state is making themselves look good, faking autopsies and coaxing the masses to pull the trigger.

We forget the meaning of process. We want immediacy. We want blood, only. These desires are far from true justice. There are no winners.


I remember Fabel Pineda, fifteen-years-old and putting her faith in the police after already being molested by two cops until she was gunned down on the way home from a police station. Her story is less sensational than the Christine Dacera case, more hushed. I remember Myca Ulpina. I grit my teeth at how my mind can only contain so many names, at how we must dig for the stories of Rodesa Imat or Salem Tenebroso –– left in kill lists with only their names and ages to go by. Most of all, I remember Paco Larrañaga.

Outrage is what wins. Not correction or justice. It’s a game of feelings, movements, and of appeals. I’m all for calling out a friend who may have fucked up if only to question that line of thought, only if you exert a continuous effort to ensure that the justice served is deliberate, meaningful, and scaleable. I grew up in an internet that saved me with the promise of equality in voice, yet now only see it as a place where we are all pawns.

Until each statement is retracted and conscious effort is done to further verified advise, we only legitimize the PNP’s attempt at cover-ups. We become complicit in their half-assed investigation, serving no one but themselves. Like unretractable defamation, deleting tweets and shares is nothing –– we need an intentional commitment to furthering the truth and severing ourselves from blind emotions that jeopardize not only the safety of Christine’s family and friends, but all future Filipinos who could be next. Correct our words. Trace your shares. Know and own every word. Resist the Philippine spectacle that has long-enabled the state to wrap its finger around us.

When I speak against the killer, who hears it? When I wish death upon somebody, who lives? When I forget, who is left to remember?

Further reading

A State, Some Motorcycles, and a Startup

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Despite promises to improve the worsening chaos of Manila’s traffic, the Philippine government continues to war with Angkas, showing its true colors.

“What do they mean by transportation crisis?” says Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo after the breakdown of the LRT-2, a transport line serving 200,000 passengers across Metro Manila. It was eventual that the country would want to slip and weave past the ever-worsening traffic, and with it, the government’s unfulfilled processes. So came motorcycles, a mess, and a discovery of what a startup is.