There seems to be no instant solution to Mocha Uson.
Illustration by Patrick Dale Carrillo
EDITORIAL: Mocha is not the problem
THE DOWNBEAT - DLS Pineda (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2016 - 6:40pm

As it is to be expected in the era of Duterte, the interwebs are torn again — most recently, on the question of Mocha Uson.

On one corner are the defenders of good old-fashioned journalism. They are those who harp on the idea of a “real” journalism, a formula which would only work minus the Internet and minus five decades of human (d)evolution. On the other corner is the mob, the ones empowered by social media and fueled by the belief that mainstream media is being “bias” (sic) against them. They are the ones who believe that they are enlightened by something the media, the educational system, and the rest of the world have kept secret from them for all their sorry lives, and that they now bear this burden of a monopoly of the truth — led by none other than ka-DDS Mocha Uson.

Mashed in this royal rumble are those who quote Voltaire, defenders of Mocha’s right to say what she wants even if they wholeheartedly disagree with her, and those who call for some sort of regulation, some sort of whipping, taming, and neutering to be done to her blog’s fountain of misinformation. Except for those who recognize the primacy of her(/our) human rights, the people who weigh in on this subject tend to be quite a misogynistic lot, harping on her profession as a “sexy star” to exit all sensible argument.

So, in an ironic turn of events, the one who petitioned for Mocha’s silencing, a petition signed by 32,867 users as of writing, is suspended by Facebook. The anti-Duterte crowd gets to taste their own medicine when they realize that shutting Mocha up is a form of extrajudicial killing, the easiest way out. At the same time, those who wish for her to tone down continue to face her wrath and diehard trolling. There seems to be no instant solution to Mocha Uson. She lives up to her name—halfway between coffee and vanilla, mocha is a deceptively simple and addictive concoction.

Who is Mocha, really?

Mocha Uson is the daughter of a judge in Pangasinan and a pediatrician who has survived breast cancer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from the University of Santo Tomas and proceeded to take up Medicine in the same school but dropped out on her second year when she realized that she fitted better in entertainment. In September 2002, her father was ambushed and killed in Asingan, Pangasinan. In Irish Christianne Dizon’s interview with Mocha last June 11, 2016 for Supreme, Mocha said, “[My father] was assassinated. Kasi mero’ng isang notorious gang sa Pangasinan. Walang may gustong judge na hawakan ‘yung kasong ‘yun. Napunta sa kanya.

“Ang tatay ko, matapang. Makabayan siya. ‘Yun ‘yung naipasa niya sa akin. Para sa kanya, kahit anong mangyari, basta importante gawin niya ‘yung tama. So tinanggap niya ‘yung kaso. Napakulong niya ‘yung leader nung syndicate na ‘yun. And because of that he was killed.”

Mocha recounted that her father was on his way home when two pairs of motorcycle riders waited for him at a bridge, shot him six times “para siguradong patay siya.” She continues to believe that the men who killed her father were hired hands of a politician. No cases, however, were filed in court as she believes that these would not bring her father back.

“Ang pinaglalaban ko lang is, sana naman magkaro’n ng takot ‘yung mga mamamatay tao na gumawa ng mga bagay na ganito,” she said. Later in the same interview, she admitted to seeing his father in the President. The ironies were all there; though a victim of murderous injustice herself, I could hardly blame her for thinking in contradictions.

Much needed context

Mocha’s story neither adds weight to her arguments which are often bereft of logic, nor does it discredit them. But what it does is give context as to where she is coming from and what makes her so prone and empowered to believe and broadcast her ideas. Empathy is what we miss in the online world’s anonymity that we often resort to answers which are all too cerebral and imaginary. Faced with the Mocha Uson question, we tend to either condemn or defend her — rarely do we look for nuance. As we find our ideas constantly being challenged online, we also find it harder and harder to entertain ideas which are opposite to ours. We forget that these ideas are birthed and nursed by people with stories of their own. We forget that people like Mocha and a whole lot of fanatics out there are also human.

But brought to this more personal realm, the necessary questions we now have to ask are: What’s in it for Mocha? Who is being used here and for what ends?

This line of questioning takes us further into other people’s lives, their subject positions, and explores the power play—the politics — that goes behind every word. In this world where the idea of a singular Truth is demolished by our multiple realities in social media, in “real” life, and elsewhere, the conception/creation of truth cannot simply be dictated. In other words, we must each construct what for us is real. Somehow, Mocha is making a killing in the very temporal world online. In real life, we must wonder, how is this translating in her career in entertainment? How is she benefiting from this? Is it giving her more gigs? And for how long will her influence last? These questions, the blather online cannot answer.

It is useless to argue freedom of speech when Facebook has always been a private entity. (In a strange way, that prank several weeks ago made sense: If we wish to argue free speech, we must first assume that Facebook is a public platform — when it’s obviously not). Mark Zuckerberg and his team are free to be arbiters of a religion or nation of their own. But what we can do is to simply entertain, interrogate, engage, and discuss ideas online and see how exactly these will translate in the world we wake up to each morning. Again, we can’t expect any change to come online; that’s what Mocha’s supporters and haters both miss. The fight is never there and misinformation’s roots lie in the things we want to believe and the things we want to forget.

* * *

Tweet the author @sarhentosilly.

 

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