Some of my favorite authors — John Steinbeck and Charles Dickens — show no remorse in propping their underdogs up.
There’s really something about the small guy fighting for his fair share, slugging it out in the real world, and finally making it big that moves readers to cheer him on every step of the way.
Literature is littered with some of the most beloved underdogs:
Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins and Aladdin are just a few. My favorite character in the Old Testament, David, was a boy who slew a giant and became king and who, despite his indiscretions, was loved by God.
This is the same underdog narrative that carried Rodrigo Roa Duterte from Davao to Malacañang.
A man who hails from the south where no president has ever come from, with no machinery, with a thick Visayan accent, with all his fury and might, waging a just war against the oligarchy — it’s a story and persona that resonated with the Filipino, already feeling defeated and dejected from decades of losing to a system rigged against him.
The underdog is not the same as someone playing the victim card.
The underdog exudes confidence and courage despite being seen by his foes as inferior to them.
Someone who plays the victim card, in contrast, is someone who embraces the role of the victim, as an excuse, when push comes to shove.
This partly explains Mocha Uson’s appeal to millions of Filipinos.
Here’s a woman whose father was assassinated, whose mother is a cancer survivor, who became famous as a kind of entertainer many in our conservative culture would sneer at, but who, suddenly, found her voice and her calling.
Again, it’s a story that Filipinos identify with or even something they’d be compelled to be a part of.
She is no victim like Pinoy Ako Blog’s Jover Laurio, elevated to the pantheon of greatness by the elite (promoted vigorously by the same establishment Mocha has been working mighty hard to challenge), but who, when cornered or attacked, has no qualms using the victim card.
Normally it’s the pretty girls who are cast as “contrabidas” in soap operas and the not so pretty ones are the “inaapi.”
But in the case of Mocha and PAB, the equation is not reduced to mere looks.
There are entire narratives at play, including the country, and so you see Mocha with at least 5.5 million Facebook followers guaranteed to make each post viral in minutes and Pinoy Ako Blog usually sponsoring her own posts.
In this age of social media, LP’s myth-making skills, though legendary, just doesn’t work anymore, even if you support it with the victim card.
Which brings me to my next point. What is it with social media and Mocha?
I remember some of my friends being all over her case when she was appointed Assistant Secretary for Social Media.
For them, she didn’t deserve to be appointed to a government post because she was once a sexy dancer, or because for them, she’s an idiot, or because they believe she is a purveyor of fake news.
About the last one, I was at the Senate hearing on fake news and, you know, after all the slides presented by the opposition senators against Mocha, they failed to prove that she promotes fake news.
Sure she shares from non-mainstream sources and while it’s something I do not do (I only share from “legit” news sites, unless the non-mainstream source is quoting me and I can therefore verify), I get that it’s her way of protesting mainstream media’s monopoly and mostly biased reportage (that falls within self-expression in my book).
The only thing they were able to show was that post with soldiers from Honduras which, by the way, wasn’t even portrayed as “news.”
She used a stock photo to accompany her message (which was the point of the post), a stock photo she didn’t know was of Honduran soldiers. But again, that is not news — she did not seek to report anything, all she did was give a message of support for our troops.
That was, at worst, an honest mistake. What else? Mayon’s location, typos in a memo, citing a non-existent article in the Constitution: these are the worst errors she’s committed so far, errors the Yellow mob and some judgmental Filipinos have crucified her for.
None of these are “fake news” but mistakes (happen to the best of us), and guess what, whenever she makes them she offers an apology for the gaffe.
I hope I could say the same for some mainstream media practitioners who do not even issue errata to correct mistakes in reports.
I’ve met Mocha many times, I’d like to think we’re friends (but that’s for Mocha to say) and I tell you, the woman isn’t dumb.
I do try to contain my tendency to be a grammar Nazi when I spot minute errors in her posts, errors of grammar, syntax, and even punctuation, and it’s because I don’t want to nitpick when there are far bigger issues we’re facing as a country.
When others see ditzy and dumb, I actually see genius. Some of us think we write or speak perfect English but in the world of social media where communication is dynamic, where words, visuals, ideas, emotions, and even other people’s reactions come together, very few people like Mocha have mastered its language.
The problem with the establishment is they attack and attack and don’t evaluate.
Focusing on form and missing the point of what Mocha represents is exactly the kind of intellectual snobbery and elitist superiority that have endeared her to the masses.
And while the elite continue to miss the point big time, she continues to master the language of social media so much so that the more people mock Mocha, the stronger she becomes.
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