Courtesy of Joey O. Razon via Wikimedia Commons

For decades, the Philippine elections have revolved around a mountain of misinformation spread throughout Facebook, Instagram and recently TikTok. This is due to the lack of regulation and laws that do not prohibit the publication of false information leading up to crucial elections. As we know, misinformation happens everywhere in the world. We’ve seen this through life-changing events such as the pandemic, the 2020 United States presidential election and the war in Ukraine. What sets the Philippines apart from what’s transpiring throughout the rest of the world, however, is the way misinformation is actively changing the way younger generations are seeing the atrocities that have transpired in the past. This is relevant in the case of the 2022 Philippine election, where many voters were swayed through misinformation to put the controversial Marcos family into power once again. 

To provide some context, former President Ferdinand Marcos plunged the Philippine population into chaos by declaring martial law after a series of bombings in the capital, Manila. While this was a good decision at the time given the circumstances, Marcos drastically prolonged his time in office and left the country under martial law for 10 years. For reference, Marcos initially served two four-year terms as president, although the number of terms one could serve as president was ratified to one six-year term later. From this martial law, millions of Filipinos suffered under his rule, resulting in poverty, wages decreasing and 3,275 people dying at the hands of the military. 

While many Filipino families have passed on the traumatic stories that took place at this time, the education system within the Philippines has rewritten these events to fit the agenda of the person who would end up winning the presidential election in 2022: Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr. The education system not only caused an intergenerational divide between families and communities but force-fed the narrative that the Marcos family did no wrong and made the economy flourish under martial law. This is an incredibly dangerous narrative with statistics in mind, yet it remains a contributing factor to where this country is at. 

Like the United States, the Philippines maintains a significant population of young voters, with thousands surpassing the eligibility age of 18 to vote in this election. With the consistent spread of information through apps aligning with the information they were taught, it is incredibly difficult to decipher between the lies. Upon looking into the way Bong Bong Marcos and his family are portrayed through popular social media sites like TikTok, it appears that many people within this age group romanticized the family, sympathizing with the “tough decisions” they made without regarding what people in previous generations experienced. 

Considering that BBC News just published an article pertaining to the way a writer gets paid by politicians to spread and promote fake news, this is one of the many ways Philippine politicians continue to manipulate the young impressionable audience to vote for people like Marcos Jr. Therefore, this cycle remains, and the tainted narrative continues to circulate to impressionable audiences. The lack of any regulation when it comes to addressing misinformation also ties into the way corrupt politicians have been getting away with these actions for so long. 

One may argue that Bong Bong Marcos is capable of being an entirely different person from his father. However, he did openly admire the actions his father carried out to the detriment of the Filipino people. The whitewashed and romanticized version of Marcos family affairs circulating alongside the negative portrayal of Marcos’s rival, Leni Robredo, in the days leading up to the election is also suspicious. Finally, the way Bong Bong developed an alliance with Sara Duterte and gained approval from her controversial father, Rodrigo Duterte, brings a sense of dread about what will transpire in this six-year term. The president leaving office has caused controversy in every decision he made. One can only tell what will happen, but now is the time to pay attention to how Marcos Jr.’s rule impacts the country and international relations going forward.