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Context

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CHINA CONSTRUCTS | Louise Nichole Logarta

A few days ago, Toni Gonzaga’s show, Toni Talks, surfaced on YouTube in which she interviewed former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. (also known as “BBM”).


The internet shook with fury.


I watched that interview out of curiosity, since it was roiling the waters of social media. And…not that I can claim to have lived in the time of Martial Law, dahil hindi pa ako pinapanganak nu’n, and not that I can claim to know or be related to anybody who suffered the horrors of that time…but I feel compelled to give my two cents.


As many as there are people who castigate Toni Gonzaga for this interview, there are also a lot of people who defend it and her (just check the comments section of news reports about it). May mga nagsasabi na in-interview naman ni Toni si Leni Robredo, na interesado lang siya sa pagiging “fair” o “neutral”, na si Kris Aquino nga in-interview din si BBM nung ‘90s eh (and I searched that video clip too). Ang daming depensa.


But the people who give these reasons conveniently forget the context in which these conversations took place. We may never know why, really, Kris Aquino interviewed BBM on national television all those years ago, after her father died. But it was not in Kris’ interview that a cleaned-up, PG-13, rose-tinted version of the past was presented. It was not Kris who literally asked the words, “IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT PHILIPPINE HISTORY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?” (ahem, ahem, historical revisionism). And it was not at Kris’ wedding that BBM stood as Ninong, a designation of honor in matrimonial unions.


I would not call myself an expert interviewer, but I also noted that Toni asks her questions as if she is asking the hard questions, but she lets BBM steer the conversation and gloss over the sticky points. And steer and gloss he did. What did we expect? Pulitiko ‘yan eh.


Two things that BBM said stuck with me, as they seemed to me as being rife with irony: 1) “My father said [during EDSA]: ‘I have spent my whole life defending the Filipino people. I cannot hurt them now.’” And 2) “I [want to be known as] the son of the longest-lasting president of the Philippines who brought the [country] into the modern world.”


With the first, one must ask: how had things gotten so bad that an entire nation had shown up to oust you? to “hurt” you? With the second, well, malamang longest-lasting; kung 20 years ba naman eh.


Toni Gonzaga indeed has the freedom to interview whomever she wants. But it is a gaffe–a very regrettable one at that–given the context that we live in. It is a gaffe given the descendants and still-living victims of martial law.

It is a gaffe given that BBM, who, as Toni herself says, “needs no introduction”, was STILL given a platform. It is a gaffe given that in less than a year, the people need to choose new leaders for a country that is not much better off than it was nearly 2 years ago, and Toni supports someone who would give us more of the same. Context is everything.


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