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Monday, July 15, 2024

Dealing with political grief

““Collective grief may occur when the loss relates to a group where commonly shared assumptions are shattered,” wrote grief researcher Darcy Harris.”

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The outcome of the 2022 elections left opposition supporters who campaigned and voted for presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo in shock and dismay, not only because of her and most of her slate’s loss at the polls but also because of suspected anomalies related to the voting process and the negative impacts they believe will follow a Ferdinand Marcos Jr.-Sara Duterte leadership.

The Leni supporters are dubbed “kakampinks,” from the Filipino word ‘kakampi’ (ally) and pink, the color of the campaign, and from the use of the pink rose to symbolize Robredo and the entire movement.

Many of them are now going through the stages of grief, described as “DABDA” – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Individuals may go through each of these stages in a linear fashion, experience some or all at once, or skip others. In other words, grieving is a personal process that everyone undergoes in their own way due to the impact of internal and external factors.

In particular, what opposition supporters are now experiencing may be termed ‘political grief.’ While grief is often thought of as an individual’s response to loss, the concept of grief may also be extended to encompass the emotion felt collectively on a sociopolitical level.

This “collective grief may occur when the loss relates to a group where commonly shared assumptions are shattered,” wrote grief researcher Darcy Harris in 2021. Here, she adds, the “origin of the loss is in the overarching social and political structures.”

Further quoting Harris, the concept of political grief also covers the “sense of assault” experienced by those who “struggle with the ideology and practices of their governing bodies and those who hold political power” – in this case, as felt by Robredo supporters — well as the direct losses sustained by persons “as a result of political policies, ideologies, and oppression enacted and/or empowered at the sociopolitical levels” – such as those negatively affected by the Duterte administration and the previous Marcos regime.

Another researcher suggested that the way to deal with and move on after trauma is to properly mourn it and confront traumatic emotions and memories. Kakampinks are finding and creating their own healing spaces and processes, and the best example of this is Robredo herself, who last week announced the creation of the Angat Buhay NGO, that continues the philanthropic work of the Angat Buhay Foundation that she started in the Office of the Vice-President.

Many are processing their political grief online through their social media posts, that can be seen to evolve or cycle through the grief stages. A person may write an angry post, then a sad one, later a hopeful one.

Some have formed online spaces where persons and communities can congregate, share their trauma, and find ways to deal with the current situation. This reflection, that takes place on both the individual and collective levels, enables the traumatized community to acknowledge and slowly accept their loss, and work through the emotions they feel, among them fear, anxiety, humiliation, and anger.

Sharing different perspectives and opinions in addition to knowledge and facts may help many understand the rise of populism in the country, starting with the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president in 2016.

Others are looking at the role social media has played in enabling the spread of disinformation and revision of history in recent years. Expect this recent election campaign and its outcomes to be a popular topic for communication and media studies researchers for a long time to come.

The outpouring of emotion from many opposition supporters has also led many of them to express their feelings through art. There are at least two projects that have called for literary and visual works on the theme of the recent elections.

Just as Robredo inspired writers, musicians, painters, and many other artists to create art related to the principles and values she stands for and that many in the opposition share and espouse, so also artists are now creating works that reflect their anger, grief, and sorrow over the turn of events.

While many Marcos-Duterte supporters mock the grief of the kakampinks, and gloat and brag about the victory of their candidates, there seems to be little genuine joy and happiness coming from their side. Their snide remarks and petty and mean posts are now being turned into memes and art, as inspiration may come from anywhere.

The creation of these memes is also a way for people to deal with their political grief. Expect more to emerge if public discourse on the country’s current situation continues to remain heated and cantankerous.

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The Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc., the sponsor and organizer of the 70th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, is reminding aspiring Palanca awardees to submit their entries before the deadline on May 31.

The event was put on hiatus for the first two years of the pandemic. This year’s comeback edition of the country’s longest-running and most prestigious literary contest is accepting entries in all of its 22 categories, including the Novel and Nobela categories, offered only every other year.

In the Kabataan Division – Kabataan Essay and and Kabataan Sanaysay, the topics are, respectively: “Life in the Midst of the Pandemic and Coping in the New Normal” and “Buhay sa Gitna ng Pandemya at Pagharap sa ‘New Normal.’”

Participants may submit only one entry per category. Contest rules and official entry forms are available at Palanca Awards’ official website, Entries must be submitted online only.

For inquiries, contact the CPMA office at or at (632) 8843-8277 / (632) 8478-7996. Ask for Ms. Leslie Layoso or Ms. Susan Castillo.

*** FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO


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