Article: “Seeking Shelter in a Terrifying Father Figure” (print, 21 Oct – 21 Nov 2016); “Echoes of Trump: A Terrifying Father Figure in the Philippines” (online, 21 Oct 2016), The Indypendent, Issue 218 (New York).
Note: Selected as a Best of Indy 2016 article
This essay explores the rise of authoritarian, populist leaders in the United States and the Philippines. It draws out the similarities and differences between the political messianism of President Donald Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte. Crucially, it reveals the unique role of social kinship to explain Duterte’s enduring public appeal. The perspective of filial piety is often overlooked by international mainstream media, which tend to make simplistic comparisons by calling Duterte “The Trump of the East”. My discussion of Duterte’s role as the strongman father of the Filipino nation in the essay fills in this gap.
This essay explores the reasons behind the social toleration (and support) for the extrajudicial killings in the Philippine war on drugs. It hypothesizes what the acquiescence to state-sponsored and state-inspired violence by a religiously conservative culture discloses about the Filipino identity. Focusing on specific social paradoxes, the article demonstrates the national imagination’s difficulty in coping with the task of reconciling the religious and political spheres of private and public life. This level of analysis relies on an understanding of the history of social and political philosophy, and in particular the ambitions of German romanticism. While complex in nature, the arguments in the essay are communicated in an accessible and competent manner and are supported by local examples.
In this interview, I talk about my personal motivations behind navigating issues belonging to the intersections of philosophy, religion, gender, and social empowerment. I also discuss how my research participates in enhancing contemporary social debates on religion, nihilism, and modernity.