Tagging the influencers

Mocha Uson and Kris Aquino [Photo source: Philippine Star]

By JoeAm

The prior article raised a good discussion about propaganda and specific people who are obviously out to influence the thinking of others. For example, we have the Manila Times‘ columnist Rigoberto Tiglao who is an avid Duterte publicist. Wilson Flores and Mocha Uson have both written for PhilStar. The former appears to be promoting China, the latter Marcos and Duterte.

And we can wonder, is the entire Manila Times an influencer publication with a pro-Duterte agenda? And is PhilStar as an institution an influencer rather than journalism outlet? What about ABS-CBN which has ridiculed Senator De Lima (Vice Ganda on “Showtime”) and attacked dengvaxia during news casts (“TV Patrol”), as if joining in on a political hunt to jail former President Aquino?

The issue was raised that a lot of us here at The Society of Honor do white propaganda. We don’t hide what we are pushing, but we do advocate. We push for democracy, moral standards, human rights, and reason as the basis for solving problems. So we are influencers both in our dialogue here at the blog and when we step out into social media to do “missionary work”.

“What’s the point, Joe?”

Well, if we are not to be lazy logs in the rivers of information blasting past these days, it helps to know what boat we are on, where the rocks and waterfalls are, and what direction the river is heading.

The point is found in two questions: What are the mainstream advocacies people promote in the Philippines? And who are the influencers who do the most in promoting them?

Mainstream advocacies in the Philippines?

One major advocacy is for authoritarian rule, or dynastic rule. This is promoted by China and the Duterte and Marcos families, and other top dynasties and their supporters across the land. We can try to identify the most prominent people in favor of authoritarian rule. The Chinese ambassador, President Duterte and his direct reports (Panelo, Calida, Guevarra, Go), and propaganda specialists such as Mocha Uson, Thinking Pinoy, Tiglao, and Wilson Lee Flores (see “Joe America called out for issuing black propaganda!!!“). There are others to look for. It’s important to note that authoritarian advocates do not have moral standards, in the Western sense, but instead value power and winning.

Another major advocacy is for democracy. This is promoted by the United States, politicians who oppose President Duterte (generally Western educated people), Rappler as an institution, various columnists and bloggers (Ellen Tordesillas, John Nery, Solita Monsod), and contributors here at The Society of Honor. Some mainstream journalism organizations belong here because the idea of a free and open press is a democratic principle. All government institutions SHOULD be here because it is their mandate from the Constitution. Democracy is a moral advocacy based on Western (Christian) values. Principles like equality, responsibility under law, and justice are important to these advocates.

We also have a significant advocacy that is fluid and hard to recognize, but it is an advocacy: the opportunists or populists, who are self-serving, in the main. To an extent, some Philippine journalism organizations fall here rather than in the democracy class because their focus is so tilted toward audience or circulation (or political loyalty) that they migrate toward bias and sensationalism. ABS-CBN seems to fall more in this category whereas CNN strives for Western-based ethical journalism. In the opportunist category are a lot of politicians (Poe, Angara, Binay) and business people (who side with whoever is in charge). This advocacy is amoral. Values shift to meet advantage.

I suppose knowledge is an advocacy, isn’t it? Educators fall here, and a few people who strive to be genuinely objective (Richard Heydarian). Technocrats would be found in this category. They seek to apply skills to do the best job possible. Knowledge in the Philippines is a weak advocacy overall, I think. If it were stronger, problem-solving, creativity, and economic progress would be forthright and more productive. Knowledge is a moral advocacy.

Who are the major influencers in the Philippines?

Well, there are a lot of them, and organizing them into buckets we can use for analytical purposes is a challenge. Let me propose some groupings and place some names there as a starting point. You can add to these or argue for a different placement in the discussion section of the blog.

  • Foreign Governments
    • China
    • United States
    • Russia
  • Mass Media Institutions
    • ABS-CBN News
    • GMA News
    • CNN
    • Inquirer
    • Phil-Star
    • Manila Times
    • Business World
  • Mass Media Personalities
    • Noli De Castro
    • Ted Failon
    • R Tiglao
    • Solita Monsod
    • John Nery
  • Social Media Institutions
    • Rappler
    • Vera Files
    • The Society of Honor
  • Social Media Personalities
    • Maria Ressa
    • Mocha Uson
    • Manuel Quezon III
  • Entertainers
    • Vice Ganda
    • Kris Aquino
    • Cat Gray
  • Government Institutions
    • Office of the President
    • House of Representatives
    • Senate
    • Courts
    • Human Rights Commission
  • Government Personalities
    • Rodrigo Duterte
    • Bong Go
    • Panelo
    • Trillanes
    • Robredo
    • Sara Carpio-Duterte
    • Grace Poe
    • Teddyboy Locsin
    • [Others to be listed]
  • Business Institutions
    • [To be listed]
  • Business Personalities
    • Wilson Lee Flores
    • [To be listed]

Well, I’ll stop here. We can see that the listing can be long, and I suppose, if it is to be manageable, it would be helpful to identify who appears to have significant impact, that is, the ability to influence hundreds of thousands of minds. With that as a standard, we might see institutions and people (Wilson Lee Flores, for instance) dropped from our list and we’d have a basis for adding new institutions and people.

Matching influencers to their advocacies

I’ve prepared an example report to try to match the institutions and people to their advocacies. Because there are cases where they can be seen crossing borders, I’ve placed percentages as starting point indicators of their allegiances. This is just one person’s opinion at this point, and it can gain more relevance with your inputs. I’d welcome your insights: (1) additions, subtractions, and (2) correct percentage allocations.

The additions would be institutions or people who have major impact (influencing hundreds of thousands) that are not shown now, and the subtractions would be minor influencers that really don’t shape the nation much. For example, The Society of Honor should come off. Wilson Flores should come off. We should try to get down to a pithy few, if possible.

Percentage allocations show very generally what advocacies are promoted by the various institutions and people.

It strikes me that I need to add religious organizations and educational institutions to the chart. That was a gross omission. What else?


49 Responses to “Tagging the influencers”
  1. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    Hi Joe! Society of Honor is upwards of 80% in knowledge, I think. It fills every nook and cranny. Shouldn’t Facebook and Twitter be part of Social Media Institutions? Roman Catholic church, by word or silence should be in too, shouldn’t it?

    • Hi, Will Great points. Let me respond to each:

      1. Thanks on TSOH review. The blog is probably not influential enough to make a difference and would be dropped in favor of bigger mouths. ahahaha

      2. Hmmmm. I see FB and Twitter as media rather than message. There is no consistent advocacy at all, and no spokesperson for Filipino affairs. I’m open to other views, for sure.

      3. Yes, the Roman Catholic Church should be there, INC, and the Muslim Church/Faith as well. I don’t know who to designate as personalities, however. The only one who persistently shows up is the CBCP’s Archbishop Villegas. Muslims? INC? I don’t know.

      • timowp17 says:

        I never heard of an imam (a Muslim cleric) endorsing any candidate of any level of government. Thus, safe to say, Muslims have much free will as most Christians do.

        • That is an interesting point. They do have that freedom of choice, I agree. But if their choice of leaders will determine how much self-determination and opportunity they get, might they not want an advocate, for example, to suggest having a Muslim in the Senate is very very very important?

      • chemrock says:

        “The blog is probably not influential enough to make a difference and would be dropped in favor of bigger mouths”

        Perhaps you can have a category of the loose individuals. There ARE millions of individuals who don’t have massive followers but collectively, they have the numbers. The proliferation of these individual publications normalises some of their views. For example, I came across wikipedia site simply to show the Duterte name.

        I was piqued by the name so I googled to find what the name means. First site I hit says the Duterte name first appeared in 1800s in eastern seaboard of USA. Family name often derives from occupation. It said if your familay name is Dutere, you are likely to be an UNDERTAKER.


        • That is amusing. Influence is partly a matter of chance. The blog is read by important people, senators even. And who knows how an idea offered here might join the flow of other ideas to build a right proper nation. But in terms of the masses . . . this blog does not influence at all.

          • distant observer says:

            This is an important point and I agree. TSOH might be tiny in terms of the numbers of people being reached (directly). But I guess TSOH is and was always more about quality than quantity 😉

  2. timowp17 says:

    Religious institutions? I see why not.

    How can we assess Iglesia ni Cristo and Quiboloy’s Kingdom in this case?

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Mike Velarde of El Shaddai used to be an annointer.What hapened to him?

  4. Sup says:

    I can only congratulate the ”influencers” and the ”government” for helping China to infiltrate the Philippine territory and the labor market with ease.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. Some additions:

    o Bloggers – Raissa Robles, Alan Robles
    o Mass Media – Randy David, Karen Davila, Tomas “Buddy” Gomez III, Francisco Tatad
    o Social Media Personalities – Jover Laurio, The Professional Heckler
    o Entertainers – Agot Isidro
    o Government Personalities – Antonio Carpio

    2. Some observations:

    2.1. Religions are unclassifiable under the cited advocacies because these are political issues. Religions are generally apolitical, some more so than others, although some, like INC, are decidedly political and they will back certain candidates and even political parties.

    2.2. Religions are authoritarian – spiritually but not politically – and have their own peculiar advocacies. For example, the Church advocates against the DEATH bills. And Muslims will bat for Shariah.

    2.3. Within FB and Twitter are social media personalities who are influential. In FB, for instance, there are Tina Cuyugan, Jozy Acosta-Nisperos, and Regina Sy-Facunda Dy Seng — on the side of Democracy. On Twitter, there are, arguably, Leah Navarro (25.8K followers), Raissa Robles (35.8K), and Abi Valte (139K).

    2.4. I find it curious that the major cleavage is between Authoritarianism and Democracy. This issue was settled at EDSA, wasn’t it?

    2.5. The major cleavage should be between conservative (pro-business) and liberal (pro-labor) values – as practiced within a democratic form. As it is in the US, Britain, and Australia. (Liberal values would include democratic socialist and green advocacies.)

    2.6. The authoritarian advocacy seems to include the advocacy of dishonesty by default. Propaganda is necessary to hoist and maintain an authoritarian regime. The Duterte pere et fille – as well as the Marcos pere, fils, et fille – are deft practitioners of the art of dissembling. And there, across the Pacific, stands Trump with his 9,000 plus lies.

    2.7. I wager Duterte has much more if only someone had been counting.

    • 2.4 “Should” is not operative when it comes to authoritarians who are actually in office, with power, and the ethical framework is so weak as to not even hold them to laws or patriotism.

      Thanks for identifying some additions to the influencer list. I’m struggling with how to decide major from minor. Who can “move the needle”? I think that is hard on social media because it is so spread out. It can even be argued that all the mainstream media commentary from Buddy Gomez, Randy David, Alan Eobles . . . all in favor of democracy . . . have not moved the needle much, or maybe not at all. That’s a tad discouraging.

      2.2 Religions may themselves be authoritarian, but they are moral. This would suggest they OUGHT to favor democracy and knowledge, but not authoritarianism and opportunism. Unless, of course, leaders are hypocrites.

      • edgar lores says:

        I am not sure that conceptual/intellectual commentary can move the needle.

        It is the actor in the arena and events of great spectacle that can move the needle.

        Commentators, like the hoi polloi, are part of the gallery.

        It is true that the actor — say, Mao — embodies an idea from an intellectual observer — say, Marx.

        The actor may be a martyr — like Rizal or Ninoy — who live out their own ideas. Or like Christ.

        In both these instances, the idea is made flesh.

        But the people are moved by events writ large and not by the ideas signified by the events.

        And events with the same motif have to be staged and restaged until the lesson sinks in.

        There will be people who will understand the interplay of ideas behind the scenes. They are few and far in-between. They may record their visions in dribbles in books and blogs and social media, and others may read and nod their heads in agreement.

        All of this happens way above the heads of the madding crowd.

        Two thousand years and Christ is still on the cross.

        • Your last line made me laugh. It is not funny, but it hit with such power . . .

          I think Florin Hilbay will make senator, not for the genius of his lawyerly mind, but because it was just announced that he and Agot Isidro have a relationship going.

        • NHerrera says:


          The compass needle needs a good amount of iron to point it from Magnetic North to other directions.

          I share edgar’s view: aside from a combination of advocacies and influencers to counter the country’s stuck-needle towards one high in knowledge and democracy, she needs a good amount of big dramatic event(s). Otherwise the masses will just go on fiddling with their phones and watching noontime shows and movies after and in-between work.

          Yes to Florin Hilbay and Agot Isidro!

  6. How about the Tulfo Brothers in Media? They are an avid fan of duterte and an avid bashers of the opposition.
    And PTV4, the government-owned TV station.

  7. Pablo says:

    The religions are part of the establishment and therefore followers. The exposure of criminal acts has not yet reached Philippines but will devastate the churches when it follows the trends from other countries once it hits and therefore they become inconsequential.
    The universities, on the other hand, always have been major hotspots for change, riots, rebellion, morality, guerrilla and thinking. Actually the only realistic player giving hope for a positive development. But the significant brain drain by OFW’s is probably devastating the movement for change because the best leave first. Bouncing this idea around with the staff from a university which was always at the centre of change, the general feeling was that the brain drain in teaching staff is hampering a healthy development resulting in apathy at the majority and a sense of violent resistance at a minority. Both streams won’t help the country.

  8. QuietPoetic says:

    One major advocacy is for authoritarian rule, or dynastic rule. This is promoted by China and the Duterte and Marcos families, and other top dynasties and their supporters across the land.

    We have to be fair and mention that the Aquinos are dynasty in the Philippines too.

    My opinion is to advocate for the truth which is lead us to the capital T Truth (God and Christianity). No matter if the conclusion is what we want or not, we should always advocate for the truth. Step one is critical thinking – very few people know how to think critically. I just read a Rappler article from 2014 about why Filipinos do not get satire – which is incredibly alarming (and funny). Critical thinking comes first before knowledge because not all people can know a lot of things but we teach future generations to ask the right questions.

    • The Aquinos are a dynasty. I think the uncles are the more traditional dynasticians. President Benigno Aquino III set dynastic privileges aside to run a government that put the nation above family. Bam Aquino does not act much like a privileged dynastic heir. But they are historically well rooted in Philippine affairs.

      The lack of good critical thinking is a problem and I agree, you can’t have knowledge without it. The advocates for knowledge should include it in their agenda.

  9. popoy says:

    I haven’t read the entire piece and the comments. But I thought academia (knowledge and mass actions) isn’t out of place in this thread and where do you place them TsoH? These citadels UP; PUP; DLS; UST; AdeM; AIM; USC; FEU; Silliman U; etc. Whose Alma Mater then are your mentionables? Your TSoh contributors? What is the role of Academia in UK, USA, France, in fostering democratic values; of the universities in China, Russia, NoKor, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc in fostering their governance ideologies? Tell me your Alma Mater and I can’t surely tell who the hell you are by means of your name, your wealth and your position of power. Whose students ain’t afraid to shout: DICTADOR TUTA! HIMAGSIKAN SIGAW NG BAYAN! This is a Society of Honor. In whose academic portal then, is HONOR dead in the quagmire?

    • If students were in the streets or engaged in other activities that were publicized, demanding free education or bigger budgets, perhaps these institutions would move the needle of advocacy. Otherwise they are just doing knowledge, not advocating for it.

      • popoy says:

        UP Students — during my time there as student, as non-teaching staff, then faculty– after passing UPCAT DON’T or did not DEMONSTRATE such kind of Advocacy. It was said under Martial Law occupation, the UP Budget went into doldrums and the Diliman Republic DID NOT extend any arm for alms. DIKTADURA IBAGSAK! DEMOKRASYA MAKIBAKA!

        • popoy says:

          In the raw and without the eche bucheche of snorers, the Diliman Republic under Martial Law could be metaphorized into an animal kingdom of cats, dogs, and rats. Those who opted for pomp and splendor and for blunt and respectable power and wealth became the fat rats of history. Rodents beget rodents as current events weave and metastasize the fabric of a nation’s tapestry.

          • popoy says:

            As JoeAm muses about stanzas it seems
            easy enough in free verse:

            In the raw and without
            the eche bucheche of snorers,
            the Diliman Republic under Martial Law
            could be metaphorized into
            an animal kingdom
            of cats, dogs, and rats.

            Those who opted for pomp
            and splendor and for blunt and
            respectable power and wealth
            became the fat rats of history.

            Rodents beget rodents as current events
            weave and metastasize the fabric of
            a nation’s tapestry; so like a
            society of hologram honor.

            I could be misunderstood . . .
            I apologise, the last stanza HAVE NOTHING
            to do with TSoH and its commenters, it is just
            that honor could be mere ether in the atmosphere
            of those sleeping in the pancitan.

  10. karlgarcia says:

    For business/ Economics

    Those with a few hundred followers

    Rey Gamboa, Joey Concepcion, Calixto Chikiamko

    Boo Chanco had a few thousand followers.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Businessworld, BusinessMirror

      • The business community is rather interesting. I can’t think of individuals who lead public opinion. Boo Chanco and my ‘friend’ Peter Wallace have fairly limited voices. Business owners seem to work behind the scene rather than in the public eye. San Miguel, Ayala, and the rest. I think the economists probably have a bigger voice, represented by NEDA, BSP, and DBM heads.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I think only RSA and MVP tweets.
          Ramon Ang has only 32 followers.
          Manny Pangilinan has 34 k followers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: