Attention to the Details: Dissecting the Complexity of Political Violence

In today’s modern world, the concept of violence is a phenomenon which could be understood as an unpleasant, destructive, and negative force that can be orchestrated. Broadly, the term can be perceived and comprehended in any form, given that such aforementioned force is present in a given situation. However, inserting the complex ideas of politics into the matter changes the field of recognizing and absorbing the ideas of violence. It, now, goes beyond the simple perpetration of such force, as it is embedded with essential details, particularly the political goal. Basically, this form of violence is politically motivated, involved with contentious arguments, conflicts, and contestations, which result to certain courses of action. In this case, the courses of action are a variation of forms that exhibit political violence.

Literature on political violence have encompassed three categorical factors to further understand the said concept: Institutional, Ideational, and Individual. By the labels of the categories themselves, it is enough to explain what particular factor is being highlighted. In institutional, it involves the state’s institutions, may they be related to economic or social, that trigger such violence. As for ideational, it, now, stems from the individuals very own ideas, may it be related to politics, religion, or economics. And lastly, the individual, themselves, possessing own dispositions and displaying certain psychological factors. Personally, I agree with the core ideas that these categories encompass. In fact, I would consider these strong foundations as to understanding the underlying details of political violence occurrences. Clearly, it is true that such violence may be triggered by a state’s institutions, personal dispositions, as well as psychologic factors.

However, the identified thoughts found in these categorized factors could be made stronger in understanding the roots of political violence when connected to each other. In essence, there are certain cases where in the institution would actually trigger the very thoughts and dispositions of the people. In this argument, the other two categories would, somehow, fall within the first category. More so, another way of viewing such argument is considering the personal disposition of ideas by a person occupying a significant public post. For instance, in the process of legislation, it is in truth that political scientists will likely incline to ideas and decisions depending on their political positions (or ideology). With that, such decisions made by these people will, in turn, affect the very institutions operating in the country’s jurisdiction. While it is true that these decisions may not create an immediate, ‘360-degree’ impact, it must also be acknowledged that, through time, with the accumulation of policies, institutions will be affected. Hence, allowing us to recognize the reality that the ‘individual factor’ actually posed an effect, a change towards the institution; allowing one to see that the first category is now within the latter. Basically, the relaid ideas provides analysts and readers to position themselves in a different area, viewing the concepts and categories from a different angle, in order to understand how the categories may just be interconnected links, rather than singular ideas.

The ideas and arguments previously discussed can be manifested by analyzing the concepts surrounding coup d’etats. This form of political violence was discussed as an illegal course of action, intended to overthrow and eliminate the seated executive. In order to understand how the argument is present, one must take a look at the roots which may have caused such coup d’etat. Theoretically, the motive to unseat an executive can be fueled by the reality that who is seated is, simply, unfavorable. The acting executive could be someone who has continued to operate unpleasant institutions, or rather transformed such institutions based on one’s personal disposition. In other words, one can view how the categories exhibit an interplay; the executive can be driven by personal dispositions or psychological motives which created such institutions, enough to trigger the coup d’etat. In addition, to these ideas, the ‘created’ institutions by the executive can also trigger individual dispositions and motives, in this case, on the part of military or police executives. As one may recall from the literature entitled The Democratic Coup D’etat, the perpetrators (military or police executives) may take different courses of action through changing the constitution, retaining policies, and the like. As one may realize, the occurrence of coups involve a great deal of interplay between the categories introduced. It is a mixture of how institutions affect the positions of the people, and how positions of the people, their motives, can, in turn, affect institutions. It’s a clear manifestation of how the categories are co-dependent in order to actually paint every detail of political violence cases.

Understanding political violence may also be complicated by how numerous theorists have participated in order to shed light on the subject. In fact, in certain cases, these theories are, rather, products of each other, instead of opposing theories that hold independent views. Although the coined terms may disagree, the ideas between rational and post-rational war theories can actually be traced to a common denominator. As one may recall, according to Van Clausewitz, war is an instrument stemming out from state policy. In this case, his position on understanding war encompasses ideas related to undertaking actions tat involve accompanying and prioritizing state interest. From Calhoun’s Political Philosophers of War, numerous theorists are actually even cited to support this idea. In fact, Cindy Holder emphasizes that states can be unjust in their operations related with across state actors. More so, Steven Lee points out the stockpiling of weapons, especially those nuclear, in order to satisfy that predicament of possibly being attacked. In all essence, these ideas intend to reveal how states really act, and how it is a state’s interest to be able to firmly secure themselves from any possible situation. Ironically, post-rational theories on war still stem to the common denominator of self-interest that is present in rational theories. Basically, post-war theories would encompass the ideas that war is more of a “disaster and calamity”. Just from this root idea, one can already see how rational theories have come into place. Seeing the situation as a disaster and a calamity brought about by across border actors is clear cut evidence of how war is rather rooted on the rational theory. A this point, it must be made clear that the ideas commenting on the theories of war are not intended to degrade any political theorist, as well as their very formulated theories, but to rather point out the complexity in understanding political violence. Despite common denominating ideas, theorists are pushed to create different understandings and perspectives. This reality serves as proof of the subject’s intricacy, establishing multiple point of views, paving the way for constant analysis and critique.

The complexity of understanding political violence certainly does not end with the variation of theories. Other than such, definitions on various forms of political violence requires equal, or even more attention for analysis. Particularly, there has been grave difficulty in achieving a consensus on certain concepts, making it difficult for policies intended to mitigate or eliminate such across nations. The discussion on certain definitions of political violence forms has involved politics, or even more, than the very actions being actually defined. This is most evident in the “powwows” on, none other than, terrorism. Alex Schmid has pointed out that terrorism is something extravagantly spent on all over the globe, in order to it to be placed under control. People die everyday from such acts, but, ironically, there is confusion on the actual understanding of what is being fought for. In other words, what really is terrorism? The literature on The Definitional Problem of Terrorism spearheaded by Schmid emphasizes that its very lack of a concrete, clear, and accepted definition is the very cause why people continue to die everyday, and why people will continue to.

Primarily, the aforementioned form of political violence has encountered great difficulty in being defined due to the challenge of reaching consensus to its definition since there are numerous factors to be considered. Such factors vary across states. Hence, making it a great obstacle to pin down one definition that would encompass all, for everybody to agree upon. The said literature by Schmid features three scholars in Weinberg, Pedahzur, and Hirsch-Hoefler. The three pushed to narrow down 73 collected definitions. While they were successful in citing one definition, the problem was bigger than what had been achieved: the new definition was too general and shallow. By “too general” and “shallow”, the disadvantage was that the definition, now, does not make any mention of perpetrators, targets, tactics, and the like. The failure to identify such details fails to establish a clear cut definition that would aid the process of policy making. More so, given the growing complexity of terrorism as it also takes multiple forms (cyber, narco, etc), there is added challenge to the existing issue. Clearly, if policies would not be clear, these would be feeble enough for perpetrators to get away with.

In shedding more light of this difficult for consensus, history is a factor that can be considered of significant effect. As discussed by Schmid, during the 1972 U.N. Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism, no resolution on the definition could be adopted which resulted to the phasing out of the committee. This was because of certain cases in which countries would not agree with what was being stipulated. For example, as mentioned in the literature, Greece had an issue related to actual motives. To them, if the motive is regarded as freedom fighting, they must not be considered terrorists, regardless of acts. More so, France intends to include acts or Barbarism committed in foreign territory. Basically, the idea here is that the history of certain nations places them in a particular position that allows them to see an idea that may not be easily comprehended by others. In light of the position of Greece, freedom fighting is not something they would dumb down into a form of terrorism. Hence, their disagreement and express of reservations in the stipulations of the Ad Hoc discussion. In addition to this, a similar case was present in the November 2001 Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Schmid discusses that the Islamic Conference rejected Australian compromise definition because it would not exempt national liberation movements fighting for foreign occupation (i.e. Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Land). These case examples clearly depict the reality that a country’s rich history of experiences places them in a position of disagreement with others who may not understand or fail to acknowledge what their country is recognizing. Practically speaking, given the number of nations existing in the world, each possessing rich history of experiences, it is no longer a question that there is actual difficulty in the process of stipulating for agreement. The process will, indeed, continue to be rigorous.

Another issue discussed by Schmid that would clearly involve politics in the formulation of a definition is the statement on who the perpetrators are. Schmid mentions that in the November 2001 Convention on International Terrorism, a great number of state leaders have already stipulated that perpetrators will be limited to individuals or groups. However, certain lobbying groups pushed for recognition that some of them were victims of operations that were state-sponsored. In this case, there is clear exercise of power by the actors present since policy-making is put on the line. The very details that will be placed in the agreement are being influenced by certain actors, may it be legislators, state leaders, or lobbyists, since such details will heavily reflect on who will be targeted by the law. While the goal of politically violent actions, in the form of terrorism in this case, is already political, the process of defining it is made political, as well.

As a whole, the ideas expressed exhibited the complexity, and, to an extent, the difficulty in analyzing political violence. Its forms are diverse, allowing them to be viewed through numerous lenses inspired by categories and theories. More so, given the reality of a multiplicity of lenses, and further challenged by different histories experienced by nations, consensus on clear cut identification of forms can be made difficult. From these ideas and arguments, it is made explicit that political violence is beyond knowing what it is, and knowing (the definitions of) its different forms. It is, rather, a phase or operation of processing various intelligent ideas of its forms that require the encompassment and interconnectedness of categories, theories, definitions, and other contributing factors that affect the rigorous process of detailing political violence. Hence, revealing the difficulty and required meticulousness of fully investigating the facets of political violence.

Critical Essay III: The Gym Cultural Space

jakked2In our globalized society today, there are various cultural spaces with which one may be submerged and even be part of. Whether it may be a place exhibiting historical artifacts, a place of worship, or even a place of entertainment, these spaces are established institutions which could serve as arenas where different political identities could emerge from. One cultural area which could be identified is an institutionalized fitness center, in other words, the gym. Although merely perceived as an established area containing weights and machines for people to utilize when working out, the gym can actually be a vessel for empowering the female persona. This essay will take a look into the history of the famous Gold’s Gym which was primarily dominated by muscle men, and how, eventually, fitness institutes would enable to rise of feminism in its field.

Back in 1965Joe Gold, former bodybuilder and United States Marine, Joe Gold, opened up his very own gym in Venice, California. The gym was intended as an area for Joe, together with his friends, to train. Joe kept the costs of his gym very low by making his own gym equipment. Little did he know that, one day, his gym would become one of the most known fitness centers all over the globe. It would be a very interesting question to ask; why open a gym? In the early 1950s, numerous muscle men would flock going to California in order to join the community of bodybuilders in Venice. However, due to sexual misconduct by some body builders, the city council eventually ordered its removal from the beach pushing body builders to train indoors. Now, come the year 1965, Joe Gold decided to open his own training facility. With the events happening, his first pool of clients were his fellow bodybuilders in Santa Monica. Gold’s gym eventually became as the institution where bodybuilders must train. In fact, it attracted various physique artists such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, and Bill Grant to name a few.

Arnold6-1.jpgAside from noticing the establishment of a new playground for bodybuilders, one significant aspect that could be identified from this is that it is mainly male dominant. The initial start was about a former marine who simply wanted to train with his cohort of Santa Monica bodybuilders. It would clearly appear that this gym was made for the community of male lifters whose desire is to mold their bodies like the Gods of Olympus. In addition, the traditional shows organized to be held in the wooden deck of the beach would only see women as part of the audience. It is the men persona who could be named as the face of the show. Although it may have primarily appeared to be a place that would only cater to men, the modern day fitness center is a place where women would even be able to gain the respect of men. It is a big shift comparing it to the primary establishment of the famous Gold’s gym.

As the gym culture spreatumblr_mtk1czZ0Sz1qfqkngo1_500.jpgd throughout the globe, with modern day women also participating in aesthetic, functional, and powerlifting training, the gym has become a place where women could achieve empowerment for themselves. Recalling the first theme of post-modern feminism, its main focus is “liberation through narrativity”. As one could point out, post-modern feminists even reject the idea of a “male grand” narrative. Some would even stress that feminist narratives are, indeed, needed in order to achieve that form of liberation to create the identity. By considering these insights and taking into account the context of the gym cultural area, it can be seen how the said space is, indeed, a place that would provide women a narrative of their own since they are engaging in activities which were presumed to be a “male’s activity”. For one, the fact that women have the ability to get up and train as men do already debunks the whole notion that only can dominate the fitness world. Moreover, women can create their own narrative with the concrete idea that there are certain workouts that are majorly done by females. There is this culture that could be observed within fitness centers on how women would focus on body definition and fat loss while men would be inclined to muscle gain. Now, given this circumstance, it is clearly seen how both men and women have an identity in the fitness world. This context adheres to the second theme of post-modern feminism which emphasize on difference. Nevertheless, this identity doesn’t totally split each other from doing the same activities. Thus, still proving how women can accomplish what men can. to a more specific branch of weightlifting, powerlifting which could be observed in the gym is an exhibiting of the “Beyond Bitch” Feminism. In powerlifting wherein the main events would include the squat, the bench press, and the dead lift; there are no differences with the actual execution between men and women. Thus, the barrier between masculinity and femininity is destroyed because women showcase their talent, or more specifically, their strength, in the same way a man would do so.

Lastly, I believe this also opens up a clear illustration of how the queer theory plays in our world. There are men who have openly admitted to themselves as well as to the people around them of their homosexuality. Nevertheless, these homosexual individuals could train as hard as the so-called “straight” men do. Their inner feelings of a woman does not serve as a hindrance for them to be physically strong. This would go the same way as how some women could no longer be distinguished from a man in terms of strength. Clearly, these phenomena in fitness institutions show a fluidity of the gender identities. The idea of a strong man and a weak woman is destabilized.

As a whole, going beyond the idea of the service it provides, fitness institutions are arenas where ideas of feminism are illustrated significantly. It is a place where not only men can exhibit their capacities, but women as well. In addition, the fitness culture allows men and women to both have different narratives. Thus, paving the way for non-degradation of the other by empowering both identified sexualities. The gym has pushed for the deconstruction of the idea that there is gender dominance because its culture pushes for fitness, strength, and health which could be achieved together by both men and women.



Heffernan, C. (2015, April 30). The history of gold’s gym. Physical Culture Study. Retrieved from

Critical Essay II: Political-Economic and Discourse Analysis


Theoretical Approach: Feminism

Cultural Product: Gold Digger (feat. Jamie Foxx) by Kanye West

Political-Economic Analysis


“Gold Digger” was recorded by the American rapper Kanye West together with American Late_registration_cd_coveractor and singer Jamie Foxx. The said track was the second single from West’s second album, Late Registration, which was released in the year 2005. The said album was recorded with Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. On the same year of the month September, the track was listed as the United States’ no. 1 pick for Billboard Top 100. Moreover, in the 2006 Grammy Awards, the track was nominated for Record of the Year, and won the award for Best Rap Solo Performance. By the year 2011, 3-million copies of the track had already been sold all over the United States.

vma2005-kayne-fox-FilmMagic.jpgThe track “Gold Digger” was originally produced and recorded by Mr. West to be included in female rapper Shawnna’s debut album, Worth Tha Weight, back in 2004. In fact, Mr. West tailored the chorus of the song to be sang by a female artist as it was completed to take on a first-person point of view in the sense. With the track’s eventual exclusion from the final track list of the aforementioned 2004 debut album, Mr. West decided to write his own verses to the beat and completed the track to be expressed in a male’s perspective.

According to Merriam-Webster, a gold digger is a woman who becomes or tries to become romantically involved with a rich man in order to get money and gifts from him. With that, it is 13very much clear how the concept of a gold digger involves a person’s intention to cultivate a relationship in order to attain wealth in the process. Aside from businessmen and superstar athletes, male artists are also the type of people who would be capable of treating their finances lightly and swiftly. With Mr. West being a well paid record producer and rapper, not to mention even a Grammy Award winner, he would be very much be within the crosshairs of these type of women. The overall theme of the track expresses the immense reliance of females on the male capacity. Specifically, Mr. West offers an analysis on the socially occurring concept of “Gold Diggers”, as well as insights on this type of relationship. In the track, Mr. West  was able to exhibit how “gold diggers” would behave in order to ensure financial support from their significant other. In addition, Mr. West also provides an emphasis on the male persona’s dominance.


With the general theme of the track, its manifestations provide the listeners with the opposite ‘image’ of what women’s rights’ advocates have fought for in the past. Feminist cultural studies have contributed in order to ‘unmask’ women in today’s modernized society in order to eliminate the culture of women objectification. In addition, countless advocates and societal groups have fought to pursue a society wherein the identity of women is as significant as that of man. Contrary to the focus of the first theme of post-modern feminism which is liberation through narrativity and against a male grand narrative, Mr. West’s expressions and insights on the “gold digger” phenomenon exhibited male domination in the narrative of relationships. With the track’s overall presentation of the male’s significance in partnerships, the role and identity off the woman is diminished as they are painted to be ‘parasites’ of the male persona.

Okay, get your kids, but then they got their friends

I pulled up in the Benz, they all got up in

We all went to din and then I had to pay

If you fucking with this girl, then you better be paid

You know why? It take too much to touch her

These few lines from Mr. West’s first verse in the track gives the listeners a perception on what “gold digger” women have came to be. With the lines “If you fucking with this girl, then you better be paid, you know why? It take too much to touch her”, it is immediately surfaced that money and other resources are important factors in order to attain the lady. Furthermore, the first two lines – “Okay, get your kids, but then they got their friends, I pulled up in the Benz, they all got up in” – present how relatives of a “gold digger” would also benefit. With Mr. Wests exclamation on the line “I had to pay”, it is strongly established the the man’s character is what made everything possible. Just from these few lines, the image of the man is drawn to be above the woman as he is the needed body in order to make things happen and the main factor which ties these all up is his finance, as represented by Mr. West’s pull up in ‘Benz’ and payment for a meal.

Discourse Analysis


The famous track of Mr. West can be best understood by tracing into the concept a patriarchal society. This type of society exhibits an unequal balance of power relations between men and women. Men have been traditionally deemed as the ‘breadwinner’ of the family. This would mean that they are the main source of living from the family as they earn money and provide. In fact, there is a completed male breadwinner model. According to the International Encyclopedia of Social Policy, the male breadwinner “is an ideal of the family in which men earn a family wage and provide while wives do domestic labor and care for family members”. This model is, in fact, used in analyzing welfare regimes whilst putting gender as a focal point for analysis. Basically, this existing model goes to show how the concept of man as a provider is very much relevant in today’s modern society. The idea of a man being the source and provider has grown part into society’s culture which is why women would search and tie together with men whom they deem as capable providers, thus the existence of the colloquialism ‘gold-digger’. The prevalence of this ‘gold-digger’ phenomenon was brought about by the established norm that men are the ones who provide. With that, the concept of ‘gold-diggers’ when approaching relationships was opened in the process. The occurrence of this can be very much prevalent most especially in the pop-culture industry because numerous artists are paid millions. In fact, according to an article publish by Greenburg for Forbes magazine, rappers’ fortune would reach up until $750-million. With all of these wealth surrounding the music industry, it is very understandable how these men would be ideal gold-digger targets. Thus, Mr. West’s take on the now-famous ‘gold-digger’ track. As one may see, the concept of gender played a big role in conceptualizing the gold-digger in today’s modern society. Women have been previously subordinate in the labor market and polity, as well as in the household. With men traditionally serving as providers and women culturally objectified, the traces of those norms still live in the modern society resulting to women chasing men for their fortunes given the existing notion that men are the providers.


Deconstructing the concept of a “gold-digger” entails analyzers to take into account the relationship status. The process and the actual success of ‘gold-digging’ by a woman highly relies on the current relationship’s state. Most rich men would have the desire to have the so-called trophy wife. With the man in a state of belief that a woman truly loves him and values their relationship, the woman is able to receive what she yearns for. At the same time, the man is open and willing to provide her of these. As clearly depicted by this illustration of the relationship, the “gold-digger” is successful in pursuing her wants by being able to benefit from a man’s fortune. With that, it is revealed to us that the concept of a “gold-digger” was also brought about by the man’s willingness to provide, or to an extent ‘spoil’ his lady. This opens up a new window for analysis wherein the occurrence of ‘gold-digging’ may be a result of a man’s idea of objectifying a woman. Men can have the mentality that they can ‘buy’ the significant other with their luxurious lifestyle. Thus, revealing how the discussed phenomenon is a result of objectification of women. Lines from Mr. Wests second verse allows us to even verify how ‘gold-digging’ is, in turn, deconstructed once the relationship status is altered or once circumstances have changed in that of the matter;

Eighteen years, eighteen years

She got one of your kids, got you for eighteen years

I know somebody paying child support for one of his kids

You will see him on TV any given Sunday

Win the Super Bowl and drive off in a Hyundai

She was supposed to buy your shorty Tyco with your money

She went to the doctor, got lipo with your money

Most relationships which were rooted on a ‘gold-digging’ agenda by the woman would usually end up in a divorce. The first three lines present how women would usually ensure that she would be able to get support. By being the mother to one of her kids, she has eighteen years of support locked in since the man has to provide regular payments regarding “child support”. The fourth and fifth line is intended to describe the fate of the rich man. Being on TV on Sunday, as well as winning the Super Bowl, are symbolisms to deliver the point that the man is truly an icon in an industry and is paid well. Nevertheless, the Hyundai reference alters that perspective as it would mean that his account is very much struggling given the support he is obliged to give to the mother of his child. The last few lines present what could be done to the money being given by the rich significant other, and it shows how the gold-digger ends up exploiting the man after being able to ensure steady support from him. As depicted by the second verse, although the woman is still able to acquire financial support, it is no longer gold-digging. It is a presentation of how a woman is capable of already becoming selfish that she would use child support money in order to satisfy herself. It is totally different from how a man spoils his lady willingly in the belief that their cultivated relationship is out of love, not knowing that the woman is more interested in his net worth.



Greenburg, Z. O. (2016, May 3). The Forbes Five: Hip-hop’s wealthiest artists 2016. Forbes.

Retrieved from

International encyclopedia of social policy. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from

Kanye west biography. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from

Shaheem-Reid. (2006, January 2). Road to the Grammys: The making of Kanye west’s “gold digger.” Retrieved July 31, 2016, from

West, K. (2005). Gold Digger. The Late Registration [cd]. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from

Critical Essay I: Cultural Commodification

 Various materials and entities are being commodified all over the world today. With capitalism being a prevalent system in countless countries, even the cultural and historical aspect of a nation is 17398117-Abstract-word-cloud-for-Commodification-with-related-tags-and-terms-Stock-Photo.jpgtargeted and commodified into something that can be ‘consumed’ by the public. The fieldwork destinations such as the island of Boracay and the area of Intramuros exhibited how both culture and history have significance when it comes to the process of commodification. In addition to the commodification occurring in these places, different narratives and political identities also emerge as a diverse set of actors are also affected amidst the cultural and economic changes brought about by commodification.

The first destination, as mentioned, was the island of Boracay. The place is a very famous destination spot for tourists originating from different parts of the globe. Other than the beautiful scenery which the island can bring with its white sand and blue waters, it alsoIMG_0071.JPG allows individuals to enjoy water activities and have a taste of the ‘nightlife’ brought about by commercial establishments. However, these produced and consumed products and services only reveal the surface of a deeper sense of commodification in the island. It is more remarkable to recognize the another commodifying process involving the lives of the indigenous people of the island, the Ati. These people are the original settlers of the island. They were the primary individuals to circulate and inhabit the different areas of the place until people from the mainland decided to grab the opportunity to utilize the IMG_0092.JPGisland for capitalism, as mentioned by Sister Victoria, a supporter of the Ati community. The commodification of the lives of the Ati is clear in a sense that their village is not actually privatized. In fact, the village is designed in a way to welcome tourists. Although not explicitly revealed, this way of inviting tourists is also a way to induce them to aid through donations and purchase products available in the community area. The very lives of these people involve being part of the sea and fishing as part of their main livelihood. The mere services being offered to allow tourists to ride boats to have a feel of how it is to live as a local shows how their lives have been culturally commodified in the process.

This economical transformation in the island of Boracay dictated significantly on how the system now works. In fact, this has even allowed the surfacing of some dominant and marginalized IMG_0125.JPGidentities from the narratives of different significant actors in the area. An undoubtedly dominant identity in the said area would be the local government units, as well as high-end business owners. Basically, local government units exhibit a dominant identity because they very much dictate what the Ati people receive. In fact, the government is mainly responsible for the very land the Ati have to serve as their community area. Moreover, the local government unit was also responsible from stopping the indigenous people from taking shells (to be used as jewelry) from the ocean. The government has been able to interfere with the lives of these people at an aggregate level from the land they live in to the materials they can use daily. The other dominant IMG_0115.JPGidentity in the area were business owners. With Boracay’s continuous commercialization, the power of business owners are also heightened in the process because they now have the capacity to be able to provide individuals with a source of income. The businesses available are becoming the main establishments to provide jobs for the people. Thus, this makes the locals the inferior identity given that they have to succumb to the new system which is ran under a capitalist system. A few interviewed employees actually expressed frustrations given the low salaries offered despite large profit gains by business owners. Nevertheless, this still goes to show how dominant these businesses entrepreneurs can be since they can dictate. Another notable circumstance in which locals are marginalized is during job applications. Of course, individuals with college degrees are preferred over those locals who barely received quality education. The indigenous people are, somewhat, preferred least as compared to other Filipinos who have had the opportunity to finish their education.

The other destination for field work was the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Intramuros. The walled city actually allows tourists a glimpse of historical areas such as IMG_3506.JPGmuseums, the remains of Fort Santiago, as well as famous churches. The places to visit in this second destination actually already gives an individual the capacity to see how there is a slight difference of commodification. Although both involve a commodification of a part of the philippine culture, the place of Intramuros is highly focused on commodifying entities with historical significance. A clear example of this would be how individuals are charged to enter museums, as well as the Fort Santiago. Specifically, a place to visit in Intramuros would be the museum in honor of Jose P. Rizal. To enter this establishment offered to the NationalIMG_3511.JPG Hero, one will notice how most of the things to find inside are simple materials which were part of the Filipino icon’s life; wall clocks, tickets, written papers, old clothing, and the like. The same would go for museums around the areas as they display various materials of significance to Philippine history. Generally, what can be seen here is how these historical entities are now being a source of income, thus revealing how history can be commodified in the modern world. It is different from Boracay in sense that the aforementioned island commodified the culture of its people whilst, in Intramuros, the commodification process focused on significant historical artifacts.

Similar to Boracay, the dominant narrative which the researcher can identify is also IMG_3543.JPGrelated to who runs the area. Of course, these government controlled establishments dictate how the area runs because these places are what attracts visitors. The people from around the area actually benefit from how the tourist areas attract visitors. The researcher was able to grab a few insights from a group of street vendors, as well as kalesa operators. As they mention, visitors, especially tourists, are the ones who make their livelihood possible. Given that, the people who make these historical places available for visit exhibit a dominant identity as other people around them depend on what they can do.

Being able to complete fieldwork in Boracay and Intramuros truly shows how cultural commodification is prevalent in modern society. In fact, these two tourist destinations have exhibited how the capitalistic process has emerged from as simple as producing products for consumption or services to be rendered into something bigger involving cultural and history commodification. Boracay and Intramuros have presented us with two differing narratives. Boracay has exhibited how culture is commodified through what can be seen and enjoyed all over the island. On the other hand, Intramuros has shown how history can be commodified as well given that people would pay to witness artifacts. Nevertheless, what these destinations have proven is how the commodification process has truly changed and revolutionized for today’s society as it now indulges on entities such as culture and history.


Critical Commentary III: Indigenous Filipino Theories

Colonizers have deeply rooted their identities within the countries they have taken over. At this point, various countries are amid the battle of retracing their identity and building their nation from there. However, each and every person must comprehend that this struggle by countries to build their own nation’s true identity does not simply mean despising and rejecting western thoughts or disciplines. This battle must involve truly understanding the nation’s identity and seeing the world through its perspective. In light of this need, theorists have relayed their knowledge by highlighting indigenization narratives in order to fully understand the world of the Filipinos. Indigenization narratives such as Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Pilipinolohiya, and Pantayong Pananaw truly reflect what it is to be Filipino as it takes into account the very ways of thinking and the embedded culture among Filipinos.

Sikolohiyang Pilipino is truly an effective way of understanding social phenomenon in the Philippine society due to the fact that it considers culture among the people. In fact, it is said that its main premises aim to deconstruct the Filipino mind’s way of thinking. In order to do that effectively, it is a good step to consider and include the cultural aspect in the process. Moreover, it also resurfaces the uniqueness of the Filipino identity in the process. For instance, the Filipino’s identity is very much seen as to how we understand the true meaning behind the context of ‘Bahala na’. To we Filipino, this phrase exhibits our determination and fearlessness as a way of competing no matter what the odd may be. Whereas in a western perspective, this may be understood in a much more negative sense of fatality. Filipinos also hold a different set of value systems. In class, the professor gave the example of how children of the west would have to ask permission to see their parents, whereas in the Philippine context, seeing your parents requires nothing because children are deemed as ‘Hindi Ibang Tao’. With these illustrations, there is a incredible distinction with how Filipinos think and this is what makes Sikolohiyang Pilipino a remarkable step in resurfacing the Filipino identity. Although, it must be noted that despite what Sikolohiyang Pilipino brings in order to understand the Filipino mind’s way of thinking, it should not immediately debunk the thought that western psychology can no longer be applied universally. One must consider the fact that many of the discoveries when it comes to how the human mind functions were actually discovered by individuals from all over the globe. Many of these individuals definitely used framework and methods which did not come from our country, however, there is truth to how they explain the different functions of the human mind.

Indigenization narratives such as Pilipinolohiya and Pantayong Pananaw also reveal a lot about the Filipino identity. In fact, Pilipinolohiya studies the world of the Filipinos together with their psychology and culture. This narrative views the Filipino world as a whole from the outside as it is studied and analyzed. Clearly, this narratives meshes very well with Sikolohiyang Pilipino as it aims to view the world through the lens of a Filipino by incorporating culture. In addition to this, the narrative Pantayong Pananaw creates an environment which intends to unite all Filipinos. It aims for a shared understanding that would hold on history and goal for the future. Despite the ideas brought about by these two narratives to fully understand the Philippine context and to build a united nation of Filipinos, there might be some challenges in the process due to the differing core ideas of the said narratives. Pilipinolohiya, although it studies the Filipino way of life with culture and psychology, it is still open to western theories and concepts as long as they are appropriate to fit the Filipino context. This poses a big difference with understanding Pantayong Pananaw because this narrative pushes to reject any ‘outsider’ ideas. The power of pantayo involves a discourse among Filipinos without including any outside participants’ perspectives. Given these, even if both narratives are pushing for the prevalence of a resurfaced Filipino identity, it’s going to be really difficult given that both exhibit different dispositions when it comes to ‘outside’ contributions.

Although the narrative for indigenization are not completely perfect, they are great contributions by theorists in order to highlight the Filipino’s true history, identity, and culture. Their ideas through these narratives establish some sort of frameworks that people from outside the country could comprehend and utilize in order to further understand the Filipino mind and social phenomenon in the Philippine context. As members of the academe, by fully understanding them, together with their flaws, we can continue to contribute to the ideas brought about by these narratives. To understand these narratives and to contribute to their improvement in the future exhibits our inclusion in the rigorous process, or should one say ‘battle’, in fighting for the value of the Filipino identity.

Critical Commentary II: Post-Colonial Theories

There is, indeed, no doubt that the identity of colonizers are deeply embedded within those countries under them. Colonization has pushed these countries to naturally lose their own identity in the process of capturing the ‘other’ identity as their own. With colonialism, various nations have established control over others in various areas such as religion, politics, economics, and other social aspects. This control does not only create a new identity for the overpowered countries, but it also molds the context of their inferiority as compared to their colonizers. Colonialism has, somewhat, brought the domination of others through inferiority contexts. Given that, now in the phase of post-colonialism, there have been a lot of instances of resisting whether in social, political, or economical manners. However, it is not enough to simply resist what a country can consider as ‘another’. Simple actions representing ‘the weapons of the weak’ is not significant enough to recognize and bring back a country’s true identity. This goes to show the importance of taking into account the insights brought by post-colonial theorists. These post-colonial theorists emphasize that it is important to actually be aware of what new character was instilled in the country in order to properly decolonize one’s nation, and this involves reviewing identity, representation, and history.

As discussed, decolonization does not simply involve the act of ‘resisting’. Decolonization (as stated in the second phase) involves recovering a nation’s pre-colonial identity. And from that project of recovery, the construction of a post-colonial identity is most best to follow. Frantz Fanon’s take on the decolonization process is significant in a sense that it tackled the significance of the academe’s awareness of the ideologies and beliefs being introduced to them are all brought by the colonizers. Fanon emphasizes that this is important because this will prevent future influential individuals from further reproducing the colonizers’ identity in the process of building the post-colonial identity. I believe that Fanon’s take on the matter emphasizes the value of knowing what is truly ours. He didn’t push for simple resistance. He made sense of the reality that one must take note of what’s being instilled upon them, but to recognize that as an ‘other’. Though I believe that a probably issue and struggle that could be pulled from Fanon’s take is that there could be difficulty in actually pinpointing aspects in our culture which is not truly ours. Through the countless years of practice, some norms and beliefs have developed to be natural and they might not be pinpointed as an other. Thus, it will carry on to the rebuilding process in the post-colonial phase.

Furthermore, in battling the prevalence of a colonizer’s identity in a nation and effectively advocating decolonization, it is also a must to recognize Edward Said’s concept on Orientalism. Basically, Orient is referred to as the representation of the West’s opposite. In a way, the concept of Orientalism deems the character of the Middle-East to be negative. With this, Said explains that these representations are necessary in order to reimpose the thought that western values and beliefs are essential to counter these so-called ‘negative’ characteristics. Now, it is important to take note of Said’s insights because colonies must not be blinded of the representations brought about by Orientalism. By understanding Orientalism, colonies are able to prevent the tendency of giving into accepting western culture in order to cure one’s nation from ‘negative’ traits. In fact, these negative traits are simple perceived through the lens of the west which means that the representation can be considered bias, and to an extent, untrue.

These post-colonial theorists have truly provided significant knowledge and insights that would aid colonies in the process of decolonization. Their ideas do not influence different nations to resists. But rather, their key concepts and notions allows countries to better understand certain situations in the post-colonial scene. By better understanding these phenomena, the decolonization process will be more effective because the people are aware of the reality that there is an identity which they must not include in their rebuilding process in post-colonialism. Furthermore, they are also informed of how western culture is trying to reimpose its domination by highlighting negative details from Middle-Eastern countries. Undergoing decolonization and successfully gaining back a nation’s ‘self-identity’ is really not a simple matter of resistance and independence. The proper analysis of various post-colonial theories shows us that understanding colonialism itself is essential to free nations from it.

Critical Commentary I: Western Critical Theories

In today’s world, countless western theories may be utilized in order to observe and analyze social phenomena. In addition, the knowledge brought about by various theorists also allow an individual to use their insights to make sense of personal experiences within the daily faced scenarios. To effectively understand these western theories, it is essential to retrace its roots from Karl Marx’s focus on contradicting capitalism. One of Marx significant points to argue for the potentiality of a social revolution is that workers would be ‘class conscious’. Despite this argumentative thought, however, the system of capitalism was able to continue in a way that would manage the social crises. As discussed, capitalism’s advancement has pushed workers to simply accept it. Moreover, it has manipulated the minds of the people influencing them to an ideology which would make them accept that radical change cannot be achieved. The different theories which emerged from these events provides the world with ideas and insights that can be used as universal concepts and frameworks in order to understand certain societal events.

Majority of the theories centered on the concept of “domination”. The different theorists exhibited knowledge on the aforementioned concept allowing an individual to view and comprehend its existence in society in different ways. For one, Gramsci and Lukacs highlighted the idea on ‘hegemony’ which explained gaining that consent from the oppressed is acquired through the deployment of ideology. To simply put it, one would be able to get another to surrender or follow by influencing his/her system of beliefs. In the context of capitalism, as cited by Lukacs, this was achieved through reification which meant eliminating social relations and ideas. Hence, creating some sort of stagnant phase within the workers. This idea of hegemony does not necessarily exist in just the labor market. It can be drawn up from any social relation that would involve power struggles. Understanding the ideas of Gramsci and Lukacs allows one to make sense of how institutions such as universities, organizations, media groups, and the like change the way people think in order to get them to, without further resistance, follow and throw in support. This thought immediately extends and connects to the ideas on culture commodification. Culture commodification involves entertainment and mass media as institutions which influence and manipulate the consciousness of the people. Naturally, this makes a lot of sense in modern society given that the way people who are exposed to a certain media focus would exhibit similarities in the way they express (dress, speak, etc). These theories don’t just allow us to understand a portion or circumstance in capitalism. It allows us to further understand the prevalence of domination in this world that can literally be brought to us by anyone or anything that would trigger our belief system.

Previously, the concept of domination has already been understood through ideological change brought about by culture commodification. Aside from this though, the social analysis on what ideological change and culture can achieve must also be perceived in the importance of narratives in society. As Lyotard explains, culture is the dynamic totality of narratives that circulate in a society and among its members. Basically, narratives are important to understand culture. And by understanding culture, one can properly analyze, and even influence, the social phenomena. In fact, as discussed in Political Theory sessions, a narrative approach to social and political theory emphasizes historicity and the cultural context of human beliefs and values. By primarily understanding the history and culture of a group of individuals, it actually allows one to properly approach the way to connect and influence them. Personally, I would agree to the essence and value of narratives because it emphasizes the importance of knowing and understanding background. An individual does not simply approach a certain person or situation without prior knowledge. As much as possible, there are already thoughts circulating the mind of an individual which allows him to select the very decision he/she will make. Understanding the history of a person places one in a better position to approach him/her. And so if there is an intention to dominate and/or execute power over another, understanding and knowing his/her background is something that must not be given prior value.

Although there are countless theories which provide a framework for domination, there are also theories which fight against oppression and marginalization. The discussions on feminism is one example which brought ideas that intend to liberate any form of discrimination. In the context of feminism, however, it is much more emphasized for sexuality issues. Nevertheless, it must be be realized by all that if gender issues could be perceived differently (and thus, liberating and empowering women), other issues and forms of discrimination can also be perceived through a different lens and understood from a different disposition. For instance, there were two ways in which women are perceived in the context of sexual intercourse. They are either dominated given that the action of sexual intercourse highly revolves around the idea of penetration where men are deemed to be in command. However, taking a different view, women should be empowered because men would be nothing without them. In fact, it is women whoa are capable of becoming pregnant, producing life. With these ideas, I believe the insights brought about by feminism brought more than just an opportunity to liberate and empower women. I believe feminism also emphasized the importance of perceiving things from different point of views. Feminism exhibited the value and essence of being able to witness power in various ways so as to understand the strength of power coming from different areas and individuals in society.

The Queer Theory and Women Empowerment

Just from the top of one’s head, a person would easily agree that people of today can be divided by men and women. However, after today’s session in Political Theory, it seems to be that gender identification in society is not a simple as what rest room signs/symbols exhibit. People have always pinned down necessary traits which men and women must respectively possess. Personally, I have developed this notion that women are, though not literally all, are generally calm and gentle. On the other hand, men would express strong personalities with some sort of aggressiveness. Despite all of these, what the Queer Theory suggests must actually be understood and acknowledged because gender-roles in society may not also include certain traits that come with it. Gender classification may simply be a difference in the human body structure but the rest could all be, as Queer Theorists put it, inherently fluid. For instance, there has been this idea that women could be more emotional than men. And so with this idea in mind, the so-called ‘straightness’ of a person is questioned with regard to his/her emotional behavior. But, one should always take note that a man who is aggressive and fierce in different aspects in life could also possess a deep and soft side. This possibility goes to show that there is, indeed, no fixed structure or concept of what it is to-be-man or to-be-woman.

Moving on from the Queer Theory, the discussion also excellently tackles women empowerment. The idea brought about my Post-Feminism is how the perspective on women should be changed in order to see their true strength as individuals in today’s society. Specifically, this is cited by the Do-Me-Feminism as they explain sexual intercourse to be a way of empowering women. For a long time, people have always held on to the thought that it is the man who is dominant in sex just because the concept of penetration favors them. People have often forgotten that despite that idea, without women, pleasure would not be governed. As one would come to think of it, women hold as much power as men in the process of sexual intercourse. Furthermore, extending this thought to the creation of life, men would be nothing without a woman who would carry the child. Indeed, the ideas brought about by Post-Feminism are remarkable because it no longer tries to fight or debate about why women are strong; it shows how women are truly strong and significant in our society. The insights of Post-Feminism simply diverts the human race into a better position in order to have a better perspective on witnessing that greatness within women.


The Dark Knight: Challenging Mainstream Ideas

Last June 9, 2016, a portion of our class discussion which was truly remarkable was how different forms of art, literature or media could be utilized in society to challenge, defy, and even debunk existing thoughts and ideas regarding various matters; personas, situations, issues, and the like.

As the discussion went on, various forms of art and media rushed through my mind allowing me to relate the context of the lesson to these masterpieces I’ve encountered in the past. One very good example which crossed my thoughts was how the creator of DC Comic’s Batman was able to defy different mainstream ideas and notions in the process of developing the story of the masked vigilante.

Batman, also known as “The Dark Knight”, is a fictional character from a superhero comic book created by artist Bob Kane and was later on developed by writer Bill Finger. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s true identity, is an eccentric billionaire who also happens to be an orphan. Just from that background, the character of Batman defies the idea that orphans are usually individuals who end up no where in life. As seen here, Bruce Wayne ends up as a billionaire. In addition, he does not end up as just the billionaire who dates models, eats in fancy restaurants, drives sports cars, and lives in a mansion. The eccentric billionaire appears at night to answer the city’s cry for help in the appearance of a bat by wearing a black armored suit equipped with a cape and a cowl. From these facts from the story of the dark knight, one can analyze and understand how usual thoughts and ideas were defied by this character’s persona. In fact, vigilantes are even perceived to be criminals who must never be exempted from the law. However, Batman’s success which is achieved by his unconventional ways of protecting his city somehow creates a new thought that there could be or should be exemptions during certain matters. At times, it would even seem like the State and its officials are the ones hindering superheroes from truly achieving their goals. 

The story of this silent guardian is just one example of the many works all over the globe that could be utilized to elude or challenge existing thoughts on certain phenomena. As a critical thinker, individuals must be encouraged to go beyond just appreciating these forms of art and to also dig deep into the ideas being conveyed. That way, this could allow new ideas to flourish and develop in society that could serve as potential ways in better understanding and making sense of realities in society.

The Concept of Enlightenment

Last June 7, 2016, our professor’s session on Political Theory tackled the contributions of the Frankfurt School in today’s world. During the discussion, it was emphasized that, in order to understand and fully get to know the Frankfurt School, one must be aware of the critical theory. The critical theory is a form of critique in society that would pave the process of setting one free from legal, social, and political restrictions. According to the aforementioned theory, this is something that can be achieved through the enlightenment of an individual. To simply put it, with greater knowledge and understanding, an individual would have a greater chance of detaching himself/herself from holding on to beliefs or norms that are imposed by influential institutions. At this point of the discussion, I would say that I completely agree with what the critical theory entails to explain and make sense of. In society, there is always a tendency for individuals to succumb to certain understandings on how the world works simply because of mainstream sets of beliefs which appear to serve as permanent explanation to things. In order to free one’s self from this particular phenomenon, there is no better way of doing so but being enlightened.

On another note, it must also be pondered upon that achieving enlightenment comes a long way and this would entail, of course, truly understanding how the world is. And this is where the clear issue of approaching natural and social sciences is. During our discussion, the best example utilized was the situation of a female being raped. If this case is approached in the way natural sciences are, then it would simply involve observing what is happening; the appearance of the male, the reactions of the woman, the duration of the event, and the like. This particular approach doesn’t necessarily take into account questions on why the event occurred, how should it be stopped, what pushes the male race to do such acts, and the like. Clearly, natural sciences limits the way people can understand how things work in the real world. Although, to an extent, there are certain phenomena which they can make sense out of, that capacity only reaches a certain extent. Understanding the social aspect of the universe must definitely board a different approach in which individual minds would be able to analyze, critique, and understand rather than just observe and take notes.