MANILA - With less than two weeks before the 2022 elections, some familial ties are stretched thin as parents and children continue to clash on political views.
Take the case of Jezreel Ines, a 22-year-old Filipino voter who challenged his parents’ long-standing political beliefs.
“’Yung mga problema ng henerasyon ninyo, dapat hindi na maging problema ng henerasyon ko,” said Ines.
Having a native Ilokano father, it was no surprise for Ines that his family's support was going to be for former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
Ines said he would often see his father commenting on political posts on Facebook, defending the late dictator's son. The family patriarch, 48-year-old Arthur Ines, meanwhile said his support for the Marcoses started at a young age, mostly influenced by his family.
“Kahit ‘yung mga magulang ko, Marcos din sila so ayun parang napasunod na lang rin ako sa mga magulang ko kasi Ilokano lang rin sila,” the older Ines explained.
Such support for the Marcoses did not create rifts within the family initially, the younger Ines shared. However, the once peaceful discussions on politics in the household changed six years after the 2016 elections.
The older Ines shared that during this time, their opposing political views deeply affected their relationship at home.
“Nung mga panahon pa na hindi kami masyadong nagkakaintindihan ni Jezreel... hindi kami nagpapansinan,” he said.
Being the lone supporter of Vice President Leni Robredo in a family who openly supported Marcos, Jr., the younger Ines shared he couldn’t help but feel isolated.
Ines is just one in the 34.4 million young Filipinos within the ages of 18 to 39 years old that are registered to vote in May 9.
What was the breaking point of these differences in political views?
The younger Ines shared that while watching a newscast that was discussing the ABS-CBN franchise, he couldn’t resist reacting to his parents’ "misinformed comments."
“Naisip ko dapat mabago ‘yung ganoong mindset nila,” he said.
What followed was a subtle form of resistance in the Ines household, bringing home posters, t-shirts, and other campaign materials of his preferred presidential candidate, the younger Ines told ABS-CBN.
When the opportunity presented itself, he convinced his father to drive him and his friends to a campaign sortie in Bulacan, not mentioning that it was for Marcos Jr.’s rival.
On the way going there, Ines shared that his friends started conversations about political differences in their families, also unknowingly criticizing his father’s preferred candidate.
After hours of standing in the gruelling heat to participate in the campaign rally, Ines said his father greeted him with a change of mind, shifting his support to Robredo.
“Sobrang nakakatuwa, muntik na ako maiyak,” he added.
Ines’ story is only one example of a “conversion” of political beliefs due to the 2022 elections.
Sociologist Jayeel Cornelio said such “conversions” are still possible during the election season homestretch.
“Multifaceted naman ang ating political arena...Tandaan natin mabilis ang mga talon,” he explained in a March 25 interview, referring to the December to February Pulse Asia presidential preference surveys.
In the same surveys, Marcos Jr.'s overwhelming lead in the 18 to 24 years old age demographic went down to 57 percent in March from 71 percent in February, narrowing the gap between him and Robredo.
Despite this narrowed gap, Cornelio cautioned possible misinterpretations of the youth sentiment; emphasizing that despite its size, it is a “fragmented population” as other subcultural groups of the sector are often “excluded from the conversation,” he said.
When conversion of political beliefs isn’t working out
However, conversion of long-held beliefs is not the reality for others, leaving some young Filipinos to find another way in dealing with opposing political views in the family.
Kate Leonor, a 22-year-old first-time voter, belongs to one of these families.
Back in 2016, Leonor said she “blindly supported” her family’s choice of presidential candidate, then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte since her mother, who is a native Davaoeño, witnessed his governance in the city first-hand.
But the Duterte’s administration's issues on extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in his drug war and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic became an eye-opener.
Now, she is opposing her mother’s choice to support Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio and runningmate Marcos.
“Natatakot ako. Natatakot akong maging biktima ng EJK at ng red-tagging kaya ayoko na suportahan si Duterte,” she explained.
Such fear for the multitude of human rights violations and EJKs in the current administration prompted her to explore more on her political views which led to her supporting Ka Leody De Guzman.
Initially believing that Leonor was supporting Robredo, her parents made negative comments about the presidential candidate.
“Parang sobrang close minded na kapag ipapakita mo or itatanong mo kung bakit... Iko-close na lang nila ‘yung argument kapag tatanungin mo na lang sila kung bakit ayaw nila ‘yung kandidatong sinusuportahan mo,” she shared.
Upon learning that their daughter was not supporting the more prominent rival of their preferred presidential candidate, Leonor said her parents became more accepting.
“Before, akala kasi nila last year ang susuportahan ko si Leni, so parang inaaway nila ako na bakit daw si Leni ‘yung iboboto ko. Nung nalaman nila na lilipat ako, na si Ka Leody ‘yung iboboto ko, hindi na nila ako masyadong inaaway,” she explained.
Leonor said she remains firm in her decision even if it sometimes feel isolating. However, she emphasized, this does not stop her from continuing to engage them in political discussions despite the differences in views.
“Anytime na may itatanong sila sa akin, as much as possible, sasagutin ko naman ng may respeto pa rin at kung paano ko dapat sagutin,” she said, stressing that the way one acts is reflective of the candidate they support.
Cultivating honest conversations about politics
Dr. Violeta Bautista, family psychologist and University of the Philippines – Diliman PsycServ director, agrees with Leonor's sentiment, emphasizing that sometimes it’s about acceptance and working around these differences.
“Difference of political opinions should not be a wedge of the family that can lead [to] family members cancelling each other,” she said.
According to Dr. Bautista, one social skill young Filipinos can try in order to not compromise familial ties but remain open about their political beliefs is to use the DEARMAN technique—describe, express, assert, reinforce, mindful, act confident and negotiate.
“It’s a therapeutic technique. You could use it in difficult situations; you could use it in everyday life situations and it works most certainly,” she explained.
DEARMAN, she emphasized, is just one of the techniques individuals can use to engage their families in honest conversations about politics.
Future at stake
With a dwindling economic and climate crisis and an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to have political discussions and honest conversations.
“The past is at stake in terms of our history and how it will be written and how it will be narrated for us and for the future. The present is at stake because we are still in the middle of a crisis... The future is at stake because every decision made today will affect our economic strides in the next six years or so,” Cornelio said.
The older Ines agrees, and asks other parents to listen to their children.
“Importante din na suportahan sila... sila ‘yung nakakaalam na kung ano ikakaganda ng ating bansa, suportahan na rin natin ang mga anak natin,” he said.
Dr. Bautista also urged the youth to remain respectful to family members who have opposing political beliefs.
“Love, caring, [and] respect should not disallow us to express our convictions and opinions. In fact, the very openness and love for each other should be a motivation to be open and candid,” she said.