There is a Mocha Uson in Each of Us
Illustration by Jon Ahmed Durano
“There is a Mocha Uson in each of us,” Lola always tells me this as she sits on her rocking chair while telling the stories of early 2017 through her “antique” iPhone 7 Plus.
I know Mocha Uson quite well, at least from what I’ve researched and heard.
Her real name is Margaux. She was a performer, a dancer, a vocalist of a girl group. To most people, she was a harlot, a bold star, a hooker — every man’s dream, probably. She was an actress in adult movies, an entertainer and a blogger. But not a lot of people know she took up a bachelor’s degree in medical technology. She also took up two years in med school, but she never graduated. Her dream of pursuing music was unfazed.
Her love for country was ignited when her father, a regional court judge, was assassinated. She felt something was not right with the system of justice, or injustice. She became the voice of the Filipinos who believed in Tatay Digong; the head of the Duterte Diehard Supporters; the administrator of MOCHA USON BLOG; and an activist against those anti-Duterte and the DDS.
The peak of her career started when she was appointed as a board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, became assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and, a year later, became secretary herself.
The rest was history. From the communication office, to being secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, to the senate — there’s no stopping Mocha Uson.
“There is a Mocha Uson in each of us.”
As I sip my morning coffee, I recall the times I have been with Mocha Uson.
On my third birthday, she gave me an expensive toy car which she ordered from Japan. I was so happy that I wasn’t really able to focus on playing with my friends, or eating my favorite hotdog-and-marshmallows on a stick. When I was eight, she attended the medical mission event to circumcise young boys in my barangay, and it included me. She said medical missions were her thing. Mocha was the guest speaker. “Simula lamang ito sa pagpapabuti ng ating bayan, mga kabataan. Sumanib na kayo sa DDS at simulan natin ang pagbabago,” she said upon concluding her speech. Now that I’m 27, about to be married, Mocha’s going to be one of my sponsors and I couldn’t be more enthused.
All those years I’ve spent with Mocha were rich in learning. In between parties and dinners were small talks that made me realize that Mocha only wants change. Beyond her insults and bashing was frustration for the system of government and leadership tainted with scandals and corruption. In her eyes I see a longing for a better Philippines, and not even her mascara could hide that.
But sometimes, one gets tired of the seemingly shallow façade that she’s exhibiting—the noise against administration after administration, the sharing of fake news and the mindless fighting on social media. After countless times of begging her to stop fighting people on social media, merely saying “please” without saying the whole sentence was of no use.
For the record, I haven’t been a Duterte Diehard Supporter, or a blogger, or a senator. But maybe there really is a Mocha Uson in each of us.
I walk to a mirror and look at myself. I have had so many failed relationships. Girlfriends, friends, colleagues and workmates—many failed to last because of worthless arguments. Maybe our relationships have been too frayed by our false dichotomies. Maybe it’s not the super-advanced technology we have today. Maybe it’s not the news. Maybe it’s us and our false dilemmas. Sometimes we believe that there are only two possible solutions to a problem, two extremes with no possible spectrum of choices.
“Either you’re with us, or against us.” I always hear that line, but it was magnified during Mocha’s time. It was either you were with the administration, or you were straight-up dilawan. I couldn’t get that era in Philippine history. People lambasted each other just to know whose credibility was more credible; where people smart-shamed the literati with an exceptional “Edi wow.” That was a very Mocha Uson move, and I just realized it now.
Things should have been better by now. We should have been working in collectives for the common good. Instead, today, there are still factions among and within groups, politicians still running for personal gain.
Maybe there’s a Mocha Uson in each of us.
Maybe it’s because we still don’t care about the bigger issues. Or maybe it’s because of our indifference to much bigger issues to the point that until now, three generations past the Aquino and Duterte administrations, we are still indifferent about the issue on the West Philippine Sea. We still prefer sexist and elitist leaders. Maybe because of this indifference, we tend to criticize our third woman president rather than helping her realize our country’s potential.
But still, maybe there’s a Mocha Uson in each of us.
Maybe there’s Mocha in each of us, a Mocha that wants change. Maybe we’re frustrated with the system of politicizing the government and the media, the system of corruption, the endless red tape we have to go through just to get permits, the fiascos and scandals, the war on drugs, the war on territories. Maybe we’re tired of history repeating itself. Maybe we’re worried that generations after ours will still experience the same thing. We want change, but we just don’t know it yet.
Three generations since Duterte’s administration and Mocha Uson’s social media reign, and we still haven’t figured it out yet. Three generations have passed, and we still fight each other on social media. We still bully those who we consider less intelligent.
So maybe Lola’s right.
“There is a Mocha Uson in each of us,” says Lola, my Lola Mocha.
I walk her through the village, carrying the pride that more than being Mocha Uson, she’s just normal Filipina who wants radical change—a change she really wants, but can barely grasp the idea of how to achieve it. I just hope she can see it in her lifetime, or mine.