TODAY I RECEIVED a message from my publisher here in the UK about an email from someone back home accusing me of ‘anti-workerism’ and ‘misogyny’. The email also asked for my publisher to contact the sender ‘as soon as you can’.
Based on my experiences on this kind of harassment I am receiving since 2016, this is not the usual professional jealousy that you could encounter as a working class writer writing in a country where access to literary and theatrical opportunities are limited to the middle class (from middle class Left to the matapobre Right of the political spectrum in the Philippines) gatekeeping the literary and the theatre establishments. This kind of harassment is to extract more information on my activities from the people who are close and working with me. And this is dangerous for Filipino writers writing and publishing outside the literary establishments in this period in the country where the elite ruling class is correcting itself, transitioning.
As a writer and a playwright, I’ve been accused of so many things in the Philippines – from being a ‘iskwater‘ (someone who grew up from the ghettoes), ‘psychotic’, a bad influence to younger writers, communist terrorist, Muslim terrorist, anti-Filipino, ‘bougie fuckwit’, publicly mocked online from my gender, religious, class orientations to my physical appearance. I am subjected to online bullying since 2016 coming from writers from the Philipine literary establishments, paid trolls, from the State. All these were documented by writers and colleagues who were protecting me since 2016.
In 2017, in desperation probably from professional jealousy or clout from some centrist and right-wing liberal writers, my name was included in the list of writers that should be haunted, shamed, and banned from the literary establishment since I was allegedly supporting the Duterte regime. This happened at the same time while my name was also in the list of the fascist regime’s supporters of anti-Duterte writers and critics that they need to target online!
I welcomed them all.
This is nothing new to me. Last 25th of May, in an attempt to use me to whitewash the image of the country that there is ‘freedom of expression’ in Duterte Philippines, a bookshop owned by the known fascist writer, a National Artist of the Philippines for Literature, one of the most influential liberal, anti-communist partiarchs of the Philipine Literary Establishment wrote me an email if I would like to display my books in their shop. I made my response to the ‘invitation’ public to protect myself and my writing: that I refused as an exiled author to be used as a tool by this fascist regime for propaganda. The supporters of the regime and the coteries of the elitist liberal literary establishment were quick to spin this as my attack to the workers of the bookshop.
My apologies to people, institutions, my publisher, communities here in the UK if ever they received these kinds of harassment from the Philippines stemming from their association with me. My apologies, too, to my translator Kristine Ong Muslim who is being dragged to this mess, targeted because of her association with me.
I am still writing. They are not winning.