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The spectre of populism in Philippine politics and society: artista, masa, Eraption!

Hedman, Eva-Lotta E. (2001) The spectre of populism in Philippine politics and society: artista, masa, Eraption! South East Asia Research, 9 (1). pp. 5-44. ISSN 0967-828X

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This paper seeks to explore the origins of the populist appeal of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, and to recapture some of its peculiar workings in the broader context of Philippine post-colonial politics and society. To that end, the paper provides a brief glimpse of the rapidly changing urban landscape which first saw the rise of Estrada as the superstar of the moviescreen and the mayor of San Juan municipality in Metropolitan Manila during the 1960s. In the following section of the paper, key developments in the Philippine film industry are identified, and an attempt is made to demonstrate the emerging possibility of a new kind of social imaginary, or mass consciousness, reflective of cinema's power to reveal to an audience entirely new structural formations of the subject. Here, the notion of Tagalog movies as a 'visualized lingua franca' – unburdened by tradition, hierarchy, and easily accessible to a wide spectrum of the population – suggests one possible link between the expanding cinema audience at lower-class theatres and the new forms of recognition implied by the rise of artista politicians in Manila in the 1960s. Finally, a closer look at narrative and character in some Estrada films from the peak years of his movie stardom in the 1960s and 1970s points to the kind of familiarity and appropriation Estrada may inspire among his fans and followers. The paper was completed as (former) President Estrada faced, first, an unprecedented impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate and, eventually, an unceremonious end to his presidency in the parliament of the streets (ie 'People Power' at 'EDSA').

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2001 IP Publishing Ltd
Divisions: IGA: LSE IDEAS
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2009 14:30
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:35

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