(Note: I am one of the readers and peers of this certain open letter directed against Marcelo Santos III, known for his works such as “Para sa Broken Hearted” and “Para sa Hopeless Romantic” in which both are bestsellers and his presence in social media primarily on Facebook and Twitter. I have contacted the author of the letter with his permission to publish this as a way to disseminate his message further to the wider public and I believe that this letter has now a life of its own. I am writing in an assumed alias to hide my identity and to keep a low profile regarding the issues which would surround it. In my opinion, the letter is primarily influenced by French novelist Emile Zola’s “J’accuse!” written in 1898 during the Dreyfus trial.)
I Accuse!: A Letter to Marcelo Santos III
I am writing not as your fan and not as your mere hater, I am writing primarily for the future of the youth and the future of the nation. Indeed, you are a very successful author, and yes no one can deny your influence amongst the Filipino youth. This is a sort of real talk, because I want to make my intentions clear.
Monsieur, I accuse you as one of the reasons why there is a culture of political and social apathy in the majority of the youth. But you are not a problem, you are merely a symptom of a century old social cancer. What cringes me and what I also admire of you is your honesty; your honesty that it is not important to read in order to write. You have admitted that a considerable number of your followers are the ones who have no interest in reading at all.
Monsieur, if you haven’t slept in both of your history and sociology classes, the whole of humanity, especially the Filipino nation which has gone through struggles and it continues to this day. The ideals of the Enlightenment, especially print-capitalism have created an imagined community of individuals who are willing to take down the old order to advance their interests. The cycle goes on and on, and if you are familiar with Benedict Anderson’s “Imagined Communities”, you are already forming your own imagined community through a large group of people having the same desires and ideas.
What I seem to despise in your “imagined community” is that it is merely a community of happy go lucky teenagers; yes, I understand that during your teenage years, you would undergo certain changes in order for you to reach the age of maturity. It is also the time of endless hedonism and of romance. While I understand the majority of the youth who would become the supposed future of the nation, your literature unfortunately is perpetuating a sense of illusion; an illusion of cultural hegemony and of a society based on conformity.
I don’t need to read your works and would never intend to do so, and literary success is not based on the number of books sold or if it is high on the list of best selling books. It is very depressing to see your blog about your favourite books for your fans to read. It is now clear, Monsieur, you are either a romantic idealist or taking advantage of your fanbase since books about romance and love are bestsellers in this country, and you indeed have mastered the art of mass propaganda.
Do you understand that your kind of manipulators are the main reason why there is a looming generation ahead, a generation of imbeciles which would haunt our very own present? If you are familiar with 1984 or any works of dystopian fiction, your works, Monsieur, and your other authors is the reason for the decline of mass Filipino literature and the struggle of authors who are more talented than you and should be given more attention.
In this contemporary liberal bourgeoisie society in which Fukuyama stated as ‘the end of history’, your work is an example on why the nation will hardly see its light. Your quotes which are stolen from various sources is an example of a culture of apathy and consumerism, of commodity fetishism. Karl Marx is right in Das Kapital, everything can be commodified, and love unfortunately is now a commodity which could be bought and sold to create a society of apathy in politics, in the problems of our cultural consciousness and the overall social cancer of our country. You are part of the media, and yes, you are a symptom, a symptom which must be cured. The shallowness of the majority of your readers has been also handicapped by an educational system which teaches students to conform instead of thinking critically. Your kind have deprived them of an opportunity to enlighten themselves and their very own individual liberty.
Unfortunately, it will take a long time for this society to transcend from its fantasy masking as reality. You have an ideology Monsieur, and your ideology is ignorance. In this age of information, ignorance is a choice, but the question is, do we even have a choice? You are a part of a system which perpetuates its own cultural values to make the people submissive and conform to the values deemed acceptable to the ruling elite, the true masters of this country since time immemorial.
I am just trying to tell you, Marcelo, that in my own perspective, you are already committing treason against your own countrymen, a treason against the future of the motherland. You have the responsibility, Marcelo, to either elevate the consciousness of the youth, or to destroy it. It is depressing that you have chosen to destroy it.
It is very sad that our heroes have sacrificed so much, to be only killed by people who didn’t even care about the Revolution, but rather for the perpetuation of the status quo. Filipino literature is not dead, but it is dying a slow, painful death. And you, you Monsieur, have contributed to its very own travesty. Is this the society that we have aspired to be? A society of ignorance, of vice and of tyranny? Is this the fate that we have chosen, that of misery?
My deepest respects
Allen Severino, 2014
- J’Accuse!: Open letter directed against youth author - November 3, 2014