University of the Philippines Los Baños
Tuesday, 03 October 2017 14:25

Former UPLB prof reviews current political discourse

GE.Conv edited

A former speech communication professor of UPLB headlined this year’s General Education Conversation conducted by the Department of Humanities (DHUM).

Dr. Gene Segarra Navera, now a lecturer at the National University of Singapore, talked about “Political rhetoric in the Philippines: what’s the matter and why it matters” on Sept. 25 at the CAS Auditorium.

Dr. Navera, who studied the rhetoric of some of the Philippine presidents for his BA and MA theses and his PhD dissertation, started his lecture by saying that he does not endorse any specific political position. He said that he rather seeks to provoke further conversations on the current political issues. He explained that while rhetoric or persuasive speaking can be seen as words divorced from actions or attempts to hide inaction, it could also create action among its audience and ultimately alter or create reality.

He cited President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s public speeches and how his words have the potential to evoke change, such as mobilizing policies, giving privilege to previously hidden values or mindsets in the public, and limiting boundaries and setting standards for productive citizen engagement.

Dr. Navera added that while President Duterte seems to break away from his predecessors with his informality, upon analysis, he still has the basic elements of presidential rhetoric. Like those before him, Dr. Navera noted that he also reacts negatively to public criticism, especially from the press, citing similar instances of his predecessors.

With this, he suggested that President Duterte’s utterances must be engaged as a part of a larger narrative and used as basis for change and retrospection. He encouraged students, majority of whom are communication and public affairs students, to treat political talk and text seriously and be critical recipients of it. He also urged them to be aware of the ideas that these speeches endorse and how they can affect the way people think.

The DHUM GE Conversation aims to develop perception and critical thinking among students in everyday conversation and serves as a platform where social issues can be talked about, understood, and evaluated from a rhetorical perspective. 

Dr. Leonora Fajutagana, chair of DHUM, said that this year’s lecture sought to discuss and make sense of the current events, especially of the words addressed by political figures to the public. (Jessa Jael S. Arana)