The Political Performance of Orality: Voice, Speech, Language and their (Dis)Contents in Duterte’s Philippines

Oscar Jr Serquiña1, Gene Segarra Navera2, Alwin Aguirre3, Charles Erize Ladia4

1The University Of Melbourne, Australia, 2National University of Singapore, Singapore, 3The University of the Philippines, Philippines, 4The University of the Philippines, Philippines

Chair: Oscar Jr Serquiña


No other president in Philippine politics has garnered much notorious attention because of his oral performance than Rodrigo Duterte. The 16th president of the Southeast Asian republic is known to many not only for his bloody “War on Drugs” but also his so-called “War of Words.”  Duterte’s violent relationship with language has manifested in the way he instructed Barack Obama “to go to hell,” degraded the European Union as a “stupid organization,” called the Pope “gay,” and demeaned God as “stupid.” He has further caught attention for his misogynistic denigration of women. Calling out these curses and sexual outbursts, mainstream media have tagged Duterte as “foul-mouthed” while critics have called him “unpresidential.”

This panel spotlights different aspects of Duterte’s subjectivity and performance as a speaking subject to evolve frameworks that can assist in our understanding of political performances of orality and its relationship to culture and society. How does Duterte expose a different production, circulation, and reception of oral performance in the 21st century? How does he change not only the political but also the linguistic, acoustic, and communicative landscape of the country? And finally, how might we understand the contents and discontents of Duterte’s verbal hygiene within Philippine political modernity?



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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