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Mocha Uson

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Mocha Uson
Mocha Uson 2017.jpg
Uson in 2017
Assistant Secretary for Social Media of the Presidential Communications Group
Assumed office
May 8, 2017
Secretary Martin Andanar
Personal details
Born Esther Margaux Justiniano Uson
Dagupan, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Political party PDP–Laban[1]
Alma mater University of Santo Tomas
Occupation Singer, dancer, model, actress, blogger
Musical career
Genres
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2005–present
Associated acts Mocha Girls

Esther Margaux Justiniano Uson,[2] known mononymously as Mocha, is a Filipina singer, dancer, model, blogger, and public official. She served as board member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) from January 27, 2017,[3] until her appointment as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in May[4] by President Rodrigo Duterte as payment for utang na loob (debt of gratitude) to her for her support during his 2016 election campaign.[5][6][7] Also known for her risqué performances, blogging about sex, and posting revealing photographs,[7] she has achieved notoriety in the Philippines for spreading misinformation via her eponymous blog,[8][9] prompting her critics to dub her as the "Queen of Fake News".[10][11]

Early life and education

Uson was born in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.[12] Her father, Oscar Uson, was a regional trial court judge who was assassinated in September 2002 in Asingan, Pangasinan.[13][14] Her mother, Estrellita Uson, was a pediatrician in Dagupan,[14] and a breast cancer survivor.[15][16][17][18]

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from the University of Santo Tomas in 1998.[19][20] She entered medicine in 1999 at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery but dropped out during her second year to pursue her modeling, dancing and singing career full-time.[17][21]

Musical and acting career

Music

Uson started as a solo singer-dancer blogger performing in bars around Metro Manila. She was popular for her sexy image and on-stage antics, which included lap dances.[22] For a time, she served as the lead vocalist of the rock band Mocha with Spin Art.[23][24][25]

In 2006, Uson and manager Lord Byron Cristobal launched an audition and formed the Mocha Girls along with Hershey Delas Alas, Bez Lacanlale, Grace Oracion, and Heart de Guzman.[18] The group's debut album, A Taste of Mocha, was released in 2006 by XAX Records. Their second album, Mocha, was released in 2007 by Viva Records. Their third album, Deliciosa, was released in 2008 also on Viva Records.[26][27] Together, they performed in various venues throughout the Philippines, United States, Dubai, and Guam.[15][28][29]

In 2010, Hershey Delas Alas, Bez Lacanlale, Grace Oracion, and Heart de Guzman were dismissed by manager Lord Byron Cristobal for taking drinks and sitting with male customers after a gig. Delas Alas, Lacanlale, Oracion and De Guzman eventually formed a girl group called Girlz Ink.[18][30]

Since the departure of the four members, several line-up changes have occurred. The current line-up consists of Mocha Uson, Mae Dela Cerna, Franz Fainsan, Georgina Knight, Seika Hashizume, Shaina Salazar and Jade Dela Peña.[31] Their fourth album, Pinay Ako, was released in 2012 by Bellhaus Entertainment.[26][27] The Mocha Girls have performed in various Philippine cities, as well as in other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.[32][33][34][35][36][37]

Film

In 2009, Uson made her film debut in Sumpa where she starred alongside Joross Gamboa.[38][39] In 2011, she starred in the Filipino-Malaysian film Seksing Masahista.[40] She has also starred in the So Much Pain So in Love (2011) and Butas 2 (2012). In 2013, she starred in a coming-of-age film, Mga Alaala ng Tag-ulan, alongside Akihiro Blanco.[41][42]

Radio

Uson also hosted a commentary program which aired on DZRH. However, the program was suspended after the radio station received complaints from Uson's profane remarks against Vice President Leni Robredo.[43]

Internet career

Blog

Uson is one of the most widely read commentators in the Philippines.[44] In her blog, she previously provided commentary and advice on sex-related issues and hosted online video chats.[17]

During the 2016 Philippine presidential elections, Uson's blog posts started to focus on politics. Her blog hosted in a Facebook page, Mocha Uson Blog, has over 5.3 million followers as of December 2017 and contains posts actively supporting President Rodrigo Duterte and his anti-drug campaign. The blog also criticizes the Philippines’ top newsgroups, ABS-CBN, GMA Network, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Rappler which she has labeled as “Presstitutes” – a portmanteau of press and prostitute. She has also criticized Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes, and the Liberal Party.[45][46][47][48][49][50]

Twitter

Uson also has an active Twitter account. On the morning of March 9, 2017, her account was suspended. According to Twitter, the common reasons for suspending an account include spam, if the account's security is at risk or abusive tweets or behavior from the user. After the suspension, hashtag #MochaUsonIsOverParty became the top trending topic in the Philippines. She went live after to criticize supporters of the Liberal Party, who she claimed was responsible for reporting her account. Her account was restored later that afternoon.[51]

Irresponsible blogging, fake news and misleading information

Mocha Uson has been widely criticized for constantly propagating fake news and misinformation on her Facebook page Mocha Uson Blog.[8][52][9] As such, she has been called by her critics as the "Queen of Fake News".[53][10]

Notable incidents include:

  • A Facebook post calling for prayers for Filipino soldiers, accompanied by a photo of praying Honduran forces.[54] In her defense, Uson contended that she never claimed that the photo was that of members of the Philippine Army, and that the photo was only used as a visual aid or "symbolism".[55]
  • Uson posting a news report praising the DSWD under the Duterte Administration's system for packing 50,000 relief goods commenting "That's how much the Duterte Administration values the ordinary Filipino." In fact, the news report was published on Oct. 1, 2015, before Duterte became president.[11]
  • Sharing the photo of a dead girl who was supposedly raped and murdered by Filipino drug addicts and asking why there was no outrage from the Commission on Human Rights. The photo was in fact from an incident in Brazil dated 2014. Uson later took down her post.[56][57][54][11]
  • Attacking the administration and students of St. Scholastica's College for committing "child abuse" in forcing the young students to attend anti-Ferdinand Marcos burial rallies.[54] This turned out to be false as attendance by the students at the rallies were purely voluntary and done with the permission of their parents.[58][11]
  • Sharing an article about a decorated policeman who was slain by drug dealers and challenging Vice President Leni Robredo, senators Bam Aquino, Antonio Trillanes, and Risa Hontiveros about when they would visit the wake.[54] It turns out that the article was printed a year before,[59] making it impossible for the Vice President and Senators to attend the wake or funeral.[60]
  • In a commentary about the tax evasion case against the tobacco company Mighty Corp, she cited the 263rd article of the Philippine Constitution. A netizen pointed out that the Philippine Constitution only has 18 articles.[54][11]
  • On October 23, 2017, after Marawi was declared "liberated" following the deaths of Maute and Hapilon, Uson posted an image of clean city streets, claiming that Duterte's government moved really fast and that "22 barangays were already cleaned". It turns out that the photo was from May 25, 2017 - just the third day of the Marawi siege.[61]
  • In November 2017 on the day after the ASEAN summit came to a close, Uson shared a post by RJ Nieto misquoting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as saying "...Theoretically, it is impossible to get (the garbage) back... even if it originally came from Canada" in reference to trash shipped to the Philippines from Canada. In fact, Trudeau's actual quote was "Even though it originally came from Canada, we had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from being able to take it back. Those regulations and those impediments have now been addressed, so it is now theoretically possible to get it back.", which is the complete opposite of what Uson and Nieto shared.[62][63]
  • In January 2018, Uson lashed back at critics over the award for government service she received from the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association,[64] stating that the controversy was being used to cover up the issues over Dengvaxia in the Philippines, former Senator Franklin Drilon's receiving of funds from Janet Lim-Napoles and "most importantly", the continuing erruption of Mayon Volcano in Naga, Camarines Sur. However, Mayon Volcano is located in Albay Province in the Bicol Region. Netizens[65] and celebrities[66] reacted on Social Media[67] on Uson's gaffe, flooding the Internet with memes[68] over Uson's ignorance. Uson later apologized for her "tiny mistake", but continued to accuse critics of silence over the issues of Dengvaxia and the death of UST law student Atio Castillo from a fraternity hazing. The latter claim was also false as Castillo's death had drawn public outrage, rallies, and resurrected calls for stricter anti-hazing laws in the Philippines.[69]

Filipino senators have also criticized Uson for continuously spreading fake news. Senator Nancy Binay questioned Uson's role in the Presidential Communications Operations Office, asking Secretary Martin Andanar: "How can you fight fake news kung may instances na nanggagaling mismo sa isang Asec yung fake news?" (when there are instances when the Assistant Secretary herself is the source of fake news?)[21]

In September 2017, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed administrative and criminal complaints against Uson for spreading fake news that he owned offshore bank accounts and for other alleged unlawful acts committed by the official.[70][54] The lawmaker also filed graft charges against Uson for allegedly using her position to propagate false information.[71]

In April 2018, an administrative complaint was filed against Uson by Akbayan Youth before the Office of the Ombudsman over posting misleading content on her Facebook page, with the charges of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.[9][72] Uson did not attempt to defend herself against the charges, but rather made a joke thanking the complainants for giving her the idea of starting her own coffee shop business which she would call "Fire Mocha Café", named after the hashtag #FireMocha used by the complainants.[8]

When asked by entertainment columnist Ricky Lo if she sleeps soundly at night despite the "ruckus" created by her writings, Uson replied, "Yes. I sleep soundly at night knowing that I am fighting for the right side. There is a war going on between good and evil. My mission is to separate truth from lies, light from darkness and good from evil."[19]

Data research and analysis done by Philippine news website Rappler has shown that Uson has been sharing posts from Philippine fake news websites[73] multiple times.[74]

Politics and activism

2016 presidential elections

Uson voiced strong support for then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during his successful 2016 presidential campaign.[13]

During the campaign she got involved with a dispute over musician Jim Paredes, member of the OPM musical group APO Hiking Society. Paredes, a supporter of the Liberal Party with its standard-bearer, Senator Mar Roxas, alleged Duterte of human rights violations.[75] She cited an interview she had with Paredes in 2012, saying that Paredes probed in asking questions about her sexuality and that he tried to hit on Mocha Girls band mate Mae Dela Cerna, and her. Paredes later responded in his official website, saying that he doesn't remember asking such questions to Uson, describing her allegations as "mere exaggeration", and explained further how she was "very candid, almost bragging" during the interview.[75]

As part of Rodrigo Duterte's administration

Uson greeting President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañang Palace following her appointment as an MTRCB board member, January 9, 2017

After Rodrigo Duterte's election as President of the Philippines, Uson got more involved in politics and later became a part of Duterte's administration.

In April 2017, Uson was part of the president's official delegation during his state visits to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. She has a large number of followers from overseas Filipino communities, especially in the Middle East. She has come to help boost morale and well-being of her followers.[76]

MTRCB Board

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed Uson's appointment in a text message to Rappler on Thursday, January 5, 2017.[77] As member of the board, Uson's job is to be part of a sub-committee tasked to review movies, programs, or television shows for recommendations of disapproval.[78] Her position in the MTRCB is said to expire on September 30, 2017, although she relinquished her post on May 8, 2017, following her appointment as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.[79]

PCOO Assistant Secretary

On May 8, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Uson as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).[79] Uson will be handling the social media department of the PCOO.

On her official Facebook account on Tuesday evening, June 5, 2018 Kris Aquino again called out Mocha for spreading misinformation about her parents, the late former president Corazon Aquino, and slain former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.[80]

Bureau of Customs

In early August 2016, after her exclusive interview with Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on her “Mocha Uson Blog”, Uson was alleged to have been appointed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as a "social media consultant", but she later clarified through her Facebook page that she would not be holding an official position.[81][82] She drew criticism from Filipino netizens who questioned Uson's qualifications for the job and promoted the Twitter hashtag #DutertePleaseAppointMe, citing how easy it is to secure a position under the Duterte administration.[83] Some netizens, however, supported Uson and asked the public to give her a chance to prove her worth.[81]

The Bureau of Customs issued an official denial on its Twitter account stating: "Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon will not appoint Mocha Uson as BOC Social Media Consultant but she can write articles about BOC on her blog." Faeldon’s chief of staff also clarified that “No papers are being prepared. Commissioner Faeldon did not sign any paper regarding Mocha’s appointment.”[81]

Following this, Uson responded to her critics through an official statement and television interview. She confirmed that she will not be holding an official position at the Bureau of Customs, but reiterated her intent to voluntarily help the Duterte administration through social media. She also urged critics to "make good use of [their] time" by volunteering to help underprivileged children at the Department of Social Welfare and Development.[84][85]

Political positions

Reproductive Health Law

In May 2011, Uson, along with other pro-reproductive health advocates headed to the Batasang Pambansa Complex, the headquarters of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, to call for the passage of House Bill 4244, better known as the Reproductive Health Bill.[n 1] She also expressed her support for effective sex education in schools. She then challenged the Catholic Church to excommunicate her for supporting the aforementioned bill.[n 2][87][88]

Marcos burial

In December 2016, Uson published an editorial for The Philippine Star defending the controversial[89] burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery the same year, while also criticizing the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines for opposing the decision.[90]

Vice Presidency of Leni Robredo

On April 2, 2017, critics of Vice President Leni Robredo held a rally called "Palit Bise" (lit. Change the Vice [President]) calling for the legal removal of the vice president from the office.[91] According to Uson, the movement aims to oust Robredo due to her alleged lack of support for the Duterte administration, either by means of impeachment or voluntary resignation.[92]

Criticisms

Uson has received criticism for accepting office with the PCOO with a monthly salary of 106,454, which is very large by Philippine standards.[93]

She has also been called to resign her post or at least be removed from office with the #FireMocha trending in social media. There are also petitions for her to step down.[94]

Personal life

Uson is openly bisexual.[19][95] She calls herself "an open-minded Catholic,"[17] but has suggested that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines is the antichrist.[96]

Discography

Studio albums

with Mocha Girls
  • A Taste of Mocha (2006; XAX Records)
  • Mocha (2007; Viva Records)
  • Deliciosa (2008; Viva Records)
  • Pinay Ako (2012; Bellhaus Entertainment)

Filmography

Television

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2009 Sumpa Jackie
2011 Seksing Masahista Mona Malaysian-Philippine co-production
2011 So Much Pain So in Love Commercial model/singer
2012 Butas 2 Pia
2013 Four Sisters and a Wedding Mocha Cameo
2013 Mga Alaala ng Tag-ulan Claire

Other appearances

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Reproductive Health Bill was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, therefore becoming the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354) also known as the Reproductive Health Law.
  2. ^ The Catholic Church in the Philippines has been strongly opposed to the Reproductive Health Bill, denouncing contraception as abortifacients while the RH bill a contradiction to the Church's teaching that sexual act must be procreative.[86]

References

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  80. ^ https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/news/204204-kris-aquino-mocha-uson-challenge WATCH: 'I'm ready for you. I don't know if you're ready for me' – Kris Aquino to Mocha Uson
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External links