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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

entry arrow12:08 AM | Hating Other People

We were having drinks at Tempat Raya Malaysian Kitchen a few nights ago, and a visiting writer/friend from Laguna dropped by. He had been prowling the streets of Dumaguete all day, looking for places to write and drink—which, according to him, fueled his creativity, and which he needed now because he was in the middle of writing his next novel. “I’m the Charles Bukowski of Philippine literature,” he told us, and we laughed.

“Oh, by the way,” he told me. “I was with this guy earlier tonight, and when I mentioned that I was joining you for a drink and wondered if he could join us, he demurred. ‘Ian hates me,’ he said.”

That sent my mind reeling.

“Can I have his name?” I asked—because the first instinct is to know “why.”

My friend gave me a name but he didn’t know the surname. The person was just somebody he had randomly met that day. I racked my brain for the name, and came up short. I knew no one by that name, or at least not as far as I could remember in that moment.

To say that it unsettled me would be an exaggeration. But it was a grain of irritation that persisted all throughout that night, and when I woke up the next morning, I turned to Facebook and searched for that name. Only one person came up in my search—a name from a very distant past. I sent his profile to my friend over Messenger, and asked, “Is this him?”


I laughed so hard.

Because I didn’t hate this guy at all. That realization was a relief. But if it wasn’t hate, it was something else: a memory of an awkward one-night stand when I was so much younger—this was in the mid-2000s!—which became a bit too clingy for comfort. So I ghosted him, way before the word “ghosting” was even invented, and thought no more about the person. But hate? No.

Hate is such a visceral word, one I don’t readily use to describe my feelings about other people—and if I have to make an honest accounting of the people I truly hate, I can only come up with three names. One is an artist who once defamed me. Another one is a former communications administrator who had such an uncanny talent for people manipulation. And the last one is an insecure wannabe who has no talent but has all the airs and the pretensions of a fourth-rate social climber. [To be honest, I don’t even really hate the last one. I’m more annoyed than hateful.]

But I will use the word “hate” to describe them because I cannot deny the physiological manifestations in me when I see their faces. I feel a creeping coldness that spreads from my hands to the core of my body, and then there is the sudden breathlessness that occurs. What it feels like is that of time stopping, and my body racing in self-preservation mode even if I am just standing still, pretending that all is right in the world.

I will use the word “hate” because in my darkest fantasies, I see a scenario of them lying by the roadside and in pain, and in my dark imaginings, I go up to them—and kick them instead. I would probably help them up in real life, but in my imagination I am the paragon of cold-heartedness. I know for sure I am not the only one who has this vengeance fantasy, if we must be honest.

Why do we hate?

Using the three people I mentioned above as parameters, I succumb to “hate” because:

[1] I was hurt, and the blow was unexpected. I thought we were friends, and then she defamed me online so thoroughly that the action left me bewildered I actually stopped doing art reviews for more than two years.

[2] I was witness to a horrible instance of inhumanity—because the last time I saw this person do her terrible magic in people manipulation, it was in a boardroom meeting and what she did filled me with such terrible awe that I couldn’t help but tell myself: “I have just seen a demonstration of evil, and I am paralyzed in its presence.” I wasn’t just paralyzed; I was stupefied. I could not believe that I was hearing this woman pronounce lies with so much nonchalance, and that the people around me were nodding their heads.

[3] I was victim of this person’s eternal pettiness, which I know springs from deep insecurity in his part. I probably would not mind him too much, but I would often catch him stealing my work and my research without acknowledging me and passing them off as his own—and then badmouthing me to other people on top of that. But, to be honest, this is more annoyance than hate.

I am annoyed with many people, but I rarely hate.

Hate, as an emotion, is so loaded, you confer it only to people who—in a weird way—truly deserve all that investment of emotion. We cannot bring ourselves to admit hate, because it is difficult. To admit hate is to acknowledge the actions of people we would rather ignore. To admit hate is to acknowledge that we have been moved—at least in a negative way—by them, which is a tacit recognition of their power. To admit hate is to bear a dark badge on our souls, negating the idea of ourselves as good people who manage to stay above the fray.

Which is why when I asked some of my friends about people they have truly hated in their lives—to the point that their blood would boil when they saw the faces of these people—most of them demurred from using the word. A musician friend would rather use the word “immensely dislike.” A psychologist friend would rather use the word “resentment.” A friend who’s a travel advocate would rather use the word “distrust.” My teacher friend, on the other hand, had no compunction over using the word.

My travel advocate friend told me: “There are three people I can think of—but I don’t use the word hate, because I do not want to hate. I extremely dislike them for their attempts to hurt me or my family, so this emotion really stems from distrust. Their intentions to be near me or us will always be hinged on malice. So I do not want to be near them. In fact, I just steer clear of them. I ignore them.”

I asked her to describe that feeling of distrust, and she told me: “When I do see them or when someone mentions their names, my palms get cold, my chest feels tight, and my heart beats faster. Naay mura’g sensation—I would describe it like an electrical current—mag-dagan-dagan sa akong arms, from my hands up to my shoulder and then back down again. But mentally, I feel calm and I know I am capable of doing just about anything if provoked.”

My psychologist friend told me: “There are three people I can think of—but I don’t really hate anyone. I can be angry at someone, I think. Or disappointed. But not hate. Let’s just say, extreme anger or disappointment na lang. But every time I see their posts on social media, saputon ko. Mo-sakit akong tiyan then lami i-syagit. Then I imagine myself telling the person how angry I am at them. It’s deeper than dislike. There are days I really feel resentment—and I think resentment is stronger than hate.”

There was somebody in our shared past who had done so much wrong to my psychologist friend, and also to me. Somebody we used to love immensely, but had become a distant object we never talked about anymore. I asked my psychologist friend about him, and she said: “I was never angry at him. I don’t hate him. I pity him. We knew him that much that we totally understood why he was the way he was. He wasn’t happy at all! There was severe pain and misery behind that famous laughter and charm.” I agreed. I don’t hate him either—although he gave me one of the most intense episodes in my life where I finally had to seek legal counsel. I can admit that what I feel now about him is mostly pity. He was, is, a broken man. I don’t hate him—but I also cannot imagine sharing the same breathing space with him anymore.

My teacher friend told me: “There are three people I can think of, to be honest. In recent years, more and more—and perhaps this is due to age—I’ve come to realize that the intensity of my hatred towards other people has to do more with what they represent and do, rather than for who they are as people. So even if I hate the person for who they are [because they generally are unlikable], the intensity of my hatred toward them is increased because of what they do or represent. Like unfair labor practice, or being a gun rights advocate, or being a Christian homophobe or heterosexist fascist. I really hate people who are actively making themselves insensitive to the plight of ordinary people. For whatever reasons they have, they make me seethe in anger. While I can control this anger in a way that still make me appear respectable, its residual deposits build over time that I can feel its weight, even so lightly, whenever I see or encounter the person again, in the same situation.”

He continued: “But such situation is not only a trigger but is also a magnifier. I especially notice that certain situations intensify my hatred against a person. In my line of work and commitment, for example, a situation might be a CBA negotiation, or a labor arbitration. In such a situation, my hatred against a person is more pronounced and I become more demonstrative of it. My hands become active and animated, and my voice becomes agitated. I am sure my eyes speak loud, too!”

He qualified all of that as a summation of his experience: “At this stage in my life, hatred for me has become more of an indicator of theological, social, and political pathologies. It is an emotion that tells me that I am in a situation of injustice or exploitation or exclusion or oppression. And spiritually, this allows me to feel the situation more deeply and closely. I am attuned to the complaints and cries of those around me. In this sense, this hatred of other people makes me more human and humane. So I embrace it fully.”

My singer friend told me: “There are three people that I can think of—but I don’t hate people man uy, I just extremely dislike,” and then he laughed. He continued: “I dislike people when they are a source of injustice. This is why I extremely dislike many politicians. And I don’t know where this is coming from—and maybe this is coming from my Christian background—but I also somehow believe in redemption. People are human, and they have reasons for doing things. But I do judge people.”

When pressed, he admitted: “Honestly, I used to be really hateful. I was a hateful kid growing up. But there was a turning point for me, especially when I studied psychology. I was in a class on trauma healing, and I asked myself—if ever I will meet the person who killed my father face-to-face, will I be able to forgive? When I was able to really tackle that issue within myself, I started to also hate less generally, and I began to be more understanding of people, I guess. But dili pud ko mag-plinastik. I still do judge people, and I do still feel anger when I see their faces, especially when I associate their faces with injustice. If ever I meet them, I think I would still be civil, and I can still talk to them—but I do judge them.”

I also asked my friends what their reaction had been when they found out that certain people do not, in fact, like them. My travel advocate friend told me: “My first thought is: ‘Why?’ But it does not trouble me. I care very much for all my friends, even my acquaintances. I have trained my mind, and my heart, to set aside na lang those who dislike me.”

My psychologist friend told me: “My first thought is: ‘What did I do?’ When I was younger, I used to ask: ‘What is wrong with me, or what do I lack?’ At this age, I just say: ‘Okay.’ But primary I still assess myself if I did anything wrong to the person—and kung wala, I just acknowledge that’s just how things are. And then I think: ‘Maybe they’re threatened by me.’ Based on my experiences, they lash out because they are unhappy and they need a target for their frustrations.”

This insight on insecurity as source of resentment was also echoed by my singer friend: “This is normal! As artists and as leaders, people will always see our flaws because we are always at the forefront of things. When I started one major music project in Dumaguete, I heard people grumble about me. They raised their eyebrows. They didn’t like me. They didn’t like the way I organized things. They didn’t like the way I performed. But what I did was, I just tried to be nice to them. That whatever they said about me, I was fine with that. And then it turned out, some years later, they also participated in the project I was doing!”

He continued: “There was another instance when, in an artistic group I was part of, I was totally hated by certain people. People cancelled me because of something I did. I started to also dislike, even hate, people. But you know what I did? I genuinely learned to forgive. I was in church in Davao and I was singing ‘The Lord’s Prayer’—and in that part where we sing ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,’ I was crying so hard. And then I learned to forgive those people who had judged me, and it turned out many of them later on became my closest friends now. I hated them—but I gave them a chance to understand my situation, where I was coming from. I think it was because I began to believe in becoming more empathetic, more compassionate, more understanding—and this is really the surest way to end hate.”

“There is one thing I learned from a mentor,” he continued. “That when things go wrong, or when people do not like you or when they question you, there is always dignity in silence. Not only to protect yourself, but also to give yourself time to reflect. You can give yourself time to evaluate your thoughts and your feelings. Why do you not like this person? What can you do to reconcile with this person? What can I learn about them that will change my mind regarding who they are to me?”

I asked him if reconciliation was necessary, and he immediately answered: “No!” and he laughed. “But when possible, make it possible. For inner peace.”

I asked my friends if they could ever forgive the people they … umm, immensely dislike / resent / distrust. My travel advocate friend answered: “Yes, if they apologize.” My psychologist friend answered: “Maybe more like ‘move on’ from them. But forgive? Only when apology is given.” My teacher friend answered: “F***k them. This gives intensity, and clarifies for me the reason why I hate them.”

I, on the other hand, forgive too easily—often to my own detriment.

As with regards being disliked, I can think of two very recent encounters that qualified for me what I have come to understand being an object of “hate” myself. In May, I was the object of a social media firestorm related to the elections. I know that this made me lose acquaintances, even people I thought were close friends. One of the latter in fact publicly posted on her Facebook page: “Go cancel yourself!”—and I thought of all our years of close camaraderie [even family history], and it made me very sad. But I was strangely calm throughout that ordeal, telling friends who were concerned for my welfare [some of them were even offering legal help], that it was all perfectly fine. That we would weather all of that. The calmness felt so grownup. As a meme once put it succinctly: “It’s okay not to be liked by everyone. You don’t even like everyone.”

Not too long ago, I had come to a meeting over lunch at Mister Saigon with a fellow LGBTQ activist who I found myself sparring with online. Over chat, she had accused me of “flexing my patriarchal muscles” when it came to planning Pride Month events last June, and I said equally hurtful things to her as well. But, minutes later, we both calmed down—and we agreed to meet face-to-face the very next day. We poured out our feelings and our frustrations over that lunch, knowing that the contention sprang from miscommunication, and we came away from that meeting feeling reassured about our common goals. But one other person in that meeting also told me this: “There are people in Dumaguete who don’t like working with you, Sir Ian. They don’t like you.”

I remembered my response—which I think echoes what my singer friend also realized: “Being liked is overrated. You don’t get to where you are without people hating or undermining you.” I truly meant it—and I found some form of inner peace when I articulated that. I was finally fine with being disliked! It was such a good realization, especially after spending most of my life doing unbearable people-pleasing—apparently an ADHD trait.

I also remembered what a visual artist friend told me when he visited Dumaguete early in June to attend the opening of MUGNA Gallery in Valencia. He was wary about encountering some artists who were instrumental in him leaving Dumaguete for good and settling to do his studio work somewhere else instead. He hated these people—who counted, among them, the very artist who defamed me. [Apparently, this is not an uncommon situation.] But he stayed on anyway for the opening party. And when we were going home, he told me: “We actually need these people in our lives.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, if they didn’t make me leave Dumaguete, I wouldn’t have gone on to make a more significant mark in the art world. My anger fuels me.”

I thought about that, and I replied: “You may be on to something there. If that person didn’t defame me, I wouldn’t be writing this much about the Dumaguete art world.”

“We need them. They keep us on our toes. They make me want to succeed even more,” my friend said. “But, nonetheless, f***k them.”

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