Emotions: Through Pictures and Words – Social Media Analytics

May 8, 2016

Like the previous article about the emotions for the second presidential debate, this one discusses what netizens felt about the third presidential debate via posts in Twitter. As before, several key steps were done before the actual analysis to determine the assumptions and limitations of the study.

(Previously, we released several articles that discussed several analyses we conducted for the Cebu leg of the COMELEC-commissioned debates. Now, we’re back to provide more analyses for the third and last debate. Just like before, our analyses constitutes three different articles. The first article showed what the topics of the tweets are, while the second article tackled the characteristics of the tweets we gathered. )

First, the same set of hand-tagged tweets were used. However, additional information was added by tagging more tweets from the second debate and appending them to the prior dataset of hand-tagged tweets.

Second, the tweets were tagged using the same criteria set in the analysis of the second debate. The same set of emotions – anger, joy, love, disgust, interest, and sadness – were considered. Tweets that do not express emotion are not included in the graphs below. They were explained further in the article about emotions from the previous debate. To measure what the author of the tweet felt about the candidate, the emotion of the tweet with regard to its subjects, implied or explicit, is used as a proxy variable.

Also, while the terms used to filter the dataset by candidates are different from the ones used before, the datasets remain non mutually exclusive. Even if a tweet mentions more than one candidate, the emotion tagged to a tweet remains the same across all candidates. These methods assume that a tweet has only one emotion. While highly unlikely in real life, this assumption was made for this analysis.

Results of the Analysis

[Visualization] Distribution of Candidates per Emotion

The stacked bar chart shown above gives a glimpse of how netizens felt about candidates during the third leg of the presidential debates. The bars, separated by colors representing the candidates, show the share of each candidate within each emotion. This chart was made using percentages instead of raw values to make the number of tweets per emotion more comparable.

Out of all tweets expressing a certain emotion, Mayor Duterte was mentioned most for Happy and Love, Sen. Santiago was mentioned most for Interested and Sad, and Sec. Roxas was mentioned most for Disgusted and Angry.

However, the total number of tweets per emotion varies. It ranges from 5,601 tweets conveying the emotion sad to 170,119 tweets conveying the emotion joy.

[Visualization] Netizen's Emotion on Presidential Candidates

The chart above shows the distribution of emotions per candidate. It is clear that even though Poe has the least number of tweets, she has the most number of tweets that express joy. Very few people tweeted sad tweets. Santiago has the largest share of sad tweets, but even then, it only accounts for 3% of the tweets about her. Overall, most of the tweets expressed joy and love for their candidates.

We take a look at some of the tweets for every emotion pertaining to each candidate.


More than a third of the disgusted tweets were directed to Secretary Roxas. Some of these tweets claimed that the secretary had a “home court advantage” in host network ABS-CBN.

This perception stayed true even when several undecided voters were invited to the studio to watch the debate. The tweet below minced no words in accusing the host network of being biased for Mr. Roxas:

This tweeter’s predictions were not that accurate though – one of the two voters asked after the debate said he would vote for Secretary Roxas while the other one said he had chosen Miriam.

Like Secretary Roxas, VP Binay also got roughly a third of the disgusted tweets. However, some people were also annoyed at the racist jokes about him rather than the candidate himself:

Besides #PiliPinasDebates2016, ULING NA SI BINAY also trended in Twitter on the day of the debate.

Other tweets in the disgust category expressed displeasure with the statements of the candidates during the debate. For example, not all found Duterte’s jokes funny:

In her closing statement, Senator Santiago made an emphasis on academic excellence as a requirement to become a president, on which some disagreed:

Meanwhile, Senator Poe mentioned in her opening statement that her grandfather, Fernando Poe, Sr. was born in Pangasinan, the debate venue. It was not relevant according to some netizens:


Same with the disgusted tweets, Secretary Roxas also garnered most of the angry tweets. In the Fast Talk segment, the presidentiable was asked if he did his job well as the DILG secretary during the typhoon Yolanda. This elicited strong reactions from some viewers:

Senator Miriam had the next most number of angry tweets:

This particular tweet about Miriam was probably classified as angry because of the phrase “not to vote for her.” Upon reading the tweet though, it is clearly not mad at miriam. This shows how complex the emotions can be, how you can “love” a candidate but not support her at the same time.

Mayor Duterte’s answer in the Fast Talk Segment was the subject of some of the tweets that fall in this category. During the segment, the mayor was asked what position in the Cabinet would he give to a woman:

VP Binay followed closely Duterte. In one segment of the debate, Secretary Roxas asked the vice president to explain the corruption allegations against him. The latter however said that he had answered the issue many times and instead expounded on his platforms:

Senator Poe comes last, owning only a small fraction of the angry tweets. Some cringed at the senator’s use of the word “Intsik” when the West Philippine Issue was being tackled:


Around three out of five tweets felt sorry for Senator Santiago, while Mayor Duterte followed far behind at one out of four sad tweets. Some think that “DuRiam” must have been better as running mates than competing with each other:

Secretary Roxas only got 7% of the sad tweets, while VP Binay got 4%. Some netizens seemed not  satisfied with the debate questions, or with the answers to them:

At last place, Senator Poe only got approximately two out of a hundred tweets. Many wished that the lady senator would run again in the next elections if she loses. Senator Poe once led the polls before Mayor Duterte overtook her:


Some of the interest tweets were follow-up questions to the statements of the candidates during the debate.

Senator Santiago got most interest at two out of five tweets. Candidates were asked of their solution to the traffic problem of  the country, to which the senator responded that a new railway system and modern airport should be built:

Mayor Duterte also got a big slice of around 35% of the interest tweets. Netizens were too focused from the start of the debate, even from the singing of the national anthem:

Netizens noticed the conflict between VP Binay’s platform to exempt relatively low-earning people from the income tax and to make basic social services free:

On the contractualization issue, Secretary Roxas claimed that he has been fighting businesses to protect the poor. This tweeter wonders which businesses he was referring to:

Back on the traffic jam issue, Senator Poe said she would hire a “traffic terminator”, a position that would focus only on solving the traffic jam problems of the country:


Mayor Duterte, Senator Santiago, and Secretary Roxas each has one out of four of the happy tweets, while the remaining twenty five percent were shared by VP Binay and Senator Poe.

We give one example of a tweet for this category that mentions all the candidates. When asked about his vision of the Philippines in 2022, the mayor answered this:

Netizens apparently read between the lines of the mayor’s opening statement.


Netizens came up with different ways to cheer for their presidential bets online. “Change is coming” according to those who are pro-Duterte:

Aside from #SiMiriamAngSagot and #Switch2Miriam, #MiriamPaRin is also one of the hashtags used by her supporters during the debate:

#GoPoe goes with support tweets about Grace Poe:

The “yellow team” came up with many puns, and this is only one of them:

“Only Binay” had been the consistent theme of tweets in favor of Vice President Binay:

Trending Emojis

Tweets aren’t just made up of words, however. Emoticons are also crucial to study when it comes to getting the sentiment of the netizens. Further analysis was made to capture the voice the emoticons wanted to express.

Here, we will take a look at the top three emoticons that appeared in the tweets for every candidate.

Vice President Jejomar Binay

Emojis for Binay

For Vice President Jejomar Binay, we have the face with tears of joy on top of the list. The users behind these tweets couldn’t contain their laughter that they burst into tears. This laughing emoji could be used in two ways, as there are tweets commending Binay and attacking him as well.

The second most frequent emoji for UNA’s standard bearer is the clapping hands sign. It intends to give an applause, but like the laughing emoji, it has also been used sarcastically. In this case, some show approval of Binay’s platforms, while others think that they’re too good to be true.

Finally, we have the unamused face. The combination of the frown and the sideway glance on the emoji shows only one emotion – dissatisfaction. It can neither be used for sad nor happy tweets. For VP Binay, some people felt displeased as they found his answers diverting from the topic.

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

Emojis for Duterte

The fisted hand sign displays a tough attitude as it is used to fist-bump another person or give him a punch. It isn’t surprising that this emoji topped the list for Davao City Mayor Duterte, as his supporters have been using this in their social media campaign.

We also have the face with tears of joy on the list for Duterte. This time, however, it was used to express amusement on the supporters’ way of fighting for their presidential bet.

Another familiar emoji completes the list as the clapping hands sign ranks third in the most frequently used emojis for Duterte. His answers, whether deemed positive or negative, have gained applause from some people.

Senator Grace Poe

Emojis for Poe

If there would be a contest for the overall top emoji, the face with tears of joy would give everyone else a run for their money as it tops the list for the tweets pertaining to Senator Grace Poe (and the remaining two candidates). Although for her case, most were gushing about her dainty white dress, which has been her signature outfit for the whole of the debate series.

Unique to Poe’s list is her second top emoji, the speak-no-evil monkey. One of the three wise monkeys, it is also known as Iwazaru, who has its hands covering its mouth, as part of the proverb “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Tweets with this emoji used the speak-no-evil monkey to show that their lips are sealed or they didn’t really want to talk about the alleged Grace Poe-Danding Cojuangco connection.

Another exclusive emoji to Poe relative to the other candidates is the thumbs up sign. This gesture indicates approval which the senator gained through her answers in the debate.

Former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas

Emojis for Roxas

The very popular face with tears of joy emoji was used by some to talk about the alleged bias of ABS-CBN in favor of Secretary Mar Roxas.

With the use of the clapping hands sign in the tweets, the Liberal Party standard bearer gained both praise and aversion for his speech.

The black heart suit completes the list of top three emojis for Roxas. It is one of the many heart symbol emojis. This emoji is generally shown in red, despite its name. And for the Daang Matuwid ambassador, this was used to express admiration particularly towards his Batman quote.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Emojis for Santiago

On top of the list, the face with tears of joy was used to convey fun and enjoyment in addressing Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was back from being absent in the previous debate.

Besides Roxas, Santiago is the other candidate who got a heart emoji on her list, hers being the heavy black heart. Again despite the name, the character appears red or pink on all platforms when displayed with emoji presentation. Tweets with the heavy black heart expressed solid support for Santiago despite claims of her withdrawal (which she clarified in the debate) and being low-ranking in surveys.

Capping off Santiago’s list is the clapping hands sign, which was used by her supporters to laud and cheer for her in the upcoming elections.


We are at an era of hyperconnectivity. Data is available to us at our fingertips, charging at us in short but powerful bursts. A great need to process these data and turn them into information we can readily understand is arising, and will become the norm in the near future. It is also easy to get lost in the cacophony of voices fighting for our attention, and understanding what the data is trying to tell us can help us filter the noise from the more important bits of information.

Data Science is about finding patterns in the information people leave behind when they act. Understanding these patterns greatly help in making better decisions. We can’t truly know what goes on behind the minds of voters but we can see glimpses of their thinking through the patterns in their digital footprint. With the help of the tools and principles of Data Science, even something ordinarily difficult to define and track as emotions can be better understood.

Thus, while the results of our analyses may not have little to no effect in determining the true winner of the elections, they still provide a different perspective and add another dimension of understanding for this upcoming major event in Philippine history. After all, both voters and non-voters have found the freedom to speak anything that is their mind in social media and often pull no punches when doing so.

We hope this study gave the Filipino voter more information that they can use in their decision-making for who will lead our country after 9 May 2016, and that in some small way we were able to help you make the right decision.