Duterte, to me, is the symbol of all our hopes. The chance to find equality. The chance to lift the least of our brothers from the quagmire of their lives. I will not allow Trillanes and De Lima and Robredo and the Roxases to deprive us of this chance.
TALE OF TWO GIRLS
Ang sama ng loob ko.
While scrolling through Facebook, I saw the profile of a kid from a political family (parents are socialites and politicians), good looking and rich, without worry or fear shadowing the bright, open face.
Kid studies abroad, and profile shows all the advantages this rich kid has had.
Couple that with the talk of a coup, planned by the greedy political elites and out-of-touch oligarchs, and gusto kong mag hurumentado.
Every day I pass by Quiapo, and every day I pass by beautiful private enclaves--and the juxtaposition, the sheer difference between areas only 10-20 minutes away from each other-- always feels like a punch in the gut. They are literally worlds apart. Heaven and hell.
This girl was born lucky. Not the kid's fault that the parents are corrupt, that they are able to send their kids to international schools or in the US or Europe for college. But it is our fault if we allow this gross inequality to continue unhampered. It is our fault if the future generations continue to suffer while a select few enjoy the spoils of our hard work, because we were too cowardly or too spoiled or too selfish to fight for their rights.
It is our fault if we, who have been given this singular chance to work with a visionary like Duterte, will not fight the destabilizers.
What right does the Opposition have to replace the government put there by the Filipinos? What right does Trillanes, a man who has achieved nothing, dictate the course of our history? What right does Leni or Loida, or Mar and their minions, all used to a broken system only they benefitted from, only they see the goodness in, to divest us of this one chance to shape our country?
During our visit to Malacanang, after everyone's said their piece, I told the President I had no question, but I was there to personally thank him for all that he's done for the country, especially for the quick turnover and his care for Leyte.
And I said, "Sir, this country loves you. More than 80 percent of us support you. There's a small--small but unfortunately powerful percentage--who would like to destabilize this government: What can we do to help you? Please tell us."
He takes a few seconds to answer, but he was serious when he did. He said, "You know, I am glad you asked that question. Because I want all of you to leave here with your emotions tempered. Do not worry. I never thought I would be president. I am not religious, but I believe in a higher power, a universal mind, whatever, just something bigger than me. And this is my fate, to be President. I did not ask for it nor wish for it. I never even got support from government officials. At my age, I did not want this.
In any election, the powers that be who decide who wins are the sugar barons of the north, and the sugar barons of the south. I was never supported by them, and yet here I am. So if that Higher Power decides that I will only serve 1 year 10 months, if I was assassinated, if I was kicked out or impeached, if that is my fate, then I am okay with it. So temper your emotions."
For a time now, I admit that the thought has percolated in my mind: We all get in so many fights for him, and here he is, and he wants our emotions tempered?
The President told us not to be too passionate, not to fight, to allow things to unravel as Fate deems it. He didn't want us to fight for him. He said let the Fates decide. Why would I then waste time and emotions fighting for him, when he thought it unnecessary?
But as the days pass, I realize that I could not afford not to fight for him. He may be casual about his own impact in our history; he may be so humble as to deflect his greatness and his brilliance, even going so far as to say that when he dies, he be buried without fanfare. Cremated only after a day. He says he really doesn't care about his legacy.
But my daily drive, all 28 kilometers of it that takes me on a tour of Manila's ghettos and subdivisions, is a testamant to why we need Duterte, despite his protestations.
Today, as if on divine cue, just after I read about the rich kid who goes to school because her parents were corrupt during previous administrations, this photo of this girl from 2014 cropped up in my timeline.
Around this time three years ago, after Typhoon Yolanda, I had the privilege to award scholarships to about 45 college students--I looked for donors and major sponsor was YGC (Yuchengco Group of Companies), and a few gradeschoolers slated to become high school students, through the generosity of a few of my friends. It has been my greatest joy (and pride) to date. These kids, victims of Yolanda, were given a new lease in life. Many who didn't know where to get their next meal from will finally have a chance at education.
This girl from Catmon Elementary School cried when she got her bag of free educational stuff, and when we told her she would be a scholar, with a monthly stipend. She lives in a remote barangay in Tanauan, Leyte, where I am from, 30 min off the main road. She lives with her lola, and despite all the odds stacked against her, is one of the brightest in her class. Telling her her next year of education is guaranteed, at least, was telling her she had a passport to the rest of the world. That she could escape the fate of her Lola the labandera, that she did not have to be imprisoned in her little world if her mind could conceive of great things.
This is one of my favorite pictures because this one is a picture of hope.
What a marked difference from the picture of that young kid clad in head to toe designer duds, growing up out of touch with reality, entitled, quoting euphemisms and empty rah-rah memes, encouraged to believe that "if you believe in yourself, you can do anything."
Privilege is a two-edged sword, and the many ways it makes you think the world is perfect and yours for the taking--just like the destabilizers, who think the Philippines is theirs to reclaim.
Duterte, to me, is the symbol of all our hopes. The chance to find equality. The chance to lift the least of our brothers from the quagmire of their lives.
I will not allow Trillanes and De Lima and Robredo and the Roxases to deprive us of this chance.
Whether or not Duterte is up to the task, whether or not they think he is a fake or a fraud, is no longer relevant. He has won, and has to be given the chance to rule for the amount of time as prescribed in the Constitution. Last I checked, nobody died and made Trillanes the god of the constitution.
Fate, says Duterte, charts the course of our lives. But Fate also favors the brave.
And now is the time to be brave, and it is for this little girl that we must continue to be brave.
We will protect Duterte, not only because we love him, but because we believe in him, and because we believe in the rich promise of this country.
Their greed, their evil plans, will never prosper. We will fight, for the girl in this picture, and for the many others like her who were never given the chance to have their worlds opened wide, not like the first girl in this story.
So we must fight, fight the brewing coup, fight the destabilization so we can close the gap between rich and poor, between the politician's daughter and the labandera's granddaughter.
This is our country, and we owe it to ourselves and to the heroes before us to fight for it with everything that we've got.