When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, also known as ‘The Punisher’ of Davao City, finally announced that he has closed his doors to presidency, a lot of netizens had their hearts broken. Some even go as far as calling him ‘the best president we never had’.
Let’s start with the basis of the notion first. Most Filipinos, especially the middle-class and our hardworking kababayans abroad, are fed up with the government. They are fed up with transportation inefficiency, astonishingly high tax rates, corruption and graft cases allegedly committed in top-to-bottom rungs of the government, flood projects and traffic schemes that are seem to be going nowhere (ironically), nepotism, high rates of crime, uncontrolled boom of population, poor urban planning schemes, strife in underdeveloped parts of Mindanao, and most importantly, the slowest internet connection in Southeast Asia.
I can understand the public clamor of Duterte running. Unlike most public officials, his experience and political will has concrete evidence. Like how the late DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo changed Naga City and how the former MMDA Chief Bayani Fernado transformed Marikina City, Davao City has Duterte. Let’s take a look at Davao City and its humble yet tumultuous beginning.
Davao town in 1930s
Like the major cities Manila and Cebu, Davao was heavily affected by World War II but recovered eventually. In 1967, it was recognized as the second largest city in the Philippines and many people from the neighboring regions settled there, making it an ethnic melting pot. By 1970, it became the regional capital of Southern Mindanao and eventually the regional capital of Davao Region. The highly-urbanized city became a home for people of various faith: Christians, Muslims and the Lumad tribes (natives of Mindanao)
But in 1980s, the city plunged into a crisis. It is caught in the middle in the conflict between criminals, communist rebels and leftists. Murders in the street became a norm. A story my aunt shared is that, as a little girl in Davao, people carrying guns and arms while buying bread or walking down the streets are a common sight. She remembered that her family used to bring food outside the house and if they did not, some men with guns would knock on their doors to demand why they didn’t give their share for the ‘revolution.’ As Luzon and Metro Manila is busy struggling to restore democracy during the Martial Law, Davao has its own war within.
Because the capital has its own conflict, locals of Davao decided to take the matter into their hands. Civilians form vigilante groups such as ‘Alsa Masa’ (People’s Rise) to drive out criminals and rebels. There was no day without someone killed. It earned the nickname, the country’s murder capital.
When Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on 1988, it took a tremendous effort and drastic measures in his part to make the city livable again. In his tenure, strict laws are implemented. A curfew on minors is enforced. Bars and Disco are ordered not to sell alcohols by 1AM. Smoking policies are enforced in public areas. Motorcyclists without helmets and defective lights are not allowed to go to the city. Once when I came to Davao, the shuttle van we are riding stopped at a checkpoint before entering the city. I thought the officer would just poke his head inside, check the bottom of the car, and signal us to move, just like in shopping malls or subdivisions in Manila. No, he made ALL the passengers alight the vehicle so he can conduct a thorough search inside. Before we climbed again, he checked our bags. Guns are definitely not allowed in the city.
And if you’re a drug addict, drug pusher or a drug lord in Davao City, you might as well leave a will or a suicide note behind because the Davao Death Squad will be knocking on your doors anyday. No due process of law. No time to say goodbye to your friends and family. It remains inconclusive whether Duterte is connected the DDS or he has nothing to do with it but the vigilante group acts as the present-form of Alsa Masa, this time battling crimes and drugs in the city.
(To be fair, Duterte ordered the establishment of Drugs Rehabilitation Center for the Youth in Davao City.)
Take note, social stability in Davao wasn’t restored in a single day, technically, in a single term. Of course, many initially refused to live with it. Many defied the city’s laws. Many accused Duterte for nonchalantly dismissing human rights just like that. He had to stay in power for more than a decade to give birth to the Davao now. Anyone who can’t stomach his leadership are either forced to flee out of the city or laid buried somewhere.
Are you prepared to live with this? No smoking in public areas. Liquor ban after midnight.
How about this in major roads and highways?
Many Duterte supporters like to apply his leadership in a national level. As I said before, we are fed up with government not doing anything. But did many of you ever stop and think this: It took more than two decades, more or less, for a no-nonsense, mercenary-like Duterte to change Davao and its image. For a country of 7,107 islands and more than 100 million people, can you imagine how long it will take for the whole Philippines to follow Davao’s stead?
And given how the Filipinos often complain about anything, how they insist and push the candidates they like to run and then after a short while (maximum of two years), they felt that this person is not doing enough and they would now raise the cry for this person to resign. If Duterte does run, Filipinos have big expectations around him. If he gets elected, he will overthrow the present system and build a revolutionary government. He will change the Constitution. Goodbye, Centralism. Hello, Federalism. It will take an awful lot of work and time for the people to accept and adapt by it. And I’m not even talking about the laws and regulations we all have to live with yet.
SIDENOTE: In Marikina City, when Bayan Fernando was the mayor, people were fined and had to be part of community service when they are caught throwing candy litters on the street. Many were outraged and thought it as OA. But BF has to do it and grudgingly, Marikenos accpted it and lived with this. Now, we are known for being one of the most disciplined cities in Metro Manila. This didn’t happen overnight.
I understand his reason for not running. He’s too old. All he wants is to enjoy the results of his work in the city. Let him. For those people stamping him as selfish, using Heneral Luna’s ‘Bayan o Sarili’ lines to taunt him, you’re not doing any much good. Please, just please, respect this man’s decision. If you want to make this bayan good, start with your sarili.
If Duterte intends to change the system fast, to be compressed within the six years of his time or before he dies, and given the ‘Let the government do all the work’ mindset that we have, it will be like Martial Law once again. And admittedly, I would oppose that. Due process of law is a basic human right. It raises a disturbing and sad rhetoric that in order for all the Filipinos to get their, pardon the expletive, shit together, the authority must strike fear on their hearts. No, we, as a people, are capable of more than that.
We have to develop a critical mindset of what we need as a country. If presidents are assessed and are subject of critiques, why not ourselves too? If someone like Duterte is elected in national office, do we have the capacity to accept and cooperate with his style of leadership?
And in my opinion, given the present maturity that we have, most of us will not be able to. It will be messy, it will be bloody. We still have a long way to go. Before then, we have to evolve as a people. Understand that governance is a collaborative act and it needs your participation, cooperation and constructive feedback. It’s not a play that should satisfy you while you’re just there watching and doing nothing.
Hopefully, by then, we can finally choose the leader that we don’t only want, but the leader we need.
Are you sure you’re ready for this?
How can you build a training ground for rebels so that the strife in Mindanao will continue and the rest of the Filipinos will be convinced that military presence is necessary in the area?
Simple. Just follow this simple solution devised by the Philippine military.
- Occupy their communities. After all, what do they know? They are just illiterate, ignorant Lumad. Indigenous people with a different language and culture of their own, alien to yours and to the civilized world. If operatives have informed you a rebel sighting near a Lumad community, immediately presume that these rebel scums are just manipulating their little minds and you must put an end to this. By occupying their communities and imposing military rule, you are preventing them from being influenced by rebel scums. After all, what do these poor indigenous people know?
- Shut down their schools. Knowledge and education is a powerful thing. Education opens their eyes and makes them aware of the situation, their ancestral land, their rights as a citizen of this nation and their inherent human rights. It is in your best interest that they go on without knowing anything. Those rebel scums and communists are enough. If they are uneducated, they will bow and submit without question. If they uneducated, they are powerless.
- Incite fear through summary executions of their tribal leaders and educators. This is how you make it known to them that you mean business. By killing their own kind and their leaders without due process of law, you are making it clear that their lives don’t mean anything, that they remain an insignificant sector of the society in an island that has always been riddled with strife, violence and exploitation. After all, they are nothing but pawns and supporters to those rebel scums. Better silence them off before they become a threat to society.
- Displace them. Let them live like homeless nomads they are. They will only get in the way in your mission to eradicate all the rebel scums. Who cares if their properties and their means of livelihood are destroyed? Who cares if their children cannot go to school? Make them feel that that their lives aren’t worth anything.
- Watch the world forget. The media will later feature their stories and condemn the killings anyway, especially with the advent of social media, news will spread everywhere, to Luzon, to the Visayas and to the world. But the spotlight will not focus on them forever. People will forget as easily as they know. Let their stories be buried under the piles of showbiz news, variety shows, election campaigns and the mere trivialities in the life of an average Filipino. They will soon forget and move on with their lives. After all, what can the Filipino people do? What can the whole world do?
Those rebel scums don’t have to do anything to incite people to join to their cause. With just these transgressions, you are now effectively turning them into the enemies you want them to be. The Lumad boy whose father and relatives were killed before his eyes will be the young man who will stalk you in the belly of the jungle of Caraga, eyes leveled on the gun pointing at the camouflaged uniform that is supposed to be a symbol of safety and security for the citizens of this country.
Under the shadow of the forests of war-torn Mindanao, let the dance of violence and death continue.
BACKGROUND: Last September 2015, uniformed men occupied and shut down ALCADEV, or Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development built by an international NGO for the indigent Lumad youth in Surigao, Mindanao. They soon executed tribal chairman Dionel Campos and his cousin, Bello Sinzon, around dawn. The executions are witnessed by the teachers and students of ALCADEV.
The school’s executive director, Emerito Samarca (Tatay Emok for the students) was found dead in his room, his throat slit open, his hands and feet bounded with rope.
The ongoing military presence and the string of murders by unknown gunmen forced some 300 Manobos to leave their villages for fear of their lives. Among the incidents are the brutal massacre of five Manobo clansmen in Bukidnon, including a blind 72-year-old man and his grandson, a 14-year-old boy.
My philosophy in life is to reward myself in every milestone I gained, big or small. Having your 23rd birthday is a major achievement (since you’re still here and all) and what could be a better way of celebrating one’s 23 years of existence than getting your 23-year-old heart to pump faster and your 23-year-old lungs to wheeze harder as you climb one of the highest peaks of the country?
Mai and I decided to climb Mt. Pulag on September 19-20, with her fresh from her climb on Mt. Daraitan and with me just eager to do something different for my birthday. It took every last ounce of willpower to convince my parents to climb on the day of my birthday, but they gave up in the end (happy birthday to me!), deliriously ignorant of what Mt. Pulag has in store for me.
Day 1, Friday, Mai and I meet up with fellow climbers at Cubao Terminal where we’re going to take a van going to Baguio city. From there, a jeepney will take us to Kabayan, Benguet. I had my dinner at Tropical Hut first, aware that this is going to be my last good dinner before the climb since Mai and I have decided to stick with the good ol’ Century Tuna Paella while hiking.
I remembered Mai asking me if I brought an emergency blanket or a sleeping bag. I said I didn’t, since my bag is heavy and bulky enough. Now this is a lesson we will soon learn: A heavy bag is not a problem, but if you come to Pulag with the mindset of ‘The cold never bothered me anyway’, you’re in for some serious frozen hell.
We slept mostly through the van which took off 10PM in the evening. By about 3AM, we reached Baguio and hopped into the jeepney taking us to Benguet. After 2 hours and a half of travelling, our companions had their breakfast at Jang Jang eatery while Mai and I sauntered off to the famous Jang-jang Bridge located behind the eatery.
We proceeded to DENR office to attend a brief orientation about Mt. Pulag. Now for some trivia, Mt. Pulag is the 3rd highest peak in the Philippines and the highest in Luzon. It is world-renowned for its captivating ‘Sea of Clouds’ at its summit. There are four trails to the summit but the two well-known are the Ambangeg trail (for beginners) and the Akiki trail (the killer trail)
Needless to say, we will proceed through the Ambangeg trail. If you’re only interested with the summit, go Ambangeg. If you want to be challenged by the mountain (as if the cold isn’t enough), Akiki is for you.
At the DENR office, we passed by a store selling insulator pads and I thought of buying it just in case. I consulted Mai but in the end, we decided that it will add more bulk to our baggage. Besides, we won’t be using it anymore after the hike. This, kids, is mistake #2.
We started our climb roughly around 10AM. The sun is shining bright and it looks it’s going to be a sunny climb for us. We barely passed the Ranger’s station when we experienced Mt. Pulag’s volatile weather. The fog soon engulfs the sun and we prepared our raincoat once the downpour begins.
I lumbered off to a slow start, enjoying the cold and the sights. Mai is haggling me to go faster but I don’t. I think most of our conversations are spent on arguing which is more efficient: climbing and resting at your own pace or climbing faster than you should and taking only minimal breaks. None of us wins since we were both dead tired in the end anyway.
While climbing, I always have a problem with steep parts of the trail (I mean, who hasn’t, other than Mai and her iron legs) and I would always consider them as a major pain in the neck. Later, the mountain would help me realize that an arduous journey uphill is just a temporary struggle. Later, as you go down the mountain, those steeply-inclined paths will be your source of relief. As the famous line goes, it’s all pretty much downhill from here. Pretty much like life, I guess.
As you climb further and further, the changes of Mt. Pulag’s topography becomes clearer. Here’s a mountain which can’t decide what it is: Pine trees and mossy forests at the base, grassland on top. One of our companions said that when you take the Akiki trail, the stark contrast of the morphing landscape is more evident.
Somewhere along the trail, I found myself walking alone. I told Mai to go on ahead. The weight of a 15-kg baggage is making my knees tremble. I’m now feeling sharp shots of pain in my shoulder whenever I adjust the weight of the bag. The thinning air of the high altitude is not helping either. I’ve always thought climbing in cool temperature is way easier than hiking under the scorching sun but the cold presents an unlikely adversary. I have to rest every 20 minutes and I swear if there are indeed spirits residing in Mt. Pulag, they would probably be angry at my loud, asthma-like panting.
After about four hours of panting, wheezing and almost dying, with my shoulders crying, we finally reached Camp 2.
After setting up camp and resting for a bit, Mai and I decided to explore the sights around Camp 2. Seeing the running hills leading to the summit evokes a certain kind of solitude and renewal that only getting closer to the heavens can bring.
Just after we were having our dinner, it rained. Hard. One of the seasoned climbers said that the rain is actually a good thing. One of the recipes of Sea of Clouds is to rain the night before, but raining till dawn will present a big problem.
Because of the rain, the temperature plunges down. Mai and I settled inside our desolate shelter we call our tent. Without blankets, without sleeping bags, without an insulator pad, we are done for. The cold seeps inside our tent like a Dementor sucking all the warmth in our bones. Mai is already wearing three layers of clothing and still, she feels her feet are frozen inside an ice block. We’ve managed to distract ourselves from the cold by laughing at our own stupidity and making jokes about why our feet is so vulnerable to the cold. Mai, being a professional physical therapist, stated dead serious that unlike hands, you cannot warm your feet under your armpits. I quipped that we should have conditioned our body through Yoga instead of running to prepare for this trip. We were laughing pretty loud and I’m thankful that the campers near our tent didn’t kill us in our sleep.
Day 2: After sleeping fitfully, we awoke at 3AM for our trek to the summit. The rain had just stopped and the night sky greeted us with a wonderful view of the stars and the faint section of the Milky Way. I swear if my camera was as good as a DSLR, I would run out the space on my card of pictures of the night sky than the sunrise.
The trek to the summit lasted about one hour. As expected, it is a long climb and the only source of light we have is our flashlight. I did some breathing exercises, concentrated on the path I’m walking on, but upon reaching Peak 2, I turned my head to the other side and froze on my tracks. The faint rays of the coming dawn offered me a glimpse of mountains drowning under the sea of clouds. If it wasn’t for Mai calling me from above, I would have stood there, transfixed, and waited for the sunrise there.
The last step to the summit is always a memorable one for me. It felt like I overcome something I never thought I could, but it’s far from triumph. It’s more of submission, a tranquil sense of fulfillment and gratitude to the mountain and heavens above for allowing you to glimpse this wonderful view, infusing you with warmth that rivals that of Pulag’s relentless cold, and keeping this memory for you to remember as many sunrises go by.
Mai turned to me and grinned, ‘Happy Birthday!’ I smiled. As far as birthday goes, this is certainly going to be one of the best I’ll ever have.
Our trip is organized by a cool Facebook page called Happy Trail. Check it out here: Happy Trail
All my friends know that I rarely write a review about books and movies but after watching Jerrold Tarrog’s Heneral Luna, I seemed to have been possessed by an overwhelming urge to spread the word on how brilliant and powerful this film is. Much like the historical figure himself, the movie exudes pure bad-assery with its strong visuals, fast-paced dialogue and a theme that strikes you in the gut (you can even feel its impact moments after the credits roll)
Now allow me to share the five reasons why every Filipino should watch Heneral Luna:
- The cinematic effects are comparable with that of Hollywood’s. The battle scenes are just right (not too cheesy/dramatic nor bland) and you can tell that it took a lot of hard work and thorough editing to stitch it clip by clip….blood and tears were literally shed to create these powerful scenes.
- The movie is packed with heavy symbolism and strong imagery that would leave a lasting impression in your brain. I don’t want to spoil anything but I just want to say that if you have to watch this film, just don’t focus on the story but also on how why the scenes are made that way. We had fun finding these Easter Eggs and it adds another dimension of enjoying this movie as a whole.
- Although it is a work of fiction based on facts, the movie remained anchored to the historical materials related to Antonio Luna and the events preceding and during the Philippine-American War. It is a creative and powerful re-telling of history that had long been forgotten…and one that we need to remember. I especially love that it was set during a blotted period of our history, the Philippine-American War, as it is overshadowed by the events of World War II, but one that definitely needs a re-visitation and critical reflection by today’s generation.
- Although General Luna is considered as a heroic figure, this movie is far from a heroic film. It doesn’t glorify our history, in fact it exposes its darkest deeds and secrets that had been swept behind the curtains for many years. It challenges and openly criticizes a mentality that is strongly rooted to our system – our strongly familial, tribal and regionalistic culture which, in some cases, perceived to be good but ultimately affects our way of thinking as a people brought together under the same flag. Much like Peque Gallaga’s classic Oro Plata Mata, the real conflict wasn’t with the Americans or any other foreign power, but with ourselves.
- It has a clever pacing and dialogue that will engross you to the very end. It is worth noting how the scenes are stitched together, exposition-wise. Jerrold Tarog’s effective use of tracking shot and continuous dialogue without cuts (I just know there’s a production jargon of it somewhere) is worth noting. Magnified by this style, the acting skills of the artists completely stand out. It is well-casted and brilliantly played.
As a fan of historical films (and local cinema), this film exceeds my expectations. I had the impression that profit is the last thing the creators of this film want when it was finally released to the public; what they want to leave us is a message and a challenge to deconstruct our perspective as a nation. It aims to leave an impact that is good and though-provoking to its audience (one viewer in particular stayed up until 12 AM to finish this post) In the end, isn’t it the main reason why films are made for?
Students can avail 50% discount when purchasing tickets :) To the young readers of this blog, don’t miss the chance to have your minds blown by this epic movie.
What about you? What do you like most about the film? :)
Nagsisimula naman lahat yan sa pangako. “Hindi kita iiwan.” “Hindi ako magnanakaw” Naniwala ka kasi gusto mo maging masaya. Gusto mo guminhawa. Pagkatapos makuha ang lahat sa’yo, iiwan ka na lang.
Andyan din yung cliche na pangako na “Hindi ako katulad ng iba.”
Pero nagtiwala pa din tayo. Umasa. Nasaktan. Di na natuto. Kasi kung natuto man tayo, diba dapat matagal na tayong naka-move on? Literal na move-on. Nasaan na ba tayo ngayon? Hanggang dito na lang ba?
Pag bumoto ka, para ka na ding nagmahal dahil:
- Magpapapogi sila para lang makuha ang matamis mong “Oo.” Sa una, sila ay mabait. Bubuhusan ka ng pagmamahal. Aalagaan ka. Once na nakuha na nila ang tiwala at pagmamahal mo, ang masasayang alaala mo lang sa kanya kapag naghiwalay ang inyong landas ay ang taong minahal mo noon, hindi ang taong nakikita mo sa
SONAsa harap mo ngayon. Ang eleksyon, isang mahabang dulaan ng ligawan. May mga ibang naka-costume at mas madami ang naka-maskara.
- Bumuboto ka kasi with your feelings. Matuturing bang pagmamahal pag walang emosyon na involved? Syempre hindi! Feelings are everything. Tayong mga Pinoy, mahilig pa naman sa feelings. Kahit hindi pa nga nagtatapat yung tao, mga feelingero at feelingera na tayo. Nilalagyan natin ng feelings lahat, binibigyan natin ng meaning lahat ng bagay. Eto ang sigaw ng dugo at puso natin, bakit natin di papansinin? Boring pag ginamitan mo ng utak. Hanggang sa school at trabaho lang ang pag-iisip. Kung mag-iisip ka palagi, di mo na ma-eenjoy mga bagay-bagay, lalo na mga palabas sa telebisyon. Kaya, I repeat, feelings are everything.
- Kung nasisiyahan ka sa kanya o sa mga pinaggagawa niya, siya ang pipiliin mo. E masaya ka sa kanya e. So what kung action star siya dati? So what kung di siya nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral? So what kung madami siyang naging anak sa labas? Diba nga sa pagmamahal, past is past. Ang mahalaga ay kung ano siya ngayon. Ang mahalaga ay nawiwili ka sa kanya ngayon, lalo na pag nakikita mo siya sa TV. Kesa naman yung panay ang English pero di mo naman maintindihan ang mga pinagsasabi. Pfffft! Siya na ang magaling.
- Kapag nakalimutan na tayo, lahat ng bagay isisisi sa kanya. Magagalit tayo. Niloko ba naman tayo e. Self-righteous anger: tayo ang niloko so tayo ang may karapatang magalit. Yun nga lang, di natin naalala sa kabilang banda, tayo ang namili at nagkamali. Of course, lahat naman tayo nagkakamali. Wala nga lang mangyayari kung lagi kang nagkakamali every 6 o 4 years.
- Dahil crush ng bayan, siya na din ang pipiliin mo. Tandaan: Mahirap sumakay sa bangka na marami ang nakasakay. Mas lalong mahirap pag walang patutunguhan ‘yung bangka. Wag tignan kung ilan ang likes niya sa Facebook o kung ilan ang followers niya. Kung titignan mo lang ang numero, tignan mo kung ilang panukala ang naisabatas niya o kung ilan ang naipagawa niyang mga proyekto na may kwenta at pang-matagalan. Kung ang boto ay pagmamahal, mas mabuti nang itaya mo ito sa taong bumabawi sa gawa, hindi lang puro salita.
- Kapag nabigo ka, hindi ka natututo. Bakit lagi ka na lang nilang binibigo? Bakit lagi kang dismayado? Sineseryoso mo naman ang pagpili ah. Kumbaga sa context ng pagmamahal, saan ka nagkamali: Sa pagmamahal ng tao o sa konsepto mo ng pagmamahal itself? Ano ba ang ideya mo ng pagpili? For short-term o long-term happiness ba? Kung masaya ka lang sa ganyan, hanggang diyan ka na lang talaga. Pero kung nakukulangan ka pa, walang masama na maghangad ka ng tunay na pagmamahal. Wala ding masama kung maghahangad ka ng tunay na kaginhawaan.
Bakit ba bigo tayo lagi sa dalawa? Mahirap buksan ang mga mata sa mga tunay na nangyayari, pero ang unang hakbang para makamit ang kalayaan ay ang pagtanggap sa mapait na katotohanan na matagal na tayong niloloko. Na hindi binibigay sa atin ang kaligayahan na karapat-dapat sa atin.
Pinag-uusapan pa din ba natin ang pagboto o pagmamahal? Meron bang pagkakaiba?
Ang mahalaga, sana ay matuto na tayong lahat.
“Anong nagawa mo sa bansa mo? Buti pa ang Presidente meron.” Why I’m tired of hearing these arguments
Until now, I still can’t believe how time flies so fast. I mean, (nearly) six years have passed! I can remember it was only yesterday when most people in my circle were aghast to find that the people elected a president whose victory was partly owned to Cory Magic. (Well if he didn’t make the decision to run, it would probably be Erap doing the address right now, provided he hasn’t embroiled himself in a scandal or if COMELEC hasn’t disqualified him upon his victory)
So I was just browsing through the social media on the reaction of the people to PNoy’s last SONA. I remembered thinking that Malacanang should have scheduled on Thursday just in time for the #ThrowbackThursday posts, you know…for sentimental reasons! But what really caught my attention is this tweet that struck like a boot to my (perhaps, butthurt) gut
From the beginning, I can say I’m no fan of His Excellency, Mr. President, but most of my sentiments about him are lukewarm. There are times I rub my temple and stare in frustration at his face whenever he’s trying to defend an obviously competent official. There are times I would jokingly say to my mom that “Hey, you voted for him” when he did something my mom herself doesn’t agree with. There are times when I thought that six years is such a pretty long time and I can’t wait for 2016 to come.
But there are times that I acknowledge his milestones and applaud him on his breakthroughs. There are times I understand where he’s getting at. There are times that I’m thankful he still managed to stand by his principles and vision. There are times that I admire his inherent quality as a person, not as the president: Single-minded, well-meaning and fiercely loyal.
I don’t classify myself as pro-PNoy nor an anti-PNoy. The president or his critics doesn’t irk me, but what really irked me to no end is how people can label one another as pro-PNoy or anti-PNoy just because of their political opinion, their criticism, their praises and everything they say in the new media. I especially love how one criticism would instantly mark you as anti-this-president or anti-progress.
We, Filipinos, hated every president who served us yet we’ve done nothing to contribute for the betterment of our country.
Please allow me to deconstruct this tweet from the perspective who is (1) A Filipino (2) Doesn’t ”hate” the president and (3) who is curious about the author’s phrasing ‘Betterment of our country’ because she’s really dying to know what it takes to contribute for ‘nation-building’
- “We, Filipinos, hated every president” — (My goodness, this sounds like a preamble) Now, hate is such a strong word. How do you define ‘hate’ in this context? Is this the same as “I hate Racism”? Kind of like “Augh, how I hate it when plans get cancelled on the last minute”? Or maybe the way you used ‘Hate’ in scenarios like ‘I hate wearing black on a hot day’ but you don’t really hate wearing black at all. You just don’t like wearing it under certain circumstances. For the most part of PNoy’s, or any other president’s term, “Filipinos” really didn’t ‘hate’ their president in person. Rather, the things they didn’t like is what that president did or what he did not do (but is expected to do so).
- “who served us” — He’s a public servant. He’s always on the public eye, and whether he likes or not, it is the consequence he must bear for running. He’s the father of the country. Like it or not, his stand and opinion matters than mine or yours. He has the executive authority and the influence to implement major changes in the country. He can actually address all the problems of the Philippines if he wants to, regardless of political or moral consequences. Whether his image is good or bad, people will say something about him because he is the FREAKIN’ President of the Democratic, sometimes Democrazy, Republic of the Philippines and there’s nothing we can do about it. Never single out Philippines in this one. This is the gift and the curse of all nations with this type of leadership. The only difference we had in other more progressive, democratic countries is that their population is more educated and they can give more constructive assessment about their leaders.
- “Yet we’ve done nothing to contribute for the betterment of our country” — A country is supposed to be a well-oiled machine, right? Because in my book, regardless whether you’re a small-time employee or a big-shot businessman, government worker or a private one, stay-in-parent or a working one, if you’re working abroad or in here, you are still giving something. If you are working , if you are creating, if you are studying hard, if you are earning your keep, if you are paying your dues, you are contributing. You don’t need to be internationally famous, or you don’t need to set up a foundation, or you don’t need to have newspaper stories and online stories about you, or you don’t need to run for public service (though all those things are well and good if you aspire and work hard to be that kind of citizen) to say you are contributing. Sadly in our culture, having an unpopular opinion is perceived as equivalent to something as contra-productive. “You are not helping”. “You only make things more complicated.” In short, you are not contributing something, which is a distorted view of one’s role for the development of his society. What he/she says doesn’t justify what he/she has done for the society as a whole.
Now let me relate this whole ‘Contributing my part’ with that of the president. The President has good intentions. His Tuwid na Daan platform is promising and offers a good avenue to introduce better reforms for this country. Yet there are situations where he, despite his executive authority and influence, could do nothing to deliver what the people want. Unable to defend the Tausugs in Laha Datu, he could do nothing but to call the Tausug warriors back or else, risk Malaysia’s ill-favor. He wasn’t able to offer his full sympathies and accolades to the brave policemen who died in Mamasapano because his words may have an effect to the delicate birthing of Bangsamoro Basic Law. All of this I was able to understood and accept in a hard way. He is not perfect, but so are we. For a country like the Philippines, six years is a mere fraction of the time it will take to change it for the better.
Just like in PNoy’s case, It’s the current situation, or the current system, that restricts us to offer our best for the country.
Most wanted to serve the country. Most wanted to be doctors and help the poor. Most wanted to teach the underprivileged. Most wanted to serve the country and give back. But most are deprived of basic rights to education and food security. Most are unemployed despite having degrees and certificates. Most just lose hope and settle for less than they deserve, less than they dreamed to have.
We, Filipinos are contributing for the betterment of this country but we are often disappointed on the lack of progress. No, we do not ‘hate’ anything or anyone. We are just frustrated and tired about everything and if not for the occasional glimmer of hope from our public servants or stories of inspiration from our fellow hardworking Filipinos, we will fall apart. We want to believe anything is still possible. We want to believe it is possible.
We Filipinos ‘hated’ the system because despite everything we’ve done to contribute for the betterment of the country, we’re still here.
And sadly, we will keep on ‘hating’ anyone serving us because of this.
Em and I stared down at the aquamarine velvet below us, resplendent under the sun that we can’t bear to look at its brilliance. Its clarity and purity hit us like calm waves, like the lulling of the sea foam hitting the body of our boat.
Thirty minutes of plane ride, two hours of bus, another one hour of van, two hours of boat…nearly six hours of travel to see this remaining piece of calm beauty in this edge of the world. We looked at each other and smiled. Worth it.
Calaguas Island belongs at the farthest border of the archipelago with the Pacific. You can get to the islands on a jump point at Paracale where every summer, the port is thriving with tourists eager to see the islands they heard so much as the Mahabang Buhangin. Calaguas is just part of the island chains of white sand and blue waters, but having to spend an afternoon here is more than enough.
As i said before in my previous travel posts, I’m a fan of virgin beaches and unadulterated, wild beauty of Nature. That would explain why I usually travel off-season to avoid the large crowd. Calaguas didn’t fail and I’m glad to see that commercialism hasn’t taken over the place just yet. The islanders are especially nice and helpful. I hope by the next time I come back, it would remain the same way as it used to.
Calaguas is perfect for those seeking peace and tranquility at some isolated piece of the world. For those who crave for vulnerability and the solemn epiphany of being just a small speck of dust on Nature’s fingertip. There, on the vestiges of the Pacific, you will find a sense of pleasant submission to plunge down the blues and let the waves roll your body to the warm embrace of the sand.
Tips for Calaguas Island-hopping:
- Plan your trip to the island carefully. Many people opt to stay on the island overnight and leave the next morning. The waves are usually stronger during late afternoons and evenings (We realized it the hard way) If you’re planning to go there by land, it’ll be helpful to bring a tent and other camping gears.
- Contact the boat which will take you in advance. Ours is Ate Chona and Kuya Boy. You can contact them through here: 09123602005
- Avail package if you’re traveling in large group to make the best out of the trip.
- The boat ride back to Paracale is usually rough because of the strong waves, especially on months like July and August. It would be better if you make banlaw in Paracale instead on the island because like it or not, you’re still going to get wet with ocean spits and foam.
- Additionally, make sure to bring waterproof bags or plastic containers to keep those things you definitely don’t want to get wet. If you’re staying in an inn, just leave all the important documents and IDs behind. Em bought her waterproof pouch-bag for the gadget and cash.
- Take note of the following expenses. Boat rent is PHP3,000.00, Entry fee to the island is PHP100.00 per head and a cottage costs PHP350.00 overnight.
- If you want to see the overview of the island, you can talk with one of the children living in the island to take you. The trek upward takes about 20 minutes.
- Take note that food and water in the island are more expensive than normal. It would be wise to fill your rations before you set off to Calaguas.
- And of course, remember the unspoken rule of every traveler:
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.
Together, let’s preserve the natural beauty of Calaguas :)