Damn the torpedoes, Duterte all the way!

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Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not the same as you and me. He is as Filipino as can be – in words and deeds, not to mention looks – while you and I are an amalgam of assorted influences that have managed to dilute our Filipino-ness. I can draw a list of traits that are, today, no longer present in the Filipino’s ordinary scheme of things. But just ask your child how much he loves his country, if at all. His answer might confound you. Patriotism? What is that? Blame globalization.

Then along comes the erstwhile Mayor of Davao City who took the country by storm and launched a massive change in mindset among Filipinos who have been laboring under the governance of those foisted by the so-called ruling class and their ilk. For far too long, we have been subjected to the dictum that only one particular group of people are entitled to rule over us, indios and sacadas – not unlike the colonial-era Filipinos subjugated for centuries by their imperial masters.

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No other President of the Philippines in recent memory was able to arouse love of country among the great many who seemed to have fallen in deep slumber as far as nationalistic fervor is concerned than this one has. Rightfully, the country’s colors are back to red, white and blue –the despicable yellow ribbon has overstepped its welcome and has been relegated as one of history’s insufferable moments. (Pray tell, which proud Filipino ever wore that yellow crap on their chest except the Mother’s Son and his now-negligible minions?)

I will not dwell on why a miniscule number of Filipinos hate President Duterte with unmitigated venom in their hearts. Miniscule because they consist of the elite and the elite represents only 1% of the population, counting the so-called elitists (bless their pompous souls) and the displaced politicians (sanctify their insatiable tummies) who could not accept the loss of entitlement and power. Their negativity is not good for the crinkles, so I leave them to their own self-annihilation.

The Opposition? Legitimate dissent, though smattering in number, is essential in a democracy and they are not being stifled by the man they like to call a (budding?) dictator. The nation’s second highest official is free to broadcast her disdain in front of the international community (while noticeably smiling and beaming as she spoke about killings) – perhaps to her eternal damnation. The self-described “political prisoner” can dish out post-dated handwritten statements from her detention cell imploring the public to puh-lease not forget her. And former mutineers turned mercenaries are at liberty to rant and accuse the President of every crime in the book, file an impeachment complaint, and make the rounds of jaundiced media to peddle their alternate reality.

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No, they are not destabilizing the government. They are only exposing their dark facades, tainted by greed and tarnished by lust. Greed for riches amassed without breaking a sweat and lust for power that they can’t let go. So, let them have their cake and eat it stale. Stupid is as stupid does, too.

Rather, I will focus on the things that endeared PRRD to the millions of average Filipinos who have finally found their voice and elected one of them to the highest post in the land. The qualities that make him stand a world away from those pretending to serve the people but all the while just helping themselves.

Of course, PRRD has flaws. Plenty of them. And he owned up to many of those flaws during the campaign. But he won, in spite of. Overwhelmingly at that. And he still enjoys high approval ratings nine months into his term despite being pictured by the “silent majority-cum-silent no more” as the devil incarnate. Try harder, peeps. The man seems to be indestructible, beloved as he is by Filipinos here and abroad. Just watch the crowds roar and scream and jostle to get near him wherever he goes. Have you ever seen anything like that before?

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Because he is a man with a mission, right from the get-go. A mission to take on and take out the scourge of drugs that has enveloped our country like a plague. He dares to do battle where others simply succumbed to the temptation of unimaginable wealth at the expense of the young and the poor. Yes, the poor whom critics say are the sole victims of Duterte’s war against drugs. The same critics who apparently don’t have the nerve to condemn the drug lords and “ninja cops” who made addicts and pushers out of the vulnerable poor in the first place.

If he is single-minded in his mission, it is because the man is a visionary. He envisions a country safe from the horrors of drug addiction, and succeeding generations of Filipinos emancipated from its shackles. It might go down as a quixotic quest, who knows, but he can’t be faulted for not trying. Where others before him were simply apathetic to the people’s travails and concerns (hello, BS!), Duterte walks his coarse and curse-laden talk. He doesn’t care whether he loses the presidency, even his life, he says; but he will fulfill his promises, mark his words.

He speaks the truth about us as a people – inconvenient and beyond the pale though it may be. Who was it who said that in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act? President Duterte is waging a revolution that will forever change the Filipino psyche. He is taking us out of slavery. Slavery to the mentality that we cannot do things on our own – that we are permanently dependent on dole outs from Big Brother even if they be scraps and tokens and leftovers.

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Slavery to the reality that oligarchs have been presiding over our lives with impunity – paying us wages that will never lift us out of poverty while exploiting our country’s minerals until they run barren and dry, and buying off politicians to legalize their rapaciousness. He is taking us out of the slavery to terrorism brought by differences in ideology and religion, but really just as covert means to make money in exchange for lives.

And the slavery to corruption that has systematically gnawed at every fiber of our existence as a nation it has become the norm instead of the aberration.

Decades of indifference by our leaders have made us slaves to false prophets and fake icons – and these forces of greed and lust are now furiously at work spreading falsehoods and painting a grim picture of the Philippines using foreign media and transnational organizations. With the sole motive of unseating President Duterte by all means dirty and foul in order to get back the power they lost by popular election.

They are taking their crooked movement outside the country because the Filipino people won’t listen to them anymore. Quite a jolt it must be to these pretenders. Enemies of change whose time is past. They are not freedom-loving Filipinos who will die for the Homeland, nope. Just puny slave masters whose sense of supremacy has been smashed to the ground, demolished as myth by one man. And that’s what rankles them to the marrows of their blackened bones.
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Who’s afraid of China?

(Disclaimer: To my relatives and friends who have been living in the US as American citizens, this is not an anti-American rant. To my Filipino-Chinese acquaintances, this is not a pro-China paean. Just telling things as they are from my point of view. And to find out for myself whether or not President Duterte is justified in “cozying up” to our neighbor and “separating” from our former colonial master.)

dscn3326The Amboys in our midst are apoplectic over President Duterte’s perceived anti-American stance and friendliness towards China. One respectable gentleman even calls it a national tragedy.

I wonder why. They sound so un-Filipino and anti-Filipino to me.

How much do Filipinos love America? How much does America love Filipinos in return?

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Conversely, why do Filipinos love China less? Or sometimes deride – when, in truth and in fact, a big chunk of the Philippine population are of Chinese descent. Tsinoys, they are called, and while many of them do not have Filipino genes, they consider themselves Filipino for having been born here. On the other hand, most Amboys are pure Filipino with nary a drop of American plasma in them. Get the drift.

Then, too, the Chinese never colonized the Philippines even if both peoples have been trading with each other since ancient times – centuries before Ferdinand Magellan “landed on Limasawa at noon” and Christopher Columbus set foot on American soil.

Thus, let me count the ways. And revisit a little bit of history. Starting with the Philippine-American War at the turn of the 20th century that so little is known about.

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First of all, let this sink in: “The overall cost in human lives of American actions in the Philippines was horrific.  One scholar has concluded concerning the American occupation that in the 15 years that followed the defeat of the Spanish in Manila Bay in 1898, more Filipinos were killed by U.S. forces than by the Spanish in 300 years of colonization. Over 1.5 million died out of a total population of six million.”

That tiny bit of information is verifiable at the click of your mouse if you know which archives to look, with the figures varying from one document to another. And if you click your mouse further, you will find that massacring Filipinos was a matter of fact for our American colonizers during that dark period in our existence as a nation; and that they came not as rescuers, which we were apparently made to believe, but as vanquishers.

America’s most famous literary icon, Mark Twain, put it succinctly: “…I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone to conquer, not to redeem…”

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In truth, historians refer to the Philippine-American War as the “first Vietnam” where such tactics as strategic hamleting and scorched-earth policy were first used and the death of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos was “usually accounted for as either collateral damage or victims of insurrection.”

Doesn’t the term ‘collateral damage’ sound familiar these days?

In November 1901, the Manila correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger reported: ”The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog….

Doesn’t that sound like ‘extrajudicial killings’? Genocide? Mass murder? Butchery? (Not to mention patently racist. Little better than a dog?)

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If you are not convinced, click your mouse again onto “Balangiga Massacre”, “Bud Dajo Massacre” or “US war crimes in the Philippines” and you might run into an American general who specifically ordered his men “to kill and burn: the more you kill and burn, the better you will please me.” Or another general who wrote: “All able bodied men will be killed or captured… These people need a thrashing to teach them some good common sense…”

So, yes, those atrocities happened over a hundred years ago. Atrocities which America never apologized for. Because it was all part of President McKinley’s so-called Benevolent Assimilation? In McKinley’s words:“…We could not leave them to themselves – they were unfit for self-government – and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them…”

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Not to forget that Japan invaded the Philippines during World War II, not because we were at war with them but because we were with America. And it cost the lives of one million Filipinos.

By the way, the first American Governor General after whom Taft Avenue is named, coined the phrase little brown brothers when he told McKinley that “our little brown brothers” would need “fifty or one hundred years” of close supervision “to develop anything resembling Anglo-Saxon political principles and skills.”

The point being that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. What purpose does recording history serve if people do not learn from it?

Speaking of the past, historical records suggest that the earliest direct Chinese contact with the Philippines was during the early years of the Sung Dynasty (962-1279). And surprise, surprise, Filipinos went to China before the Chinese came to the Philippines. Merchants from “Ma-i” (Mindoro) were said to be part of a luxury trade bringing to Guangzhou scents, ivory, coral, pearls, fine steel, tortoise shell, crystal, sea-turtle leather, cloths and other wares in exchange for gold, silver, coin strings, lead, tin, multi-colored silk and porcelain.

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Does that seem like the pre-colonial Filipinos were uncivilized? And Western historians called them barbarians.

Ma-i traders arrived on the Canton coast in 982, not on a tribute mission but sailing directly with valuable merchandise for sale. The first Philippine tribute mission to China appears to have come from Butuan (P’u-tuan) which was described as a small country in the sea to the east of Champa (Vietnam) in March 1001.

Back then, a tribute mission was the Chinese idea of diplomacy where neighboring lands and tribes paid homage to the emperor through presents of pearls and aromatics. In return, the envoys were given brocaded court costumes encrusted with gold and jade, among others. The tributary states did not become colonies or part of the imperial system but were simply enlisted as independent states occupying their proper niche in the Chinese order.

china7Doesn’t China still use trade today as a diplomatic weapon, dispensing favors in the form of investments and soft loans to both near and distant countries?

Fast forward to Mao Zedong’s Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) marked by a violent class struggle “that saw countless politicians and intellectuals driven to their deaths, civilians killed in armed conflicts, and cultural relics and artefacts destroyed. The official death toll numbered more than 1.7 million.”

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Fifty years hence, the People’s Republic of China – once dubbed as the sleeping giant – has risen to become the second largest economy in the world and, according to Forbes, is set to overtake the US in 2018. While it has been criticized by Western media for unfair trade practices including intellectual property theft and protectionism, its socialist market economy has allowed the still communist state to finance an ambitious space program and initiate the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to rival the World Bank, while its Renminbi currency is undergoing the process of internationalization.

Sometime in 1817, Napoleon Bonaparte was supposed to have said, “China? There lies a sleeping giant. Let him sleep, for when he wakes he will move the world.”

So, is President Duterte right in turning to China and strengthening ties with our other Asian neighbors? The writing is on the wall.

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For what it is worth, I am not scared of Beijing. I am not scared of its ancient temples and rich culture, its great halls and massive squares, even its smog, imposing structures and seemingly impassive inhabitants. Its long, enigmatic past touches the old soul and its dynamic, straightforward present arouses the senses.

I am more scared of being humiliated by an American consul denying me a visa to enter his country because I don’t speak English well enough or I don’t look “prosperous” enough. I am more scared of being accosted by an American immigration officer talking down at me and demanding what I am doing in his great country. It would diminish my pride and dignity as a fellow member of the human race.

As a true Oriental, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ beckons to my sense of wonder and curiosity more than ‘Gone with the Wind’ ever will.

However, as a pure Filipino, I am not anti- or pro-USA. Neither am I anti- or pro-China. I will only be forever pro-Philippines.

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Image and statesmanship

 

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So, has the stock market crashed yet? Has the United States severed relations with the Philippines and withdrawn from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) thus far? Have we already been treated as pariah in the community of nations? Because of the President’s vulgar, uncouth, dirty, foul, coarse language? Because the Philippines does not have a “statesman” as President?

Read the dailies these days and much of what you will see are some politicians’ and media persons’ concern over the “image” that the country is projecting to the outside world. Like, have we become one huge killing field where thousands are murdered every day on orders of the Commander-in-Chief? Or a genocide is happening and we are blissfully unaware of it?

In the first place, why do we care so much what other nationalities think of us? Do we live and breathe for the Americans who largely refer to us as their “little brown brothers”, or the Europeans many of whom do not even know we exist, or the rest of the civilized biosphere who only recognize us for the throng of skilled and domestic workers that we export to their shores?

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So what if our President is not a “statesman”? Neither is he the embodiment of phony. How many phony characters have we elected as mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, presidents since elections in the Philippines became the norm by which we choose our leaders? And most of them have passed the standard of “statesman” in public comportment even as, all the while, their hands have been digging deep into the country’s coffers; but this President is an aberration because he says things that hit close to home?

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte won the election overwhelmingly on the strength of his genuineness and authenticity in contrast to the other candidates’ phoniness, to put it plainly. All they offered were images of themselves as so-called champions of the poor and vanquishers of the corrupt. On the other hand, Candidate Duterte spoke to the people eye-to-eye, in ordinary man’s terms, offering his life to flag and country – and Filipinos, in huge numbers, believed him. He only had to be himself – including the “abominable” cursing and cussing – not an image of himself, nor an image of the usual. The usual being that of the traditional politician who has been populating the Philippine political landscape for generations. Pray tell, what have those long succession of office-bearers and their respective dynasties done for the betterment of a Philippines led by “statesmen”?

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Before Duterte came along, the whole archipelago – for all of the Filipinos’ fondness for things Western and, yep, colonial – had no working national emergency number like the US’ famous 911, let alone a citizens’ hotline where they can report on and complain about things that bedevil them. Barely a month in office and 911 and 8888 were instituted – which, according to those who have tried each, are functioning and effective.

More importantly, hardly a few days into the new administration and the drug scourge was exposed for what it has been since God knows when – a huge conspiracy among rouge policemen, insatiable police generals, greedy local government officials, corrupt trial court judges and other men and women in power (“statesmen”, indeed) – all of them protecting drug lords and criminals, in the process fostering the drug trade that has been eating at the country’s youth since methamphetamine hydrochloride was invented. Shabu could be the new plague but everyone preferred to look the other way – out of fear, maybe? Or just plain indifference, which is worse.

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In the course of fulfilling his campaign promise, President Duterte ordered a “relentless and sustained” war on drugs – a bloody one at that, as he declared it would be at the outset. Before long, loud cries of “human rights” and “extrajudicial killings” rang out in unison like the sound of an orchestra being steered by an unseen conductor, painting the grim picture of a country wilting under the control of a madman, with cherry-picked information being fed to foreign media and human rights organizations making out the country as a new Darfur, Aleppo or Kabul.

Did President Duterte ever threaten, much less issue an order, to kill law abiding citizens? Right from his inaugural speech, he said: “As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine.”

If that was not clear enough, in his visits at police and military camps all over the country, he kept repeating the same message: “Go after the drug addicts, pushers and dealers, the rapists, kidnappers, murderers and other criminals. Hunt them down and arrest them. But if they offer violent resistance, if you feel that your life is in danger, then shoot them.”

So, what to do with this leader whose “ugly mouth” and “boorish behavior” rankles the remnants of “civil society” who cannot seem to accept the fact that he is not one of their own, who cannot be “controlled” into bowing to them like he bows to the masses, and whose popularity baffles the mind in spite of his flaws and mistakes?

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A leader who is not afraid to own up to his shortcomings and ask for forgiveness (“I take full responsibility”, “Wala akong pride chicken,” “Fair is fair”), whose loyalty is to the flag, not to a political party (“I am willing to give up my life, my honor and the presidency”), and who does not care what “image” is attributed to his person every time he opens his mouth (“I have many mistakes and faults in life. I am not perfect. But I will not change my character”).

This is also the same leader who has the political will to include the Left in national governance for the first time in the communist rebellion’s 47-year existence, impose an indefinite unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA and release political prisoners who are ranking members of the NDF to enable them to participate in the ongoing peace talks. Not to mention the similar peace talks with both MNLF and MILF. Which “statesman” has done that in recent memory?

If the media in general worries that much about the country’s image abroad, aren’t there enough accomplishments of the Duterte Administration to spread the word around, even as it has still to mark its 100th day? To improve the country’s “image”? Then again, good news does not sell. “Man bites dog” is more soundbites-worthy, while “Dog bites man” stories are panakip-butas lang. There goes the rub.

So. If push comes to shove, I’ll take the ramblings of a trash-talking septuagenarian – anytime, all the time – whose message is clear to me in spite of and/or due to constant repetitions, than the posturing of a so-called statesman who stares down at typhoon victims and tells them to their face: “Buhay ka pa naman, ‘di ba?”

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Freedom of information

generals2If President Duterte was fed wrong and “poison” information as the generals allege, would they provide him the “right” stuff in order to, as they say, clear their names? Would they incriminate other men in uniform or would they implicate their patrons – i.e. politicians?

But if indeed they are blameless and their records spotless as they declare, why was it convenient for them to look the other way while their fellow countrymen were being consumed at the innards by the drug trade? Why did they allow it to flourish when they have, in the first place, the responsibility to eradicate it? Doesn’t tolerating a crime make one an accessory to it especially if you are a law enforcer?

President Duterte, in one of his media interviews prior to assuming office (before media pissed him off, that is), related in detail how the ‘quota system’ (for lack of a better term) at the PNP hierarchy works – from the bottom up to the topmost and (probably) beyond.

But media failed to pick up such a significant piece of information which the public ought to know; perhaps because a) they were not listening b) they could not make out what the erstwhile mayor was saying due to his Visayan inflection c) it was not new to them as those things are just whispered about but not discussed in the open or d) their editors deleted it from their story. Donald Trump has a succinct description for the US version – ‘dishonest media’.

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Did the President violate any laws for announcing the names of the five generals? He is a lawyer and former prosecutor, he should know. He has a phalanx of legal experts around him to provide advice, they should know. Would he be so rash as to make accusations without standing on solid evidence?

The Communications Secretary said the testimonial and documentary evidences are being kept at the moment, not for release to the media as yet, for obvious reasons. And the basis for the naming of names are intelligence reports that the President of the Republic has access to – validated many times over.

Someone being interviewed on radio said Digong has been gathering data and building up dossiers since a year ago, before he even decided to run as president. It might not be a far-fetched idea that the generals themselves were informed beforehand. They were asked to just leave the service quietly or avail of early retirement like a few others of star rank did, including the Chief PNP who retired without fuss a few months before reaching the compulsory age to give way to his successor. Kung sumabay sila, hindi sana nahalata.

Would it be a stretch to think that they thought this President, who is unlike his predecessor by any bounce of the imagination, will observe their code of silence and allow them to go on with their business as usual?

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Public shaming is a violation of due process? See Tanauan, Batangas’ periodic parade of addicts, pushers and lawbreakers. Have any of them gone to court yet to sue the town mayor who, like Duterte, speaks softly but carries a big stick?

The President is exercising his strong political will at a scale never seen before in a long succession of leaders. If you are an honest and law-abiding government official, bureaucrat or functionary, being publicly humiliated should be the least of your concerns. But if you provide your families with a lifestyle not commensurate with your salary in government, then your happy days are over.

So, yes, cry your hearts out because your reputations have been smeared. But did you ever shed a tear for the millions of Filipinos who suffered the scourge of illegal drugs under your watch? You go through the motions of raiding drug dens and seizing contraband, but more often than not, the culprits were nowhere near the scene of the crime. Were they tipped off? How many “ninja cops” – those who recycle seized narcotics and put them back on the streets for sale to innocent kids – have you put behind bars?

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The Big Brick Wall – i.e. General Bato – said that there are more names in Digong’s list but they are still being verified. The 35 or so local executives that the President has hinted as being on the drug trade as well should be on pins and needles now. DILG Secretary Sueno has just revealed on a morning TV show that the list has grown to 200, targeting mayors, governors and barangay captains. Again, they are being subjected to thorough verification but their names will be revealed sooner or later.

If in the end, he is proven to have erred on the side of discretion, then it would be interesting to see how the man called The Punisher will fess up to his mistake. What is apparent, though, is – not only are people (addicts and pushers) surrendering in large numbers on a daily basis in many parts of the country; many citizens are also volunteering morsels of information that they have known all along but were afraid to tell the authorities. If that is not change, then Mar Roxas is president.

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Mocha

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Some members of mainstream media have been frothing in the mouth at this lady for scoring an exclusive interview with the Incoming President. What, a “sexy entertainer” out scooping ‘legitimate journalists’ for a full, albeit edited, 15-minute audience with The Digong? A ‘TH’-blogger with 20 million hits outsmarting the big names in news and broadcast media? I say, eat your hearts out.

What you sow, so shall you reap. If you planted ill will, do you expect to gather good seed? Nope, it is not retribution (vis-à-vis Duterte’s ‘justification’ as to death penalty for heinous crimes) or vengefulness (the favorite word to use against the Outgoing President). It is about putting people in their right places. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. Media has become too powerful even for their own good, the kaakibat (paboritong bigkasin ng mga TV news reader these days) responsibility is now just an afterthought.

So, Mocha Uson (yes, the lady has a full name) delivered to the Incoming President a list of concerns aired by some of her 3.7 million followers on Facebook (who among you, media high horses and casual critics have at least 1,000 ‘likers’, fans, or whatchamacallit on your numerous accounts in social network sites?) and the latter gave more than a perfunctory look at the papers given to him – he granted Mocha an impromptu exclusive interview. What more can a much-maligned, routinely looked down upon (because of her livelihood? Or lack of high society DNA?) “sexy entertainer” dressed in decent clothes and speaking respectfully to a person in authority ask for?

A legitimate SCOOP. Because the new President. Does not want to speak directly. To mainstream media anymore. For reasons. Everybody now knows. And which unbelievers. Continue to twist and turn. To suit their own purposes. Who cares? But their own kind. And the rest of us. Who voted for change. Don’t give a hoot.

The ‘scoop’? President Duterte said the owner of ABS CBN (he actually mentioned the Lopez scion’s name) attempted to bribe him to grant Sky Cable a permit to operate in Davao City, saying that they were apprehensive because the existing cable operator was a friend of the mayor. Pissed off, the mayor asked for a blank application form, signed it and waved them off. He told the interviewer to put it on record that Lopez said Davao was the only place in the country where they did not have to do a payoff.

(Not that we have not known long before where local executives get their ‘extra’ income, but now that President Duterte has confirmed it, should we look at our mayors, governors, congressmen and senators – even barangay captains – in a whole new different light or do we say, what else is new?)

Going back to Mocha Uson. Those who have been judging her based on an intermittent and cursory browsing of her blog entries presumably don’t know her back story and why she supported the erstwhile Davao City mayor during the past campaign, volunteering her and her group’s services in sorties all over the country. It might not be worth anything to people comfortably ensconced in their ivory towers but where she’s coming from, many in the peripheries can relate.

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Her father was assassinated by four men riding in tandem. A brave and makabayan (Mocha’s own words) regional trial court judge who took a case no one would touch by a ten-foot pole because it involved a notorious gang backed up by politicians in their province. The gang leader was sent to jail and in the ‘normal’ course of things in this unfortunate republic of ours, good men die when evil men decide that good must not triumph over evil.

So, yes, Mocha Uson saw her father in Mayor Duterte. But malicious minds imply something more degenerate. That is their lookout, though. Harboring resentment towards a stranger is not good for the wrinkles.

And by the way, the Incoming President addressed her as “Ma’am”.

(For more insights on Mocha Uson, go to -http://www.philstar.com/supreme/2016/06/11/1591614/night-mocha-uson)

Panatang Makabayan

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A few generations ago, including mine, Filipino school children were taught love of country through the “Panatang Makabayan” (Pledge of Allegiance) that we had to recite every morning during flag raising ceremony. We knew it by heart and the words still ring loudly in my ears —

Panatang Makabayan
Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas
Ito ang aking lupang sinilangan
Ito ang tahanan ng aking lahi
Ako’y kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan
Upang maging malakas, maligaya at kapakipakinabang
Bilang ganti, diringgin ko ang payo ng aking mga magulang
Susundin ko ang mga tuntunin ng aking paaralan
Tutuparin ko ang mga tungkulin ng isang mamamayang makabayan at masunurin sa batas
Paglilingkuran ko ang aking bayan nang walang pag-iimbot at ng buong katapatan
Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino sa isip, sa salita, at sa gawa.”

But in November 2001, a new version was introduced by the Department of Education under the late Secretary Raul Roco. The existing one was revised for no other reason than to “use shorter lines in less formal Tagalog.” In so doing, not only were many words and phrases, taken out – especially the last line; it also lost its cadence and rhythm.

And we wonder why today’s young do not take patriotism seriously.

This is what they recite today:

Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas,
aking lupang sinilangan,
Tahanan ng aking lahi,
Kinukupkop ako at tinutulungan
Maging malakas, masipag at marangal
Dahil mahal ko ang Pilipinas.
Diringgin ko ang payo ng aking magulang,
Susundin ko ang tuntunin ng paaralan.
Tutuparin ko ang tungkulin ng mamamayang makabayan
Naglilingkod, nag-aaral at nagdarasal ng buong katapatan.
Iaalay ko ang aking buhay, pangarap, pag-sisikap sa bansang Pilipinas.”

The Panata as our generation knew it was a translation from the original English text:

I love the Philippines.
It is the land of my birth;
It is the home of my people.
It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.
In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents;
I will obey the rules of my school;
I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen;
I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully
I will be a true Filipino in thought, in word, and in deed.”

Guess who “reminded” Filipinos that the Philippines is “the land of my birth and the home of my people” while kissing the Philippine flag all across the country?

The ascendancy of Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the 16th President of the Philippine Republic, whose love of country is unquestionable, will hopefully inspire a resurgence of patriotism among Filipinos.

Digong kisses the Philippine flag during a "Miting de Avance" in Manila
Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte kisses the Philippine flag during a “Miting de Avance” (last political campaign rally) before the national elections at Rizal park in Manila in the Philippines May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Ask not what Duterte can do for you

asknot1

Chances are, there will be no answer. Because it is not about you. Or me. Or the pet dog barking up the wrong tree.

It is not about you demanding that he should fix this or he should remove that, because either you voted for him and you want to be proven right or you didn’t vote for him and you don’t want to be proven wrong.

It is not about you ranting at the choice of people he wants to put in place, because they are “recycled”, they are not the “best and brightest”, or they are just not good enough for your (lofty) standards. Guess what, he is the President-in-waiting and you are not. He has the prerogative to appoint people whom he wants to work with, and he does not have to get your nice little approval.

asknot4

It is not about you and me just sitting there watching him do all the dirty work and yakking till Kingdom come that he is this or he is that and he shouldn’t do this or he mustn’t do that. Armchair experts are only as good as the upholstered metal where their elbows rest; in fact, they are the worst kind of ‘critics’ as they base their statements solely on their own all-knowing self-righteousness.

It is not about you scrutinizing every move he makes and every word he says and pouncing on him like he cannot do anything right even if he has yet to formally take his oath. His pronouncements today do not yet carry the weight of the office he will assume on June 30, and there you are storming the gates of Hell for him to fail before he could start the ball rolling.

For whatever it is worth, Duterte said he doesn’t care about his haters. He is here to serve the people the best way he could. And “people” includes those who did not vote for him and those who persecuted him without let up before the election – especially the media focusing only on his “despicable” mouth, not to mention the pastoral letters and homilies from moral crusaders, so called.

asknot5

Now, if you don’t want to be “included”, you are free to make good your threat to leave the country if Duterte is elected. You have the wherewithal, right? Go ahead and pack your bags and leave the Philippines to Filipinos who want to remain Filipinos regardless of who their leader is.

But if you choose not to move your butt and continue to nitpick, that is your right as well. While doing so, examine yourself and think about these:

1) Do you report your correct taxable income?

2) Do you pay your employees the right wages?

3) Do you text while you drive and do you drive when you’ve had too much to drink?

4) Do you occupy the street as parking area for your car because you don’t have a garage?

5) Do you stand at attention when the National Anthem is playing?

6) Do you keep an unlicensed firearm?

7) Do you buy an expensive designer bag even if you can barely afford it?

8) Do you take home bond paper and other supplies from the office?

9) Do you work your full eight hours a day at the office without taking ‘unauthorized’ breaks to do Facebook, Candy Crush or Solitaire on your computer?

10) Do you not open your desk drawer to make room for envelops that will ‘fast-track’ the flow of documents such as permits, licenses, etc. needing your signature?

11) Do you not bribe a traffic enforcer to get out of a routine traffic violation?

12) Do you not bribe Customs for anything that you bring into the country that has commercial value?

13) Do you not segregate your trash?

14) Do you not throw candy wrappers and cigarette butts on the street and ignore ‘no littering’ signs?

15) Do you not spit anywhere and everywhere and spread your germs and viruses on the air?

16) Do you not use a ‘fixer’ to have your car registration renewed or checked for smoke emission, and to get your passport or driver’s license processed because you don’t want to fall in line?

17) Do you not insert yourself in the middle of a long queue?

18) Do you not use the overhead walkways because you are too lazy to climb up and down and just go ahead cross the street even if there are ‘no jaywalking’ signs?

19) Do you not look down on your fellow Filipinos and condescendingly call them “dukha”?

20) Do you ever donate to charity and not let the whole world know about it?

21) Do you ever volunteer your services to help a fellow countryman in times of calamities?

22) Do you ever patronize the works of Filipino poets, authors, musicians, painters, sculptors, artists, designers, inventors?

23) Do you ever report a crime you have witnessed to the authorities?

24) Do you ever open a door for someone? Help someone cross the street? Let someone pass your car on bumper-to-bumper traffic? Stop your car behind a pedestrian lane to let pedestrians pass?

25) Do you ever listen to your parents when they tell you not to stay out late at night?

26) Do you ever give up your seat at the MRT, LRT or bus in favor of a senior citizen, a pregnant woman, and a person with disability or do you remain seated smug while listening to your earphones and ignoring the sea of humanity around you?

27) Do you ever show respect towards your parents and elders by not talking back at them even if you think you are right?

28) Do you ever show respect towards fellow motorists by not unnecessarily honking your horn, cutting lanes, tail gating, and shouting invectives at them when they do the same to you?

29) How far have you ever ventured up north and down south of your country the Philippines?

30) How far will you go to effect change on yourself before asking your leaders to change themselves?

Time to look askance – to borrow Duterte’s word – at ourselves and contemplate if we are capable of initiating change through the small things we do every single day.

asknot2

You and I are just among the hundred million tiny snapshots that make up the grand mosaic of our existence as a nation. President Duterte is there to take care of the Big Picture, hopefully, the best way he knows how.

So, if you will keep on whining and carping on how ugly his mouth is and how “evil” his deeds are without giving him the chance to do what he needs to do – better just go away and live in some land of sugar and spice and everything nice where you will be considered as second class citizens.

The Philippines under Duterte will be better off without the sound and fury of sanctimonious people whose only claim to patriotism is their insistence that Daang Matuwid is the one and only true path. Six years of that, and are we as a people any more patriotic than Rizal ever was?

asknot3