On May 9th, the Philippines continued its march towards democracy. Fingers were stained with lasting ink, the ground was littered with name-plastered paper and shredded coercion; I rested in the throes of my home, travelling and watching the empty highways fading against the skies like they never had before. A bystander to the events that mold the experience of my generation. In two years, I join their ranks and get to have my fingers stained with the blood of freedom — but for now, all I can do is discuss, learn, and speak.
Never have I been so maddened, never have I sworn upon my inability to make a name for myself. Never have I scorned this nation for the lack of education, the ignorance and blasphemy that cycles over and over – the disgust that I feel at all the death threats thrown at me. This is a child’s cry; this is the beginning of a wish, this is the start of the fear she holds in her own country.
Truth be told, this is the first election wherein I dedicated my heart and soul to educating myself about it. As a backstory – the most I had known about it early this year were tidbits from my news feed. Of course, all the electoral memes and videos are pulled out of a cesspool of uncertainty; taking all of them with a grain of salt (or rather, contempt for the people who had bothered to share these around) I still had close to zero knowledge on each candidate. I was not even aware of Roy Seneres until the day of election. Along with the usual Facebook memes, there was a particular student in my class who when presented with the opportunity – no matter how absurd or irrelevant – started chanting the most famous candidate’s name. Duterte, urging us all to vote for him despite sharing nothing but those chants.
As summer started, more information regarding the election began to disseminate around the areas I frequented. My interest was intrigued and I began to tunnel through interview after interview, the blogs of journalist’s, the opinions of the masses through social media, the videos and news reports that I took lightly — all the like. To note is that I only focused on the presidential race. With great dismay I apologize to my nation as I failed to look further into the senators, party lists (though I find it difficult to find information about the majority of them) and even vice-presidents. Nevertheless, my opinions on each candidate as well as of course, the one who would attain my vote (if I could) were slowly being formulated.
It was a mistake to think that my opinions could have been shared; I do not blame the people around me for not sharing the same views or being as interested – words fed into their mouths by their parents, their only grants of knowledge emerging from their timelines. In actuality, it is also my fault for not finding civil people to discuss with — or; in the most humble way, to find people that would treat my words with equal footing, and have looked into this through more than just scattered tidbits, spread through Twitter links and Facebook shares. You see, on the day of the elections I was enticed to finally speak up about my thoughts and all, the first time I burst into activity on a network surrounded by millions of others of my kind. I went all out, the 140-character limit against me and all of the words that have been bottled up for so long. I didn’t watch hours – probably days worth of speeches and interviews for nothing.
I was hit with a maddening reality, a torrent of absurd and wrenching traits and character. Call me a heretic, exile me all you wish — in truth, I lost hope in the elections. I am not at peace with the results, although at the time of writing — impartial, just missing a couple hundred thousand – but solidified. My descent into disappointment, rage, and anger at how lightly people took up issues led me to finding resort here; containment and restraint was never a thing that spoke out to me. The lack of discussion also attributed to the spiral — my mind was in a ravage, no one would take me seriously either because they thought I was too young to talk about these things with and others just repeated words to me that I had told them in the first place.
Neatly summed up, here are the experiences that were brought into my light during the 9th of May and beyond. Nuances, side-comments, all the like; culminating into a cry of a child who is sorry for her own ignorance, who is sorry that she has no power.
One: Questioning the souls
The rampant hypocrisy truly tugged on my nerves. A primary example would be the current events that are unfolding regarding the tight vice-presidential race — with Leni Robredo taking over Bongbong Marcos after his initial lead. I stayed up until 5AM on the day of elections; browsing the #LabanLeni hashtag in eager await for my bid to take the lead. Although at the moment I am unsure if this lead would remain – the issue is the cheating allegations.
— chia (@amisoIa) May 10, 2016
As a close watcher of the elections and how it unfolded (practically never letting go of my phone, constantly on Twitter: the most vocal medium for all the Filipinos to rant and rave about the partial tallies and of course – my favorite, ill-factual arguments and death threats slinging upon person to person, moreso the candidates themselves) I can honestly say that for the most part, the election discussion was domineered by supporters of the Davao Mayor. Amidst all that, I also checked upon the candidates that I had supported. Leni – in particular, my favorite one from the bunch; had a much softer discussion in comparison to Duterte. As the results unfolded, people were disappointed at Marcos’ lead and rise over her but nevertheless, continued to echo motivational words for the pious widow and emanated their empathy and belief in her. Although a non-believer, I was also inclined to share a prayer for her success. Not once in all the tweets I scavenged were there death threats, simply angry remarks from supporters that are tired of the arguments and insensitivity of other Filipinos. Needless to say, it was calm and quiet – a reflection of the woman they supported.
Finally, when slowly — Leni Robredo began gaining on Marcos as the districts and regions in which she is favored, the regions which she hails from — started to have their votes counted, the cheating allegations began. Throws of #DayaangMatuwid and death wishes were thrown without any remorse to all who wore yellow. I had no say in things; it’s not like you could argue against Marcos apologists (which I will further elaborate on in the next few points.) In particular, one bright angel; in response to one of my statements of this being a fair fight shedded some light on the manner of cheating. How did they cheat? Apparently through timing, vote counting machines, and SD cards. This would be a perfect response if for example, I was asking the ingredients to a sandwich and somewhat responded with bread, lettuce and meat. Unfortunately, I was asking how to make this sandwich and they gave me the ingredients instead. There is no solid proof in the cheating remarks, and the whole fiasco is simply absurd. I read notes, apparently there was a “computer command” that changed everything — now yes, computer commands are vital to every action in operating a personal computer. Like when you turn on the computer – that’s a command. When you mark your fingers down on control and v, that is also – guess what – a command! I really am confused and trust me; I’d love to look into the matter as well but there’s no concrete evidence of it whatsoever other than buzzwords thrown here and there. Again, people are infuriated by typos on vote counts and graphs that project an eerily predictable rise in vote count – when you know, that’s not how those graphs work. Then again, there were people outraged at the lack of an aerial shot in the Roxas-Robredo miting de avance, so who am I kidding? These people will take a shot at anything that isn’t for their candidate. And of course, Facebook memes remain prevalent and are the deciding factor in these elections nowadays. The hivemind of uneducate Filipinos who do not dare to second-check anything fall victim – or rather, prove that they are quite honestly – fucking stupid. That of which, I will elaborate later on.
To end this point, let me ask — why is it that these so-called brainwashed people actually bother to check things before accusing, that they resort to prayer and remain silent in the name of all the extremists – silently supporting their candidate? Call me biased, call me a shallow thinker but in all my months of viewing the type of supporters each candidate has; you can really tell the distinct difference among each of them. It’s extraordinary, and so many people don’t realize it. Leni Robredo, when falling behind, did not accuse anyone of cheating. She strived and had hope, yet when Bongbong Marcos began losing his lead – that was when he became outraged. When Mar Roxas started gaining in votes in – I don’t know, precincts that favor the liberal party – of course people deemed that something was “fishy”! Hypocrisy is so fucking out there. People are so prideful, people are so stupid, people are unaware that the words they speak strike right back at them, and when corrected – refuse to listen. This isn’t uncommon, of course – but when millions of people do it, you wonder if there’s any decency, respect or as a matter of fact, brain left in the crowds of people. Along with that, you have the few who say “B-but not all of us are like that!” and indeed, not everyone is like that but that’s just like a man clamoring and grasping at the fact that he is so much more decent than anyone else. You may not be as vocal or rude as them but you contribute to the problem when you do nothing about it, I assume that now it’s commonplace to let your fellow countrymen bombard people with death threats and use the fact that you’re both voting for the same leader as some sort of safe card?
It’s horrendous, and I’ve lost hope in this country because of it, but of course I cannot hold the people accountable.
Two: Null and void, brainwave style
Another one that irks me or quite honestly brings me to tears is the lack of knowledge regarding each candidate. I cannot say that I am exempt from this rule as I said previously; I did not do thorough research and focused most of my energy and time towards looking through the presidential bids. Although I still feel like I have a right to speak up about this, as there’s a difference from not knowing about the in-depth background on each candidate’s platforms and that certain quote they said on 26:38 of their third Rappler interview.
We are a democracy. Stating the obvious, but indeed – we are a democratic nation. In the people’s hands lies the future, the well-being of our nation and the status of it. Surely, the change comes from within the people, the president doesn’t matter! I hate that statement with every ounce of my being and if you utter those words I would probably just stare at you and move on to what I was saying. Our country’s leader, moreso the president – has a huge role in deciding the progress of this country. The key to the nation’s progress is indeed the people but that doesn’t work when we are under perhaps, a martial law regime, or are completely powerless against corrupt and greedy government organizations that silence anyone that speak against them. But that’s beside the point.
As a democratic nation, we are (mostly) given the power to decide who gets to be labelled as the president of the Philippines, and all the other positions that people don’t care that much about. Nevertheless, as per our duty and the rights we actively exercise – why not be sure of the candidate you’re going to shade every three and six years? Why not have your whole heart in them, because your single vote can be the deciding factor to who gets to reign over – or I mean, serve this country. Of course we should be educated, of course we should know everything about each and every candidate, why would anyone answer otherwise? Though, in honest actuality, the education and knowledge on each candidate and their platforms, promises, agendas, what have you not – are almost always misunderstood, or completely unheard of by the public.
You see, elections are quite important and require a bit more than just a scroll through your news feed to stay educated (unless of course everyone you surround yourself with is extremely smart and does not fall victim to shitty propaganda easily.) Elections are incredibly important, yet most people do not know 3/4ths of the names on the ballots, or to be more accurate – majority of the senators, for example. The lack of knowledge is absolute detrimental to the election process as a whole – but not exactly to the candidates themselves. Although I can offer you no proof other than my common sense and intuition, I feel that the masses are generally kept uneducated to keep people who shouldn’t be in power, like the corrupt people, actors (fuck you Pacquiao, get out of the fucking senate) and all the like – in a seat of power. Since they obviously won’t value factuality and will take everything their family says to heart, they are easily swayed by political ads, rough promises that counteract what everyone else says – charisma and wealth eventually become the sure guarantee to get into the senate. That is why we have a boxer who is quite stupid – in the senate. Don’t forget the man who has successfully penetrated the rock hard chairs of the senate, coming in with no intention of backing down and pacing himself equal with every thrust. Dick Gordon, despite his unfavorable views towards the Reproductive Health Bill and same-sex marriage – but then again, it’s not like most Filipinos would want that in.
Talk to an average voter and there is a sure chance that they are unaware of the platforms of a candidate. Talk to an extremist of another voter (the kind that fights with their keyboard) and chances are they will not be able to tell you the platforms and promises of other candidates, and then promptly tell you to die. There was a post circulating from a group of women for Rodrigo Duterte (why) citing that only Duterte had made laws for women’s rights, or advocated them at all. When that’s obviously not the case. A simple Google search would have eliminated the issue with that, but of course people did not bother to. It’s so easy to sway people with ugly graphic design and bold words. It’s pathetic, tragic, and a sad reality of the impact social media has on us as a society. Don’t get me started on the extremists either.
Also much talked about is the fact that more than twenty-thousand votes went to the late Roy Seneres, a wonderful man who withdrew after the ballots were printed. I personally know a handful of people who used this vote as an abstain, and his daughter had shed light on the votes and how she voted for him as well – but I seriously doubt that the entire twenty-thousand was aware of this, or his existence at all. This is a clear sign of the lack of voter education. Not to mention all the people who vote for random senators, party lists and the like.
Truly, advertisements whether on television or plastered across the street, and of course social media – which potentially brings a candidate to a rise or a downfall — are the domineering factor in these elections. It is so disheartening to say that, but it is the full-fledged truth and why the richer candidates tend to get more exposure. When I was first exposed to the candidates, my first thought was of course Miriam Defensor Santiago should be the obvious fit choice towards the presidency – I was aware of her and all her great achievements, and if I was already exposed to her actions and doings then it must speak volumes about her readiness to take on such a daunting job. She however, didn’t spend on advertisements – in all my days of travelling I hadn’t seen a single poster of her name – anywhere. Nevertheless, she consistently placed bottom in polls, gaining 1-2% from the ones I’ve voted on and unsurprisingly, earned a spot at the very bottom during the poll count. Although I no longer have any respect for Miriam Santiago, it truly makes you wonder how she did that low when on paper, she is exceedingly qualified for the spot. With advertisements being the key to winning, this is extremely open to exploitation; all the rich are nearly guaranteed a seat – simply spread your name loud and clear. We value popularity and notice over education, qualifications, past history and actions; this is the clear sign that Filipino elections are doomed in regards to knowledge and intellectualism regarding each candidate. And it is so heartbreaking to see your country’s fate in the hands of wealth, to have the presidential position be a popularity contest. Then again, it’s always been like that – even in our school years; which is also a sad preparation to the reality of the world’s workings.
Three: Apologies to the Dead
Or lack thereof.
Martial law is no joke, in particular, neither is it a ‘thingy‘. The way people are so easy to abandon the past in hopes for their vice-presidential choice, telling me to ‘move on’, telling the victims and the innocents that they know nothing since they hadn’t lived through those times. Claims and remarks of torture and suppression of freedom is debated and argued against. Apparently, the martial law regime is a time when the nation’s economy flourished – people comparing the price of the peso nearing an exchange almost equivalent to that of a dollar. Though I argue, is that really a sign of prosperity and economic growth when the yen value is far from the dollar; when Japan is of course – extremely progressive? In fact, research suggests that it is during Marcos’ regime the peso and economy downsized. Of course, no one is willing to accept these facts as truth when they are very blatantly real. Through shrouded glass and algae-covered seas we praise the waves that have washed over our country; thanks to the Marcos family. When in reality, infrastructure and all the like does not exactly do well when up until today and possibly until 2020, our country still struggles to pay off the debt that the Marcos family had brought upon us. It doesn’t help either when the Marcos family is still benefiting from the wealth they had taken with them upon fleeing the country.
Marcos apologists are the type of people that I hate the most; they dismiss your cries that the regime was actually not a good time. As a reality, I myself was almost swayed by the Marcos apologist posts on Facebook that raved about how amazing the era was to our economy and lands – convincing the young, uncaring and gullible to not look deeper into the situation – convincing all the people that lives were not actually lost. It still astounds me how the Filipino people dared to bring back another Marcos into the government, moreso for a position as high as vice-president. The large amount of support for him is maddening as well; his track record isn’t particularly impressive and he has shown that he isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the bunch – or if he actually has the abilities to shine at all.
But what angers me the most is not the lack of intellectual credibility Bongbong Marcos holds – or the rancid graphics that infiltrate the media and hypnotize the masses with buzzwords. It is the denial of the regime and all the horrors that occurred during it that scare me. In fact, the running Marcos himself as well as his fellow running-mate are apologists themselves; attributing to one of the reasons why I have lost all respect for Santiago. Although I had not been born until years later, I only have mere glimpses of the human rights violations that occurred during such a dark and demented time, and I know wholly that it is just a mere glimpse of all the suffering then. My grandparents were a part of the fight for freedom, and so were countless others — who are these ignorant people – daring to defy the shrouded truth of what happened back then? We are aware of the stories, namely Liliosa Hilao; the first martial law detainee killed. We are not aware of all the other silenced stories, drawn out and dead in the voices of lost tongues, the lives and stories who were buried during the regime – countless tales to never resurface, yet in truth we know their fight did not go in vain. What angers me is saying that we must move on, that the sins of the father should not be placed on the son, that it is in the past, that just because I didn’t live through martial law means that everything I fight for and speak up against means nothing. What kind of logic is culminated into those statements? What kind of person does it take to be so blindly ignorant of the freedoms they bare and the blood-free ground that they sit upon? What kind of mind fails to realize that they are given the opportunity to speak up in a multitude of technological platforms – because of the fight that was fought and the freedom we now breathe in today?
In what vein do we simply ‘forget’ something that happened just in 1972; something that determined the rest of the future and impacted countless of lives and families? As a matter of fact, the year in which it had occurred doesn’t matter. You do not forget Martial Law, neither do you move on from it. It is undeniably a historical event that has impacted the course of Philippine history, that had killed thousands and traumatized hundreds of thousands others. It was a dark age, not an age of progress or prosperity no matter what graphs and numbers you manage to conjure. If we are simply to move on from Martial Law as it is in the past, I would like to ask what kind of ‘moving on’ process values complete erasure of the event, akin to a complete cover-up; rather than accepting the events that had happened, apologizing them and vowing for a better future? In my eyes, that is the only sort of progression that would work in this scenario – covering up an era in which thousands died isn’t exactly the brightest choice. The Germans actively teach their schoolchildren about World War II and the events that had occurred then, there are even field trips to Auschwitz, one of the most famous concentration camps during that period of time. It certainly molded the German name towards the rest of the world, but we do not view Germany in the same vein for they have progressed – so much further than just denying all the lives lost by actively teaching about the past and learning from it. Holocaust denial is actually something that there are laws for, it’s not acceptable at all – and it makes me wonder how a country like ours, that has long abandoned its culture for the sake of mimicry refuses to simply take the same steps that Germany did. Why are we exempt, why do we not do the logical choice?
You do not move on from martial law, you do not simply forget it. Every time those words are uttered to me, I shudder, I wince in fear for the future where we so easily forgive the people who we find enticing and destroy everyone else in our way. Funny how people actively deny the rule of Marcos and all the atrocities committed under him, yet when given the opportunity to spout shit at Hacienda Luicita – go all out on it.
Additionally, if the defense regards that Bongbong Marcos had no impact, or that he was just a little boy during his father’s time is swell. The issue comes in when he refuses to say sorry for what his family has done when he is a part of the problem. It becomes an issue when he fails to realize the destruction that was caused and all the lives and ‘violations’ destroyed by the actions of a dynasty he continues. Nextly, Bongbong Marcos benefits from the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family; unless he was working constantly with an absurd amount of pay there is no way that he attained the cash that he had done without pocketing from the troves of cash that his parents had stolen from the Philippine nation. And to counter it all, Bongbong was not just a child during his father’s reign. He was a government official, practically groomed to fill in to the seat after his father – he had ordered bombings, attempted to persuade his father to attack the protesters. In this case of ‘innocence’, which is… practically an argument rendered null I fail to see how people still say that we should not hold Bongbong accountable when an apology is all that is needed. How dare he say that he can only apologize for himself when he attributed to the destruction during the Martial Law regime.
I like to challenge every single person who tells me to forget about Martial Law to walk up to a survivor and tell them that all they should do is move on. How wonderful of them to assume that it’s just a hoax, a conspiracy theory; to spout bullshit and give me no factual information when I can testify with the tears of the survivors who have spilled out their stories to me. How wonderful are the people of our nation to continue to support people who defend the Marcos dynasty; who fight for his seat in senate and destroy everything we know about the regime or to deny his involvement with them. I feel that sometimes, the crystalline tears that I shed for the nation all go to waste when they would be eaten up by gluttonous non-believers, putting their faith into families that have stolen the souls from their own selves. I feel that there is a glimmer of hope out there, that perhaps the sun would shine upon the darkness of their hearts and minds and emblazon them with the harsh reality of the world then, the blood manifesting itself into pools and the house doors locked – women and children waiting perpetually for a knock that they pray to never come.
Every word emitted to deny, every person who labels themselves as a proud Marcos apologist – you are no longer worthy of any tears. But god, I wish you would imagine yourself walking downstairs and find your door being barraged by guns and pistols, your families hiding themselves into nooks and crannies, the voice of guards in rushing tones 0f rage shouting demands and seething with uncertainty. This is the freedom that people had died and fought for, do not deny their deaths and the bodies that we could no longer find.
Four: Atrophy of Iron
Known as the Iron Lady of Asia, many have held Miriam Defensor Santiago as the most brilliant candidate – excelling in numerous fields and holding awards and certificates of recognition from countless universities that she has studied under; priding herself on her intellectualism – it’s no doubt that she would be the choice of the youth, the millennials who value the resume that dwindles down and spirals over and over due to its length. She is the brain and the heart that has served under each branch of the government, there would be no other fit for the job as she. In fact, this isn’t her first time running for the presidency. What a shame it would be if the country fell and did not lend itself to the hands of such a genius?
Unfortunately, degrees and certificates do make you quite wise on paper. It’s the issue of being a Marcos apologist, constantly going back-and-forth on her claims as well as potentially lying about her health that have made me disappointed in someone who I first thought would be the best choice to reign supreme and serve the country. The people who support her aren’t the wisest either; taking pride in your vote and deeming yourself of higher intellect than others because of your choice and all the pretty words she selectively decides to procure in speeches at various universities does not make you a special snowflake. It makes you blind and ignorant; Miriam is on paper, practically the most intelligible candidate with no other as worthy of the job than she – but what many fail to see is that she is not pure and mighty, she has sins under her, which we can view directly from her choice of running mate and her excuse for him.
Firstly, I do not wish to elaborate on Miriam’s health condition too much, but it’s quite impossible for a “miracle pill” to suddenly restore all her health back to her when she had been battling Stage Four lung cancer for a long time prior to the elections. Slowly, people have noticed the dwindling deterioration of her health (which I am personally unable to speak out for since I had watched the interviews out of order and majority of them weren’t watched live). As much as people respect her, it is highly doubtful that she would survive for long – I’ve heard estimates from cancer-specialists in the medical field that they presume she would only live for six months. I may be wrong, and so may they – but unless that miracle pill was manufactured by god himself I would like to know about it as well as what exactly she’s taking – if it’s atrociously expensive then it shouldn’t bring any harm if we were to know about it, right?
Miriam is very… wibbly-wobbly to say the least; when it comes to her personal stances and political decisions. This article is a very good read about her questionable actions, if the fact that choosing her running mate (as I’ve said multiple times prior) isn’t a dangerous enough reason to stray from her. Miriam constantly prides herself on intellectualism, knowledge, using these words to university students and others who suddenly dignify themselves upon praise of a woman with a numerous amount of degrees – when choosing a running mate who fails the standards that she so strenuously attempts to uphold. It is quite nice to see a change in atmosphere in using intelligence quotas to appeal to the masses rather than money and five-hundred peso bills, but she constantly contradicts herself left and right. She praises Duterte and the next moment, curses him out for being a dangerous bet. With that, an effect of Duterte supporters clamoring for either Duterte and Miriam but of course – only voting for Duterte suddenly strike rage at how low Miriam had scored in the unofficial (and obviously, official) count of votes for the presidential race. In that case, why complain about her being in last place when you voted for someone in a sure lead, why blame the Filipino people for casting their votes in a democratic election for the three other presidential bids (or four if you would count the late Seneres).
Her notions especially regarding Erap and her forgiveness for Bongbong raised so many inviolable flags in my head – is this the kind of leader that we wish to see if they themselves yabber over their diplomas and certifications so much? Is this the kind of intellectualism that she prides onto the country – praising undignified morons for words that they spout with no basis, with nothing behind them at all? What worries me more than an angry fool is an angry man that is utterly stupid, chanting words with conviction and calling themselves elite scholars of the nation when they – in truth – provide nothing of substance. An angry fool that refuses to accept that they are wrong and rubs in your face their so-called wisdom is infinitely worse than someone who is simply a fool – and with the way elections are going, it seems that each candidate has unleashed a certain raw personality in the majority of their supporters.
Miriam supporters, in my experience, are mostly the young – a good amount being unable to vote. Then again, these and Duterte supporters are the same people who were outraged and started raging with cheating allegations since Miriam was at last place. When you know, the Santiago consistently barred herself at the bottom spot in countless mock polls, with an extremely low percentage. Not exactly the smartest bunch of people – if they wanted to change this outrage why not start convincing people before marching with pride on your Miriam support on the election day itself? Along with that, I witnessed countless peers priding themselves on their unending support for Miriam when… they practically know nothing except she must be really smart and oh she has all those diplomas and whatever other facts that were nitpicked and unsteadily laid down in graphics. Of course,
not all men not every single person is like that but per my observations, that is the overwhelming amount of support that she garnered. From non-voters who are also uneducated, view her as a holy grail who does no wrong and is an angel sent from heaven that we just wasted and oh no she is dying but people voted for a guy who is actually dead and hi guys did you know that she is actually not perfect and pure and she has done a lot of wrong shit but since nobody cares about what I have to say or does not give a fuck about facts I guess I have no right to have a say in anything and please stop acting like you’re so smart. That in itself is another problem; simply voting Miriam does not equate to superiority over all the other candidates – I was all for Miriam until figuring out her running mate and the issues around her and the lies regarding her ailing health. The young generation is so undoubtedly powerful but please, do not pride yourself on your vote without basis. My god, if I prided myself on my choice the amount of death threats and personal attacks centered on me would have probably multiplied by ten.
Miriam was once the Iron Lady in my heart; but she has proven herself to be victim to a rusting crown. The gold that adorns the peeping bones around her nape and collar; its beauty dissipates as her mind deteriorates, the mind of a genius isn’t always fit for the heart of a throne. Vines and sweeping flagrant reminders of the past do not phase her, nor do they phase the army that she raises with the charm of a scholar. Echoing against the halls and caught up through the velvet carpets; “the best thing that we never had.” Skies are littered with golden hues, the clouds beckon itself, but the light does not strike only you; it falls through the entire kingdom. Impunity, respect, reveration; count down the days till the crown befalls you and turns against, the throes of the kingdom aren’t meant for those who haven’t wept.
Five: Heed the Hivemind
I hate so easily we strengthen ourselves, our opinions and polish the gauntlets we wear in the defense of our country; and then let them turn against ourselves, let our mind and the fear of the future we cannot handle come one and come all against us.
In ways, I have seen people attest to their whole-hearted support towards whoever wins; for the power lies in the people and the progress that they dream about is only attainable with their working hands. The moment the power of their candidates are questioned, the moment the ones they swear against take the lead – they take back their weapons and reopen stab wounds when you had thought they were at peace with the future. We are oblivious to the fact that the only future these peons wish to fight in is a feature that molds itself to their dreams and wishes, no matter how insensible and clueless. On secondhand, the people who withdraw themselves to whoever wins – stating that it is useless if we complain, it is useless if we criticize for we should just accept the results. As pragmatic as it sounds and how much they deem themselves heroes of the nation by having no side and cheering for no victor – they are the true evils. Neutrality is just as bad as voting for the dark side, and these people have led themselves towards this path.
In what way is it a violation of my duty as a citizen to criticize – we aren’t under a time where free speech and vocalization of our minds and dreams is a sin – it is encouraged, although not exactly entirely listened to or given notice thereof. But in truth, if I wish to point out the flaws of a candidate; or of another person, their policies and whatsoever and have something credible to say, a gracious statement fostered with credibility, insightful opinions and facts – who are you to silence my opinions, tell me to move on and just accept whoever wins – when I have every right to speak up about my country, to criticize when criticism is needed. Along the same line; this is the reason why we are free to speak. This is the reason why people have been detained, tortured, all for the sake of striking the leaders that have been granted the duty of reigning over a nation that they may not be worthy of.
My eyes are weary with tears that should not even be deserved – my nation is better than the sorrows that it refuses to face against, it is better than all the riches and beauty plundered from it. Yet we are deserving of this because of the very people who remain ignorant, the very people who attempt to silence the ones who speak up simply because it is what we have. The very same people that view lost hope in a country where there is so much potential, the same people who settle for the values that they personally know do not befit them, the same people who hush others, silencing their peers and elders and friends – no one exempt from the side comments and utterances. “Everyone’s tired of what you’re fighting for,” the words that mock the free ground you stand still upon. “Nobody wants to listen to you,” the words that continue to shake the atmosphere and bare cold upon the sad truth of the world. “Stop saying the same things that everyone says,” they grow tired of the sentiments from people who care, when you would guess that the same things are repeated and constantly passed down for a reason – because they fail to be heard and accepted, because we still are on the unending search for satisfaction, a means to our end, a light at the end of the tunnel because indeed; we see a dreary and dark path.
If in truth, my peers and the people of this nation are tired of the callous calls: if they would truly want to settle and would want me to stop igniting the flames of a passion that I will never surrender (because perhaps, my heart constantly beats for a country that deserves a thousandfold more) nor give up – every inch of me bids a sorry for them. The people who fought with rocky jagged blades and makeshift pistols did not remain satisfied with what they had; they constantly sought more because they knew they deserved it. This is why I am tired of hearing that we should go through with whoever is elected, that it should not matter because the change is in the people. It indeed, is in the people – but what power lies in our hands when we are so easily manipulated and swayed by those in power – what power lies in our hands when a million children are crying, begging to be heard? The so-called power that is bestowed upon is audibly lacking. I am so tired of hearing that we should settle, I am so tired of it that I am beginning to fall under the impression that this is what we deserve indeed. If we refuse to fight, this is all there is to it, and if we refuse to fight indeed; with every repetition of the history we have doomed to preserve and all the promises of ancestors we have torn apart – let us settle for the worst.
Next, attributing to the very first instance of my anger towards these elections – we root back to the hypocrisy in these people. Anything favorable towards their candidate, they preach and praise as if a god himself had handed down holy tablets inscribed with truth. A word that dares to question the leaders they bow down to – screaming, literally. Chants of biased news and media have led me to learn that the only reliable news source is Mocha Uson blog, and that an actress is indeed a very reliable political analyst.
“We are legion,” they would like to mutter, donning masks of eggs in freshly-made Twitter accounts. Indeed, they are a legion that is pioneered by multimedia makers and satire websites that decide the flow of elections, simply because people are blinded with stupidity and self-pride in order to actually be factual. There is no winning against the hivemind, they are an army; they occupy the battlefield and leave no bodies behind. Everything is only fine if they say so. They most likely ravage articles plastered with the names of the opposition, downvotes and comments sparking of anger – the lack of intelligent life in a sea of one-sided arguments is adorable. Majority stays silent, perhaps in fear of being labelled as equals to these people (yet do no effort in order to stop them, and as a guess – if they did make any sort of effort then they would be shunned) or that confrontation with them is practically a death sentence, a short trip down into their own hell that they have warped and corrupted so much that it feels like heaven to them.
You see, it’s a common known fact that debate with these people is nearly impossible; that there is no way you can present anything to them. There is no room for civil discussion, only hatred and longing for bloodshed. The elections have brought out the darkest of the hivemind, the elections have brought out the minds that lose sight of their own selves, their values and intelligence, swaying them to igneous flames and rustic pitchforks, words that slice with nothing but humor as they do nothing to stand for themselves. You cannot win against an army, you can only wish that they do not find you. Believe me, my experience from supporters of a certain candidate is summed up with death threats and as I’ve talked about before – a person telling me that not all of them are like that – while offering no credible answers and defence towards my questions on why they support this candidate.
Let us shoot the dartboard – this man is Rodrigo Duterte, a man that lacks my respect but has gathered the hearts of millions. The man that has armies that have told me to die, that have told me that I should get raped. This is why I am so tired of people settling for him, for settling under his iron fist.
Do they really care at all?
When Rodrigo Duterte was undoubtedly ahead in the elections (no surprise there) — not only did Grace Poe, followed in suit by Mar Roxas concede – so did everyone I knew.
I was crying.
“I am okay with Duterte being president,” says the man with Bible verses plastered around the frames of their mind when this man had cursed out every meaning of being in the religion they so valiantly stand for. I am not religious myself, but it kind of irks me to see these people supporting him – even praying for him when he has cursed out the pope, called him a whore; and stands for everything that takes away life.
Look further and you see this, “I am at peace with him being president.” When there are so many people who still question his beliefs, the path that he had paved on his road to becoming president. Many argue that Donald Trump used the same tactics, with rancorous statements the media is welcome to vilify the image of this man – who just so happened to attract countless of people because of the difference in his statements – the atrociousness that comes across as honest and honorable. Along the presidential race, Donald Trump’s views have skated itself towards the center of the leftist and rightist views. Meanwhile, Duterte has never backed down from his angry statements until a few days after the elections, starting with an apology towards the pope. It’s glad to see this change is taking place but it’s like… committing murder and saying sorry for it, and I don’t know how people don’t say that. Perhaps we forgive and forget too easily, which is why we have a Marcos in office.
Though the same people who are angered by his position in power are the ones who speak so contently of Duterte and his newfound glory.
In truth, I have wept so many tears for my inability to make a difference in the course of the elections. But why should I expect – why would I think that my voice would make an impact when it never had? Though that is the case and the sad reality that I had been living with for countless years now, it’s just endlessly painful for you to hold so many things and continue to be rendered mute and unable to be heard when your voice is so badly needed. Saying the names of the victims of the Davao Death Squad, I was alone in my area of reach. Nobody bothered with all of the actions this president has brought upon us, it’s like it was so easily forgotten — though it happened so recently, thought it happened so quickly; why are people letting go of these things?
My heart is entirely clueless of the amount of people knowledgeable towards the Davao Death Squad, the president’s involvement and the journalist killings that had occurred in order to silence it. I have been met with people just saying, “if you know about it why don’t you just file a case?” If every single problem on earth was as simple as filing a case — if every single death squad, cult, corruption case, drug ring or whatever else you may think of would have been eliminated by simply ‘filing a case’; you are free to criticize the people’s inability to do so however you want. But I beg of everyone who has told me these words and thinks the same; rethink the words that you speak – think if all these problems are solved with just filing a fucking case when they themselves are part of the reason why it would never work. Some people are protected and utterly revered, some people are untouchable due to all the efforts gone into covering up cases, and the fact that this man has supporters who are so blinded to the truth is why there will never be any justice for the lost lives to the death squad.
People may preach on his ways for making Davao such a safe city, but the numbers it brings are so questionable and have no consistency – the amount of incidents of rape crimes in Davao are extremely high (and not all rape crimes are reported; a majority of them aren’t so take that into consideration and the numbers with a grain of salt). Though I wonder if they are aware that the ages of people killed are so atrociously low – that teenagers in poverty are driven away from their families are homes; deemed as criminals and made fugitives because they enter into shady business as a means of supporting themselves and others. In his world, under his fist – there is no forgiveness, there is no attempt for reform or reconciliation – it is leave screaming and with the guilt and burdens of the lives and damages that you have left on your shoulders or be visited by shrouded masks in motorcycles, a bang of a pistol and your body found dead and bleeding on the floor. I am not for a world in which extrajudicial killings thrive even if it only kills criminals – to further support my hatred for it, these criminals are mostly young people, the marginalized and not the rich that sin, they are the poor that have no other way of earning for themselves and resort to dangerous and dark means due to their struggle. The marginalized and the young are driven away with no chance of reform – a step back into the city and you are dead to them; the shrouded masks always remember and are for you. The shrouded masks kill each other and also mistakenly fire the pistol at innocents; there is no forgiveness or mercy in a world as grim as that – where everything is solved by a flicker of a barrel and the sound of revolving, then the click of a trigger and the calm before the bullet’s storm.
My heart weeps for all the people who forget Duterte’s actions. As a matter of fact, someone had told me that they would prefer a “man who rapes as he pleases and a killer” over someone who is “corrupt”, priding themselves on their presidential bid although unable to vote. I am not for a world where people value those traits over someone who has stolen riches; when the person they are accusing isn’t even proven to have done those acts – but the man they so gallantly protect and defend with their dying breath has admitted to killing – so much that he doesn’t even recount the exact number of the lives he has swept away. They say that if you know how rich you are you aren’t rich at all – if you are unaware of the number of lives you have killed the answer is pretty much – too much lives.
These diverted ways of thinking are what makes me so concerned over the type of supporters that Duterte had unleashed upon the world. In arduous favor of change in this man’s integrity – you wonder if they are aware that there are fine lines to what is honesty and plain anti-innocuous behavior.
I am not lying when I have been pleading against the rest of the world in a battle wherein there is simply no victor but the dead. People who have condemned his behavior yet swear by his name and destroy the critics; saying that there is no reason to complain when he hasn’t done anything. (When he has in fact, single-handedly sabotaged our relations with some other foreign countries due to a rape joke, or had already impacted the Filipinos with his brash behavior that had transferred under majority of his supporters.) Never have I felt so weak and defenseless when I was barraged with a storm of acceptance towards this man’s behavior and all that he stood for. I could not settle, but it was the only thing I could do – it’s the only thing I can do in a world where I remain powerless and a victim of silence and nullity.
Today, I still remember the names of the ones who have fled – the ones who hold funerals at the side of the streets and shudder at the whir of a motorcycle because they fear that pistols are locked tightly at their waists. Today I seethe at all the people who have conceded; to acceptance when they once stood against everything he was for. Acceptance of someone who has threatened rights and the integrity of a human is supporting them and the behavior that will mold the next six years (or possibly more?) and the generation that follows under his footsteps.
Be a responsible citizen, but do not concede. Do not forget the values that you had fought for, the words you and your parents have repeated over and over again — the fight is not over; and it never will be. The leader may rise over us but please, when a mistake occurs our nation cannot afford any more mistakes. I may have lost hope but that does not mean we let the collective voices of children who cry out and demand more fall silent.
Piece by piece, his sins may be picked up and forgiven; piece by piece we see the embrace of frugality and charisma entrenched in planned-out strokes of hand. He raises the flag with a firm grip and the colors of red and blue reflect unto the rooftops, beaming at the rising sun – our minds and hearts heed out his call; but the moment that a bloodstain falls upon the glory of white the doors must remain open and the windows must be stained with the desire to seek out more. The crown has tainted your heart with sin; wipe it off and rinse the ashes but do not forget the way your hands drizzled under the pouring spate.
Of course, I am open to Duterte’s change and although I do not hold respect for him I am welcome to see what he can do to improve this country. Investments towards the peso have improved and certain foreign countries are excited to see the changes that the new government would bring upon the Philippine nation – but I cannot let go of the past and the lives that still have no justice brought upon them. It is a sad reality and a wish for me to make a difference in this world, for my voice to be heard and for people to never forget the lives that were taken and the people who had fled.
Sins are easily forgiven; but why must we forget?
Above all, to the overwhelming majority of the population that decides my generation’s future; I am nothing but a child. The moment my age is silenced they care to debate with me on equal grounds and as soon as my mouth strikes and they delve into a history that is not theirs — my credibility is lost and sunken. Again and again, I am exposed to the palpable lies that emanate; that ground me as an individual and take away my freedom as a being. There is nothing more infuriating than having a chance to speak out, to show the world the thoughts that you have once been bottling in — releasing them in a flurry, so rampant and radiant since you have been bottling them up and keeping them in folded up nooks — only for your opinions to be disregarded because you are “young” and “don’t know when you’re talking about.” The amount of times I have argued with someone and distinctly been more factual than them; only for the other to blabber and resign from hearing my opinions just because I am young is astounding. Nevertheless, I know that they are not worthy of the opinions I have to offer, I am fully aware that they are not worth the time to speak to. Despite it all, it’s so paralyzing to see that my age is a tablet, encoded in it a law; do not listen or hear the voice that it resonates from. Time and time, I stand up and prove myself only to be shunned by people who refuse to accept the truth. The pride in getting educated by a child far younger than them; the patronizing superiority in their tone as they tell me to be quiet – the muttered words through text and emoticons, this is the world as I know it.
Despite it all, we all know the tantamount truth in a child’s cry. There is always more reason behind it than gibberish, jargon has never been the key in an age of fast-paced rhetoric. Behind every shush lies a symphony of thoughts that cloud the minds of the anti-outspoken. We beg for release; we beg for our nation.
As of now, I have tried to veer away from the elections and the drama regarding the political process. I am enraged, I am far from content with the actions and words that my fellow countrymen have given me. The words uttered by people of utmost familiarity with me have struck my heart – it’s brought to my attention the people I should keep in touch with and the people with views and ways of life that veer from the ideal nature of serenity that continues to make my heartbeat pound at its rhythmic pace.
They say that you shouldn’t lose friends over electoral feuds – but in a way, this grave matter brings out the most in people. You see the ones who couldn’t give a fuck about the state of our country – the concerning ones; perhaps they are silent and do not wish to share their opinions in fear of an array of reasons, perhaps others simply do not have interest in political dabs at all. The latter had been the same for me except upon recognition of the severity of these events and how some candidates truly would sway the workings of the Philippines in a matter of time. I suggest that although in truth – events like this shouldn’t make you lose people – it opens your eyes to who forgives rape and says that “boys will be boys”, it opens your mind to those who tell you to simply move on from the past of martial law or urge you to shut up simply because they are tired of the same opinions repeated like a broken record. It opens your eyes to those who are truly concerned about the state of their nation; for it affects their generation – those who fall under a category that is educated by more than just social media rants and extremist comments. It opens your eyes to the people who you deem as social every-now-and-thens to the ones you picture yourself gazing under the starlight with, moving on from debates over the yellow ribbons and enclosed fists to the workings of the universe and beyond – deep shit like that.
Nextly, in all honesty – I had never expected politics to be as interesting as it is. As boring as it may seem to others, I find it intriguing to see people’s difference stances on issues that I myself are still slowly discovering. We entrust so much and expect so much from people when they really are ones just like us – human and still figuring out everything. You can’t expect a leader to be well-versed in every single topic; yet they have to dabble in almost everything to sort things out. Neither did I expect it to be as… dumb and sad to discuss, bias is prevalent and sometimes certain parties (ahem) are associated with negative connotations; it brings me so much sadness to see perfectly capable and qualified candidates who have shown a background of sincerity and genuinity be cursed at. (Ahem, Leni.) There are countless people who refuse to vote for her simply because she is associated with the liberal party; though I may be a bit of a hypocrite since I detest Bongbong because of his family name (although you know – being directly associated with lots of tragedies during that time) but then again, I view him as far less qualified.
Lastly, the lack of a voice I have is again; the most frustrating thing.
This was a child’s cry, this is everything that she stands for reduced to irritations and nuances that will never truly dissipate. This is a child who is watching her country unfold before her, two years before she can participate in the decision of her future. A child who is agitated in a world that is so clearly unjust.
Perhaps one day, a cry would no longer be a cry – it would be a statement, a whisper in the wind yet heeded by the masses. Situated on a wooden podium, the floor creaks with uncertainty and fear of change — but the voice reverberates, resonating akin to a paean for a nation. An ode from a cry, a prayer to the psalms. The cry in its becoming — is a message of corroboration.
Above all, the flag waves in the wind; unyielding to the words.