(Random incoherent thoughts)
I haven’t blogged in a long time, despite this constant longing to share my thoughts on everything that has been happening in the past few years. I used to see this blog as my personal journal, a place where I can speak of things that might be of interest to my sons when they’re old enough to see the world with grown-up eyes.
But life got in the way.
I’ve failed to tell my stories, like when Mari was born in 2018 and the challenges that came before and after that moment, or when Mikku first attended play school and the first time he ever displayed anger and disappointment. Or that day after Mari’s first birthday, when he insisted on grabbing the spoon from his mom so he could eat his food himself, even if not so successfully. Stories of Mikku and Mari that Hana and I will continue to cherish until we grow old.
For the past few years, I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with social media. I’ve tried my best to avoid it because of others’ outright negativity, and the negativity produced by those obsessed with overt display of wealth and happiness. I guess I’m better off in pseudo-solitude with just my family.
In the past several months though, I’ve been more active on Twitter and Facebook mostly because of the need to speak on matters concerning Philippine society and politics. Back in 2016, I feared that Rodrigo Duterte would win and with it cause a dangerous descent in societal values. But I had to calm myself and tried to be positive:
It’s done. Duterte will be president, and we all need to be part of the country’s next chapter. That’s how democracy works.
The popular (though not majority) vote won, it was what more Filipinos yearned for.
Keep in mind though, that it’s not necessarily what is right. But who are we to discern wrong from right? It used to be a moral question. But democracy makes no guarantees for morality, decency, integrity, or human dignity, it is just a mechanism to ensure that the popular concerns, decided by the bigger crowd, prevail.
The crowd has chosen. Time will tell if the crowd was right.
(This is a commentary on democracy and Philippine society today, in 2016. If you see it as an attack, read up on how democracy works.)
After all, it was in my (and every Filipino’s) interest if my fears turn out to be wrong, and he ends up being the salvation of the Filipino people.
But with so many things happening since then, I’ve yet to find the answers that prove me wrong. With COVID-19 suddenly in our midst in 2020, politics should’ve been less important with public health and safety the only focus of every leader in every country on Earth. I’d like to believe Duterte’s people always had good intentions, but even with that, I’m under the impression that they performed sub-par in the primary things they should’ve focused on, like mass testing and taking care of the most needy.
It comes as a surprise that with more pressing problems around us, this administration has felt the need to legislate an Anti-Terrorism Bill that is ambiguous and dangerously broad in scope. I may cite the dangers of how it is written, or how uncalled for it is during this time, but it wouldn’t matter. It will likely be signed into law. With its imperfections, it may take away civil liberties for most, along with the physical liberty of others.
To be very fair, many of the problems in the Philippines already existed before Duterte. He did not create inequality, or the feudal dynamics that always disadvantaged the poor and the middle class. In fact, he was elected on the promise of being the cure to Philippine society’s ills. Knowing these things, they shouldn’t feel bad if people complain. Democracies are basically characterized by dissenting voices, many simply venting out and may be left ignored or addressed at a more proper time. More importantly, all winning politicians always fail to live up to their promise. After all, it’s the people who set the expectations in their imaginative minds, the same people who get to grade your performance based on what they directly felt, individually.
When the anti-terror bill becomes law, the most disadvantaged Filipinos may also feel they no longer have the right to speak and make their grievances felt and heard. When all we have is hopelessness, can’t we be left with our indignation and a voice to speak with, screaming in ignored misery?
The coming months of 2020 will be crucial for the whole world as we all make sense of this pandemic. With that concern in our minds, we Filipinos will also have a bit more to worry about. Many of us will now choose to be silent, finding peace in the few options available. And then there’s the Bible, like in Psalm 37:
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
When life throws you lemons…