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Filipino first

Posted on Facebook on Sept. 22, 2016

But for the very, very first time I am a Filipino first. I’ve lost my blinders and I’m trying to see my country for what it is.

Unlike the Dutertard, unlike the Yellowtard, I do not have the convenience and the comfort of blind love or blind hate: Just when I feel so right, something happens and I feel so wrong or just when I suspect I am so wrong, I suddenly feel so right.

I’m sorry, my friends, that some of you feel so offended. I wish we could carry on just talking about books or our travels or the latest Michelin-star restaurant to hit town, but I’m  different now.

I am no longer blind to the state of my country and yet… and yet… no longer blind I grope in the dark. Like you I have great many fears, they are sinister shadows around the small fire by which I am trying to see more clearly.

I am trying my best not to make this about Rodrigo Duterte, only the President of the Republic of the Philippines, though I think it started, as I stood there at his miting de avance, surrounded by over a million strange faces, not a single one familiar to me, except the two friends I was with.

It was there, with Muslims, farmers, people speaking in a variety of languages and dialects, people from all walks of life, that I started to wonder what my role was in all of this, not a bystander watching things unfold from a safe distance, not a viewer from some make-believe ivory tower, not one who can say and who wants to say all my bags are packed I’m ready to go.

For the first time I really care about this country, and no longer in some fantastical way like I wish we had the New York subway or I wish we were like Paris.

All I want now is for our garbage collectors to have a little dignity in their labors. If we can’t give them enough money to afford modest housing, enough food on their table, enough money to send their kids to school just yet, we can start by giving them masks, gloves, rubber boots.

I’m just tired of privileged people, even past Presidents, saying it will trickle down just you wait as if we were in a dining hall and the rest of us who do not have an invite or a seat allocation just have to wait until we’re done with our meal so they can help themselves to the leftover.

I’m just holding on to the one chance we have that can uplift the life of the Filipinos at the bottom of the chain, who has the political will to go down there, an arm reaching down to the lowest of the gutter, if he has to keep the other arm up in the air with a dirty finger to all those wincing, cringing, screaming yuck how low!

 

The author is on Twitter and Instagram as @aapatawaran and on Facebook as Arnel Patawaran.

But for the very, very first time I am a Filipino first. I’ve lost my blinders and I’m trying to see my country for what it is.

Unlike the Dutertard, unlike the Yellowtard, I do not have the convenience and the comfort of blind love or blind hate: Just when I feel so right, something happens and I feel so wrong or just when I suspect I am so wrong, I suddenly feel so right.

I’m sorry, my friends, that some of you feel so offended. I wish we could carry on just talking about books or our travels or the latest Michelin-star restaurant to hit town, but I’m  different now.

I am no longer blind to the state of my country and yet… and yet… no longer blind I grope in the dark. Like you I have great many fears, they are sinister shadows around the small fire by which I am trying to see more clearly.

I am trying my best not to make this about Rodrigo Duterte, only the President of the Republic of the Philippines, though I think it started, as I stood there at his miting de avance, surrounded by over a million strange faces, not a single one familiar to me, except the two friends I was with.

It was there, with Muslims, farmers, people speaking in a variety of languages and dialects, people from all walks of life, that I started to wonder what my role was in all of this, not a bystander watching things unfold from a safe distance, not a viewer from some make-believe ivory tower, not one who can say and who wants to say all my bags are packed I’m ready to go.

For the first time I really care about this country, and no longer in some fantastical way like I wish we had the New York subway or I wish we were like Paris.

All I want now is for our garbage collectors to have a little dignity in their labors. If we can’t give them enough money to afford modest housing, enough food on their table, enough money to send their kids to school just yet, we can start by giving them masks, gloves, rubber boots.

I’m just tired of privileged people, even past Presidents, saying it will trickle down just you wait as if we were in a dining hall and the rest of us who do not have an invite or a seat allocation just have to wait until we’re done with our meal so they can help themselves to the leftover.

I’m just holding on to the one chance we have that can uplift the life of the Filipinos at the bottom of the chain, who has the political will to go down there, an arm reaching down to the lowest of the gutter, if he has to keep the other arm up in the air with a dirty finger to all those wincing, cringing, screaming yuck how low!

The author is on Twitter and Instagram as @aapatawaran and on Facebook as Arnel Patawaran.