Before you get into this entry, let me eradicate your expectation. This isn’t some puff piece of how I felt growing up here in the Philippines (if you really want to read something like that, you can read one of my entries). This is about what it’s like growing up under President Duterte. When I came up with this idea, I didn’t want this to become a political piece. I also don’t want to use theories and ideas from Political Science since this is not what this site is for. Of course, I won’t spurt out baseless ideas without facts.
This essay was inspired by The Learning Network’s prompt: Is It Harder to Grow Up in the 21st Century Than It Was in the Past? There is also an Opinion piece written by David Brooks titled A Generation Emerging From the Wreckage. You should give that a read as well since that helped me frame my mind for this entry. And if you don’t know about President Duterte, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published The Duterte Administration: Year in Review. It’s not a complete picture, but it’s a great place to start.
All things I say are purely my opinions and my observations, but I will never make assumptions based on nothing. So to answer the title, it’s very frustrating and extremely disappointing to be growing up in this regime. When people vote for a person, they place trust in that person and the institution to lift people’s standard of living (in my personal opinion, the standard of living is what all governments of the world should focus on improving). However, I don’t see that happening with Duterte’s administration. When he was still running for president, I was actually still hopeful of the change he promised. He’s definitely known for wielding an iron fist, but I thought that discipline could be a good wakeup call for all politicians. In fact, I even wrote a paper on it.
One of the earliest blunders of Duterte was the campaign of War On Drugs (read the latest article* from the Inquirer and Rappler). This campaign was supposed to “clean” the Philippines of drugs, but it has set a veil of fear over the population. No one knows who’s going to die next. It could be someone we know like a friend or a neighbour. Small-time drug dealers and unfortunate innocents get shot without prejudice, yet alleged big game drug lords are getting some form of special treatment (read the articles from Inquirer, CNN Philippines, and Rappler).
So there’s a state of fear, anger, uncertainty, mistrust, and disappointment. But I think what’s most frustrating is that people are now afraid to speak out since there’s a possibility of being shot. Last year, Ateneo de Manila University had a rally outside the campus calling to stop the extrajudicial killing, but they were met with a police car with no license plate (read the article on The Guidon and The Inquirer).
One paragraph of Brooks’ essay actually does ring true to the young generation of the Philippines:
The students spent a lot of time debating how you organize an effective movement. One pointed out that today’s successful movements, like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, don’t have famous figureheads or centralized structures. Some students embraced these dispersed, ground-up and spontaneous organizations. If they flame out after a few months, so what? They did their job. Others thought that, no, social movements have to grow institutional structures if they are going to last, and they have to get into politics if they are going to produce any serious change.
In my previous post, I talked about why I had low political participation, but I guess I forgot to mention the dangerous environment where free speech could be seen as a weapon against the government. But there are young individuals like Sarah Elago who has gotten into politics, and I can’t wait to see what kind of change she can bring. I guess I should add ‘being hopeful’ as one of the answers to my main question.