What Is It like to Grow up in the Philippines?

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.

Vladimir Putin and the EU

This was a midterm speech I made for my course in European Foreign Policy. I was supposed to play the role of Vladimir Putin and his views towards the EU. I may have edited this version a bit.

My highly esteemed associates,

I want to thank you all for being here this morning. I admire your dedication to openly discuss matters of the EU, the states that are involved in it and the citizens that reside in them.

A few weeks ago, my colleagues and I, President Barroso and President Van Rompuy, have just finished the EU – Russian Summit. We have discussed many avenues into deepening the relations between Russia and the EU. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 2008 with the EU has given us some improvement, and we would want to deepen economic integration and coöperation even more. Therefore, we are looking into the possibilities of enhancing and replacing this agreement. The Partnership for Modernisation is in implementation, and in due time we will see advancement in investment and trade, technical standards, and sustainable low-carbon economy promotion. The EU – Russia Energy Roadmap 2050, signed by the EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Russian Minister for Energy Alexander Novak, is focused on ensuring energy security and fair energy distribution to both EU and Russia while maintaining a transparent and competitive market. Human Rights in Russia have always been aligned with the EU. The mobility of Russian and EU citizens, which I will go into detail later on, have been on negotiations for an upgraded visa. This might mean a complete upgrade of the Schengen Visa or something similar; why this does not happen now, I will discuss later on. Of course, the hot topic nowadays is the Syrian crisis and the steadfast willingness of the EU to participate, which I see as completely unnecessary.[1] Continue reading “Vladimir Putin and the EU”

To the Political Parties in My University

http://instagram.com/p/W4KmiAKdf9/

DEAR TAPAT AND SANTUGON,

I passed by your “miting de avance” expecting no more from you, and you’ve met my criteria for low standards. Yes, once again you’ve disappointed me. You stood there, rallying your troops in hopes to convince those who are in the Ampitheatre that you are the better option. Your parties’ population combined was literally more than twice the potential voters who sat, interestingly, between the two parties, acting as a buffer. Your meeting and efforts were practically useless in my opinion. Please, don’t give me that hopeful thought of “Those who were there will spread our ideas and platforms” because they won’t. They’ll probably forget about them when they get home only because there are more important matters to take care of than trying to remember the candidates for college batch president, whose name must have been echoed over and over–to a point where the bearers think of themselves at the third person. Sure enough, you’ll immediately throw Article III Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution (I can hear you googling); I’ll give you credit for that, but just partially since you seem to be taking advantage of it. Speaking of echoing, why are you so intent on getting your own party to echo your ideas–literally echo what you’ve just said. Aren’t you supposed to convince the potential voters? I’ve seen these buffer people; they were most probably sitting there thinking, “Oh, this is rather entertaining. I’m glad I came here to kill time,” or perhaps, “Why are they saying it again? I heard you the first time.” One thing is sure; they were just sitting. I swear, the most enthusiastic people at the “meeting” were those coming from your own parties. You are well aware that your own parties support you, so why excite them more than they already are? You know they’ll vote for the party they represent. Go for the voters for crying out loud! In fact, before initiating the Miting de Avance, make sure that the people who matter the most are the majority. And if you haven’t figured that out by now, they’re the voters. If your current strategies don’t convince the voters otherwise, you should know something’s not right. I’m not saying that you’re doing it wrong–wait. No. I am saying that you are doing it wrong. Just because COMELEC doesn’t set the ‘right’ parameters on how to do your campaign that doesn’t give you the incentive to act like beheaded chickens. Surely, you have the resources to produce original plans. So what if your strategies have been tried and tested! Sir Ken Robinson back in his 2006 TED talk said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Common sense, innovativeness, courage, and creativity seem to have been muted from your repetitive ‘howling technique’. My professors, who spent more years teaching than being an undergrad at DLSU, are always annoyed each time you knock at their doors. Please, don’t think that you’re not bothering us when you are granted permission to campaign in our rooms, because you are a bother.

A friend of mine said that the independent candidate has the most realistic platforms out of all of you; unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure to meet this person. [If you’re interested in his platform, click here.] You can see what you can achieve when you look at students at uni from a different perspective—especially when you see them as students. Get your eyes out of those shades of yellow and orange, and see what the students need and NOT what you THINK the students need.

To H.E. Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing

My professor instructed us to attend a forum on China‘s foreign policy making. She also instructed us to create a paper on it, and here it is.

A Reaction to H.E. Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing

A forum on China’s foreign policy was held last Friday at William Hall Theatre, and the guest of honour was none other than Her Excellency Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing. This forum was held two days after Xi Jinping succeeded as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the highest rank any official could achieve, which was preceeded by China’s current President, Hu Jintao. In all honesty, I was quite surprised that the Ambassador agreed to have this forum when she would most often decline television interviews on the matter of the West Philippine Sea dispute. Most, if not all of us were expecting to hear the Ambassador talk on that issue; although, we partially knew that the forum would not come to that. Tensions are high as they all ready are; I believe that tackling that maritime issue would only ensue more anxiety and degrade the image of the university. There are some details that the Ambassador talked about that came into my attention: 1) the economic improvements of China during its past years, 2) the fact that it is not China’s intention to be a state that expresses aggressive military power, and that 3) China has always been about peace and cooperation with its neighbours. Continue reading “To H.E. Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing”

In Response to Hank Green and the US Election

To which I responded on his channel:

Hello, Hank. I’m a Filipino from the Philippines. And my country and your country have been through hell and back together.

If my history is right, our country was the US’ only colony. Our political system has been adopted from US’ system ever since the Philippine Commonwealth era. During the American colonisation (which happened after the Spanish-American war *the Spanish were our colonisers prior to US*, Spain handed our country to America under the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Then the Philippine-American war [1899-1902] happened) the Jones Law (1916)”…the grant of independence would come only “as soon as a stable government can be established”, which gave the United States Government the power to determine when this “stable government” has been achieved.”

Tydings–McDuffie Act (1934) was a “United States federal law which provided for self-government of the Philippines and for Filipino independence from the United States after a period of ten years.” We didn’t achieve that independence (although we did achieve independence from Spain’s reign from 1521-1898 on June 12, the Philippine’s Independence Day) because of the attack of Manila Bay by the Japanese, this happened one day after the attack of Pearl Harbour. Japan attacked us because we refused their ideology of “Asia for Asians”, basically they wanted to liberate us from the US, but with Tydings–McDuffie Act in effect, the Philippines didn’t believe the Japanese. After the victory of WW2, the Philippines was left in ruins (since our country essentially served as a battle ground for South East Asia.) Afterwards, the Treaty of Manila was signed with the declaration of Philippine independence from the US in July 4, 1946 (the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese for around 3 years in WW2 at one point.)

From the point when the Spaniards captured the Philippines (1521) until the rule of our former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in his 3rd term (martial law, -1986), the Philippines was one of the strongest states in Asia. When Marcos stepped down due to the EDSA revolution, Corazon Aquino became the 11th President of the Philippines, that’s when our state started to decline.

Basically, the Philippines was one of the strongest states in Asia, we were labeled as a tiger economy at one point. The Philippines is now in a state of “soft-political conflict” between the US and the ASEAN plus 3 and most notably China, over the territories of Spratly Islands and parts of the West Philippine Sea or as the world knows it, the South China Sea. Add to the fact that large companies, personalities and the Church have immense influence in domestic politics. The middle to lower class have very little say, but the recent suspension of the anti-cybercrime law (a retweet that deems as “libel” can get you 7 years in prison) by our Supreme Court, was accomplished through the power of Filipino netizens.