The 2016 Elections and campaign has definitely brought out the best and worst in us. It has shown us our monsters and demons and it has forced us to look deep within ourselves. It has been quite a journey for me as a member of #TeamDuterte.
Late last year, questions started to pour. Everywhere I went, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, people would ask me if Duterte would be running for President. And all I could say was “I really don’t know.” Fact is I really didn’t know back then. Come the deadline of Filing for the Certificate of Candidacy, Duterte did not file a Certificate for Candidacy. A lot of people were disappointed. I wasn’t. I was relieved. People kept the faith. May pag-asa pa raw. Ako naman umaasa na “‘Wag na lang, please.” My biggest problem back then was, “sino na ngayon ang susuportahan ko?”
And then it happened. Duterte filed his Certificate for Candidacy as substitute to Mr Martin Diño. ARGH! I said to myself. What an exciting time but it also get me much anxiety. And sometime December 2015, I was invited to a meeting. I thought it was just a meet and greet but it turned out to be an invitation to join the Team Duterte Media Central fulltime. I was hesitant but I dove right in and said yes. I thought “it would be an amazing once in a lifetime experience.”
And boy did I get more than what I bargained for. Much, much more.
Rodrigo R. Duterte is not an easy candidate to campaign for and support. To be honest, I had doubts and hesitations but I accepted the call to volunteer because of my Daddy who has retired from politics but remains 100% committed to support Mayor Duterte with whom he work with as VM for four terms. I also accepted because of Sir Peter Laviña and Mayor Jun Evasco. I have known Mayor Jun for many years and I know him as a honest and sincere public servant who never sought glory, fame, or power. And I knew Sir Peter back when he was a councilor blogger. He was, as far as I know, the first politician blogger in the Philippines and one of the first in the world, and he used his blog to make the government closer to its citizens. If Sir Jun and Sir Pete wholeheartedly supported Duterte, then I should, too.
So yes, I was a hesitant campaigner. I resolved to keep my wall posts to a minimum. And if possible, I would never post anything negative and inflammatory. And I told myself to always keep the Bloggers for Duterte in check. Kalma lang tayo. That was something I always told them.
Early on, I wanted to quit. It was just too much. It was beyond my comprehension how our candidate would refuse to temper his statements, how he would seldom heed our calls for tact, and how he would just speak his mind without regard for the on going campaign. Nakakapikon. Galisod mi convince sa mga tao unya siya wala siya pakialam. (Insert many, many curses here.) I was pissed off. I was angry. I was frustrated. And his statement about burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was the last straw for me. TOO MUCH! Di na makaya. I gave myself a deadline. I was going to quit by the end of February 2016. During a meeting of bloggers and Media Central members, the bloggers were asked one by one if they had any doubts. And they all answered no. They were all 100% all in. Duterte Cayetano all the way. Nahiya ako. I told them I was scheduled to quit but that I was now having doubts because di ko sila kayang iwan sa ere. They gave me another reason to hold on and keep moving.
And it has been very rewarding. More and more people expressed their support for Duterte. Survey results kept getting better. Best of all, people were starting to get angry. They started to see everything wrong about the government and they started to ask and demand for more. Dumami ang Pilipino na humihingi at kumampanya para sa TUNAY NA PAGBABAGO. Lami pud sa feeling na somehow I was part of that. I could not claim to have a big role in the campaign because no matter how stressed and no matter how little sleep and rest I got, there were hundreds more volunteers working even harder. Without pay and without the promise of favor, mind you.
But it was also taxing. Kapoy gyud kaayo. The black propaganda, mud, and dirt did not hurt as a campaigner, but I was offended as a Davaoeño, as a Filipino, as a human being. How dare they?! PAANO NILA NAIISIP NA GAWIN YAN? SAAN NILA NAKUKUHA ANG MGA KWENTONG YAN? BAKIT GANYAN SILA MAG-ISIP?
A lot of Davaoeños like me didn’t want Duterte to run for President. We anticipated it would be stressful for him. We foresaw how much mud would be thrown at him. But never in our wildest imagination did we anticipate that our beloved Davao City, our home would be so blatantly attacked with lies, unfounded accusations, and fabricated stories. Nakakasakit ng damdamin. Davao City is the home that nurtured and raised us. It is our safe haven. How dare you destroy our home with your lies? How dare you accuse our Mayor of wrongdoings of which you do not have proof of? Inutil ba kayo? Higit na dalawampung taon na nagsilbi si Duterte as a public servant of Davao City. Kung totoong kurakot siya, kung totoong mamamatay tao siya, kung totoong abusado at masamang tao siya, kayo na nasa national position, bakit wala kayong nagawa para kasuhan siya at para matanggal siya? BAKIT? Kung may agam-agam kayo sa pagkatao niya at sa pamamalakad niya, bakit ngayon lang? HOW DARE YOU INSULT OUR HOME AND OUR LEADER?! Hindi lang siya ang iniinsulto niyo dito kung di bawat Davaoeño na pinagsilbihan at inaruga niya.
I was excited for Holy Week 2016. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “siguro naman kahit ilang araw lang, itong Semana Santa, tahimik muna ang buhay.” But I was wrong. I was so, so, soooo wrong. Black propaganda and bad news came left and right, all day, everyday during Holy Week. And then it happened. I had a meltdown. I spent Easter Sunday ranting and cursing to a group of friends. I was livid and could not calm down. I was in tears and could not stop crying. I cried myself to sleep. Medyo OA sa totoo lang. Actually hindi medyo… TALAGANG OA.
Pero eto yun eh, it has become personal. Insults came from all sides, accusing us of being Dutertards, of being stupid, shallow, indecent, morally ambiguous, and so much more. Bang! Bang! Bang! Walang tigil sila sa pagtira na tila baga sila lang ang tama, sila lang ang marunong mag-isip, sila lang ang mabuti. Ang may iilan na bastos at walang puso magsalita. May isang gagawa or magsasalita ng mali, lalahatin agad. Despite the fact that we’re the only campaign team to constantly remind our supporters to be respectful and not to bully. KAMI PA RIN ANG MALI.
Pero keri lang… ganun talaga. Galit ang mamamayan. Galit na galit. Pagod na ang mamamayan. Ilang taon din nilang kinimkim ang kanilang mga saloobin. I do not claim to be impoverished or that I grew up lacking. I had my family problems and personal struggles but my pains are no match for the daily struggles of many Filipinos. Kahit na di ko napagdaanan yung mga pinagdadaanan nila, pilit ko silang iniintindi. Gaya nang di ko man maintindihan ang karamihan sa mga sumusuporta sa ibang kandidato, pilit ko pa rin silang iniintindi. It’s part of the job. More importantly, yan ang pagiging makatao.
Duterte is not a perfect person. Pero eto yung na-appreciate ko sa kanya. Kung ano yung nakikita at naririnig natin ngayon, yun siya. Yun ang totoong siya. Hindi siya gaya ng isang manliligaw na best foot forward to impress at makuha ang oo mo. Tapos pag nakapag-commit ka na eh may tinatagong sungay pala. What you see is what you get. Ganun talaga siya. No pretensions. Walang branding. Walang bola.
Ang dami nang binato. Ganito, ganun, baka eto ang mangyari… so on, so forth. But we remain steadfast. Not because we are blind or deaf or stupid. We do not condone his sins. Our loyalty to him is testament not just to how much we trust and love him but more so to how little we trust the other candidates.
Galit ang tao. Sobra na ang pagpapahirap. Sabi ng iba asan daw ang plataporma sa ekonomiya? Baka raw mag-crash nanaman ang Philippine economy. That’s a legitimate question. But you see, yung majority sa mga taong gutom, pagod, naabuso, at takot, hindi yan ang prioridad nila. Hindi ang pagyaman ng Pilipinas ang mahalaga, kung di ang pagkakapantay-pantay ng bawat Pilipino. Kung mayaman nga ang bansa pero nananatiling mahirap ang karamihan sa Pilipino, para que?
Kung mayaman nga ang Pilipinas at marangal at magaling daw ang mga lider nito, bakit hinahayang naabuso ang karamihan sa mga Pilipino? Bakit hinahayaang maraming umaabuso? Bakit hangang ngayon, maraming batas ang Pilipinas na hindi ipinapasatupad? Bakit umiiral ang bulok na sistema ng gobyerno na nahahayaang mamuno ang mga korupt na lider?
Change does not happen in a day. Neither does progress. Pero eto yun eh. Di pa nga naihalal si Duterte, marami nang pagbabago sa paligid natin. Whether we like it or not, whether you support Duterte or not, you have been changed by these elections? Rinding-rindi, pagod na pagod, at asar na asar ka na sa walang sawang politics sa Facebook, Twitter, and even IRL. Ako hindi pa ako nagsasawa. My wish is people continue to be this passionate. Not for politics, but for the country. May we always be concerned about our country and about our citizens. Some of us may go back to posting and discussing entertainment and other less serious things after May 9. Pero hindi maikakaila that each one of us has been changed by these elections forever. Could this have happened if Duterte did not run and if his supporters aren’t as passionate as they have been? I doubt it. Aminin mo, you and your perspectives have been challenged. Di man nagbago desisyon mo, kahit papaano, napaisip ka.
Some people say, let us not unfriend or lose friendships over this. I beg to differ. These elections have brought out the best and worst in people. Hindi ito isang bagay na good for a few months lang or temporary. Yung mga ginawa natin, mga nasabi natin are reflections of who we really are. And I do not mean unfriending because of a difference in opinion. But there are people na come on, masama pala talaga ang pag-uugali. Do still want to be friends with these people? Nasasayo na yan. Me? I have not unfriended or blocked anybody yet. But I have changed how I feel about some people, from all camps.
A lot of Davaoeños say, kebs. Bahala kayo. Ayaw niyo kay Duterte, matalo man siya, keribells. Padayon ang pag uswag sa Davao. Again, I beg to differ. It has been so hard for us to have been called brainless retards who do not know better. Some of us say, maayo pa wala nato gi-share si Mayor. Mali. Mahirap man. At masakit. Napakasakit. We have to share. Because we have had it good for so long and we know that every Filipino deserves what we have not appreciated for a long time. Tama na ang pag-iisip lamang para sa sarili. Bayan naman!
I believe that whatever the outcome, talo ang Davaoeños. Should Mayor Duterte win, the haters will continue to hate and spew venom. Ihanda niyo ang sarili niyo. Should Mayor Duterte lose, the entire nation loses. Us included. As what my Daddy says when he campaigns for Duterte, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is a once in a century kind of leader. If he loses, it will take hundreds of years more before the Philippines will have another opportunity to have someone like him lead us. Let us not waste this opportunity.
Sa huli, pag nanalo man si Duterte, wag nating kaligtaan na may tungkulin tayo sa ating bayan. Utang ni Duterte sa atin ang kanyang pagkapanalo, wag natin siyang hayaan at iwanan. Paalalahanan natin siya na tuparin ang kanyang mga pangako at gawin ang kanyang tungkulin ng tapat, marangal, at walang napapabayaan.
This May 9, do not vote wisely. Vote with your conscience. Vote with the Philippine nation and EVERY FILIPINO in mind.
I would like to thank Sir Peter L, Sir Jun E, Sir Paul D, Sir John T, and the entire Media Central Team for this opportunity to serve with you. I has been an honor and an invaluable life experience that I will treasure.
And I would like to acknowledge everybody in my team, officially and unofficially, all the bloggers and social media influencers who have helped my job become easier and who have inspired me to do better:
- Ace, Crislyn, Robert, Josef, Sunshine, Aldwin, Chito, Clau, Sp, Sarah A, Sarah D, Angel, Julie A, Julie E, Floraine, Algene, Miel, Emafe, Athina, April, and Naprey
- Orman Manansala and Nino
- Eric Su and Reisa Su
- Donna Congson and the Congson family
- Kyrie, Cathy, and Chiclet
- RB, Kezia, SB, Verna, Anna G, Vanessa M, CP, Glen S, Pau, Mark C, A, Anna A, Arjay, Lovely, and Madie
- Brendel and Lyle
- Mark Macanas, Jeffrey and Jen Aspacio
- Valerie, Mary Jane, and Tim
- Sinjin, NT, Edcel and Sheena
- Jay Jaboneta
- Mon Cualoping
- Kevin Maglinte and Rodel Montebon
- Alexander and Lovette
- Ruby, Phebie, Mike, Macky, Em, and Jacqs
- and the many, many, many Filipinos here and abroad who have campaigned on social media.
I am overwhelmed and inspired by your tireless efforts and unwavering dedication. Sa simula pa lang, walang nagtanong ng tungkol sa pera at walang humingi ng credit. You are my rock. Salamat sa oras, pawis, at dugo na inyong walang sawang iginugol sa kampanyang ito. My heart overflows with gratitude. Daghang salamat gyud kaayo!