It must be my disposition, but I am vehemently against the notion of authoritarian rule. Which is (maybe) somewhat hypocritical of me, because I am now living, working in and enjoying the comforts of a country with such a form of government (what can be more authoritarian than an absolute monarchy?).
Recently, my country has decided to elect as president a man who espouses his preference for a more “dictatorial” style of management. It has perplexed the “intellectual” segments of my country, we in our so-called ivory towers, who are removed from the daily toils and travails of the hoi polloi.
But hey, once upon a time (a little less than 6 months ago, in fact), I was part of the hoi polloi. I was suffering the daily hell of MRT/LRT, the woes of Metro Manila traffic, the fragmented public health care system, the epal faces of politicians as pictured in those ubiquitous tarpaulins … Just six months ago, I was bemoaning all that was wrong with Pnoy’s government.
And then I left.
(And I found that I can’t vote in this country I have fled to because I was late for the registration — but that’s another story.)
Deep in my guts, I knew it was only a matter of time that someone like Rodrigo Duterte would win as president of the Philippines. We are a country who elected Erap, after all — and in a landslide win, at that.
We are a country who believes the social media machine of the Marcoses that is popularizing the revisionist idea that Martial Law was God’s gift to the Philippines. (ha ha, it was a gift that left me with a debt to be paid to foreign lending agencies until 2025!)
We are a country whose children do not know who Apolinario Mabini is, let alone that he was paralyzed.
We are a country whose people leave. That includes me, of course.
Once upon a time, in 1982 — Marcos was still in power and Ninoy was still alive; when the peso was plummeting and the economy was in shambles; when thousands of would-be youth leaders have either been “salvaged”, tortured or disappeared, a certain US Secretary of State was rumored to have said this: “The Philippines is a nation of 40 million cowards and one son-of-a-bitch.”
Well, George Schultz, it is now 2016, and the Philippines is a nation of 100 million people. I do not know if Mr. Duterte will prove to be a son-of-a-bitch (whatever that term may mean), but a lot of us are still cowards (or lazy … or deluded … or all of the above).