For years, thinking of our OFW kababayan made me bleed—they who’ve been forced to leave hearth and home, all things familiar to venture into strange—and often, dangerous lands— just so they could provide decently for their families.
In airports, in parks, all over the world, I would see them huddled together, speaking in fearful tones, with eyes that longed for loved ones they had left back home.
They took care of other people’s children, leaving their own children behind and they wiped asses and scrubbed toilets and took heaps of shit from their foreign bosses. Physical abuse, rape, maltreatment, overworked, underpaid—on and on and on.
But as horrible as all that was, nowhere did they take more shit than from their own government–these callous bastards who sat in office and called them ‘heroes’ while receiving with open arms the dollars they brought in.
And yet, when these ‘heroes’ were in trouble, this government turned blind, deaf, mute and left them to their own devices.
And who among us here have not felt our hearts crack open at the sight in the evening news of an OFW coming home in a coffin, having died from either heinous causes or “mysterious” circumstances. “Mysterious” being the shorthand for rape, murder by pushing off a building, burns, stab wounds.
The endless parade of coffins.
And you saw it clearly too: a government that didn’t care one way or the other or was too inept to get to the bottom of the whole thing.
And for all those years that this government called them ‘heroes’ for rescuing our economy, each and every time that they did, it made me want to puke.
A most inept government putting in harm’s way their own citizens because it couldn’t and wouldn’t do its job properly. A shameless government that asked its own citizens to do their jobs for them while they fattened their asses and lived luxurious lives.
Kinda like the lazy bum of a parent who pimps his own children.
How could other governments treat our OFWs with respect and decency when their own government cared nothing for them? Kicking Filipinos was like kicking kittens. No one championed them, least of all their sitting presidents.
We were powerless, helpless, vulnerable.
And it was our government that made us so.
And quite suddenly, last night, I heard stranded, unemployed OFWs were being brought home–only this time, it was the President of the land who wanted them home and did all he could to make sure they got home. His directive clear as day: that no cost, no resource be spared to bring the stranded home.
And just a few hours ago, the first 128 of our countrywomen/countrymen landed on Philippine soil, met by no less than the President who opened his arms to them and told them he will do his best for them, jobs will be created, loans made available to them and that the first order of the day for them was to go home to the loving embrace of their family and rest.
A first in the history of this country.
And you ask us, and you are positively mystified, “Why, why, why why do you love Duterte??”
And this. THIS. THIS. IS WHY.
His heart– his big, beautiful, magnificent– heart is for us. Squarely, solidly, clearly for us, the people he has sworn to protect and serve. He has gone where no other president before him has gone and it’s not even been 2 months.
He takes the long forgotten Filipinos in his arms, the ones who have been invisible to the powers-that-be and he says, I see you. I hear you. I will take care of you now.
And I know that sounds melodramatic to a lot of you but it’s no less melodramatic than the Digong Duterte gesture of kissing the flag and raising his hand in a fist because like me, like a whole lot of us, he is enraged at the abuse Filipinos have had to endure in the hands of the very people tasked to protect them AND FOR DECADES.
And you ask me why I love this man.
And I will tell you.
Today I saw him welcome in a most loving embrace the forgotten, the very people my heart has bled for for decades. And I know he will do his best for them –just as he will for us.
And he will take that long shot so no Filipino ever leaves again but stays in the Motherland to live out their best lives here, in the loving embrace of their family.
A truly long shot. And he might not make it.
But right here, right now, I know where I stand –by this President as he endeavors to do the impossible for our country.