I am in General Santos City right now to pay my last respects to a beloved uncle. To weep and yet too, to celebrate the singular life of a faithful public servant, my Uncle Sol.
And have you ever been to Mindanao? Because if you haven’t and all you know about it is whatever you’ve read in the papers, it might be hard for you to understand and believe the next few things I am going to tell you.
GenSan is exhilirating.
Mindanao is exhilirating.
From the plane window, just before we landed, I could see the vast expanse of rolling fertile mountains and I could see where the sea kisses the sky. And I need to catch my breath from the amazement of it all.
We touch ground and I am off the plane and standing on Mindanao soil, soil of my forebears–where, in fact, my father and mother first met and fell madly in love–where therefore, the seed of my possibility was born.
Where I am welcomed in the loving embrace of my huge family and where my mind blows a gasket for the feast they prepare– the freshest catch, fruits that make me close my eyes in delight from the first moment I take a bite till I am good and done, hours later.
Here, no one has any difficulty understanding Rodrigo Roa Duterte because they speak the same earthy language of simple folk- the same kind of language that values action far more than it does beautiful words.
Indeed, here in Mindanao, half an action done is way better than all the flowery speeches in the entire galaxy. No one loses sleep over the President’s putanginas that have the disente crowd’s panties up in a bunch because here is where he has made millions of lives better.
I feel an exhiliration I don’t feel when I am in Manila.
Manila, where my soul gets beaten to a bloody pulp just because the sky and sea are so far from me and where I die a little each second.
Where I am constantly near tears because I feel so cutoff from what it is that nourishes me down to my soul’s roots: Mother Nature in all her glory and wild splendor.
Manila where we don’t think twice about cutting down trees that have been around far longer than we’ve been around because we’ve become so unmindful of the Earth that sustains us.
We’ve traded the calm splendor of what it is we’re truly made of–wild dreams and possibilities—for our 30 pieces of silver.
We’re so cut off from each other because we’re so cut off from our Selves because we’re so cut off from Nature. We don’t hear each other because we don’t hear our Selves because we no longer have the kind of silence and solitude only being in a secluded beach can give us.
And I am happy to say Mindanao still has so much of all these vast spaces that nurture greatness and strength.
I am happy the new President is from Mindanao.
Besides making Manila-centric politicos jumpy and giving them the inconvenience and the hassle of having to trudge to the new Malacanang now located in Davao on weekends, I love that FINALLY, Mindanao’s time has come.
Because for years it was relegated to the dustbin. When one said “Mindanao’, the words that swim in the average Filipino’s mind would be ‘war’ ‘bloodshed’ ‘extreme poverty’. And all that would have been true. Because Mindanao was merely some pawn in the deadly game politicians and generals played.
Something they could use for political gain.
Not beloved, not precious.
Not the jewel that it is for all the rich natural resources that foreigners have stolen from us through the years. And for which we’ve paid through our teeth –with the spilling of blood of our Lumad/Moro/IP brothers and sisters.
So yes, I am exceedingly, brimmingly happy Rodrigo Roa Duterte is a son of Mindanao.
And that finally, a son of Mindanao is president of this land.
I sit back and quietly take in the majesty of Saranggani Bay because finally, oh, FINALLY.
I see Mindanao rising.
**photo by Nikita Dacera**