Where Digong Is Beloved

My solidly pro Duterte family from GenSan, Cotabato and Davao (solid except for a handful and that’s ok. Democracia!) That’s just about a tenth of us.

This is a family of soft spoken people who value simplicity and education above all else. Highly religious as well. I am the anomaly when it comes to religion and they’ve never given me grief for my decidedly different views.

I must have shocked some of them when I left organized religion. To their credit, they’ve respectfully given me my space.

And I’ve always appreciated this. Not that I needed anyone’s validation with something as personal as religious beliefs- but that when it was given to me by my own family, I never took it for granted– this freedom to believe as I wanted without fear of judgment.

But, as it happens, we do have a few rotten apples in our basket (I bet you do too)– not those who can’t support this president-they are entitled to their own opinions- but those who would try to take us down for our support and yes, love, for this president.

Those with massive issues in their own personal lives that they don’t work on and that they project on the president and his supporters- so they become Hate personified– a ghastly spectacle really. And they ask us to carry their heavy loads of hate that they alone must carry.

I am glad we know now to say, “No thanks. Your basura, you clean it up. Not me.” And then walk away in peace.

And in my family is where the myth of the rabid, unthinking Duterte supporter is debunked.

Sure he is beloved by us- an uncle motorbiked all over the country with the President in their heyday, another uncle used to dorm with him and chased girls and did all sorts of kalokohans and when this uncle lay comatose, Digong stood by his side- and on and on.

A treasure trove of memories about this man.

But that is not why he gets our support.

This is a family of public servants who have served the Filipino people for generations- faithfully and so completely that we, their children, came second to country.

If my standards for public service are unstinting, it is because this is the language that I was born and raised in: the language of faithful public service.

And that peg is high– excellence in service, giving your all. And you can never accuse a Badoy of stealing from the Filipino people.

And the rage you saw in me when I wrote about graft and corruption and the callous disregard for the poor was really me saying, “That’s not how I saw it in my family!”

In fact, these uncles of mine and my papa took it a bit too far and saw poverty as a virtue– they’ve worn penury like a badge of honor. “I am a public servant, I have no business being rich.” Ganong kalokohan. 😄

My generation, the ones who had to suffer through our fathers’ clean noses are tweaking that and trying to prove one can be reasonably prosperous and still be of some use to the country.

And so there are very clear, highly cogent reasons for why we support this president. Why we, in fact, are on our feet right now, giving him a rousing standing ovation.

And it has all to do with this aching love we’ve had for country that has translated itself in generations of tagos sa butong public service and activism.

It has to do with policies formed and mind blowing accomplishments of the sitting president that we had, for so long, despaired of ever seeing. His anti US imperialist stance, for instance, has us gasping in amazement.

And the way he cares for the oppressed is what has us on our feet giving him a standing ovation most of all.

And although we would never support the president merely because of shared memories, that we know his heart and that we understand his language without any difficulty just makes it easier for us to roll our sleeves up and be on board with him.

Indeed, where this side of my family is concerned, as he is with the overwhelming number of Filipinos, this President is our palangga.

That’s just the way it is.

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