What you don’t hear about tokhang from mainstream media:
That lives are being rebuilt because of it. (Yup. REBUILT!)
That the President spoke the language of the streets, gutter language –and that those who were in the lowest point of their lives, in the grip of an addiction that claimed all that was noble and good in them, heard this President’s call to “STOP IT!”.
And heeded it. And went to a law officer and said, “I surrender. My life has ceased to be manageable. Help me.”
And this is me with drug surrenderees, 100 plus of them—in the Ifugao Reflection Camp—in the cusp of graduating from a 6-month rehabilitation program that was spearheaded by social worker Joyce Niwane –the woman on the left most—this awesome Ifugao woman who put the whole thing together—seeking the support of the PNP/DILG, the AFP, the DSWD. In the photo are some of the support staff of this rehab program—psychologists, nurses, social workers, the police, etc.
The whiz kid of the DSWD, Asst. Sec. Anton Hernandez, stumbled upon this program and observed the whole thing—tweaking it here and there for rolling out to other parts of the country. And I got to observe too and I got to talk to them and most important, I got to listen to them.
And I heard about changed lives and healing.
It started with getting that wake up call aka tokhang—months ago that made them quake in their boots. And if you know persons with substance abuse disorders like I do, let me tell you that that caring for something else other than where and how to get the next hit –in and of itself –is something of a miracle. Because someone in the death grip of an addiction can look at his own hungry children and with his last money, buy drugs.
I sat and listened to our brothers and sisters whose lives had gone terribly wrong and sought help—and hear them say with tears in their eyes, “Bumalik na ang lahat ng nawala sa akin. Yung dating wala akong pakelam sa pamilya ko, ngayon todo kayod ako para maalagaan ko sila. Marami na uli akong plano sa buhay ko. Dati, wala na.”
And they know, as well as I do, that this is not the end of their struggles with this addiction. That, indeed, this will be a lifetime battle—a moment-by-moment decision to choose life over death, to choose healing and wholeness over woundedness and the further shattering of one’s self. But this time with a fortified sense of self and a therapeutic community to come home to when one’s personal demons go on a rampage..
I firmly believe that the best way to heal our nation and then our world is to heal ourselves first—so we no longer inflict ourselves on others.
I am deeply grateful to a President who has forced all of us to look at how deep our wounds are—wounds we’ve ignored and denied for so long—indeed, we had no idea this wound existed and to the extent that it did. Grateful that he is focused and resolute on ridding ourselves of this cancer—no matter what’s thrown at him. He just keeps on keeping on.
And I love how there are so many kindred souls in our midst who have stepped up to the plate and taken on the challenge of healing our nation. The PNP, AFP, DSWD, DOH, DILG, various civic and faith-based organizations, kapit-bisig Bayanihan style, to be the arms that help those who are at the lowest point of their lives.
Our nation is healing. We are getting there.
You won’t hear that in the news. So this me informing you of news that makes me weep with so much gladness.
My country, we are getting on high ground. We are gathering broken pieces of our selves and putting them together, a piece at a time.
Tulong-tulong, we shall get there.