Posted by: Ces | May 8, 2016

Vowing to the People’s Will

At exactly a month from today I will have stayed, lived, in Davao City for eight years. And I can honestly say those eight years had been the best years for me and my family. Quality of life in Davao is arguably incomparable to that of zombie-like existence in Metro Manila.

But all these years I never attributed good life in Davao to the Dutertes. In fact, I saw the government in the city as one ruled by a political dynasty, no different from the rest of the country.

Davao is what it is today because the people willed it to be. The people built Davao-the proud Dabawenyos whose love for their land gave them the tenacity to keep the city safe and secure, even if it meant sacrificing small freedoms.

I came to realize this over a year ago when I started on a bi-weekly trip to Butuan City on a night bus. However, I came around consolidating my thoughts on this only a week ago  because, up to this point, I have been undecided on who to vote for president.

Getting on the 7pm bus from Butuan City meant I had to endure eight hours of travel with seven terminal stops (which means the trip is actually less than 6 hours if not for the 10-minute stops). It’s bad enough that us passengers had to try to sleep through jarring songs on the loud speaker that had to be really loud probably to keep the driver awake, but, once you get around to sleeping at 3am, the bus suddenly stops and the driver orders everyone to get down. So, like Walking Dead extras, we get off the bus, quietly, without any grumbles or curses or side comments. I knew I was shaking my head and my face was contorted in anger,  but I looked at the rest of the passengers, nobody was complaining. Not a peep. We have arrived in Davao City.

Soldiers in fatigue uniform with long armalite rifles tucked on their shoulders courteously greet us and firmly orders us to line up. They check our hand bags, look at us with suspicion. What would you look like when you’re awakened by this? I could see myself sneering but deep inside I was confused. How could Dabawenyos tolerate such treatment? This is unthinkable in Metro Manila, much less in other countries, except probably in conflict areas.

Dabawenyos are feisty. They know their rights and grit their teeth when someone tramples over them. Senior citizens and students assert their right to discounted fare. Citizens launch signature drives here and there to fight for a cause, a demand or anything. They protest about many things. Dabawenyos know how to protest, they are dauntless and they are not the kind who will keep quiet when told to do so.

But the people – a large majority of the people- tolerate Task Force Davao’s checkpoints. They look the other way when someone gets killed on the corner stand. They just smile and nod when the mayor curses on local TV on a Sunday morning when all the children are around, then hastens to tell the children not to copy him.

The people willed all these. Davao is as it is today because the people decided it to be so.

The people decided that Duterte is the only leader they will ever need to hold Davao City together. So they willed him to be at the helm for decades.

And now, it is clear to me, many Filipinos, a majority of the people, see what Dabawenyos saw in Duterte: leadership.

But leadership only happens when there are people to lead and when people allow themselves to be led.

If Duterte wins the presidency tomorrow, and it seems likely he will, it will be the will of the people. It may be unthinkable to some – especially to those whose bourgeois sensibilities are sighed by trash talk that Duterte wantonly does – every one must vow to the will of the people. Even the best thinkers of the world vow to the decision of the people because they know that even the most powerful in the world eventually succumb to the will of the people.

I personally do not like Duterte because his character is not likable at all. But that doesn’t matter, I know. I will vote for him tomorrow because I vow to the will of the people.




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