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Digong and Leni

Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

and that’s the truth


WHEN I left the country, the president was Noynoy; when I returned, it was Digong. Not having had the chance to vote, I had no “dirty finger” to show off to kababayans abroad. Sad, but obligations as a member of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes Film Festival compelled me to be in Cannes, France, by May 9 for pre-festival meetings. But the hectic schedule that stretched from my arrival up to the festival’s conclusion on May 22 wouldn’t stop me from updating myself online on the election’s outcome.

I didn’t get to meet that many Filipinos in Cannes but the ones I did—I was surprised to discover—were really keeping abreast of goings-on in the country’s political arena.  I was even more surprised when an Indian national who saw Brillante Mendoza’s competing film, “Ma Rosa”, casually said over an official lunch, “I am sure your new president will like that film, about corrupt police and drugs.”

My standard question for Pinoys encountered was, “What do you think of the new president?” “Did you vote for him? Why? Or Why not? Outside of the festival, most of the feedback that came under my radar was from OFWs coming home for a vacation—a miner from Brazil, a housewife from Amsterdam, a teacher/DH from London, an engineer from Nice, handymen from Italy, etc. I met and struck casual chats with them while airborne, at airport lounges from Amsterdam through Taipei to Manila, in the immigration control queues, and even while in line for a cab that took forever to arrive at Manila’s Terminal 3.  No wasted time for this super snoop trying to feel the pulse of the man on the street.

While not all of them voted for “Du30”, most of their responses were variations on the same theme—“wait and see”. Samples: “Sige lang, nandiyan na ‘yan eh, sana nga mabago niya ang bansa.” (Let it go, it’s done, let’s hope he changes the country.) “Binoto ko siya kahit ayaw ng mga magulang ko, kasi bilib ako sa tapang niya, kaya tingnan natin papaano niya tutuparin ang mga pinangako niya.” (I voted for him against my parents’ wishes because I believe in his guts, so let’s see how he will keep his promises.) What I find kind of unnerving was the parallel between the comments of the first respondent (the engineer I met in Cannes) and the last (the taxi driver that brought be home).  It’s a pity I was unable to record it—it was so unexpected. In their own style, they said the same thing: “Yang si Duterte hinayaan lang iyan manalo kasi malakas. Hindi ‘yan magtatagal. Papatayin din nila ‘yan tapos iuupo nila si Leni, babae na wala pang alam, madali nilang madidiktahan.” (They only let Duterte win because he’s popular. He will not last long. They will also kill him and make Leni president, who’s ignorant besides being a woman, therefore they can easily push her around.) The taxi driver added: “Kawawang Leni, ang laki-laki pa naman ng ngiti niya, akala niya nanalo siya—gagamitin lang, parang bagong Cory.” (Poor Leni, smiling so widely thinking she has won—they’ll only use her, like a new Cory.) This prompted me to ask him, “Ke Marcos ka ba?” (Are you for Marcos?) He snapped, “Hindi!  Binay-Chiz ako!”  (No, I’m for Binay-Chiz!)

I must admit the taxi driver’s candor and his opinion reflecting the engineer’s stopped me dead in my tracks.  From where could these two men—10,711 kilometers apart from each other—have drawn such eerie conclusions? Do they have intelligence men in the family? Do they have access to the diaries of the likes of Panfilo Lacson? Are they experienced international spies?

In the horrible Manila traffic I had to feign sleep so the taxi driver would stop talking. “Kuya, iidlip muna ko, ha?” (Brother, may I take a nap?) He had said enough—enough to stir my dormant memory to recall my readings on the atrocious deeds “internationalists” have committed for decades against national leaders too smart or too patriotic to kowtow to them.

These “internationalists” with blinding greed for the resources of (usually) developing nations pressure leaders to “cooperate” with them, and when they don’t, they pressure them to resign, or they assassinate them, for one. They also ignite coups and civil wars, arm citizens to kill their fellow countrymen, destabilize societies, depose elected but uncooperative politicians and install their own puppets, while keeping their reputation unsullied through cleverly disguised propaganda.  And the unthinking populace gets none the wiser.

These “internationalists” divide and conquer, buy the media and influence peddlers to polarize a nation, create confusion through deceitful “information” so that nations and their “hardheaded” leaders would be under control. Angola, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Nicaragua, Panama, Zaire—from A to Z and many more in between, these “internationalists” have wreaked havoc and caused the death of hundreds of thousands in countries around the world. It has happened before, is happening still, and will continue to happen—this insatiable lust of the powerful to use their wealth to seize and leach a land of its riches that rightfully belong to its people.

The enemy is not just one political rival, the war is not just between political parties. So how much can one Digong or one Leni or one Quiboloy behind the throne do to turn things around? We already have a Savior who showed us—and still shows us—the way to conquer evil through the luminous teachings of the Church He Himself founded.  It is the marrow-deep and authentic following of this Savior that we must aspire for. A glance into our naked selves before the Living God is long overdue. We have taken our faith for granted for too long—for far too long. And that’s the truth.  

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