Never in my life did I stay tuned on Philippines elections.

I never missed voting during the elections. It was the Filipino duty that my dad made sure my sister and I exercised at all costs. Even during the times I told him there wasn’t any candidate that peaked my interest, he would wake my sister and me early in order to go to the precinct and have our finger inked for candidates I didn’t felt strongly about. Afterward, we would take our time eating quail eggs from a nearby sari-sari store while chatting with neighbors amidst a very busy street strewn over with candidates’ pamphlets. Those were the times. 

Just when I learned about Miriam Defensor Santiago and Rodrigo Duterte both running for the presidency, I wasn’t in my country anymore to cast my vote and it was too late when I learned could actually do it from Calgary since I’m still not a Canadian citizen.  Never had I followed the elections as closely as I did with this one not merely for the sake of supporting these two candidates, but for the hope I felt was coming from the Filipinos.

Once upon a time, I was a contented Filipino. I wasn’t rich but I had a stable job. I have enough friends. I took care of my family. I was aware of the graft and corruption. I was paranoid whenever I have to go home late at night from a place I don’t know. I dislike the inefficiency of public service. I abhor the traffic, especially during the monsoon. The ever increasing cost of goods I was able to manage. I tried my best to stay away from public smoking areas and garbage was strewn everywhere. I learned to ignore catcalls and to walk really fast when commuting home from work. I survived all of those. If there is one trait that Filipinos can be proud of, it’s our resiliency to adapt despite any obstacles that came our way even when we felt downtrodden and forsaken by our previous leaders.

Then I came to live in Canada. For the more than two years I’ve spent here, I came to realize why a lot of Filipinos, especially those living and working abroad, chose Duterte. It isn’t because he was a breath of fresh air. Whether you liked him or not, he inspired to change from being the way he is… a bit vulgar, crass, but an honest thug. He vocalized in layman’s terms the illnesses of the society. He displayed humbleness and tact. He didn’t sugar coat his words. He knows what he is saying. He knows what he I doing. He is the leader all OFWs want to have in order to come back to a country that can potentially be at par with Singapore and other first world countries. Filipino living abroad has seen what discipline can do for a country and that is what the Philippines need. Discipline. We had exercised Democracy for as long as we can remember. Though Democracy has its merits, our current government and society have shown  what lack of Discipline can do. Fear, dishonesty, and chaos.

We can’t expect things change to happen overnight, but we need that leader to inspire that change. Duterte is a leader and a father waiting for a chance to spank us hard on the bum.

And boy, will we be spanked on the bum. Many Filipinos had gotten used to working with loopholes to get what they want. Kung makakalusot, edi gawin. I’m not only talking about people in politics. This is for people in general.

There was a time I was strolling  at SM Makati when I heard a man, who looked like to be in his seniors, shouting obscenities at the security guard, saying he had all the right to smoke wherever he wanted since he is paying his taxes and is a resident of Makati. The guard was telling the man they were on a No Smoking area. The guard’s face showed he was clearly at a loss to fix the situation without offending an elderly. When I passed by them, I turned my head to the side and saw in clear, in bold red letters, a No Smoking sign. Clear as day. The blind may have seen it.  This is a simple example of how something has gotten used to doing things they want disregarding law and authority. I felt so sorry for the guard.

I’m not saying the Filipinos are solely the ones at fault. We learned to survive amidst corrupt leaders. Our poverty stricken fellowmen, who pursued illegal means to survive, only did what they can to put food on their table. But the degradation has gone for too long. Everyone, from every level of the society, has felt the deterioration of the Filipino spirit.

But the 2016 elections turned all that around.

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The leader is in place. Duterte is already there to be a strict father and instill discipline. Filipinos must follow. Let go of destructive habits. Learn to follow rules. Respect authority. Don’t make excuses. I’m not saying Duterte is the Philippines’ savior, but he is a prepared to instill discipline the country desperately needs. Let’s give him and ourselves, a chance. We might rebel for awhile since we are human after all. We are creatures of habit. We don’t want our routine to be ruined. But change does that, even those driven by good intentions.

I’m not openly saying this just because I live in Calgary. My husband and I have plans to go back to the Philippines since our families and closest friends are there. Our hearts still call for our country to prosper. We want the best for our fellowmen and we want to come back to a safe and rich country.

God bless the Philippines.