Angry

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I KNOW ANGER. Recently, some people who were supposed to protect me became angry with me, and when I hit a hard place they did not empathize but took a stance that ostracized and isolated me. I know what it’s like to be marginalized. I know how desperate it can make you feel. I also know how it can stoke anger within.

This is why I understand in part why Rodrigo Duterte is still popular, at least among a certain sector. I no longer believe the surveys. I’ve lost all faith in them. I know that Duterte does not have the support he once had: the killings are taking their toll; the rape jokes are falling flat. But he still has avid (and rabid) followers who will happily slug anyone who disses their hero and will cuss out everyone who dims his luster. Their rage is a bottomless pit.

FRUSTRATION 

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photo: Twitter.com

F. Sionil Jose’s analysis was on target but it understated the malevolence of that anger. I see their frustration and in fact, I share it – but not their wrath; that comes from a more personal place and Duterte is giving it a voice.

The hugot is not merely political but emotional. It’s the howl of folks who feel cast aside and discriminated against by those they call “oligarchs” (even if they don’t really know what that means).

This resentment isn’t rational, that’s for sure. The thinking few who still back Duterte can calmly justify their continued suppport. The angry ones don’t think at all. They’ve made “reason” and “decency” dirty words. They hit back with ad hominems like Duterte does, and the harder the punch, the better.

We all know this, but the magnitude of the vileness still shocks me. I saw a Facebook post in which a girl who was molested on a bus shared her story and got viciously bashed by netizens for falling asleep and “asking for it.” Instead of appreciating her candid post, which was meant to warn others about sexual harassment, people buried her in invective and blamed her for being a “fame whore” who deserved all the vitriol she got. And then there were the irate Pacquiao fans who embarrassed the nation by heaping abuse on Jeff Horn and his wife.

While the latter are unrelated to Dutertolatry, the anger is. I honestly don’t know when this animus began, but I know it exists in many forms and that its roots are strong and deep.

IRRESPONSIBLE

A responsible leader would have recognized and addressed this. Not Duterte. He recognized it, yes, but he has goaded and exploited it instead. Watch any Duterte speech and see what I mean. If you didn’t catch the SONA last Monday, I dare you to watch all 2+ hours of it and see if you don’t agree with me. Duterte is savvy. He has tapped into a vein in the body politic pulsing with fury, and he is mercilessly bleeding it. In the olden days, physicians did the same, believing that “bleeding” purged illness from the bloodstream. They were wrong, of course. They usually killed the patient.

Duterte is himself a very angry man. He cannot control what he says, especially when he is piqued, and he is so very easily piqued. He also likes to act the big man in the yard when he’s mad. When the Mautes threatened to burn Marawi, he told them, “Go ahead, do it.”  They did. Now it’s Jose Maria Sison he’s taunting: “I dare you, as a leader of the Communist Party, I dare you, come home and fight your war here. Kasi ako nandito. Gusto mo tayong dalawa? Already, the NPA has been stepping up its attacks. Time will tell how Sison and his comrades will respond to this bully tactic. But I can guess the outcome, can’t you?

None of what I’ve written is a professional assessment, merely the observation of an involved Filipino. I will leave the proper diagnosis to social scientists, and I hope they render it soon. But what I see alarms me. While I detest this anger which Duterte empowers and encourages, and while I daily have to contend with his adorers who try to pick fights with me, I refuse to respond in kind. I have no idea what fuels their rage, but they will not stir mine.

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The latest #RealNumbersPH update has the total number of homicide cases up to 12,833 (as of June 16, 2017) from 12,426 (on May 30, 2017). This means that given the DSWD estimate of 3 children/family, there are now presumably around 38,500 children who have lost a parent (or both parents) to violent death since Duterte took office. I am worried that they are angry.

On the news yesterday was the report that children in Marawi were hero-worshipping the Maute-ISIS fighters who fed them and paid their fathers. Their families felt marginalized and cast aside; they went where they felt cared for. Now several of those kids want to join the Mautes when they grow up. I hope those 38,500 orphaned children do not come under the spell of religious or political extremism and vent their ire on the country one day. Something has got to be done before they do.

I said when I began that recently some people had in their anger caused me great pain. I admit that they roused intense anger in me. But I have decided not to feed it. Their folly will not suck me into a vortex of hate: the rancor ends with me. At some point this rage that is engulfing our nation must burn itself out. That won’t happen if we go tit for tat and if we don’t try to discover its sources. Our social problem is widespread and systemic. Our country is better served if we spend our time and energy solving it, one person at a time.

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. – Ecclesiastes 7:9

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. – Proverbs 15:18

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