Tomorrow, Filipinos will cast their votes for the next leaders of our country. This year's election season has been tough. It had brought the best and worst not just in me but for everyone else who got involved in the campaign period. From where I come from, it's pretty obvious who I'm supporting.
I was born and raised in Davao City. I have personally witnessed how my hometown grew from a sleepy town to what it is now today - a city where peace and order, and progress coexist. Davao's success wasn't an overnight story. In fact, it was a collaborative effort by the local government and its constituents. In 1998, after serving three terms as Mayor, Duterte endorsed his friend, Atty. Benjamin de Guzman and won the seat. Too bad, he was the man who temporarily fucked up Davao. Traffic got worse, henious crimes rapidly increased, and corruption became rampant in the local government. Who wouldn't forget Artica Sports Dome project of the former mayor? Right now, it's still standing - unfinished, and rotting as time and weather goes by. Truly, it's a monument of corruption. Fast forward, Davao reclaimed its momentum and we continued to move forward. Was it an easy road? Honestly, no. When the local government passed several city ordinances such as the comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance, total firecracker ban, waste segregation system, and the speed limit ordinance, we were aghast. We complained that these ordinances were unnecessary. Why would our city have several ordinances when other cities in the Philippines can thrive without these? But, we failed to see the bigger picture. Zero casualties from firecracker related incidents every Christmas and New Year. Road accidents decreased drastically. The air quality of the city got better.
These are just one of the reasons why we Davaoeños are very proud of our city. Our leaders have instilled discipline to us. I couldn't help but to compare my hometown to other cities. Makalagot ang ubang taxi drivers kay mamili ug pasahero. Kung pasakyon ka, required ka mudagdag ug Php50 kay 'eh trapik kasi sa EDSA ser'. Whenever I walk along the busy streets of the capital, I'd always exercise extreme caution - like ang backpack ko nasa harap na, and I'd always make sure that my wallet and my phones are safe. Backpacks should be worn at the back because hello, backpack nga diba? Hindi naman yan ginawa as 'frontpack'. Living in Metro Manila was really an interesting point in my life. The capital will never be my comfort zone. I'd always wish that the capital would be just like Davao where most of its citizens obey rules, the streets are clean, and the transportation system isn't shit. But no, it's impossible. It's one of the reasons why I always go home every month. Kay kung dili, basig mamatay ko sa kunsimisyon.
I've realized a few things while living in the metro. Why would people flock here and look for jobs? Why would people from the provinces wanted to settle in Manila? If only I had enough time and resources, sabihan ko talaga sila ng 'it's a trap'. Where did this kind of mentality originate? Maybe because it's the way how the government portray themselves to the public - that Manila is the center of everything, and Philippines is composed of two things. Manila and others.
When he started going around the country to promote federalism, I was enlightened. The idea of having a Federal type government would somehow assuage the political tensions in the country (see also: conflicts in Mindanao). More so, it will give other regions a chance to prosper on their own. Currently, the central government doesn't allow it. It is pretty obvious why there are less infrastructures in some major cities compared in the capital. But let's not dwell into details because there are several economical factors to consider. The point is, a Federal government is more apt in our country based in our geographical and cultural characteristics.
When Digong had an interest in running for the highest position in our country, I was afraid. Afraid that people outside Davao, or perhaps, outside Mindanao will never understand him. His antics were different from the traditional politicians and he is sometimes tactless. I got relieved after he didn't file the certificate of candidacy last October. Pero tangina, the tables had turned in December when he openly declared that he will be running for the highest position of the country as a substitute for Martin Diño.
I didn't want him to run. Putang ina lang talaga! But, it made me think who am I going to support if he's not running? I gave it a shot and supported him since the start of the election campaign, kahit masakit. Along the way, buckets of mud have been thrown not just to him but also to his supporters. Furthermore, they have the temerity to bash my hometown! I was gravely insulted. They refuse to believe stories from real people about the goodwill of our mayor. They refuse to believe about the success story of Davao, on how we worked hard for it to achieve the current state of our city. On the brighter side, we saw the growing numbers of his supporters. They too can no longer endure the same old shit. The oligarchs have ruled for the longest time and we are truly mad for change.
I attended his campaign here in Tacloban two months ago. At first, I was hesitant to attend because I don't like big crowds. Kapoy kaya! But then again, I gave it a chance and besides, it's going to be my first time to attend a political gathering. At least, milestone to sa life ko. The crowd was huge. Well, huge is an understatement. I got completely dumbstruck from what I saw. People from all walks of life - from the rich societies of Tacloban, down to the poorest of the poor - were there. It's pretty obvious that we are all hungry for a change. For the first time, I was so damn proud that I'm a Filipino. Dati, ikinasusuklam ko na ako'y isang Pilipino. Eh paano naman kasi, sobrang palpak ang mga nagaganap sa ating bansa for the past few years. Hanggang 'Proud Davaoeño' lang ang kaya kong ipagmayabang whenever people ask me where I'm from. Pero, napaisip rin ako. Kahit masakit, kelangan din maranasan ng iba kung ano ang meron sa Davao. They still deserve it. After all, WE ARE ALL FILIPINOS.
The centralist government has taken its toll on me. Aminin mo, dati wala kang pakialam sa mga nagaganap sa paligid mo. As long as you have a decent job, it's perfectly fine. Okay lang naman, afford mo naman mag loan ng car and condo at the same time for 5 years. The only thing that you think is kung saan ang next travel destination mo. But how about the others? They have to endure life on a daily basis. They have to wake up very early just to avoid traffic and work 12 hours a day, receiving a minimum wage on a contractual basis. It's a struggle to keep afloat and they worry if their life would still be the same after the contract expires. You don't have the right to tell them to work hard when they are working harder than you. You don't have the right to tell them to wait a little longer because, fuck, unlike you, they don't have the luxury to wait. Just because the economy went a bit higher in the past years, it doesn't mean that the lives got improved. In fact, the gap of rich and poor is getting wider.
In the end, if Duterte really wins, let us not forget our role as his constituents. He owes us big time. As proactive citizens, let us constantly remind him the things that he promised during the campaign season, and we have to make sure that no one is left behind as we embark on a new chapter of the Philippine history. Enough of the same old shit. Enough with the Daan Matuwid scam. Enough with the blatant lies portrayed by the media.
I am asking you to vote with your conscience because 'voting wisely' is such a condescending cliche.