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Why I’m voting for Duterte

I have long wanted to write about this but I always ended up deciding against it.  I’m not a political analyst nor am I a prolific writer, but after seeing all sorts of black propaganda being hurled against Mayor Duterte from all corners imaginable after he surged to the top of the surveys, I feel it is my moral obligation as an ordinary Filipino to take part in this electoral process the way I see it from the grassroots level where I’m at. It is from this vantage point that I carefully shaped my decision on who to vote for President and why. And I refuse to helplessly watch from the sidelines any longer.

I was born and raised in Davao City. I lived most of my life there for over 35 years (I now live in Marikina). I have personally seen, heard, and experienced Mayor Duterte’s leadership.  I am one of the many living witnesses to his good governance.

Is he perfect? No. Nobody is.

Is Davao City perfect? No. No city in any part of the globe is.

Is he a dictator? Certainly not. A dictator is a ruler who wields absolute authority while Mayor Duterte has always worked hard for the people of Davao to enjoy their freedom — freedom to live, work, express themselves, have fun, and do business in a peaceful environment. Dabawenyos enjoy democracy just as anyone else in other parts of the country. Perhaps the only difference is that Davao City is strict with the implementation of laws and city ordinances. After all, what good are those laws and ordinances if we don’t follow them? Feel free to visit Davao City and see if you’d feel like your basic human rights are curtailed as if you’re under Martial Law. Not even close.

Does he kill innocent people on mere suspicion that they are criminals? Funny but that’s what his detractors are insinuating even in their political ads. If one political ad is to be believed, Mayor Digong’s brand of justice is the type that tortures and kills even kids suspected as criminals. That’s preposterous. But if only for a point of discussion, if that indeed is true, you think the people of Davao would feel safe walking around the streets if they believe that Mayor Digong would, at any given time, shoot them or their friends and family members for being suspected as criminals? You think the people of Davao would love and trust Mayor Digong this much if he’s anywhere close to being trigger happy? If there’s a shred of truth to a culture of impunity under Mayor Digong’s leadership, we should have feared him instead of respected him.

Mayor Digong, being a lawyer himself, has reiterated many times over that he is for imposing the law. If a criminal puts innocent lives in danger, he will bear the consequences of his actions. And what’s the problem with that? Would you rather put innocent lives in danger just to protect the human rights of criminals? If you haven’t heard it yet, Mayor Digong’s mantra is “Follow the law.” If that scares you, that’s beyond my comprehension.

His political opponents are sowing fear through distorted information. I’d rather go by first-hand experiences than hearsays that are meant to fool and scare people just to earn votes for themselves.

Does he shoot people in the streets for failing to follow curfew? You must have seen Mystica’s viral video which shows her spewing this scenario as if she has seen it happen under Duterte’s leadership and so will continue to happen if he wins the Presidency. I don’t know how she got that impression, it’s crazy to the point of ridiculous. Chill! Mayor Digong won’t “bratatat” you dead in the middle of the street for failing to follow curfew. Mystica dear, get back down to earth, for goodness’ sake.

So why am I voting for Duterte? Let me count the reasons:

1. He is the only Presidentiable that commands respect from all sides — the government, MILF, MNLF, NPA, ordinary citizens. He is respected by Muslims and Christians. He unites, not divides. He understands the plight of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao. I believe he’s the only one who can start the much-needed lasting peace in the war-torn areas of Mindanao.

2. He has the heart, the political will, and the competency to lead and serve the country. His track record is the glaring proof.

3. His passion for public service defies anything politics. His turf is Davao City but he is always quick to help other cities in need without brandishing his name to claim credit. He operates even under the media radar, which is the exact opposite of what a lot of politicians do. That to me is REAL public service.

4. He is a man of action. Again, his track record is proof. Aren’t we all tired of self-aggrandizing speeches? Of finger-pointing? Of leaders giving us excuses rather than solutions and results? I am.

5. He acts like a father to his constituents. Unlike other politicians, Duterte doesn’t act like a king who expects to be served. He serves. He is a simple man who has a soft spot for children and senior citizens.

6. His leadership is contagious. He has his way of affecting positivity in people. This is the only national election I’ve seen so far where I witness people going out of their ways to support a Presidential candidate, even printing their own marketing materials from banners to t-shirts, ballers, car stickers and anything they can think of. He brings out the spirit of volunteerism and discipline in us like no other Filipino politician has or can. That’s the mark of a true leader.

I could go on and on but I’d rather feature some of my friends from different parts of the globe about their take on the good Mayor. Here’s why Mayor Duterte is their choice for President:

Rob Rances

“I’m voting for Duterte coz he’s the only one who proposes to solve the problem. The other candidates are all part of the problem.” – Rob Rances, Business Coach / Social Entrepreneur

Bobet Alip

“He is not perfect and he was the first to admit it. But I know he can and will get things done. His heart and mind is in the right place.” – Bobet Alip, Agripreneur

Anonymous DJ

“Borrowing from General Patton, ‘As It Was Written So It Shall Be Done!’ His political will… That’s why.” – A Club DJ and Radio Presenter from a giant TV/media network (name withheld upon request)

Mel and Boyet

“We need him as a leader because he is not beholden to any oligarchs. We want our daughter to experience affluence that most of us never had for decades.” – Melanie Confesor and Pelagio Nalla III, Customer Service Associates

Brandy Allen Fuentes

“Aside from the fact that I am one of the many who enjoy the fruit of his hardwork, I’ll vote for him because he gets things done… specially if it benefits the many.” – Brandy Allen Fuentes, freelance host

Carol Yao

“Du30 because we not only need a man of integrity, we also need strong leadership.” – Carol Yao, true-blooded Bisdak

Restie Concepcion

“I’m voting for Duterte because I believe he will be strong for us dealing with China bullying us. 2nd, what we need right now is an action man, not a planner anymore. Would you give a cough medicine to someone ailing with LBM or upset stomach…that’s the analogy.” – Restie R. Concepcion, Marketing Director/licensed CPM (Certified Professional Marketer)

Jerome Faune

“After Flor Contemplacion and the burning of the Singapore flag it was then that I wished he were the president of the Philippines. Integrity, political will, courage, humility, love for country and his leadership is unprecedented.” – Jerome Faune, OFW

 

Dr. Roni Mines

“I am voting for Duterte because he has the kind of political will and leadership that this country needs. In my many years of living in Davao City, with about two decades of having him as our mayor, I feel safe and protected with his leadership. He really cares for his constituents and he is consistent! I like his crusade against impunity and I believe he will help us realize a better Philippines and turn the fortune of the country around. Having been plagued by corruption, drugs and crime for so long, this country needs someone like Duterte to make the needed changes.” – Dr. Roni Mines, Educator

Mayor Digong talks tough but he has a big heart to serve the people.  For me, he is the best chance we have to move this country forward. No other political candidate has ever moved me to be this vigilant and nationalistic.  And to think that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t even know I exist.  I’m sure there are millions of other Filipinos like me who tirelessly campaign for the Mayor in their own little ways without any political affiliations and self-serving expectations.

How about you, why are you voting for Duterte?

 

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Trip up north: Manila to Sagada

Sagada is one of the best and most popular tourist destinations in the Mountain Province. Before it even took the spotlight due to the widely-celebrated film “That Thing Called Tadhana,” Sagada has been a favorite destination of choice by people seeking breath-taking panoramic views, cold weather, nice people, and tranquil environment where one could feel like he/she is on top of the world some 275 kilometers away from the urban jungle of Metro Manila.

Sagada

We had our trip up North to Sagada summer of last year and even though it was the longest land travel of our lives, it was arguably one of the best.

We rented a 12-seater van that accommodated all of us comfortably. It certainly wasn’t cheap but the convenience was priceless.  We took a Manila-Baguio-Sagada route which took us two days to reach Sagada from Manila (just because we stopped by Baguio for some sight-seeing and stayed there overnight).

Ways to get there other than through private transport:

By Bus

  • Western route (Victory Liner, Partas, Genesis, Dagupan  Bus Line) — Manila to Baguio

Fare (Manila to Baguio City): P455-P750 (around $10-$17)
Estimated travel time: 6 hours

Baguio City to Sagada (GL Trans, Lizard Transit)
Fare: P220 non-aircon (roughly $4.90)
Estimated travel time: 6 hours

Manila-Bontoc-Sagada
Bus ride from Manila to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province.
Estimated travel time: 12 hours. A jeepney ride from Bontoc to Sagada takes another 45 minutes.

  • Eastern route (Ohayami Trans) — This bus line passes through Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao. It doesn’t take you straight to Sagada but gets you close – at least up to the eastern edge of the Cordilleras.
    Manila Terminal: Lacson Avenue cor. Fajardo Street, Sampaloc
    Contact number: 09276493055, 02-5160501 (Manila); 09175617344 (Ifugao)

Fare (Manila to Banaue): P450 (around $10)
Estimated travel time: 10-12 hours

 

WHAT TO EXPECT IN SAGADA:

  • Picturesque winding roads worthy of cinematic exposure
  • Colder weather compared to most parts of the country
  • Caves, lots of caves to explore! One of the the caves we visited was an ancient burial cave of Sumaguing (Sumaguing Cave)
  • Clean, sparkling rivers and waterfalls
  • The famous hanging coffin and other historical sites
  • Smaller versions of the famous Rice Terraces in Banaue
  • Dining areas with lots of good food and some of them can only be found in Sagada! I would love to go back just because of Sagada Lemon Pie House which serves the best (lemon) pie I ever tasted.
  • Warm, friendly people
  • Clean, safe streets

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Sagada

My niece and daughter enjoying the serenity of Sagada.

Sagada map

 

When you get there, it is best to go to Sagada’s Tourist Office and register as a tourist. Local guides are there on stand by to give tourists a hand in exploring the main attractions and provide local information about Sagada for a minimal fee. Highly recommended to get a local guide from there to maximize your Sagada experience. There are caves and other tourist spots there that are hard to explore without a guide.

On off-peak season, accommodation should be easy to find even if you don’t have any prior reservations. There are a lot of affordable houses and hostels for rent around the area.

My pictures could never give justice to the beauty of Sagada. I failed to capture a lot of panoramic views when I got consumed by the vast green slopes, tourist attractions, exciting trekking trails, and lots of good food and company but that’s the thing — Sagada is a place where you can be one with nature, or reflect on the things that happened in your life, release all your pains and shout all your angst to the clouds like in the flick “Tadhana,” or frolic around it with the people you love.  If you haven’t been to Sagada, you might want to include it in your bucket list and make new unforgettable memories of your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kadayawan Sa Dabaw 2015

The biggest festival in Davao City — Kadayawan sa Dabaw — culminates today with the highly-anticipated Floral Float Competition! Ironically I left yesterday after witnessing one entry at the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan, which is one of the highlights of the festival.

Kadayawan sa Dabaw 2015 is the 30th Kadayawan celebration and as usual, it attracted thousands of local and foreign tourists to Davao City.

kadayawan sa dabawkadayawan sa dabawIndak_Indak Kadayawan 2015kadayawan_indak-indak

 

kadayawan sa dabaw

Prices of fruits drop at this season of bountiful harvest. I only spent a total of P200 for 3 kilos of mangosteen and 2 big pieces of marang.

Kadayawan is an annual festival in Davao City celebrating its bountiful harvests. You will find fruits that are fresh from the farms being sold on the streets and in public markets (the most popular and probably the biggest fruit market you could find is the Bankerohan Public Market) at very low prices: Mangosteen from P40-P50 per kilo, Marang and Rambutan at P20-P30 per kilo, Durian from P35-P65 per kilo, etc. If you buy directly from farmers themselves, you will get even cheaper deals. But as for myself, I don’t normally bargain with farmers because I can only imagine their tiny mark up. They need to earn too, you know.

Next time you plan your trip to Davao, be sure to be there during the Kadayawan week.  With fruits this cheap, you have no excuse not to eat fruits when in Davao.

Madayaw, Dabaw!

 

 

Holy Week in The Philippines: a personal perspective

I was born and raised as a Catholic, and so were most of my neighbors. Safe to say that I grew up in a Catholic community.

Most members of our clan and my childhood friends have always observed the Holy Week and Lent in general. We would go to church on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent. Our foreheads would be marked with ashes so we knew who among us went to church and who didn’t. They say it’s a symbol of penance teaching us humility and sacrifice, and a reminder for us that life on earth is temporary, we all go back to dust.

Then on Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week (which is the last week of Lent), we would bring palms to commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus to Jerusalem. Those palms would be blessed by the Parish Priest and we would take them home to adorn our altars or attach them to our front and back doors to signify our faith (although some people would regard them as amulets for protection from evil spirits and evil people).

palm sunday in the philippines

Photo Credits: AP

We would make sure to attend the Stations of the Cross in throngs.  In my hometown within Davao City, the Stations of the Cross were scattered around the vast area of Toril. We would converge at Sto. Rosario Parish and we would march around Manggahan to Daliao and back to the parish.  I think they’ve changed the route over the last few years since Toril now has two parishes: Sto. Rosario and Birhen delos Remedios. Despite the hundreds of attendees of the Stations of the Cross in my town, it was impossible not to chance upon good friends and relatives in one of the 14 Stations.

Some would do Visita Iglesia,  visiting various churches around the country. On Easter Sunday, we didn’t have Easter egg hunts in our community during our time. We would celebrate Easter by going to church early in the morning.

But not everything about the Holy Week was alright with me. There’s Good Friday — my least favorite and most dreaded day of the year.

I remember when I was growing up, I heard adults saying that God is dead during Good Friday. As a child, I took it literally. Holy Week happens every year so I presumed God would die every year. And it scared me everytime. I was a pious kid who never ceased to pray a day in my innocent life and so the idea that God was dead on Good Friday and Black Saturday was the scariest thing to me. I would avoid playing outside thinking that God wouldn’t be there to look after me.

There were many others that we couldn’t and wouldn’t do on Good Friday (and Black Saturday):

  • No music playing
  • No boisterous laughing
  • No merry making (sorry if it falls on your birthday)
  • No adventures (like going to the nearby river, climbing tree branches and hanging upside-down, swimming in the beach, anything that gives you adrenalin rush)
  • No travels
  • No bath or shower (at least for some people)
  • No meat
  • No work (regular holiday across the country)
  • Less TV (no regular programming on Philippine TV on Good Friday anyway)

These were essential parts of our mourning and fasting, our ways of observing and respecting the Holy Week.

But despite all this, one family tradition would lift us up every Good Friday. It’s the day for the family’s highly-anticipated Binignit! (If you’re not Filipino but you know halo-halo, imagine halo-halo without crushed ice but instead mixed with coconut milk and served hot).  Binignit has become part of the Holy Week tradition, along with boiled kamote and saging, sometimes with other kakanin. For kids like us, it was a feast, not fasting. I guess for adults it was fasting considering that it’s not a regular meal of rice and meat.

Anyway, as I grew older, I realized that I and some people may have taken things literally that God is dead every Good Friday and Black Saturday.  He can’t be literally dead every year.  Instead, we’re only commemorating His death on the cross many years ago. It’s a reminder of His precious sacrifice for the sake of our salvation.  It reminds us to reflect on our sins, repent, and reinforce our faith.

Maybe I am not as Catholic as I was before because I have stopped doing most of the Holy Week traditions I’ve grown up to. Hats off to my fellow Catholics who never stopped upholding the traditions like the Stations of the Cross and the Easter Vigil, among others. I believe these traditions help keep the lessons of Lent and the Holy Week alive.

Today is Good Friday…but I’m not afraid anymore.  As a grownup, my personal perspective is that God is alive whether we believe Him or not.  And He is always looking after us every second of the day…even on the days He is said to be dead.