I haven't updated my blog in a long time. Having a new job and moving to a new city takes time to get used to. But I am itching to update my blog thus this.

The very basic question that needs to be answered is: May nagbago ba?


Para sa akin meron.

Coming form Marawi City where for a decade, I can barely see any improvement on government basic services, rampant criminality, widespread use of narcotics, and practically zero infrastructure projects, 100 days into the Duterte administration, I am actually starting to rouse from the depths of hopelessness.

I lived in the area in Marawi City that is known to be the biggest drug haven in the city. Dumadaan sa amin ang mga adik na bumibili. It was in the 90s when the illegal drugs biz boomed. I was in grade school then. Prior to the establishment of the drug den, the children in the neighborhood spend hours playing in the grounds. But everything changed when the drug lords came. We can't stay out after dark. Everyone started to build higher fences.

I remember my Papang when he was still with us, he was smoking cigarettes within our compound when an adik passed by and thought that Papang was looking at him with a bad look and pointed his gun at my dad. My Papang was the gentlest soul I know, he is not one to give anyone a reason to quarrel. But then an adik who was passing by almost shot my dad. We felt unsafe ever since.

We have witnessed many raids in the area. But the thing is, not one was legit. Because according to my neighbors, the drug lords are alerted whenever the police are coming. The raids were merely pakitang tao, said my neighbors, kaya nga ang nahuhuli mga adik lang, not the retailers. Ang nacoconfiscate hindi shabu, mga karerahan lang.

For so long we felt hopeless. Because those who used to hold power were the ones behind the illegal drug proliferation. Shabu funds politicians. Politicians protect their drug lord donors. Or the drug lords are the politicians themselves. I need not delve deep into this because I know na alam niyo na yan at sinu-sino sila. Everyone knows everyone else.

Fast forward to today, two decade after the drugs came to Marawi, we have a president who is adamant in fighting the drug problem. Ramdam ko. I can tell there is a change in the neighborhood. I can't smell as much fear in the air. I am glad that the priority of the President is illegal drugs, because human security is a basic need. We know how deeply the problem has rooted into our society. Have we voted for someone else, they will solve it with livelihood projects, and the funding will be pocketed by hardened corrupt officials. Poverty is not the root.

Growing up, we barely made both ends meet. Despite living near the drug dens, never had my parents thought of "investing" into the trade. And while we wallow in poverty, we have relatives who were already affluent who became drug lords. Poverty is not what drove them into selling shabu, it is greed and the knowledge that they can get away with it. Because honestly, kasabar so kamimiskin, katigr so ongos o adun a kaluk ko Allah.

And here's another thing that I noticed: the LGUs and line agencies are trying harder. Dati wala namang nagfflag ceremony sa munisipyo, walang nag-oopisina. Ngayon may pabasketbol pa sila sa mga surrenderees. It is enough for me to know that LGUs are trying to be good because they fear to fall out of favor with the President. It is very different compared to the time when the president took very good care of the likes of the Ampatuans to make sure solid votes from ARMM come election time. And remember the laglag-bala phenomenon? Despite warning and inspections, wala pa rin, walang takot eh. Because we are used to a lenient leadership. And let us not forget too when the news is always about our economy improving and yet the maralitas are still going hungry.

But now I can see a sincere president. I can see a quick-to-act leader. I can see someone who cares for the common tao.

Writing this piece is kind of a risk. Because these days it is difficult to be an anti or a pro Duterte without being tagged a Dutertard or a Yellowtard. Can't someone be neither?

My opinion regarding the President fluctuates. There was a time when I feared for the freedom of the press in the country because of his remarks against journalists. But I changed my mind because masakit mang aminin, may point siya. And I'd love to talk about it some other time. The problem really is the fanaticism of many people in Facebook. Trolling is not doing any good to us. It just divides us and veers us away from more important issues. It is okay to criticize the President. It is not okay to attack the critics below-the-belt. It is okay to support Duterte. It is not okay to tag the supporters as idiots.

Note to self: minimize scrolling through Facebook feed, unfollow fanatics.

I too have apprehensions about the way our president is handling foreign policy. But it's not something that I understand. I have seen the bloody raid in "Center" on TV. It alarmed me.

But a bigger part of me wants Duterte to succeed. His success will mean the success of every Filipino.

I don't want to be the one to predict his failure. I don't want to be the one who discredits him when he achieved something. I don't want to be the one always bringing nega on social media.

I want him to succeed. I very much wish for him to succeed. And I want to be a part of the change. Not the one to hinder it.