I don’t really intend for this posting to be about politics but that never has stopped me from creating a controversial or fun title.
That being said, I do like new Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte. I must like him: I spent a good chunk of yesterday listening to his 90 minute State of the Nation address and half of it was in Tagalog; I know no Tagalog, but he’s funnier in Tagalog than in English so I listened to that part as well. My wife upon hearing I’d listened to the entire speech was suitably impressed and usually good things come from impressing Janet 🙂
I must admit that even though I am a big Bernie Sanders supporter, I doubt I have ever spent 90 uninterrupted minutes listening to him. And there is no amount you could pay me to get me to listen to 90 minutes of Trump or Clinton. That would be a punishment worse than death!
I’ll get more into Duterte later, but what I really wanted to talk about is my upcoming retirement, move to the Philippines and one more reason why I want to move. I posted quite a while back some of the reasons for moving abroad. As with most expats the reasons include: sun, sand, cost of living, my wife and her family, adventure, travel, etc.
But there’s one other. I live in a country that’s one sick puppy and I’m tired of it. Let’s start with all the shootings. I get it; America’s a gun totin’ culture and has been since it’s inception. And I’m no dope; where there’s guns there will be shootings. Nor am I scared. While cautious I will go anywhere I like without fear.
So why then does this bother me? Friends have said, “there’s lots of crime in the Philippines. Doesn’t that worry you?” Nope. If I get shot during a robbery in the Philippines, at least I understand the reason – somebody wanted a little foreigner cash. If somebody gets shot by a jealous wife, I get that too. And BTW, I’ve already let Janet know that we will not have a gun in the Philippines, since I think I would be the one it might get used on lol.
But there is no comprehensible reason for the shootings here – and that bothers me more.
Getting back to Duterte; when he talks about shooting drug lords and dealers – at least I get that. Not everybody’s gonna agree about that over the top solution but it’s an understandable answer to a very big problem in the Philippines. In the US we have a catastrophic mental health crisis and our solution is to dispense drugs and guns with equal ease – wonderful.
Janet tells me that most of the people she works with are on some sort of mental health medication and while I suppose that it is a good thing that people who need it can get it, it’s appalling that apparently everyone needs it!
Go to the Philippines and people aren’t taking anti-depressants; they’re taking shabu and getting shot by the police, as approved by President Duterte. But again, at least I get that.
In short, while in many ways I still love my country and the city I live in, in many other ways I am alienated from a fundamentally unhappy culture and feel compelled to leave it.
OK, now back to politics:
We were in the Philippines in April and I was shocked at the amount of rabid pro-Duterte people I ran into. Taxi drivers were asking me about what I thought of Duterte. Apparently as an American I am considered more politically astute. I mustered up what little Visayan I could manage and said, “Duterte maayo.” I am sure I swayed more than a few votes with my profound words.
I mustered up what little Visayan I could manage and said, “Duterte maayo.” I am sure I swayed more than a few votes with my profound words.
But seriously, Filipinos were genuinely excited about the change in leadership they were hoping for and still seem excited about what they have gotten.
Duterte is what we used to call in the West a “strongman.” Not a dictator, but not a guy who’s gonna wait for the congress to approve everything. In fact, he spent part of his State of the Nation speech asking to be given more power and my guess is he’s gonna get it.
While “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (see Trump and Clinton) sometimes in the right hands it can be wielded effectively. For example, as Mayor of Davao, Duterte initiated the 1st 911 emergency system in the Philippines. Now he’s been in office as President less than a month and is initiating 911 for the entire country – and doing it now! Imagine how long an American President, with our pesky Congress and laws would take to get something like this done.
And once Duterte was elected, with his well known position on drug lords and dealers (said position being horizontal and six feet under), drug dealers and users began spontaneously turning themselves into the police. So far, thousands have come forward throughout the country, confessing their past sins, agreeing not to do it again, and oh yes, “please don’t shoot me.”
And BTW, for those critics who cry that “human rights” are being violated, during his speech the President had this to say.
So after that bit of excitement let me swing back to my upcoming retirement. One of the things you have to do when you prepare to retire and move is to downsize big time. The decisions on what to keep actually became quite easy. If we’re not planning to send something to the Philippines, we have to either sell it, donate it or trash it; no other options. Thus Janet and I planned a large garage sale which we held a few weeks ago. We collected all our junk in the living room, preparing for the day when we hoped it would all go flying out of our lives. We posted an Event on Facebook. Janet put up flyers. And Dave became for at least two days a big time wheeler-dealer.
We easily disposed of 3/4 of our junk and will donate the rest. Hell, we even made a few bucks (more than a few really) which I put into our “Get out of Dodge fund.” Of course one Filipina friend, not quite comprehending our goal, told other friends that poor Dave and Janet must need money.
Next spring the furniture will go, Balikbayan boxes will get shipped, the house will go on the blocks, and then it will all become very very real.
In the meantime, here’s one more snipet from Duterte, my soon-to-be President. Here’s how he preps for the SONA speech. Can’t help it – I like this guy!