“It was frustration, anger, disgust, despair.”—Mike de Leon
That was acclaimed director Mike de Leon’s explanation to ABS-CBN News Channel television network on what moved him to produce the five-minute short film “Kangkungan.” It was released on Feb. 24, the eve of the 33rd commemoration of EDSA People Power. Social media has been widely circulating the video, perhaps to remind us to look at where we are now 30-some years since.
De Leon is the award-winning director of classic films like “Citizen Jake,” “Batch ‘81” “Kisapmata,” “Kakabakaba ka ba?” “Sister Stella L.” All these films prick our collective social conscience.
De Leon’s film is not just an indictment of the Duterte administration and its continuous bid for absolute power. Most significant is the all-powerful and meaningful message at the end – that this coming May election is a matter of “life and death.” The film encourages viewers to vote as if their future, and their lives, depended on it.
As we have learned in the past decade, the voice of the youth is all potent. We should encourage them to go out and vote. It is their votes which will determine their future. The present administration supports our nation’s plunderers like the Marcoses, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. I believe our young people have enough discernment and wisdom not to vote for these people who will continue to destroy our society for their selfish interests.
The film title “Kangkungan” figuratively refers to “summary executions,” literally means a pond or field of swamp spinach. De Leon’s title refers to the Filipino idiomatic expression “Pupulutin ka sa kangkungan,” which literally means that “your body will be found in the swamp spinach pond.” It is a warning that “you will die an ignominious death or be summarily executed.”
Not beyond redemption
I disagree with De Leon’s theme that the Philippines is beyond redemption. He is referring to the ominous signs that dictatorial rule is back and Duterte is vying for absolute power. He also laments that Filipinos seem to have forgotten the havoc wrought by plunder under former president Ferdinand Marcos. Duterte, especially, is flaunting his close friendship with the Marcoses.
True, there are also many times when political events drive me to sheer desperation. But I refuse to believe that the Philippines is beyond redemption. True, it is frustrating, especially for the youth, to look back to 1986 and conclude that nothing much has changed since then and at present, we appear to be reverting back to authoritarian rule. But, as long as there are people who care, as long as WE care, I believe that things can still change and our country is not beyond redemption.
In fact, my own mantra is: let us continue to do well in what we do, in spite of, and despite, government.
De Leon says the Senate is the last bastion of hope to check the totalitarian tendencies of the administration. Hence, he admonished the film’s viewers that the votes we cast in this May election will spell our future. We should campaign among like-minded people that our votes count and we should vote for people who will indeed work hard to bring about change for our future.
I hope his message will indeed get across to a majority of Filipinos, especially those who voted for Duterte.
Catriona Gray brings good news
With all the bad air expended by politicians who have bloated views of themselves, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray brings a refreshing whiff of positive air. She is not just beautiful, she is intelligent and has a passionate desire to help children.
Even before she won the pageant, Gray has a good track record helping the children of illegal settlers in Tondo.
That’s why I find it ridiculous when presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said that Gray is misinformed and needs to be educated about Filipino children. Panelo was reacting to Gray’s statement:
“Imbes na babaan ang age of criminality, bakit hindi i-address ang dahilan kung bakit natutulak ang mga bata na gumawa ng krimen (Instead of lowering the age of criminal responsibility, why don’t we address the root causes that push children to commit crime)?”
Gray explained further, “I worked with a lot of children and know that children are not disposed to act that way. It’s probably the circumstances of their environment or external pressures that push children to commit crimes.”
It will be educational for our lawmakers to spend time working with the children of informal settlers.
I am glad to know that the Chinese Embassy has denied the claim of presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua had told him that China would deport undocumented Filipino workers if the Philippines sent back illegal Chinese workers to China.
The embassy said in a Feb. 28 statement: “The Chinese embassy in the Philippines did not say that Beijing would adopt a ‘tit-for-tat’ approach should the Philippine government deport Chinese nationals found working illegally in the country. China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. Chinese law enforcement agencies will continue to properly handle relevant issues concerning foreign nationals, working illegally in China.”
I had my doubts when Panelo used the phrase “tit for tat” when he disclosed on Feb. 26 his supposed conversation with Zhao: “That is what the Chinese ambassador told me during dinner, that if this government will just deport Chinese not in accordance with law, then we will also do the same. That’s tit for tat.”
No diplomat worth his salt would dare threaten a government for implementing its own laws. But I started to wonder if it was possible when the Chinese embassy did not immediately issue a denial.
Duterte has aired vitriolic tirades against human rights groups, the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church for criticizing his war on drugs. But he was the source of Panelo’s speculation when he announced that China may deport the 300,000 Filipino workers in China.
Duterte should be informed that there aren’t many Filipino workers in China. The Inquirer reports that data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show that when the Duterte administration took office in 2016, only 9,166 Filipinos were working in China.
Most importantly, rarely do Filipino workers in China have illegal status because the penalty for hiring illegal workers is high, especially for foreign workers. Moreover, most of them work for Chinese employers, some for Tsinoy companies largely as professionals, not as domestic helpers. In contrast, the Chinese workers here work for Chinese employers, and a great number of them have no work permits and are, therefore, illegal.
Deporting them for breaking our laws is but proper and must be promptly done.