This is President Duterte's Philippines

Police brutality abroad.

As a 2nd-gen FilAm millennial, I'm having a lot of trouble connecting with first generation Filipino-Americans on the subject of President Duterte. Most feedback I get from my elders is along the lines of "just be glad we don't live there anymore. It's always been better in the States which is why we fought so hard and sacrificed so much to be here." And then everyone moves on to other less heavy dialogue. It's dismissive actually and quite honestly pisses me off - feeding into this fucked mentality of "oh we don't have to worry about that now, those days are in the past, we're Americans." Even in the Twitter universe, the general discussion is from white folks saying things like "this is an exceptional piece of journalism" or "stunning work capturing a horrifying topic" straight up praising the journalist/media outlet as the focal point of conversation rather than actually talking about what's going on here - as if this is something so foreign that we cannot even connect to it at home.


But we can. And that's what's so painful to me.


Duterte has publicly endorsed Trump. Dark humor memes are circling around of him, Putin, Trump, and Xi being the new era faces representing the "modern Axis powers." Trump says Duterte is handling drug problems the "the right way."


This is Duterte's Philippines.


"AS MY TIME IN THE PHILIPPINES WORE ON, the killings seemed to become more brazen. Police officers appeared to do little to hide their involvement in what were essentially extrajudicial executions. Nanlaban had become a dark joke.


“There is a new way of dying in the Philippines,” said Redentor C. Ulsano, the police superintendent in the Tondo district. He smiled and held his wrists together in front of him, pretending to be handcuffed."


I'm not sure what it is I'm searching for in posting this. Maybe just a safe space to share this. Maybe some words of hope. Maybe some insight. Idk, but thank you so much for reading this post, and thank you especially for reading the photo essay.


Here's the photo essay.