This Battle We Fight

Dearest Bem,

You chose as your favorite photo of me and the President a most memorable photo indeed. This was taken October 2015 in the President’s favorite carinderia in Davao City—when he hadn’t thrown in his hat in the presidential ring.

I was with my pops who wanted to say hi to the mayor and what I remember the most about this night was how kind the President was to my father. As soon as he saw my father, he reached out to him and said warmly, kindly, “Good evening Justice. How are you?” There was a huge crowd waiting to have their picture taken with him and yet he took his sweet time with my pops.

Papa has severe dementia now plus he is practically deaf on both ears so it takes a lot of patience and compassion to accord him the respect and dignity he deserves when you have a simple conversation with him. And this, Mayor Duterte gave my father that night. Complete with photo op—of him and pops, of him and me, of him and papa’s 2 nurses–Morris and Angel, of him and all of us. All possible combinations and permutations.

I didn’t feel rushed at all. That is the kind of man our President is.

Someone who is kind to those who are of no use to him. And isn’t this an accurate way to measure the kind of human being he is?

Thank you Bem. This has been a long and often lonely fight for me—no matter if I fight alongside millions of Filipinos who love and support this man the way I do.

I have lost “friends” along the way and I’ve been backstabbed far more times than I care to remember. I am cheese with all the holes on me for all those stabbings I’ve had.

The deepest cuts, though, were from people I supposedly share blood with. And for no other reason than because I support a man they hate. (Of course, there are much deeper cray cray reasons such as undealt with personal issues. But I no longer carry burdens I’m not supposed to carry. Absolutely refuse to. My burdens are heavy enough. So there’s that.)

But for every betrayal, the Universe rewarded me with people who have taught me the real meaning of ‘sister’, ‘family’, ‘friend’. You would be front and center, Bem. I have seen you defend me online when you didn’t think I was looking. And while it is true I don’t need anyone to fight my battles for me, it touches me so much when others do this.

And so healing too.

Thank you.

In the end, I have no reason to complain. None. And so many many reasons to be nothing but grateful. I would insult the Hand that gave you to me if I whined incessantly.

I hold in my arms an abundance of friendships that are sterling and true–friends like you who say stuff that make me laugh out loud even as I want to cry in gratitude and sheer love. Things like “Those who troll you troll me.” Haha.. Thank you, my dear sistah.

You are precious to me.

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