Naga and Davao

Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church, Daraga, Albayand their respective candidates represent two types of Filipinos: the villager and the tribesman. This contrast was formed in colonial times. Those who lived in the villages, became Christians and those who were in places outside colonial control. In Bikol these people were called remontados, often fierce and independent bandits. The villagers sometimes called them gentil – Gentiles or non-Christians, and feared them. The pronounced contrast between Rodrigo Duterte and Leni Robredo is an echo of the times that formed the Filipino in these two extremes and all in between.

There are indeed those who have voted Duterte for President and Robredo for Vice-President – I know some. Strange but could it be an instinctive attempt to reconcile that contrast? The Spaniards are gone, the Americans are allies. Nobody forces anyone to be Christian anymore, yet Duterte’s convulsive rejection of “Christian” and “Western” values plus the constant references to 1521 speak a language of their own. His way of dealing with Davao reminds one of a pre-Hispanic raja and his datus, while Robredo’s approach is village-style bayanihan with civic groups.

Almost 150 years ago, there was a mayor who reconciled the two, but as a villager bringing in the tribesmen. Don Higino Templado of Tiwi, Albay: The three generations before me were all born in that town at the edge of the wilderness. Cararayan, the pleasant or nice place, was their home – just between the old fishing village of Tigbi along the Pacific coast and the purportedly wild hills about which many stories abound, with a road built in those days to connect the two. The village assimilated the wilderness in those days. Now things seem to be reversed.

The wilder attitudes are returning once more. Possibly civilization was only a very thin paint coating for many. Metro Manila is a concrete jungle. Yet the strong numbers of Leni Robredo show that there is a naturally Filipino attitude among many that is not wild and resentful. At the same time NOT as docile or over-domesticated as some nationalists like to paint Christian Filipinos.

Duterte partly tamed the Wild South, but his approach may bring wildness back. Hope Leni Robredo wins as VP, to partly tame that aspect. Civilized behaviour should not be seen as un-Filipino.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, 10 May 2016, München





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