It’s been months since I last posted here, and the world is slowly burning. I mean, to be honest, a lot’s been on my mind lately but I’ve never really been able to put into words the the mixture of rage, sadness, disappointment, and impotence I’ve been feeling, so I’ve studiously been avoiding writing here in a form of avoidance coping. I’ve instead poured my energies into my photography, pointing my lens at the city I currently live in as it slowly emerges from lockdown – a lockdown I fear it will descend into again soon.

As I’ve previously mentioned here, I’ve assiduously tried to keep away from Philippine politics, but the latest developments back in the Philippines have made me reconsider my position on the matter; now is the time to be political. There’s something afoot in Malacañang, and I don’t like it.

We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. (shouting) You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’

There’s a certain sense of impotence, of wanting to just scream and yell as you have nothing else you can do about things, and maybe the catharsis would be useful. The whole mess that is now the Anti-Terrorism Law, for instance: that vague, draconian, and authoritarian law that we’re told will never be abused by those in government, so Don’t You Worry Your Little Head And Trust Us – the same government who’s screwed up the national COVID-19 response, who’s put the entirety of the archipelago in to lockdown without an actual plan to test; the same government whose spokespersons scramble to put spin into the president’s claims (“he’s joking…”, “he’s neutral on the matter…”, “he didn’t attack ABS-CBN…”) and scrambles to even edit things post-facto, hoping no one’s paying attention, and the same government who’s flouted inane half-baked ideas as “solutions”.

It’s almost impossible now for me to simply brush away everything that’s happening in the land of my birth, and to be honest I am privileged to be able to be even frustrated about it.

I’ve assiduously avoided everything simply because I am here and I feel the judgement of those who would care not a whit for my opinions: who are you to say, for you’ve decided to cast your lot outside of your country?

The impotence comes from the rage of wanting to be back in Manila doing something: protesting, organizing, pushing back the tide – something, anything in the face of the insanity that’s happening; somehow putting my skills in service of the greater good.

But honestly, I’m just scared. I’m scared of what’s happening in the world now, and what’s happening in my country. I’m deathly afraid of what can and will happen, of the worst, whether or not it will come to pass.

The long night is coming, I fear – it may already be here.

Previously: Gems in My Photo Library