Lugar Lang: Time to call out your Tatay D

I’ve been thinking about family lately. Every time I lose my househelp in Davao City, I come unhinged. It’s not the housework, really.

It’s more about not having anyone to stay with my children, who are still minors, when I have to travel. Well-meaning friends say, “But don’t you have relatives who can stay with them while you’re away?” Nope, no relatives in Davao or neighboring towns. It’s just my children and me.

It’s a consequence of choices I’ve made. My freedom was more important to me than a family network that I had to please in exchange for support. I had hoped I would find a partner and friends that I could rely on in emergency situations, and sometimes I did. Ultimately it’s just me and my wonderful kids, who are independent and low maintenance. I wonder though if they sometimes consider me a burdensome mother.

The thing about family is that we cannot abandon it. Or at least we shouldn’t.

That’s why even though I’ve been estranged from my husband for 10 years, we still see each other when he visits the children every year. We have each learned to adjust to this unconventional family, because that’s what we need to do. Couples may break up but we don’t break up with the children. If we were truly a family.

And that’s probably why those who consider President Duterte their father—“Tatay Digong”— continue to stand by him despite all the consequences of his foibles. See for instance his own biological daughter, Sara, who despite her own confession that she had been raped continues to accept his cold response that he doesn’t believe her, calling her a “drama queen.”

She even defends his consistent ‘jokes’ about rape, the latest of which reflects her own governance of Davao City. The city’s “Tatay Digong” dismissed the high number of rape cases in Davao as a consequence of its many beautiful women, and his daughter defends him by asking, “What have you done to help?” It is a weak “Tu quoque” fallacy, which deflects attention from the main argument by focusing on the opponent’s seeming hypocrisy and inability to solve the problem. Clearly she misses the point critics are making about how the president’s misogynistic remark pins the blame on the victims and perpetuates rape culture.

Moreover, it shows a childish response to a societal problem that is in fact, the responsibility of her office, not the audience. It prompted some locals to reply that we have indeed done our part by paying our taxes so that she can do her job. And by the way, those of us who called out the sexist remark have also done our part by not committing any of those rapes. Yes, I know I’m fighting a fallacy with a fallacy. In these times where nothing makes sense anymore, we fight with what we can.

“Kaya pa ba?” We ask those who remain loyal to their “Tatay Digong” and his administration after listing the various forms of suffering we are all facing: inflation is at an all-time high, large volumes of drugs are still being shipped into the Philippines, China is taking over the West Philippine Sea, weevil-infested rice is being forced on us, imported galunggong fish is flooding the market, the Marcoses are back in power, Mocha Uson is still alive and kicking. “Kaya pa ba?” Can you still take it?

Is that what family means? Always accepting and making excuses for the mistakes of our members, especially our parents? I’m not saying abandon your loyalties just because someone’s promises have not been fulfilled. But I do hope there is a time when being family means seeing each other clearly and demanding that we make things right.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized