I love the random conversations with my dad. Earlier, he talked about how much he hated racism and discrimination.
“All I care about is a person’s character and intentions. Everything else like color of his skin doesn’t matter,” he told me while fixing the water-damaged ceiling above my parents’ kitchen.
He then told me to be careful in the Philippines. He was worried that I might get caught up in the purge.
“Speaking of discrimination, Duterte’s vigilantes don’t discriminate on who they kill,” he said.
My mother and I had this same conversation last week. She is a vocal critic of the Duterte administration. Her Roman Catholic principles would never allow her to be a proponent of capital punishment, much less extrajudicial killings, even if the intended targets are alleged criminals. My mom, dad and everyone else knows that anyone can be labeled a criminal to justify a killing.
“If he’s so tough, why doesn’t he go after the drug lords from China who pollute our country with meth and pills and are responsible for human trafficking?” she said.
Actually, to be fair, Duterte did go after them. He shut down their operations in prison (supposedly). The problem is he’s not a fan of journalists either. The Philippines is consistently one of the deadliest places to be a journalist, especially investigative reporters. The largest death toll of journalists from a single attack in modern history, the Maguindanao Massacre, is still a fresh wound in the Philippines.
The funny thing is that my parents don’t know I’m going to the Philippines to do an investigative project, and that I will be up close and personal with killers who could have a bullet reserved for me. No one in my family knows. And yet they’re already worry.
In a way, that’s why I savor these simple memories, these conversations with them in the kitchen.