Imagine yourself as the maid violated by Rodrigo Dutere in 1959 or the early 1960s. You're up before sunrise and work through the day and you're dead tired at night. You are awakened by a hand inside your panty and you realize it's one of the sons of the amo (master) touching you. Down there.
You can only seethe in silence. It does not even occur to you to raise hell, especially when the abuser is the son of the governor of Davao. You're afraid of the boy with the wild temper, who happens to be the apple of the eye of his mother.
Fast forward to today and that boy is the President of the Philippines. The same one who was dismayed that he wasn't first in raping a missionary; who catcalled a reporter during a presscon; who smooched an overseas Filipina worker; and who wanted female rebels shot in the vagina. He's also a father who once dismissed his daughter Sara as a "drama queen," when she revealed she was a victim of rape.
President Duterte has set the bar so low for decency and respect for women, he may have single-handedly advanced rape culture in the Philippines.
It is also a tragedy that the master-servant social divide when Duterte was a horny, cocky teenager has changed very little. Some maids are still molested, raped, and abused in this day and age. Some are still paid below the minimum wage. The tale of the abused maid is great for telenovelas, but it's a story that needs to end in real life.
This editorial is not so much about the kadiri (gross) President. It’s about our collective responsibility to build a nurturing environment for our children, where leaders don’t set the example by putting fingers in the private parts of domestic helpers, nor lead the mob that call God and religions stupid, nor craft government policy that leads to splattering suspects' brains on pavements.
Let's change the culture that raised a boy like Duterte. That should begin by voting into office candidates with a strong pro-people platform, candidates who will make life better for workers, including domestic helpers, overseas Filipino workers, women, and the poor.
That's also the same formula that will change the abusive dynamic between president and country: a clean and fair elections have the power to restore checks and balances; cut down the fawning lackeys in government; bring back the voice of reasonable dissent; and curb excesses.
Bottomline, we are as much to blame as this chauvinist, misogynist President.
We empower him when we laugh at his sick jokes, we empower him through our silence, we empower him when we suggest that "ignoring Duterete" would be the best course of action.
In mock self-reproach, we sometimes say, "We got the leader we deserve." In many ways, that is true. Leaders do not rise up from the void, they are a product of our society, including our malaise. Once in a while, a leader rises up who embodies the worst in us.