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Two years ago on this day, I graduated from college. It didn’t feel celebratory. It was expected to happen, and I don’t have any latin honor to consider it special. My parents didn’t even feel the need to come to the commencement exercises. They’d rather be 12 hours away and working. I fully understand the impracticality. It was even I who suggested them not to come.

Although now I must admit, I am disappointed. Not with them, because they actually didn’t come. But with myself, because I can’t make them come. I feel that I don’t deserve the time and effort they’ll spend just to see their son receive his diploma holder at some stage for approximately 5 seconds.

My mother used to think that I’ll be an achiever. I was a scholar and was at the dean’s list on my early college years. Those illusions shattered when one day I came up to her crying because I got two failed grades, both core courses. I was for termination on my scholarship. She has to find a work again so that I’d be able to finish.

Even if i got myself together again after a semester and a summer term – got my scholarship back, and was on the fast track to graduation – I still see myself as a failure. I blew up my chances for a latin honor, I blew up my chances for a nice job after college, and most of all, I blew up the faith my mother has in me. For the first time in my life, she actually thought that I’m not cut for something. That was when I applied for masters. She thinks that my two 5.0′s isn’t gonna pass any evaluation. And even if it did, there’s still no way I can pay for tuition without a scholarship. And during that time, I believed her.

But two years ago this day, everyone was happy. Everyone was celebrating the fact that they survived the first quarter of their lives. And I wanted mine to look like a celebration too. Or at least make it smell like one.

So I drowned myself in alcohol the night before. I didn’t remember being happy, nor did I remember it being a success. But I remember myself in there along with other graduates – hungover as fuck I can’t feel any other emotion.

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Sometimes I want to post a long rant about why we should stand for the democracy of the country. But then I realized that my “woke” friends are already standing up, and based on debates I had with some Duterte supporters – they actually wanted this. To them, democracy is trash and we need to be more like North Korea. Because despite of the image that NK has internationally, they find dictatorship to be the Philippines’ only hope in order to “discipline” its people.

It’s sad because while it’s only today that we have lost our trust in the system, they have lost their trust in it a long time ago. To them, it’s only fitting that Sereno got ousted. Because as the chief justice, they felt that she – or the judiciary system as a whole – has done nothing to save them from the injustices that happens to them on a day to day basis.

I remember asking a guy in Dagohoy about why the streetlights are out. After telling me that the cables were stolen by guys from Old Balara, he proceeded to tell me that it’s actually better now. He told me that before the “tokhang” days, those Old Balara guys are unstoppable in their daily petty crimes. Worse, they in Dagohoy are taking the blame since the muggers of Old Balara run to Dagohoy to lose their victim. If you are part of this sector in our population, there’s nothing else you could see Duterte other than the hero who saved them from the bad guys. And from there, everything else that he does becomes heroic, and there’s nothing you could do to change their mind.

Unfortunately, while few of us are privileged enough to go to some good university and learn about what’s right and wrong, these guys – which comprises majority of the population – didn’t. They don’t care about the constitution, or democracy, or whatever intimidating words you have in your vocabulary. All they want is to get through the day and in their point of view, Duterte is the guy that makes that happen for them. If freedom means they get mugged again, then screw your bourgeois ass.

It’s not that I agree with them or what’s happening now. But this is what populism is. This is what the majority wants. I just hope we don’t come to regret this in the next few years.

I see Thanos as some sort of natural phenomenon. I think it’s a narrative on us humans. We are relentless in our pursuit of knowledge and advancement, dominating our way in the tree of evolution, to the point that we destroyed balance in nature itself. Thanos is like the inevitable thing that needs to happen in order to restore balance in nature. And we humans are like the Avengers, trying to stop that from happening because we are so convinced that what we are doing and what we believe is right. We believe we can stand even against the force of nature itself. But in the end, it’s our human nature – our flaws, emotions, and impulses – that eventually brought us to our demise.

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Weird. I am supposed to be happy. It’s been a while since I crossed something out in my bucket list. But, why do I feel nothing? Is it because this still does not compensate for the two 5.0′s i got two years ago? Is it because I don’t think i deserve it? Or is it because it’s not as glorious as I thought it would be? I still feel like something is lacking, like there should be something more to this than just a number. A feeling of validation perhaps. I want to feel that I am one of the smart people around. But why do I still feel dumb even though I topped a Stochastic Calculus for Finance course with PhD students and economists as classmates in UP? And most of all, why was it too easy? Did I suddenly became smarter the moment my right foot stepped in my dream school?

Or maybe it hasn’t sinked in yet. Because for now, I’m more excited of my two other grades, and if I would be chosen for next year’s conference. The latter is the one I wanted more. I want to build my name in this field, and I want to start now. I want a publication. I want to have something to be proud of when I move on to a PhD. I still want to be one of the smart people around. I want to prove that I am one of the smart people around.

My standards just can’t keep up with my expectations. When will I grow.

There was this behavioral study suggesting that blind obedience to authority leads turns people into psychopaths. Even a random, normal person could turn into a torturer once authority permits them to do so. There was replication of the study which proves its credibility.

As a matter of fact, the first few years of the martial law were “good” according to people, since there was discipline and all. But on the long run, that “good” became abuse, because the power that was given to authorities corrupted them, leading to massive human rights violations to literally just anyone. See the pattern?

Now, The martial law would have sounded reasonable even if it was the whole mindanao, if;
1. Two of the reasons why martial law was proclaimed wasn’t proven false, i.e., that beheaded baranggay captain and burned hospital.
2. Our leader is reasonable and consistent in his statements. “nag martial law tayo noon, may nangyari ba sa atin? wala”, “I will be harsh”, “mang-rape kayo ng tatlo, ako bahala”, and some other ridiculous shit, makes me want to think that he really is up to no good. What if his army decides to take these joke seriously?
3. The Maute are druglords. As if all of his creativity went down the drain and blamed it on the drugs again. I wouldn’t be shocked if some bomb went off somewhere in the visayas or luzon and he declares martial law in the whole Philippines, just for the reason that the drug problem that he claims can’t be stopped. Sounds like the marawi attack was a political propaganda after all.
4. The congress isn’t full of duterte’s crony. Yes, the constitution retains the power of the legislative and judiciary branches of the government. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t be a dictator, especially with that Aguirre guy around. The congress wasn’t even required to do a special session to deliberate the declaration of martial law. Bibigyan nalang daw sila ng copies ng report. Joke lang siguro ang martial law sa mga congressman.

If this is the commander in chief that the army pledges their allegiance to, plus the fact that your habeas corpus friend is now suspended, i would have second thoughts. The last thing that I want for our heroes is for them to become the villain. Again.