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But not


by Gari ramos

About But Not really.

The Philippines elected Rodrigo Duterte as their new president in 2016. He is often called the Trump of the East, but his election comes along with human rights violations. He began an anti-drug campaign that encouraged policemen and mercenaries to go into the streets and slaughter anyone caught with drugs before any conviction. His drug war, although now postponed, was almost entirely supported by the Filipino voters with the exception of the more educated Filipinos. I hold a Filipino passport. I am Filipino. But not really.


The many controversial events of 2016 were covered and discussed pretty thoroughly by the United States media and my peers. The drug war in the Philippines, however, was often overlooked. I needed an outlet to express my internal struggle. I began by channeling my inner Lin-Manuel Miranda and writing the words to a poem, then turned my house upside down to find appropriate lighting to film myself performing. In post-production, I used my technical know-how regarding iMovie to incorporate the visuals and sounds of news reports, as well as adding dramatic music. 

The time you felt the most powerful

I felt most powerful with my mentor the week after the person who should’ve been the first female president lost the election to her polar opposite. We had met up two days after Trump’s win, but we were both still in complete denial. It wasn’t until a week later that we started to process together what had happened. Despite meeting up in our usual coffee shop at our usual time, nothing was usual with the world. To try and chart our changing feelings – our stages of grief – we wrote how we felt the morning of the election, the morning after, and that day, one week later. The act of putting our chaotic, fear-filled thoughts onto paper was not just therapeutic, it was empowering. We would get through this. Yes, our world had taken a step back, but we both realized that we – not just myself, but all the women in Girls Write Now – would be the generation to make vital change.

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