OpinionSummits like white elephants
Summits like white elephants
December 18, 2017
December 18, 2017

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.

As strong as the indomitable human spirit is, it is not immune to pain. Tangibles, certainly, leave marks that are to be remembered, but it is in the intangibles that leave scars that last a lifetime.

Heartbreak, suffering, and dread leave so much to be desired, yet there is none greater than being lied to and deceived for a cause maligned to what we were made to believe. For even the righteous are laid astray, when the devil comes and falsifies reality.

Last November 12 to 14, the Philippines hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) semi-annual ASEAN summit and related summits in Manila. Aside from the leaders from the ASEAN nations, political figures from other countries, including Japan, New Zealand, China, Russia, Canada, and the United States were all in attendance for the ASEAN’s 50th anniversary.


EDITED_Opinion_Andie Castillo_B_W


With this being one of the biggest events in the country, extensive preparations were brought into place all year round. From the hospitable welcoming of the delegates to their five star lodging, from the Philippines’ patented cultural performances to the security measures, it demanded nothing but the country’s outmost best. It has become customary that whenever we have distinguishable guests, we offer the best version of the Philippines–­the one with clean surroundings, inexistent poverty rates, and a non-belligerent atmosphere.

Yet as tenuous as our President’s three month warranty to efface the country from drug infested streets, one can only subsume that these are realities fabricated, rather than directly manifested. The homeless are taken of the streets only to be “dispatched” again, EDSA is “freed” of congestion not by road improvements but by partitioning a separate lane, and the war on drugs is suspended a day after the controversial drug raid video is obtained by international news agency Reuters–perceived improvements only during times of heightened importance.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) was accused of allegedly “hiding” homeless families during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in 2015. It was again condemned later that year for doing the same during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Given the limitations of the DSWD, it is given that they are unable to fully provide housing to all street beggars, yet it becomes a cause of concern when significant steps forward are undertaken only to impress, and not to improve.

More recently, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) set up ASEAN VIP lanes in EDSA for the delegates and their convoys. But while they enjoyed the convenience provided for them, the Filipino citizen was left to endure the magnified traffic, which doubled, or even tripled, their travel time.

A day after Reuters released CCTV footage on a drug raid in Barangay 19, Manila, President Duterte ordered PDEA to solely undertake all anti-drug operations, definitively suspending Project Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang. This comes a month before the gathering of world leaders in the country and hours after significant evidence proving an anti-poor assault of drug users. Scrupulous at best, and even sickening at worst.

We lie to ourselves when we are convinced that reality is how we want it to be, and not for what it is. We are contrived to put our best foot forward, not to show those who come by our shiny shoes, but to cover the holes left by our own doing. It then becomes a battle of complacency and ninja imagery, rather than that of effectivity. It’s never easy to face our problems head on, but it is only by doing so that we acknowledge their existence. Besides, to believe in evil, was always the first step to bringing it to light.