God and the Trickster
Professor Leny Strobel, a retired professor at the Sonoma State University, tells a story of “Juan Pusong,” a trickster figure in the Philippine mythology.
“In indigenous stories, the trickster is usually revered as the one who brings about transformation–as the alchemist of situations where the players eventually recognize the lessons they all must learn. The trickster is not demonized. In some of the stories about the trickster, he might be chastised for his mischief and he might recoil and then walk away in grief over his actions, but he is never cast away by the village because they understand that the trickster is a part of who they are.”
In 2016 we brought into power someone who was going to transform our country into a better Philippines.
Instead, he is transforming us. President Duterte tricks us into believing that change would come from killing the millions of addicts that disrupt our lives. He makes us believe in things that we don’t think have existed before, like the presence of a stupid God.
‘God of the Catholics’
Rodrigo Duterte, the 16thPresident of the Philippines, just mocked God.
His statement landed on the major networks around the world. This is in addition to his long lists of tirades against persons who challenge him.
Though God has not challenged him directly, Duterte with his usual bravado, just called God “stupid.”
Certain Christian denominations supportive of Duterte’s style of governance are silent; all of whom either supported him during the campaign or have interests in the government, like a political appointee or government official.
Early during his campaign sorties, Duterte had lambasted the Catholic clergy because of the alleged sexual abuse he suffered from a priest when he was a high school student. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was specific on that matter, defending the President on his latest tirades against God.
On June 3, during the meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea, Duterte said God was an idiot for ruining humankind, referring to the Genesis’ story of creation.
“So the God of the Catholics? Baloney! We have a new religion when we get out of here: the church of Rodrigo. No limit. You have an obligation to make yourself happy.”
On June 22, at the opening of the National ICT Summit in Davao City, Duterte said:
“Who is this stupid God? You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would destroy the quality of your work. How can you rationalize that God? How can you believe him?”
Father Gil Alejandria, SVD missionary priest observes: “Duterte is out to discredit the Catholic Church because it is the only institution that criticizes him. It seems he wants to see how far he can go with his blasphemous tirades.”
Father Gerry Causapin, says that Duterte is committing blasphemy.
“I am praying for his enlightenment and conversion. His calling God stupid, does not diminish God’s Glory and Omniscience. The more he calls God stupid, the more he shows his arrogance and stupidity. But despite of his ranting, I believe God loves him just the same and knows exactly what to do with him.”
Despite the videos and transcriptions of Duterte’s speech cursing and mocking God, Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) are still defending him, posting on their pages and walls that the mainstream “yellow media” are criticizing Duterte’s every word. Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Roque excuses the presidential tirades as Duterte’s way of expressing his “spirituality.”
Some say the tirades are just another diversionary tactic of Duterte. Rogelio Braga, a Moro author and a scholar, says that Duterte is further polarizing the already divided nation.
“Let’s wait for the next religion that he will utilize to compare and contrast with Christianity. In a country that is culturally diverse and has a history of violent ethno-religious conflict, this political strategy to control and manipulate the population is so dangerous for the vulnerable communities,” Braga claims.
Braga believes that Duterte’s next step is to highlight his Meranao heritage. He believes that the Duterte regime is intensifying the division between Mindanaoans and the people of Luzon, creating irrational hatred against each other.
Ariel Endaya, an architect in Qatar, was an activist during the Martial Law. After the ouster of Marcos, he concentrated on his studis, and later, his work. He is back in activism, by making “memes” to help fellow OFWs understand Duterte in a nutshell.
“Duterte knows how to capture the audience. He uses it to divert our attention to issues like the West Philippine Sea dispute, the Boracay closure, the recent round-up of ‘tambay’ (vagrants), the drug lords, etc.,” Endaya says.
On the same day that Duterte called God stupid, he mentioned that the economy is in a bad shape; the inflation rate has reached 4.6% and the peso has plunged into a 12-year low. He is very worried that the provinces have remained underdeveloped. He said he is consulting with his cabinet on replacing “jueteng” with another numbers game to encourage economic activity. Jueteng is an illegal game that led to the downfall of former presidents Macapagal-Arroyo and Estrada.
Meanwhile, as the world focuses on Duterte’s every word, Filipinos remain toiling and burying their dead; yet many cannot distinguish the truth from fiction or the fake news from the real ones. Parents and teachers are scrambling how to explain Duterte to children.
To borrow Dr. Strobel words: It is up to the rest of the country to figure out the trickster’s game.