We all started from nowhere. We were all strangers from each other. But there were two things common among all of us — love for our Motherland the Philippines and a dream that one day our country will be great again.
For many years, for decades, we never thought that the sun would rise again on the shore of our archipelago full of new hope. It happened on that day when then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte decided to run for President. It was like an image where the heaven opened its gate and our Almighty God offered a man who would rebuild the glory of the Philippines.
Then all of a sudden Filipinos both in the Philippines and other countries jumped out of joy. But we also thought it was a critical moment for all of us to come forward to make sure this God-sent man would win the Presidency.
There, from nowhere, like ripples — volunteers and ordinary people came forward and united for one cause: to support Mayor Duterte. That ripples flowed strongly in the world of social media. Like a miracle, like a magic — we, from different countries such as Australia, USA, UK, Hong Kong, UAE, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, and more — got to know each other. We call it the Duterte Magic.
One by one — I got to know people from different countries: Janise Salcedo from Hawaii, Gemma Sotto from New York, Moe Wicks from UK, Modesto Trillado from Melbourne, Ligaya Austria Diez from Hong Kong, Rex Emano from Dubai, Kelly Kellogs Dayag from North California, Rex Yap from New Zealand, Chini Huang from Taiwan, and many more.
Getting to know these people made our commitment stronger each day. Amidst all the challenges we found from each other a hand who would push us up toward the same goal.
Back home, volunteers and the masses heeded this invisible call to unite in helping Mayor Duterte who had no political dream to become a President and no political machinery and funds to run — to face the challenges and assure victory.
His time has come. His victory was our victory. His victory was the victory of our country.
From the day when we were pleading him to run as President till now that he is already our leader — we passionately and unceasingly shouted for and defended his name! We embraced our President as our very own father. Indeed, he is the father of our nation.
It never came to my mind that I would see him one day. As a DDS leader in Sydney, I have always advocated that it is not a prerequisite to see in person the President. We are all volunteers. We do this without expecting anything in return.
This makes me reminisce my personal Duterte story. I was just an ordinary person in Sydney. I didn’t intend to lead the group or organise a rally.
I followed a Duterte page for Sydney. I was eagerly waiting for any announcement if we would have a rally of support for Mayor Duterte. It was 1st of April 2016 when I posted a question in the page if there will be a gathering in Sydney. Many supporters responded and also wanted to have one. But no one was willing to organise an event. Perhaps, it was a call of time and necessity — I volunteered, with the help of my fellow supporters, to organise a rally. It was probably one of the most challenging experiences I had. I didn’t know anyone. We didn’t have manpower and money. But again a Duterte magic came in the heart of Sydney. One by one — people came day by day to volunteer and help to facilitate the event.
The day came. April 30, 2016. It was an historic day for Duterte supporters in Sydney and Australia. More than a thousand Fil-Aussies came to join the rally at Hickson Road Reserve, facing the iconic Sydney Opera House. It was such an emotional experience. Patriotism and joy overflowed. Some people were teary-eyed while we were singing our ‘Pambansang Awit.’ It was a day full of acts of volunteerism, ‘bayanihan.’
I cannot forget that day. I was there. April 30, 2016. Thus, we are called April30forDU30.
Then came April 3, 2019. It was the day when I met in person the man I gave my life, talents, and time. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. When I took his hand to bless me, ‘para magmano,’ I carried in my heart and spirit the love of my fellow kababayan and ka-DDS in Sydney and Australia for our Tatay Digong. It was my mission to personally give to him the love of Filipinos in Australia for him. I said to the President: “Marami pong nagmamahal sa inyo sa Australia.”
Together with other DDS Global leaders, we met our President full of pride and joy. With the help of our fellow volunteers such as Pebbles Duque, Gemma Sotto, and Janise Salcedo — our dream to see the Man of our Nation became a reality.
It was a great day!
During our meeting with him, he conveyed his disappointment about corruption within his own backyard. He talked to us like a father, a loving father who was so worried and wanted to assure his children of a better future.
Meeting him face to face — I cannot even fathom my feelings. Together with my fellow supporters, we were all astonished and overwhelmed. But one thing I am sure: I felt his genuine love for our country. I felt like he is my very own father.
But the mission doesn’t stop there. We will continue to call for Real Change. We shall continue to support and help one another in making our country great again. The President needs us. He cannot do everything on his own.
This is my Duterte story and I know it is your story too. And perhaps you have a better one!