Lately, I have been the butt of jokes by friends and acquaintances. This is due to my wholehearted, unquestionable support for the current President. I don’t owe them any explanations. And if I can be bothered to give an explanation to anybody, I would only tell them this:

I love my country.

I guess I have always been nationalistic. I have always had this deep love for my country. I’m not really sure where or from whom I learned it. Maybe I learned it in school. Maybe I learned it from all the books I’ve gobbled up since my elementary days. Or maybe I learned it from my Dad.

I remember one time when I was a kid, my family and I watched a program that was held at the grounds in front of the Municipal Hall. Of course, the municipal hall being what it is, it had a Philippine flag flying overhead. They lowered the flag before the program started and slowly raised it while the national anthem was sung.

I did what every elementary-school kid is taught to do: I stood up straight, put my right hand over my chest and sang the national anthem from the bottom of my heart. My eyes were completely focused on the flag the whole time. To this day, I can still vividly remember how I felt.

Pride. I was proud to be a Filipino. Even if I never understood what it meant to be one back then.

Afterwards, I noticed every adult who was standing around me laughing and pointing at me. My young mind could never understand the reason for such laughter, which was sprinkled with more than its share of ridicule.

But now I know why. They were laughing at me for my show of nationalism. Because there is one sad truth that can be said for the southernmost provinces of the Philippines: nationalism is dead. There is no real love for country. There never was.

Of course, we love our families, our tribes, our heritage.

But not many of us ever really counted ourselves as Filipinos. We always identified ourselves according to our tribe, but almost never as Filipinos. But never make the mistake of judging us or ridiculing us for feeling this way. At least not before you acquaint yourself with our history. The TRUE history that is often not written in history books.

Learn about the history of the Sama, the Tausug, and the Badjaos that the American colonizers and subsequent Americanized ‘historians’ have erased.

THIS is why I am fully in support of the current Philippine President. He alone has voiced out everything that I have always wanted to say about my country. He echoes the various posts and rants that I’ve posted on my Facebook timeline. He knows how it feels to be seen as the underdog and to struggle to make your dignity be recognized.

SO yes, people can continue calling me MEMA. A wannabe-political-analyst. A Duterte apologist. This-and-that or whatever.

But no one can ever accuse me of not loving my country enough to know that it finally has the kind of leader that it deserves.