On Watching the Philippine Election From Paris

It’s Monday morning and I’m drinking coffee in the comfort of my apartment. Hunched over my computer, I’m planning the rest of my stay in Paris. French news in the background; coverage of the Philippine presidential election continues to play on repeat.

Duterte, the bombastic and obscene Filipino equivalent of Donald Trump, promises bloody death to petty criminals – very much to the glee of an amnesiac and uneducated electorate. I find the sound of the French translation over the Tagalog to be quite jarring. Even though the two languages are more than familiar to my ears – Filipino, the overheard language of my childhood home; and French, the language of my collegiate studies.

Combined they form a sort of dissonant melody. Two cultures that I know fairly well by now, and yet I can’t help but feel like an outside observer on both fronts.

Bayanga.

Étrangère.

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