Anarchy in the Philippines: The Quest for Unity & Equality for All

by Lynda Lorraine

Since the June 2016, Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has claimed between 12,000 and 20,000 lives, through ‘legitimate’ police operations and vigilante-style killings carried out by unknown assassins.

Jess Kohl

Anarchy in the Philippines, a film about Filipino Punks living under the war on drugs takes a look at Manila’s radical DIY scene, a punk response to Rodrigo Duterte’s violent rule.

The dangerous war on drugs in the Philippines is severe and still a largely unknown situation globally, but by telling their story the director Jess Kohl hopes that their challenges become more widely known.

The punk scene in Manila is heavily influenced by Malcom McLaren’s philosophy of early British punk. Their expression to living in a society that you don’t feel included in, of a release and peaceful protest from the pressures and challenges they face in everyday life.

Read the interview with the director Jess Kohl on Dazed&Confused here.

If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.

Rodrigo Duterte

“We wear black because of the darkness in everyday life, because, with everything that is happening, we can’t see the light. Especially in the Philippines, there is violence, killings, that’s what’s around us every day. For me, wearing gear is one form of peaceful protest that a punk can do. It doesn’t involve violence. You can make a statement on the state of the world just by what you wear.”

On June 30th 2016, President Duterte launched his murderous ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines – known in the country as a ‘war on the poor’.

Jess Kohl

“Why not Anarkiya Pilipinas, instead? Yeah, it should be that.”

“I saw her in the mosh pit. Someone threw up in the middle and everyone dispersed. DIY means do it yourself, looking cool is all up to you. Its just like Malcom McLaren said: “They made the ugliness beautiful”.

“These are my influences – like Youth of Today, Global Threat and this is Crass and this is my band, State Violence. People are shocked by my spiked hair – they’re culture shocked. They often ask to have their pictures taken with me but I don’t really mind when they do.”

“Yeah, I’ve experienced discrimination on my own street. People are always staring saying I’m going nowhere and assuming I have all these vices just because of the way I look.”

“If you wear something different – you’re automatically a drug addict. If you look different – you’re a drug addict again.”

“Mom, look at my tattoo.” “Oh my.” “The next one is going to be on my face.” “I won’t let you back in the house if you do that.”

“Now the effect of the war on drugs is huge. It doesn’t just effect the punks, but every community, especially people who live a simple life they are effected the most. The poor people are the number one victims. There are a lot of murders, there are a lot of kids that die, a lot of poor people that die, a lot of innocent people that are affected.”

“This gig was organised for the benefit of Gwen. A girl with a disease, with some mental problems. We felt bad because she couldn’t afford the needs…. the needs of a human being.”

“I know what it feels like to be treated like nothing, the violence and the torture of the police. They put a gun to my head to scare me. Sometimes I think about how I was imprisoned even though I was innocent and I feel like crying. I was in jail for 10 months. 10 months in jail.”

“One of the punks was killed by Duterte’s squad. Duterte’s squad is like a vigilante. They plant drugs and guns on you so, when the media come, the police say ‘He fought – he had a gun, he had drugs’. It’s straight to killing, there’s no more mercy. Bu I hope that they do stop killing in the Philippines, all the meaningless killings, this meaningless war.”

“Love! Justice! We need justice. All we want is freedom. Is this the change that you promised? Killing people? They’re killing us all, that’s why I want freedom.”

“Travellers, all you travellers, we’re all a bit rowdy but let’s try and avoid being really, really, really, really, rowdy. And for the DIY community. ‘I hate punk!’ ‘I hate punk!’ I hate punk, fuck you!’.”

“This is the punk scene in the Philippines. Unity, equality for all. Because the purpose of all this is to achieve freedom for everyone. That is everyone’s goal. That’s why we are here, why we are here in this scene.”

Images & Quotes © Jess Johl / Dazed&Confused

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