After the successful staging of Tao Po at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Hall, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, United Kingdom last October 16, Tao Po will be knocking on the hearts of Filipinos and non-Filipinos in Berlin this Monday, October 21, 7pm (CET) at the Al Hamra Bar, Raumerstrasse 16, Berlin.

The last of the six-city Europe tour of the controversial monologue about the lives moved by the Philippine government’s ‘war on drugs’ will be staged in the traditional cultural Berlin space through the partnership of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, Juana Change Movement, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and its country partners Gabriela Germany, Anti-Colonial Berlin and Migrante Europe.

Overwhelming support from British and Filipinos in London

Despite the unpredictably rainy London weather, almost 200 Filipinos and British flocked the London leg of Tao Po play and Nanlaba(n) Photoexhibit. The excited audience raised questions that revolved around digging an explanation as to why the policy that has resulted to the killings is still enjoying support and how the UK citizens and Filipinos in the diaspora can help.

“Ang mga pagpaslang ng rehimeng Duterte simula 2016 ay krisis din ng pakikipag-kapwa-tao. Dalawang konsepto: ‘pakikipag-kapwa’ at ‘tao’…Sa krisis ng pakikipagkapwa-tao ng rehimen na ito, ang pinapaslang at pumapaslang ang dehado, maging ang mga tahimik na nakikinood lang at mga taga-palakpak sa mga patayan: hindi ako magiging ako, kung binura na ng mga pagpaslang ang kapwa. Ang ‘war on drugs’ ni Duterte ay pumaslang at pumapaslang ng mga tao at ng kanyang kapwa,” Rogelio Braga, a graduate of Birkbeck University and reactor for the play, said as he explained the timeliness and significance of bringing Tao Po in a foreign land such as the UK.

(The killings of Duterte administration since 2016 is also a crisis of human relations. The two concepts: “pakikipagkapwa” or sharing of identity and “tao” or human… In this crisis, those being killed and those who are commanded to kill are at the losing ends; even those who remain silently watching and those who support the killings. One can no longer be her/himself when the killings have erased and deprived her/him of her/his fellow human. And Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ is killing the human beings and its fellow human.)

“I thought the performance tonight was just heart breaking and brave…What I found particularly moving and realistic was the Zumba instructor and that sense that there was an explosion of anger and that she wasn’t allowed to grieve because her loved ones were called monsters because they were drug-users,” said Andrew Marshall, a reporter for Reuters who also spent more than a year in the Philippines to cover the ‘war on drugs’.

Sharing his personal experience on losing a loved one and grieving, “the performance reminded me [the Philippines] is still a nation that hasn’t grieved enough; it’s not just that justice isn’t there but it hasn’t grieved. And I think what the performance has done is a cry of anger but also a reminder that the trauma is very much untreated and ongoing.”

Tao Po’s Mae Paner and Rise Up’s Marissa Lazaro and Katherine Bautista, mothers of victims and advocate Niki Gamara, all sat for the TalkBack, the Q&A that usually follows the monologues.

Making true of its promise to create a space for conversation, a British national and self-proclaimed supporter of President Duterte also raised his cent and questions, though nervously but calmly. While having a different view, he himself admitted to be touched by the photos of Nanlaba(n) and the play and how it has put the message across and expressed his sympathies for anybody who has been killed.

“It is unfortunate that this issue has been dividing us as a nation and even widened the gap of our understanding and appreciation of human life and its dignity. At the end of it all, the bastardization of due process, the stigmatization and vilification of the victims and even the instruments of the culprits and perpetrators have only created nothing but fear among us. The only ones that benefit out of this is the system and ruling clique that perpetuates a society stripped off of its humanity,” said Garry Martinez of Migrante Europe, one of the organizers of the event.

The Tao Po: Rising Up for Justice and Humanity Europe is culminating its month-long truth-telling tour in the historical city of Berlin. Germany, known for its strong human rights commitment through the UN, EU and its presence in the Philippines, is one of the newly-elected members of the UN Human Rights Council set to report and tackle the human rights situation in the Philippines next June.

Rise Up
Rise Up for Life and for Rights--a network of advocates and families of victims of drug-related killings--registers disgust and deep criticism of the President’s callousness toward the feelings of families affected by extrajudicial killings(EJKs), especially of the mothers who grieve over the death of their loved ones every single day of their lives.