The story of SHABU, slang for meth, reflects what has been occurring in the Philippines since 2016 with President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug reformation laws. In a country consumed with crime and poverty, his iron fist has lowered drug trade to an all-time low but at the expense of a significant increase in violence. The President has openly stated that he’d be happy to “slaughter” drug addicts and has endorsed vigilante killings which enabled numerous executions all over the city and surrounding provinces. My film intends to make a statement on how words influence corrupted individuals with malicious intent. By imagining a United States where such a law exists, we explore the societal dance between a President’s orders and extrajudicial killings and how that affects innocent civilians who choose to ignore their environment. My hope for SHABU is to raise awareness on the topic and allow viewers to inform themselves more on what could be done for those brutally murdered.
The collaboration from pre-production to post-production was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had on a project. The drive from the Cast & Crew was infectious and only further challenged me to do the best I can to do this narrative some justice. I truly couldn’t have done this project without the amazing team that was onboard. I have only scratched the surface of the situation in the Philippines and I intend to keep myself updated with current events. More so what could be done.There are numerous groups trying to spread the word and inform others which is something I want to be part of. If I get people engaged in this particular conversation, then I feel that I have done my job.
I’ve talked to several people, both for and against President Duterte, on the statement I am trying to make with SHABU. That’s not an easy one to answer in a single sentence. On one hand, I don’t live in the Philippines so I wouldn’t be able to personally understand the difficulties and trauma of these drug-related crimes and why these changes are essential for the great good. Statistically speaking, crime rates have lowered which only continues to raise the admiration and influence of Duterte’s power. But what I can’t ignore is his endorsement for the bloodshed. His words are only as bad as the criminals that he adamantly seeks. He influences people to carry out these killings which only becomes rationalized as another criminal being taken out from the streets. I want to further the conversation that when such power and voice exists, corruption manifests in bolder ways; one killing after another. Where is the justice there?
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