"MAYBE you're living in my world now, I'm not living in yours."
That was a line from the movie Sing Street, said by a young man to the school bully who once bullied him early in the film. This time, the boy who has found his voice as a songwriter and vocalist in a band, did not flinch. He knows what he has become and the bully and his words mean nothing to him.
Somehow I imagined those words when Retired Justice Antonio Carpio took President Rodrigo Duterte's challenge seriously to debate on the West Philippine Sea issue. It was like the justice walked into the president's turf and said he is not afraid of all the cussing and taunting, and guess who blinked and chickened out.
You may say Carpio is not a musician, and the President is the rockstar politician, but let's talk about that world the retired justice had burst.
For the past five years, we have seen the world of Duterte, broadcast in media and Internet, a world where critics, nationalists, journalists, Lumad and the poor exist only to be his target of rants and ad hominen attacks. He ranted until a senator was thrown to jail, a Chief Justice removed from her post, a broadcast network closed down, a Vice President getting all the disrespect from his followers.
Since the pandemic, his is a world that sees the threat are the communists, not the coronavirus that has claimed thousands of lives or the Chinese army in our seas that has displaced our fisherfolk and navy.
Carpio just showed how that world can crumble when you walk in and showed him the truth. It's a battle that Carpio is prepared and is cool about, with documents of historical facts and legal decisions that showed the islands in WPS belong to the Philippines and we never gave it up as the President claimed.
The President backed off, and his world is now reduced to a table of loyal men patting his back as they try to rationalize what just happened.
But what happened was Carpio showing us a world or people that believe in fighting for sovereignty, for the dignity of fisherfolk, for the rights of our people, for our sense of a nation still exists.
Back to that movie, the young man's final words to the bully were: "You can only stop things, not create things."
Leaders are those who create hope and possibilities, and in the past years we see that in the nameless ones putting up pantries, saving the sick in hospitals, helping the poor, the Lumad and Moro and the marginalized. That world is still possible.