Meet The Surfing Son Of The President Of The Philippines
Avoiding The Family Biz.
In 1967, cartoonist Rick Griffin embellished a two-page Surfer magazine illustration with marijuana leaves. A few years after, Surfing magazine journalist Drew Kampion wrote of “the occasional snow-flurry” passing through contestants’ hotel rooms at the Surfing Championships in San Diego — a metaphor that takes little thought to decipher. We’re no angels, either, writing about, a guy who lived fast and died faster with the aid of some unprescribed pharmaceuticals. Nobody’s perfect.
Why mention surfing’s most controversial cultural relationship? Well, multibillion-dollar behemoth it may be, surfing’s so-so acceptance — and that’s a whole different issue to be touched on another time — of drug culture doesn’t (gasp!) actually fly globally. Case study in focus: The Philippines under President Robert Duterte.
No idea what I’m talking about? Well, hold on tight because this is about to be the zippiest geopolitical rundown you’ll ever read. Understanding international politics is hard enough, but outlining a globally controversial issue in one paragraph is damn near impossible. With that:
Back in June, a populist candidate by the name of Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines. One of his chief campaign promises was to rid the streets of drug abuse and dangerous addicts — a problem that had plagued the island nation for some time. However, his war on drugs escalated to a point where vigilante justice was accepted, many times people being arrested, and more than often, killed, on charges with little to no legal backing, leading to scores of people murdered in the name of keeping the streets clean. There’s a powerful article by freelance Australian journalist Daniel Berehulak titled, “They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals” which appeared in the New York Times back in December, and certainly does a better job describing the severity of the situation at hand than the mess I wrote above (so much for that political science degree). It won the Pulitzer Prize, so it’s a highly recommended read.
What am I trying to get at with all this? Please acquaint yourself with Sebastian ‘Baste’ Duterte, the youngest son of the aforementioned Rodrigo. While Baste’s older siblings are influential state politicians in the family stronghold, who back their father’s bloody crackdown on suspected drug dealers and abusers, Baste has taken a different path.
See, Baste is a dedicated surfer. Rather than joining his family at the centre of controversy, the 29-year-old enjoys posting pictures of himself on his (much-followed) social media accounts. Riding waves, standing on the beach, showing off boards, Baste’s life is a stark contrast compared to the rest of his family.
Understandably, Baste stays far away from any and all narcotics. Plus, like, his dad has been quoted before saying he’d have no qualms killing any of his children if any of them ever got involved in drugs. So there’s that.
Scare tactics or not, Baste’s down-to-earth, outdoor-loving personality is well known amongst his peers. In fact, the youngest Duterte’s lifestyle has even helped him score a reality show on a major Filipino network (with a bit of government assistance). It’s an eight-part series that’s meant to appeal to the Philippine millennial market and promote a positive, active, and adventurous lifestyle.
And of course, his dad hates him for it. “My youngest son is a jerk,” the always outspoken President Duterte recently said at a government event. Calling Sebastian out for his “lover boy” lifestyle, the president said he never faced any difficulty when dealing with his children, until Baste came along.
Clearly surfing’s liberal, accepting nature irks the tough-talking, iron-fisted president. What does Sebastian think? “He told me that he feels there is too much politics going on in his family right now,” said Filipino television host Luisita Cruz-Valdes after interviewing Baste on her show. “He’s very charming and down-to-earth. Everyone on set expected him to be quiet. But he turned out to be very candid and refreshing to interview so he caught us by surprise.”
Sebastian apparently isn’t headed in any political direction for the time being. And for good reason. He’d much rather pick up a board and enjoy the plethora of world-class breaks his homeland has to offer than deal with his family’s (really, really controversial) government styles.
Wherever you may land on the Philippine geopolitical spectrum, it’s nice to see that, even in a family as criticised as Duterte’s, surfing can still be an outlet to escape life’s daily nonsenses. While also pissing off people in the best possible way. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating someone who enjoys living a fruitful life, doing what they love. Especially when it’s surfing.
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