2016 was quite the memorable year in human history: Brexit, Trump, and of course hitman Rodrigo Duterte who campaigned with his War on Drugs in the Philippines and was elected President.
Already before so-called D30 the Philippines - like most Asian countries - had a harsh position on drugs, including cannabis, but as a developing nation, a Tiger economy even, things weren’t that hard to find. Yet, Filipinos who otherwise are known as some of the leading user generated content and social media adopters and contributors, would generally stay quiet about things online. Even despite all suspecting that law enforcement didn’t really bother about the Internet - at least not for drugs and even for issues like child pornography where many countermeasures and busts are the result of foreign agents leading investigations.
But, while otherwise happily talking and sharing online, when it comes to drugs Pinoys tended to standout because of their absence this time. Even on a popular forum like RollItUp, Filipino activity wouldn’t truly go noticed.
Duterte shows diagram of drugs syndicate in 2016 - public domain photo
As soon as it became obvious that Rodrigo Duterte was in with a shout, and later after his election, the nation went pretty dark when it came to drugs, especially cannabis. Dealers and users disappeared, if not voluntarily then via (extra-) judicial operations part of Duterte’s “Oplan Tokhang” anti-drug campaign.
While most is focused on the local “Shabu” (crystal meth), the zero tolerance policy is real and definitely a deterrent. How couldn’t it be given Duterte’s reputation of previously having led, or at least tolerated, death squads in his origin city Davao. Not to mention the many sound bites which have gone viral around the world.
Let alone the widely reported headcount of Duterte’s war on drugs.
So how’s “smoke” now in the Philippines in 2019?
As mentioned, even before D30 things weren’t rosy. While those living in the province could rather easily obtain (semi) decent nugs, in Manila things were slightly different and it wasn’t always easy to get a decent smoke. Volume was ample, quality was... don’t complain if you ended up with male supply. More often than not, you were happy with what you managed to easily score. Personally, for me that often went via a promoter of rock gigs in one of the more respected indie rock venues in the Metro and thus there was a degree of access to supposedly decent quality. But I also recall the odd time of receiving males.
Those living on other isles could often score nugs, even nicely trimmed stuff because there’s more growing opportunities in the province. The typical small village mentality and gossip is a bigger killer in most areas of the city than it is in provincial life. Weird but true.
Recently I went to visit a friend in a lesser affluent area of the Metro. Not a slum area but definitely an area at the lower end of the financial ladder. Just outside of one of the main business districts, with a guesstimated 40% working population and many of which active in minimum wage jobs. A broadband connection, even the cheapest with 5Mbps only (~$24), is not a default in that area but the exception. Families with 2-4 kids earn between $250-300/month and those are the ones who don’t have to worry too hard about paying rent each month.
Because curiosity tends to kill the cat and there’s way too many stray cats anyway, I wanted to know what the “people out there” smoke nowadays. Those are the areas the unknowing person wanting to score would consider. So I quickly transferred my mate some bucks and told him to get some grass for us and get some for himself too.
Apologies for the poor photos, but I think both images show sufficiently what you get. Or rather what most people smoke nowadays in the city of Manila. I guess you can understand that this isn’t the type of “nugporn” one cares editing into a great photo.
That’s right... it’s all just trim and shake. With branches, with seeds (mostly crushed), all incl so to say.
People pay around $2/“teabag” and for most it’s one or two hits from their glass pipe(1). No wonder most have leveled up to crystal in the poor areas.
When I asked my friend how much nugs are and if he could get some so we could smoke them while there: sorry, not available on the market anymore since... you guessed it.
And if it were, they would be outside of the affordable prize range for them.
PS: No, it didn’t even make for a nice cup of tea. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
(1) Not that many people roll, but king size rolling papers have become a rarity as well since Duterte and are only found at few tobacco merchants in malls anymore. At around US$ 4.80 for a pack of 32 RIZLA+ Blue [blegh].
Tags: #philippines, #black-market, #duterte, #warondrugs