The “war on drugs” forms a huge part of Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s government platform when he was elected as President in 2016.
For the past two years, at least 4,814 deaths have already been recorded in police anti-drug operations—or an average of about six people killed every day. Human rights groups claim way 300% more, around 23,000 deaths related to the so-called “war on drugs.”
During a hearing on the multi-sectoral campaign against illegal drugs two years ago, then Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Felipe Rojas Sr. told senators that the success rate of the rehabilitation programs was a mere 24 percent. That figure was out of 5,648 patients who were admitted in residential and outpatient facilities.
Since the recovery rate was too small, it is often viewed that the public remains skeptical about rehabilitation. As a result, those who were successfully rehabilitated often experience rejection and discrimination in society.
For 22-year-old Multimedia Arts and Design alumnus Justine Baylon, exploring the drug rehabilitation program is not only timely and relevant. It is both personal and life-changing for him as well.
Personal, because one of his loved ones has also gone into rehabilitation for an alcohol addiction. And life-changing, because it opened his eyes to how patients behind that mere 24 percent success rate were able to recover.
The title of this film is more than just a symbolism of the journey taken by rehab patients. If any, it can even be fate that led the filmmaker to it.
Hagdan (Stairs) may not only refer to the common rehabilitation called 12-Step Program. It is also the title of the film’s soundtrack, composed and performed by Filipino rapper Ron Henley (and featuring Kat Agarrado), an anthem for those who want to change their lives for the better.
This film does not attempt to cover all aspects of the drug rehabilitation program. Instead, it shows us one side of it that is not often seen in mainstream media: that of successful drug rehab outpatients. By doing so, it gives us another perspective on why rehabilitation programs succeed or fail. And maybe, hopefully, it can give us a more complete picture of the situation.
[Entry 261, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Filmmaker:
Justine Baylon works as a Senior Graphic Designer at Robert Blancaflor Group, an event styling company in the Philippines. He is also a part-time Web Designer at SEO HERO in Hong Kong.
For his college thesis, Justine conducted a study about the successful rehabilitation of drug rehabilitation outpatients that presents an honest look at people who suffered through addiction, and produced this documentary film as part of the capstone project. Multimedia Arts and Design 2018, School of Design, iACADEMY.