WHO’D have thought that the way to soften the image of Davao City’s “punisher” was to turn him into the next president of the Philippines?
Surprise, surprise! Rodrigo Duterte was a changed man hours after a margin of six million votes assured him of a six-year rent-free residence in Malacañang. He was sweetness and light, swearing to be “prim and proper” from now on, dispelling the fears, momentarily, of non-Dutertists that he would turn government, society, and civil institutions upside-down to accomplish his campaign promises. Reaching out to his opponents, he set the stage for the gracious Grace Poe to concede defeat in her graceful prose and later, the next day, for Mar Roxas to sum up the bruising “personalan” elections with the quickest count as “the good fight.”
What a surprise to see the tough-‘n-rough president-to-be sobbing at his parents’ tomb. No one knows what was in his heart, but as the wisest warriors teach us, the biggest loser in any battle is the winner. In six weeks, or even sooner, President Duterte will be wishing the Philippines were as governable as his beloved city.
There were other surprises, notably the victory of the first transgender Congresswoman Geraldine Roman of Bataan, an alumna of Ateneo de Manila who worked as an interpreter in the UN and for Thalia, aka Marimar, when she visited Manila. It is to the credit of Geraldine’s mother and immediate predecessor in Congress that she allowed her child to choose her gender long before Caitlyn Jenner did. Another surprise was the absence of a Muslim winner from the list of 12 senators (after all the consciousness-raising BBL, the headline-grabbing dreadfulness of groups operating in Mindanao); just as it was both a surprise and disappointment that generations of OFWs and their families did not stoke the senatorial bid of Toots Ople.
To the lovely Mayors Guia of San Juan, Abigail of Makati, Lani of Taguig, Kring Kring of Tacloban; to Reps. Vilma of Lipa and Lucy of Leyte – may your goodness shine a light, brighten and lighten the day for your constituents whenever the national government falls short, for as “major major” as the presidential elections have been, the real deal is what the people experience on the ground, day by day by blessed day. And that’s not going to change anytime soon.