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Carinderia owner recalls Digong

Along Juan Luna Extension in Davao City, an owner of a carinderia is all smiles. “Wala ko magdahom nga ma-presidente gyud si Digong,” referring to President Duterte who swore in at the Malacanang Palace yesterday.

Roughly translated, the statement means “who would have thought that Digong would become president one day?”

Around 25 years ago, Duterte was among her regular patrons during Duterte’s days as a fiscal at the City Prosecutor’s Office.

“He found out about the place from colleagues, his workmates,” 76-year-old Proferia “Sana” Valles said.

President Duterte once regularly ate at Sana’s Karinderia, which was near his old office located at the nearby Sta. Ana district in Chinatown.

Around Sana’s walls are a mix of signs of the city’s No Smoking Sign (“Maximum Penalty, P10,000”). There are photos of the leaders among the Duterte clan: Rodrigo himself, incoming Mayor Sara, and returning Vice Mayor Paolo in their current incarnations.

But there are photos of the younger Duterte’s, too, like a younger Sara serving herself rice, among the photos posted along a wall of history.

“Sana,” an endearment for married women in the Boholano language, was the term that Digong called the proprietor.

“It’s like him,” Sana said. “For example, she would never call Sara by her name. It’s always ‘Inday.’”

“Inday,” she said, is a Visayan endearment for “most dear daughter.”

Sana and her team of cooks from her small shack are only small voices among the jubilation in the city.

Along the city’s streets, traffic was light, with people looking for places where they could watch the president swear in. Progressive groups did the same, with some of them coming from as far as Sultan Kudarat, huddling under the shade during yesterday’s golden hour.

Leaders from the city government, such as the entire city council and some department heads from this city, were among those in attendance. Digong has been public about wanting to bring his management team from Davao into Malacañang, calling them his “comfort zone.”

At Mallengke in Bankerohan, a crappy internet connection (one of Duterte’s ‘change promises’) does not stop supporters from becoming teary eyed. The viewers may only be a handful, with the streaming available online and on TV, but the senior citizens in attendance shouted every time Duterte’s name was mentioned.

At some points during the aired broadcast, Lydia Rufino, 54, could not stop herself from crying.

In Manila, Duterte showed his appreciation for the support coming from all sides, the New People’s Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and Moro National Liberation Front included.

“I am elated by the expression of unity among our Moro brothers and leaders, and the response of everyone else to my call for peace,” Duterte said.

And it is with this note that the Duterte presidency begins, not with vindication but with a call for reconciliation.