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With Duterte, we should expect the unexpected (and still expect to be surprised)



During his most recent press conference the third to be called in the wee hours of the morning, in-coming President Rodrigo Duterte again spoke at length of his plans once he is officially installed as the 16th President of the Republic.

While the immediate reason for his waking the media up from their comfortable slumber was to talk about his disgust over the failure of police officials in preventing the deaths of several concert-goers to an event in Pasay, the discussion easily weaved in and out of a variety of issues. Each related only by Duterte’s desire to talk about them.

And just like in the past, his messages where a mixed bag of straightforward pronouncements about crime, cryptic allusions to policy decisions, revisions to earlier statements, and many more contradictions that kept the media on their toes the whole time he was talking. 

As expected, there were those who are again quick to fault Duterte for his rambling and seemingly-pointless expositions on topics that range from the peace talks to the price of taxi fares. But while focusing on these minor negatives, they have failed to see that with this simple strategy of deliberately disregarding  protocol and schedules, Duterte has already gained a tremendous upper hand with traditional media. They are now following, instead of leading, the President’s agenda.

His guerrilla-style communications strategy has so far kept the whole country, including his  critics and opponents guessing as to what he will say or do next. By staying three, four, five steps ahead of everyone else, and playing with his cards close to his chest, Duterte is effectively preventing them from laying their traps and ambushes.

Duterte himself has said that people should just stop second guessing what he will do next, hinting that what will happen will happen and anything that people expect is just as likely to be the exact of opposite where he will go.

In a landscape of moribund political strategies and slow-moving trapos, the nimble witted Duterte is running rings around everyone else. Even the media and the bishops, long held sacred cows in Philippine society are having a difficult time adjusting to the new reality that they are no longer as important as they once were.

This is the time of Duterte and his people’s army. This is the time of the masses being able to speak up and make their voices heard without the traditional gate keepers barring their way. This is the time for real change – Duterte style.

Duterte Exposes Cracks in the Catholic Leadership

Image courtesy of Mindavote


Judging from the reactions of most of the people to President Mayor Rody Duterte’s comments on the state of the Catholic leadership in the Philippines, it is clear that there is a big disconnect between the Bishops and the faithful. While some may point to Duterte as causing the rift, the fact of the matter is, the dissatisfaction has been there for a long time and it is only getting attention now because he had the courage to talk about it openly.

Just like the media, the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines has long dominated the national public agenda. But also like the oligarchy-controlled networks and publications, they have also glossed over their own accountability for their sins. Issues ranging from pedophilia, political meddling, corruption, and a host of other anomalies big and small have hounded the same organization that has consistently called on the country’s political leaders to live morally upright lives.

And this is what Duterte has been going after. In all his interviews, he is careful to separate the sins of the leaders with the piety of the faithful. He talks about the bishops greed, and the poverty of the masses. He points out the weakness of the leaders, and the strength of the faith of the ordinary Filipino believer.

By publicly tackling these taboo issues, Duterte has opened a can of worms and possibly created lifelong enemies that will stop at nothing to remove him from office. Left unchecked, this could be a dangerous threat for Duterte. The tentacles of the bishops are long and well connected in powerful places. And with powerful people. People who would have a lot to lose if Duterte succeeds in his change agenda.

One thing going for the President though is the fact that he has been able to tap into a well-spring of public support, fed by a seemingly unlimited river of frustration with the status quo. If he is able to do as well, or better than he has now, this will be his shield against the slings and arrows that will inevitably increase in intensity in the coming months.

Next: Booming Davao

Old Davao Neighborhood Becomes Haven for Budget Travelers

Old Davao Neighborhood Becomes New Haven for Budget Travelers

One of Davao City’s oldest neighborhoods, the place where the future President of the Philippine grew up in no less, is fast becoming a haven for budget travelers. 

Juna Subdivision, located on the south side of the Davao River that splits the city in two, was one of the earliest residential developments to spring up after the war. The place where many of Davao’s most prominent families built their homes.

 A few streets away from the Duterte ancestral home are the houses of Dominguez, Floirendo, Sarenas, Ayala, Alcantara, Dalisay, Robillo, Santos-Munda, Dela Paz, Lorenzana, and many other families that are part of Davao City’s storied past.

 Today Juna Subdivision has been transformed by the entry of many small hotels, inns, and bed and breakfast places – many of which are owned and operated by the younger generation of the original homeowners. This includes Lispher Inn, Casa Munda, The Big House – A Heritage Home, Jogues Appartelle, Domecilio Lorenzana Appartelle, Rue Mango Appartelle, and many more.

What makes the hotels in the area attractive to travelers, aside from the affordable rates, is the central location of Juna subdivision to many of the places you would want to visit when you go to Davao. It is quiet community that is just a walk or short ride away from malls, supermarkets, and great dining options. It is also located far from the bustle of Davao’s downtown area, and a good jump off point when you want to go to some of the city’s most famous attractions like Eden Nature Park, Malagos Gardens, Crocodile Park, and the Philippine Eagle Nature Reserve, among others.

Casa Munda


Casa Munda Suite

Rue Mango

Lispher Inn

Eden Nature Park


Media Oops in the Duterte Coverage

Aside from irritating the other media covering President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in Davao with her prima donna ways, this lady reporter  isn’t doing herself or her network any favors with her constant run ins with Duterte’s supporters. 

According to our sources, one incident happened at the Mandaya hotel on the night after voting had closed. In order to monitor the results coming in from different stations, the campaign team set up several television sets in the dining area, each assigned to a particular network. What irked the people there was when the lady reporter and her team sat near the set assigned to another network and changed the channel. Good thing someone changed it back, despite their protestations.

Everything would have been ok if it was only that minor incident, but there was an even bigger faux pas when she tried to enter a restricted floor, this time at the Marco Polo Hotel, where the President-elect’s men were holding their private meetings. Upon being told that she wasn’t supposed to be there and was asked to leave, she was overheard cursing the hotel and its owners by the hotel staff.

Apparently this pattern of self-entitlement was there during the campaign when she would insist on joining Duterte even on his chopper rides, this despite the fact that her reports never made it to her networks telecasts. And worse, where even used to attack Duterte. Tsk tsk, I guess the next few days will see how this lady and her employers will do in this era of social media.

The Perils of Being Duterte’s Friend

Now that the campaign is over, but even before the dust has had time to settle, knives are being drawn and quietly sharpened in the shadows as those who sat on the fences and stood in the sidelines try to slither their way into the good graces of the incoming President of the Republic.

First in the line of fire are Duterte’s closest friends, those that have been with him not in terms of months or years, but decades. Childhood friends who have been with him every step of the way, and who are committed to shielding him from the invariable opportunists that have been coming out of the woodwork.

Already the media is rife with stories of in-fighting and jockeying for position. Character assassins are out in force, peddling lies, spreading disinformation, fomenting chaos. Their objective, to derail the President in his reform agenda and protect the status quo.

What they are not counting on is the continued vigilance of Duterte’s supporters on line and on social media. Having played a critical role in his victory, his hordes of SocMed supporters – the so-called Dutertards – are not going to allow the Trapos and their paid media lackeys to bring him down without a fight.


Next: Duterte Exposes Cracks in Catholic Leadership


With his recent pronouncement that he will curb the cursing “because he reprsents the Filipino people,” expect a very different President Mayor Duterte to emerge on the world stage from the one that spit fire and brimstone while campaign stumping all over the country. As evident in his media briefings after being declared the presumptive President of the Republic, Duterte is now showing a side of him seldom seen during his rallies.

He is humble, soft-spoken, conciliatory, and even waxes philosophical at times. He quotes the bible, reaches out to fallen foes, and is full of calm confidence in his vision for the Philippines and his ability to lead the Filipino people. The sudden change have caused some people to wonder which one is the real Duterte. The firebrand or the peacemaker. The demagogue or the diplomat.

But for those who know him and the way his political mind works, they know both are personas are true to the man. While the passion and the commitment to end criminality and corruption are genuine, some of the ways he used to convey his message had multiple purposes and designed to impact various audiences in different ways.

It was calculated to cause fear among drug lords and criminals, light a candle hope for the victims, be a rallying cry and inspiration to his followers, and to separate the political opportunists from the true believers. Of all these, it is the last that required the most subtlety to execute, and will have the most profound long term effect in our political system.

By coming out the way he did – bold, brash, abrasive, vulgar, and everything that the “desente” crowd stood against – he was baiting them into making a stand and coming out in the open. By taking an extreme position, he  forced them to take the opposite from which they can now no longer extricate themselves. And by shaking the political landscape the way he did, Duterte forced all the snakes to came out. And now there is nowhere and no way for them to hide.

This clears the way for genuine reform as those that have stood out in stark contrast to Duterte’s pro-people agenda are now left in the cold, unable to worm their way in as they have done in past administrations. The chaff has been separated from the wheat, and they are now ready for burning.


Next: The Perils of Being Duterte’s Friend

Hey Buddy, Have You Seen My Keys?…

Once upon a time there was a drunk who was searching for his car keys under a street lamp. A policeman comes over and, after being told of the situation, decides to help the guy look for his keys. They search and they search – and find nothing. Finally, the cop asks the man this is really  where he dropped them. The drunk replies, “Nope. It fell over there, but it is so much brighter here.”

The situation sounds absurd when presented as a joke, but the punchline turns tragic when you consider that this is exactly how voters act when they choose the better packaged, and presumably more popular Binay, over the less charismatic, but infinitely more honest , Mar Roxas. What’s worse is that, while we often attribute this voting pattern with the “uneducated” masses, there is a significant number of supposedly enlightened Filipinos who continue to support Binay’s candidacy, not from ignorance, but because they know perfectly well which side of their bread is buttered.

Like the contrast between light and darkness, those hoping to continue the path to reform have aligned themselves against the return to the old, corrupt ways being advocated by Binay.