The chances of personally meeting the most powerful man in the country, shaking his hand, exchanging views, having dinner with him, and he himself giving you a personal tour of his official residence, is probably the same, give or take a million or two.
The chance of that happening on your birthday is most probably double the odds.
And for that to happen, you either must be a celebrity, a politician, a big time businessman, an internationally prominent person, an athlete, or someone who hit instant stardom or popularity because of something very very significant.
Now I don't see nor can identify myself with any of the above.
But I met the President of the Philippines. I had dinner at the palace where he holds office. I was allowed six precious hours inside his office and private abode. And he himself gave a personal tour, because as what he said "I want you to see and enjoy this because this is yours. You paid for it."
I was part of the lucky 13 who experienced this surreal event, and all of us were one in thinking that what we will be undergoing is just the typical meet and greet - you line up in the hall, wait for the president to arrive then when he does, he will simply shake our hand, say a thing or two, then line up again for photos, and the whole scenario will be over 30 minutes tops.
Hell No!... We were given a once-in-a-lifetime experience by a once-in-a-lifetime president!
You see, if it were a lackluster presidency, this meet and greet gig will just be for posterity. It will eventually be relegated to the photo album of your life as one of your highlights.
However, Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not your typical president. Far from being lackluster. So far apart from previous ones I daresay. The moment he stepped into the room, you can feel this very strong, very powerful vibe despite the fact that his appearance contradicts it. He was garbed simply in a rolled-up work barong, black pants, and loafers with no socks to match.
It is not a commanding presence, I tell you. But it is this simplicity that makes it most powerful and moving. There is something in him that makes you want to bow, revere, and express profound admiration.
And this is what we are struggling with right now. The portrayal of uncouth demeanor and madness is quite accurate. He himself attest to it. He does not hide it, never makes any pretense about it. And he will not adjust. He will not change himself.
|Photo credits: Inquirer News|
He is what he is.
In the six hours we got to spend in Malacañang, our mindset was supposedly one of adoration and veneration.
He would have none of that.
Because for him, he is not the issue. He describes himself as merely an employee of the government. Therefore it should never be about him.
In fact, he confided to us that when he dies, his last will and testament states that he should be cremated within 24 hours, there should be no rites whatsoever, and that he should quickly be forgotten.
He says it so forcefully that we all were aghast. In our minds, how can you easily forget someone who has this uncanny and unorthodox way of unburdening a nation?
You can't. I can't.
And I won't.
As what Trixie emphatically states, it is very important that the legacy of President Duterte be accurately documented, and safely preserved so that the forthcoming generation will know.
It is vital that every Filipino should know that what we have now is a presidency that genuinely cares for the people.
You can sense the impatience when he is bounded and hindered by protocol, by formalities, by processes that serve only to delay basic services, and consequently make people suffer.
He is not rhetorical or lyrical about it. He will simply act on it. Because we can see that it is his burden. His cavalry, his pain. This is what he hates the most - the oppression of the Filipino. He ensured that he will finish the drug war because he believes that this menace is the one that destroyed our society and our family.
He will end corruption in government.
And he is not bothered by ouster plots nor is he afraid of being assassinated. He won't allow himself to be distracted by destabilizers and he said they can rally all they want, and he will even declare a holiday if they want to.
He said he is not religious but he believes in a supreme being that will take care of his destiny.
Duterte may not be the stately, regal and majestic president that elitists desire and decry, but he is the only one who has the authentic understanding of what we Filipinos are, what we went through, and what we should be.
Regardless of what our station in life is, or where we stand in the political spectrum, he evokes and ignites the passion and sways us to discourse, to debate and to dialogue.
His madness has its method in that when he acts or when he speaks, we all contemplate and assess and begin to question and seek to understand.
That night at the Palace, I was anticipating to be mesmerized and be awed, seeing that I will be so very up close and personal in the seat of power.
Instead, I left Malacañang demystified and having a sense of empowerment.
|President Duterte and Mr. Mark Lopez|
All because of Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
"Leadership is not about people following you, but in empowering them to lead"
-- Bill George
By: Mark Lopez
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