The huge hall brimmed with people, and not by the threat of any Category 5 storm. No, it was Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s first official visit to South Korea. The last stop of the three-day affair: a meet-and-greet session with Sokor’s Filipino overseas workers.
Had it been a Category 5 superstorm, this one came with a twist: a hail of expletives, “green jokes” that were actually hazardous to the environment (as there were numerous women in the audience), sexist comments, proud claims of womanizing, hints of wanting to murder someone, and the like.
It was the President’s way of wowing the crowd–to sing the old tunes of a misogynist and a twisted macho culture as he had done in previous engagements in the past.
And wowed they were, given to cheering the President on, particularly when he shared the song “Ikaw” with guest performer Mishka Antoinette Camulte and kissing a fair-skinned but married OFW (a mother of two) on the lips during the book-giving event.
Duterte didn’t return to Manila empty-handed. He came home with a US$1-billion pledge in development assistance from Sokor, double the previous figure of US$500 million. But as pledges go, it is safe to assume that this was all on paper, if at all paper was used. Up till the time the actual money is in the bank, this remains to be seen.
He also reportedly netted some US$ 4.8 billion in investments, which his DDS followers took to mean about 60,000 jobs for Filipinos. This comes on the heels of an attempt by the two countries to revive the joint commission on trade and economic cooperation by strengthening their preferential trading agreement.
A post-mortem report from the Philippine Star lists down all agreements signed and sealed during the official visit:
“A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and ASEAN Korean Centre with Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business seeks joint development and undertaking of programs related to ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network.
“The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business also forged an agreement for the exchange of information about commerce, industry markets and identification of business and trade opportunities.
“An MOU between the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) covers technological cooperation and other business relations.
“The other agreements were between Philippine Overseas Construction Board and the International Contractors Association of Korea, PH Die and Mold Association and Korea Association of Machinery Industry, Philippine Utility Vehicle Inc. and Deakyung Engineering Co. Ltd., Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the Sea Offshore Services Corporation, CEZA and Fairbridge Overseas Development-Philippines Inc., CEZA, IP Vebtures Inc. and the Hanwa Life Insurance Co. Ltd., CEZA and Hanwa Life Insurance Co. Ltd; SK E& S; POSCO Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd.
“An MOU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation was signed by science and technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña and his South Korean counterpart You Young Min.
“Lopez of DTI also signed an MOU with South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy Paik Unyo. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Paik also signed a separate MOU on cooperation on the expansion of renewable energy deployment.
“Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and his Korean counterpart Kim Hyun-mee signed an MOU on enhanced cooperation in transport development. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Export-Import Bank of Korea chairman Eun Sung-soo signed a loan agreement for the development of the Cebu International Container Port.”
All would’ve ended on a happy note had the President stuck to official protocol, presidential decorum, and his daily dose of Prozac. But no. Duterte’s speeches and antics have become prosaic, predictable. Boring.
Worse, Duterte openly, and without remorse, offends the sensibilities of Filipinos, so much so that our kababayans abroad were more willing to hold him in contempt for conduct unbecoming than hold him in high esteem for gains he had achieved.
Such was the assessment of this netizen who posted a commentary on Duterte’s official visit to South Korea. The sole difference between this netizen and the rest of Duterte’s critics online was that the former was actually at the scene as a volunteer worker.
While many in the audience cheered Duterte on, there was one who was brave enough to open up and give a clear assessment of what had happened. This was her post (let’s keep the person’s name under wraps):
I think I just had the worst experience of my year yesterday. I don’t usually post politically-related stuff on social media but this was borderline traumatic for me. I need to do something, anything really, about it. There’s no one else to blame in this situation but me. I’ve miscalculated my threshold and I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.
For anyone who’s reading, I’m currently an expat in South Korea. I’m in my final year of PhD under a Korean Government Scholarship. I was also a DOST scholar in the Philippines. Having said that, it has always been in my heart to give back service to my country in any way I can. Yesterday, I was a student volunteer in an event for the Philippine President’s visit in Seoul. It was my way of engaging into volunteerism for my country, even if I’m not exactly a fan of the current administration.
In his speech, our President used foul words so many times that I’ve lost count. He pulled perverted jokes several times (even used the word “libog”). He made remarks about pretty ladies who performed and are in the crowd as if bragging about his womanizing skills. He even kissed someone in the lips.
This was extremely difficult to watch. But, it was heartbreaking to see my fellow countrymen cheering for it. Every curse, every perverted joke, every “papatayin ko talaga sila” remark was received with applause and cheering. Mga kababayan, this is how far we’ve gone. This is how terrible our judgments have become. I’m utterly disappointed and disgusted, really. It’s painful to be represented by him. I wish Filipinos would have some amount of self-worth. This is not the kind of representation we deserve!
For those who find this rant distasteful, please feel free to exercise your right to unfollow, unfriend, and/or block me.
I am happy to be of service, but perhaps in another way next time. Hopefully, where I don’t need to listen to his speech.
The President of the Republic cannot ignore or discount the role of “power relations” in his dealings with constituents. If he’s not careful, and obviously he isn’t, he could lose all that he had worked hard at achieving by a “green” joke, or worse, a lecherous kiss. G