Who got Duterte to sing at the ASEAN?

By | December 3, 2017


For sheer bragging rights, US President Donald Trump was the only world leader who got President Duterte to sing at the gala night of the recent Asean Summit held here.

Not Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, or Shinzo Abe was able to to that. Only Trump.

We don’t really know if it’s true that Trump egged Duterte on to sing with the Filipina songstress Pilita Corrales. But there he was belting out a portion of the love song “Ikaw” to the delight of everyone.

Maybe Mr. Duterte was joking when he said he sang on the orders of the “Commander-in-Chief of the United States.” Then again, maybe Mr. Trump did ask him to sing.

In any case, it really doesn’t matter. It was all for fun.

Mr. Duterte’s critics may say his singing upon the encouragement of Trump was a sign that he, Duterte, is just another US lackey, doing the bidding of the most powerful leader in the world. Anti-Dutertes may interpret the event like that.

Pro-Duterte people will say the Philippine president was just being a good sport. I’m emphatically not pro-Duterte on almost all issues but on this one, I agree about our president being a good sport and host by singing along with the legendary Miss Corrales.

The point is that the national political divide is so deep now that reactions to everything Mr. Duterte does have become predictable on both sides. Our president has divided the nation in seemingly irretrievable ways. For the antis he can’t do anything right and for the pros he can’t do anything wrong.

Indeed we have come to that pass. Duterte has so divided the people in such a way that there’s no going back to the middle or neutral for a lot of us.

This doesn’t bode well for the nation. A divided nation cannot move forward. Conflict will always be around and could possibly deepen even more.

Mr. Duterte has been in office nearly a-year-and-a-half and the nation is getting more divided as the time passes. I don’t understand the President’s overall objective for the nation. He seems bent on disuniting the people, urging them to take sides against each other. If that’s his aim, then he’s succeeding mightily.

But it’s hard to comprehend. What kind of president wants a divided country?

Of late, Mr. Duterte has been talking about unity, rule of law and other motherhood statements (coincident with the Asean Summit?). But his actions belie his rhetoric.

It’s not hard to see that we’re a divided nation, a divided people. Pro-Duterte elements rejoice in their idol’s current popularity as they urge him to continue being like himself, pugnacious and authoritarian.

Where is Duterte leading us? He himself might answer the question by saying: “Just because I sang ‘Ikaw’ with Pilita doesn’t mean I’m now ‘Mr. Nice Guy.'”