The first State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte received 97 applauses from the audience.  (Photo by Marcelino Pascua/PPD)

IN his first State of the Nation Address Monday, President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte opened his speech implicitly stating his main difference from his predecessor, who was perceived by both critics and observers, including this writer, as vengeful.

Uncle Digong (this is how he will be addressed in this space, henceforth) said in part:

“We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger-pointing is not the way. (This was the favorite of ex-President Aquino. Blame the Marcoses and the Arroyos for the shortcomings of his administration in his past SONAs.) That’s why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from...Vindictiveness is not in my system.”

(This last sentence was one of the best I heard from him.)

But, he warned those who unashamedly violated the laws.

He said in part, “Lest it be misunderstood and those who betrayed the people’s trust shall not go unpunished and they will have their day in court.”

The unconventional manner by which Uncle Digong delivered his speech, departing occasionally from the teleprompter to inject his Visayan brand jokes, showing facial expressions on certain points and beliefs, as he enumerated his programs and appealed to the Filipino people and certain sectors of the larger community, all these separated him from other PH presidents before him who also delivered SONAs from the same stage.
I took down notes as I watched this President deliver his speech at 3 a.m., New Jersey time.

He took note of the slow justice system and the need to reform it.

He reiterated his uncompromising fight against drugs and drug traffickers, crimes, and corruption in government.

(We support this effort except extra-judicial killings done in carrying this campaign out.)

He cited plan to use military camps around the country as rehabilitation centers of former drug addicts.

He discussed the need to attend to health, education and housing problems.

He emphasized the importance of human rights in the system.

But said that same should not be used as an excuse to destroy the country.

On global warming, which, he unfortunately said last week, he would not go along with the Paris agreement, he said he would go for it, but only “equitably” as long as it does not impact on industrialization of the PH.

On negotiations with China, opposite to what ex-President Ramos, his representative to the negotiations, said earlier, Uncle Digong assured his audience he would proceed and adhere to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the negotiations with China.

On the militant groups like the National Democratic Front and its armed group, the New People’s Army, he called for “peace of the living,” not of the dead.

He announced a unilateral ceasefire on the part of the government.

At this juncture, he appealed to the enemies of the State, “If we cannot love, let us not hate each other too much.”

President Duterte called for permanent peace.

He spoke of poverty reduction, stronger economy and low inflation rate.

He mentioned about a simpler and more efficient taxation and lower personal and income tax rates.

He mentioned twice about his desire for a federal form of government patterned after France with a titular president and a parliament with a powerful prime minister, like today’s chief executive in the presidential type.

He sounded the urgency of this form of government.

(We will discuss this in a future issue.)

With respect to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), he promised to make it easy for applicants.

He said he wanted to house all agencies requiring documents under one building so that the applicants will not have to travel back and forth.

He also promised to install Wi-Fi in selected public places around the country for free access.

Due to space, we cannot cite his words on reproduction and population control issues, infrastructure, including traffic and light rail matters, in Metro Manila.

Towards the end, Uncle Digong assured the Filipino people that his government will be a clean one.
Then he concluded, “Don’t despair. Let’s band together.”

To us, what makes this leader different from others before him are his off-the-usual ways, like folded-sleeves of Barong Tagalog, taking a bow after his name is called in a gathering, well-thought of words, and his sounding like a wise philosopher king in Plato’s City-State.


Cambodia, China

Cambodia followed the footsteps of its master (China) as it blocked the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from issuing a statement at the conclusion of the group’s foreign ministers meeting last week referring to the humiliating defeat of China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s earlier ruling on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) issue.

Cambodia demonstrated before the world it would do wrong in order to please its benefactor, behaving, also, like a lawless nation; one that does not respect international law.



Fiesta in America’s ribbon cutting last year at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J.

2016 Fiesta in America

This year’s 18th Fiesta in America will be at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. on Aug. 13-14, 2016.

This is one Filipino-American event in the Northeast that has become a yearly tradition for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike.

I know of a Filipina who lives in France who visits New York (and me, LOL!) every summer.

She always schedules her travels in the week of Fiesta in America so she could go.

She tells me she enjoys the festive mood, business exhibits, Filipino foods and the evening shows at the Fiesta.

And being in the company of Filipinos even for few hours gives her good feeling.

I don’t blame my friend.

Because when you are at Fiesta, in front of you is a Filipino.

Look to your left and right, you will see Pinoys.

Look at your back, Filipino.

If you are lucky, you will meet a former high school classmate whom you have not seen for 40 years.

Those of you who are in Facebook must have noticed the renewed and aggressive marketing that Fiesta President Nanding Mendez has launched in 2016.

I’m optimistic that his efforts will pay off in terms of the number of Fiesta visitors.

Best to Fiesta Filipina!

Mark your calendar!

Let’s go!




Greetings to my friends, Domingo Jun Hornilla, Jr. and wife Millie (both pictured above) on their recent 25th wedding anniversary.

Reading Jun’s greetings to Millie is like walking in the air surrounded by flying loving red hearts (like one of the emoticons in Facebook...hehehe...Kirby Asunto introduced those flying hearts plus the cat with a heart on its head...Lol).

Jun said in part, “ much more than just my wife. You are my partner in life, my companion, my best friend and soul mate.”

If I were Millie, I would ask Jun to affix his signature in his note.


Again, Happy Anniversary, friends.

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