HERE are two phrases that people now talk about because each relates to a burning issue of the day:
 Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella Tuesday, June 27 assured once more that President Duterte is “alive and well, he is very well.” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar used a bit of color: the president is “in the pink of health.”
Duterte had disappeared twice in a row this month: first, for five straight days, June 12 to 16, then for six straight days, June 21 to 26. He slipped from the public eye.
His re-appearance on June 17 to meet with troops-- during which he disputed speculation about having had a “mild stroke” and titillated media about a two-day secret mission-- didn’t squelch similar concerns in his next disappearing act. People still asked where the president was.
Duterte is doing his job, he’s on top of the situation, the Palace said, and, yes, he’s “in the pink of health.” In his “private time and rest,” his publicists said, he had private activities.
Actually, despite the rosier image it evokes, Andanar’s “in the pink of health” is just a variation of Abella’s earlier medical report that said the president was “in good excellent health.” Same meaning.
Here’s the thing: the nation may just have to get used to the president’s occasional vanishing. Then president Nonoy Aquino did the same act but with less noise from the public. Why the difference? It must be because people didn’t think PNoy was ailing while Duterte himself admits to at least four ailments.
What the press can do: stop asking questions about where Duterte is or not fret if the Palace medical bulletins from non-doctors don’t tell what they want to know.
Unwelcome in Ilocos
 The Ilocos Norte Provincial Board, also last June 27, voted to declare Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas “persona non grata” in that province.
Fariñas had sponsored the resolution that set off the House inquiry into the purchase of P66.4 million worth of vehicles, which led to the detention of six Ilocos Norte Capitol officials and possible arrest of Gov. Imee Marcos, the congressman’s archrival in politics.
He fumed over being called “a person not appreciated” and questioned its use when the phrase, he pointed out, applies only to diplomats who are censured by a host country. Not anymore, not for many years now.
In 2010, the Cebu chapter of the Vice Mayors League declared Gloria Diaz “persona non grata” (for “maligning Cebuana berauty contestants’ ability to speak English”). In 2016, the Talisay City Council put the non grata tag on its own city administrator John Yre de los Reyes.
The phrase has acquired a second meaning, which means “not welcome,” and the ones giving the message are mad as hell and, as former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz then said, “ready to stone me to death.”
“in the pink of health” may hide something concealed. “Persona non grata” may be imprecise or wrongly used. But both deliver the intended meaning, which recipients may or may not accept.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 29, 2017.
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