NOBODY trolls the Philippines better than Rodrigo Duterte, the angry old man whose solution to a problem is violence and the threat of more violence with rape joke thrown in between. His statements and pronouncements should never be taken seriously if they bring him harm and ridicule but are considered policy when received otherwise.
Take his latest joke. Gilas Pilipinas, the country’s most beloved national team, stands no chance in the World Cup, so it’s better for the Filipinos to throw their money behind China. Cheer for China? No way, Rodrigo. But that’s Digong for you. Always up for a soundbite.
“Di man gyud na sya mu-undang bai; basta naa pay mukatawa,” a Davao colleague once told me of Digong’s penchant for long, boring and repetitive speeches, which, in their time, didn’t make the news. I wish it did, so the rest of the country would have known how crazy the guy’s ideas would get.
“Mao man na iya pirme himuon sa Davao,” the same colleague told me, when the rest of the country marveled when, during his speech in the Philippine National Games (a ceremony he was predictably late for), he doubled the prizes for the top five teams; from P5 million to P10 million for the champion, from P4 million to P8 million to the second placer until up to P2 million from P1 million for the fifth placer.
If he did that all the time in sports events (the doubling of prizes, not his tardiness since he’s tardy also for non-sports events) then perhaps that shows what he thinks of sports, that it’s all about the money and reward. He doesn’t get why people join sports and compete against better, stronger and well-funded teams.
And for a tournament involving a national team, nationalism and national pride? He won’t get it. Especially if it involves China. And besides, he’d continue trolling us because people—sadly, including some Gilas players and fans—continue to laugh at his jokes, no matter the body count, right?
But he’s wrong on this account. Just because he thinks the other nation has more missiles and we shouldn’t stand for what’s ours doesn’t mean that just because the other team is taller and stronger we should just raise the white flag. In case he was busy beating somebody up and missed the stories, Philippine sports is full of underdog stories who defy the odds. And while he was busy teasing the populace that he wasn’t running for the 2016 elections in 2014, there was Gilas Pilipinas, turning heads in Madrid with impressive showings against Croatia, Greece, Argentina and Puerto Rico. Gabe Norwood even posterized Luis Scola, the sports equivalent of say Widodo standing up to Xi Jinping. I can’t say Digong because that would be fiction.
His statements have riled Gilas fans, some of whom have rebuffed him in their social media accounts. Some pointed out that we beat China even (God I hope, Calida won’t have that win nullified on a technicality.)
As for me, I hope and pray that Gilas Pilipinas will live their battlecry. Show the Presidential Troll what one can accomplish if one really has the country in one’s heart.