DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte celebrated his 65th birthday on Sunday with the poorest of the poor in the city.
In his unusual birthday activity, Duterte was given a surprise birthday party by residents and officials of Barangay Bankerohan, Sunday evening.
City Councilor Edgar Ibuyan said the birthday party, which was held at the underpass of Bankerohan Bridge and stone's throw away from the public market, was a surprise party sponsored by the barangay council for the city mayor.
Ibuyan said he invited about 3,000 residents of Bankerohan for the party and told Mayor Duterte earlier Sunday that they will just have a simple “salo-salo” on the evening.
But what was expected by the mayor as a simple salo-salo turned out to be a grand party, as lechons, pansits, cakes and other delicacies that most Bankerohan residents could only eat once in a blue moon were served to the partygoers.
A makeshift stage was also erected in the middle of the road and entertainers delighted the crowd as they waited for the arrival of the birthday celebrator.
Duterte arrived around 7 p.m. and was greeted with a birthday song by the residents who lined up to shake the hands of the mayor.
Also arriving at the party were Duterte's grandchildren, who have been looking for him all day to greet him.
Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and husband, Mans Carpio, also joined the city mayor. Councilors Mabel Sunga Acosta and Hugpong partymates Nilo Abellera Jr., Leah Librado and Joel Virador were also in attendance.
Asked how much the barangay council spent in the birthday bash for Duterte, Ibuyan said he will have to check with the barangay council first, which is now headed by his son.
Ibuyan said though that no money could compensate for the gratitude they wanted to express to Mayor Duterte for all the good things that he has done to the people of Davao.
Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, meanwhile, wished her father another year of good health, blessings and good luck as she revealed that her gift to her father is "danggit na bulad" from Cebu.
Councilor Paolo Duterte, who was not at the party but was represented by his children, also wished good health for his father.
Mayor Duterte, meanwhile, thanked Ibuyan and the people for the surprise party. He revealed that he earlier wanted to beg off from the party but when informed that his grandchildren will also be attending, he relented.
Duterte, however, failed to stay long for the party as he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren. Asked of his birthday wish, the mayor said his wish would be for his family and for the people of Davao.
"Magpabilin untang payapa ang Davao. Walay buto, walay typhoon, flooding. Luoy man gud ang mga tawo (May they remain peaceful, no explosions, no typhoon, no flooding. The people have enough sufferings)," Duterte said.
Duterte is not used to throwing a party during his birthday. Instead of a lavish party for his friends and family, he usually visits poor areas and eat with the residents there.
Duterte’s staff also requests all media outlets every March 28 never to greet the mayor on his birthday.
Even though it is already campaign period, the birthday party in Bankerohan was also bereft of any campaign paraphernalia like of Duterte and his party.
All that was seen was a tarpaulin with a Happy Birthday greeting and a picture of Duterte. (BOT)