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Clothes that make the man

It’s been very interesting in the office watercooler and coffee stations nowadays that my non-Filipino officemates love to talk about our new Philippine leader, President Duterte, specifically his “questionable” acts since coming to office. From what I see these people will believe only on what they read in the media or facebook.

And interestingly, at some point I find myself defending our culture, so much so rationalizing Mr. Duterte’s so-called questionable acts. Take for example the seemingly undiscriminatory cleansing of drug criminals. My response usually is a reference to countries like Singapore and Malaysia where drug crimes are severely punished with immediate execution, and the Philippines’ looks like worse only because it’s being done on a grand scale.

The other favorite topic was Mr. Duterte’s recent SOB remarks, which was grandly portrayed by the media as being directed to U.S. President Obama. To this I ask them what’s the average number of times in a day do they hear the F word by people on the street, which are not even directed to us or to anybody. Sadly, I had to admit that there is little difference between Canadians or Americans and Filipinos when it comes to the F word – only it’s the P word in our country, and I personally believe the P remark wasn’t really directed to Mr. Obama at all.

Agree, Mr. Duterte has a foul mouth that does not befit a president, but again, there’s little difference with, say, some U.S. presidents who are often caught off-guard (like overheard in microphones). What Mr. Duterte needs is a total makeover in prudency. He is, what the dictionary describes as, “uncouth” (yeah- check it out).

Well, personally, so long as what he is doing is destroying the country’s cancerous cells, Mr. Duterte is doing OK, except for two things: one, his total disregard for the Marcoses’ past crimes in lieu of friendship, and the other, his total disregard of dress protocol!

In the not-so-distant-past I criticized the staff of the Philippine Consulate here in Vancouver for not exuding respect for the office they represent by the way they dress up – at least wear a business shirt, put on a tie and don’t wear denims. Funny but now seeing photos of Mr. Duterte in rolled-up-cuffs, loose-neck shirts and denims even during official events, I could say the same thing. At least put on a tie – or wear a barong.

Internationally all eyes are focused on Mr. Duterte, and there will be no shortage of criticism and arguments whether he is a crime-fighter or the criminal himself. As it is always said, when all points are equal it’s the personality that counts. At least, he should tip the balance a bit by dressing the part and show the world that he really is the highest elected official, not the highest-elected thug.