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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 26, 2016
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Not the state but the future

Ninfa Leonardia

          I knew it.  I wondered recently how the new President could be expected to speak on the State of the Nation when he has  been in office only 25 days and still feeling his way around. That was why his much applauded speech yesterday should  have been titled  a FONA and not a Sona, FONA standing for Future of the Nation Address. Because what he spoke about in the early part of his talk was about his future plans for the country.

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          Anyway, I focused my attention on the dress code adopted by both the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives  and, indeed, they no longer were clad in the gowns  and formal wear they used to come in during past SONAs. But that surely was the  longest 35 minute speech I ever heard, because by the time it was over, all our watches had recorded an hour and  a half. I guess the speaker got carried away, and had forgotten also about the suggestions of his multi-awarded director.

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          I am not going into the contents of his speech because the  dailies will all be full of it today. And I am sure the foreign diplomats who were present will be poring over the reports because he  spoke in Tagalog in the latter part of his talk, which I believe was already extemporaneous, and the poor guys looked rather confused.  But the rest of the audience lapped it up and that was probably  the only SONA, er, FONA that had  audience laughing as many as times as they were clapping.

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          I was betting with somebody that the moment former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo got out of a detention, she would also get out of her neck brace. And  sure enough, there she was, looking pretty and not at all sickly, probably reminiscing on the times when she herself was the one speaking at the podium and responding to all the applause and accepting congratulations later. I was disappointed, though, that the coverage of ABS-CBN  ended right after President’s speech, I would have liked to see if cocktails  - and  a lot more – were served later. The last ones I attended had the Aristocrat restaurant as caterer, and what a feast they were!

***

          I agree with the order for government officials to stop using the world “Honorable” before their names. With so many of them now in trouble with the Ombudsman, the Sandiganbayan and the courts, what if they are convicted? Even during the trials of their cases, will they expect the judge and  the lawyers to address them as Honorable? If they end up in jail, their fellow inmates will only make fun of them and maybe address them as “Dishonorable”.

***

          I cannot take off my mind  the big picture on the front page of the Daily Inquirer last week showing a woman clutching the bloodied body of  her partner who had been gunned down by two riding-in-tandem killers. Of course there was no mention of the killers being connected with the police, but the caption hinted that the dead man, a pedicab driver, had been suspected of being a pusher. Suspected only, like so many others who had been shot down, hundreds of them already. The picture was so graphic and touching, one couldn’t help thinking of the “Pieta”  while contemplating it.

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          I think Communication Secretary Marlin Andanar will get a lot of ribbing from his friends and especially from media people for emphasizing that the President’s Address was so  “heart-wrenching” it would make listeners cry. But who could cry when the President was cracking jokes that had his audience laughing as often as they were clapping? Apparently, he does not know his boss well enough to predict that he would not only get away from his prepared speech and get his listeners chortling with laugher at his comparisons and examples.

***

          It is interesting to hear that China is now talking about flexibility and cooperation. But it still seems to be flexibility on its own terms, after it rejected the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. It also flaunts its supposed allies, which are Laos and Cambodia when, on the other hand, its non-allies and those who are also claiming what the Philippines has brought to court, include Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei. Meanwhile now Senate President Koko Pimentel has proposed a resolution honoring former President Benigno Aquino Jr. for his courage and righteousness in filing the complaint against China which our country won.*

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