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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, November 15, 2017
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

The subjects were taboo

Ninfa Leonardia Aha! Wasn't that making sipsip? When he sang with Pilita Corrales to entertain the ASEAN leaders Monday night, he told his audience that he had done so on orders of President Trump. Would he have done so on orders of President Widodo? Or PM Najib Razik? I know that such gesture gave an informal note to the affair, breaking tensions, and all that. But it didn't sound like our President at all. For sure Trump must have been tickled pink, probably thinking he already has the formidable Duterte eating out of his hand.

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Anyway, we could say it was a successful gathering, with no tense moments arising and no very significant matters coming out. Nobody mentioned human rights, and even Trump did not dare say anything about extra-judicial killings, nor did Russia's Putin. It was like an old school boys' gathering, and the girls were hardly heard from, except for Pilita and the other singers. I do think the one who had the most fun was the Canadian P.M. who was here, there and everywhere, renewing friendship, getting mobbed by fans, and had a merry good time, without minding protocol.

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Meanwhile some very sympathetic touches could be noticed in the interactions of the Region's leaders, like when India's Prime Minister Nahendra Modi offered to donate prosthetics to victims of the Marawi war who had lost their arms or legs, and some have already been delivered and installed. And they are the best kind, too, as they could allow the amputees to walk, run, jump and even climb trees! Isn't that a truly humanitarian gift? What a boon they must be to the soldiers who may have thought they would spend their lives as dependents. Thanks to India, and its caring head.

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But if there is a villainess in the whole ASEAN activity, it could be none other than the ex-beauty queen and supposed movie actress, Isabel Lopez, who airily violated the traffic rules set up for the visiting heads of state when she removed the markers along the lanes reserved for them and recklessly drove through, making a joke out of her caper. Now she is facing a lot of charges, and may lose her right to a driver's license as well. She also bragged about her daring-do, and now that she is called to account for her deed, claims she was in a hurry to answer the “call of nature”! But there is too much proof against her, and let's hope the MMDA and the LTO throw the book at her.

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Did they, or did they not? The two spokespersons of the Filipino and American presidents seem to be contradicting each other with Duterte's Harry Roque reportedly saying that the two did take up the subject, while Sarah Sanders of the White House, insists they did not. Well, Sanders is supposed to be the Press Secretary, so she must be used to giving the facts, whereas spokesman Roque might be making free with his statements to be sure they are favorable to his boss. Well, anyway, we have not heard of any official report on their alleged discussion, as Trump seemed to have skirted the issue, too. And it is doubtful that Duterte would press the matter himself. So let it rest.

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A lot of people have been wondering why the weather suddenly turned very favorable when the ASEAN meet was about to begin. The weeks before it were rain-soaked ones, with a typhoon here and there constantly brewing. But everything was clear, so it looks as if the group was granted good weather and good moods. If that were held in Bacolod, one may suspect that the hosts had flooded the Carmelite Monastery with baskets of eggs. For all we know, someone from Malacañang may have done something like that, too. Anyway, it worked, didn't it?

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I'm sure a lot of the officials fortunate enough to be invited to the gala dinner for the ASEAN VIPs Monday night were disappointed that the photo-ops with the visitors were very strictly prohibited. Even those who tried to sneak selfies were frustrated, protocol was in full operation. But some were lucky enough to have gotten near enough to shake hands with the important personages. Mayor Bing was one of them and when he texted me and Carla that, I told him not to wash his hands as some people here, fans of Trump, might want to shake with him, too. But Canada's Justin Trudeau himself went out of his way to get himself mobbed by fans. The guy must have showbiz dreams, you know. And no security paranoia, too.

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While the heads of ASEAN states were meeting in the Philippines, two countries, Iran and Iraq, were rocked by very strong earthquakes that reportedly caused more than 300 deaths. Well, a temblor of 7.3 magnitude is nothing to take for granted, because its aftershocks even affected Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey. If we can get shaken by quakes of only Magnitude 3 or less, can you imagine how destructive one of 7.3 could be? Iran had long ago experienced one of 6.6, and it must have been less turbulent than this one, although it reportedly cost more than 30,000 lives. It does look as if the world is not only moving, it shaking, so we better be prepared for it.*

 

 

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