Yes, the Davao Eagle has landed.
It’s like a dream which no Mindanaoan would like to wake up from. Or perhaps, to aptly put, it is a dream come true for the people of Mindanao to finally have one of their own as President of the Philippines. As Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte said it, if it is God’s will for him to become president, then it must be his destiny to be one.
Like an eagle, Mayor Digong or Rody, as he is fondly called, soared high to look at the big picture, not necessarily to take the presidency as his prey, but to see what he can do for his country. He went around major cities to feel the pulse of the people as he also peddled the idea of federalism for the Philippines. Admittedly having meager means and limited machinery compared to his opulent opponents, LP-backed Sec. Mar Roxas and UNA-supported VP Jojo Binay, Mayor Digong embarked on a quixotic journey by tapping the grassroots which willingly fell not just to his charms but for the beads of hope for a better life he dangled for everyone to get hold of.
From being a little-known mayor down south, he was catapulted into fame or perhaps notoriety for his cursing, his womanizing, and his rumored extra-judicial killings in Davao City. But that was what media, mostly mainstream, have painted the Davao Eagle to be: fierce and merciless and unafraid to claw into whoever will cross his path. Apparently, that is not the picture his supporters have seen as he went around the country once more, this time to campaign for the highest position in the land, the presidency. That is definitely not the picture that his die-hard constituents from Davao see in their daily encounters with him. For a silent observer in the sidelines, one can even feel that the hesitance and the resistance to run in the beginning gave way to his run-away mouth and his devil-may-care attitude as he let all and sundry in to his real persona. It was like a “take me or don’t vote for me” deal. Your guess is as good as mine as to what happened next.
And so, after all the muck have been hurled, all the dirt have been thrown, and all the darkness the country has been plunged into during the 90-day campaign period, the dust has settled and the clear winner has emerged. The PPCRV figures which are being broadcast non-stop in major TV and radio networks and in social media may not be the final ones but they have cleared the path on which the Davao Eagle would finally land.
The mayor has now, as of this writing, become what is called a “presumptive president.”
The famous and brilliant Prof. Randy David has observed that Digong is one candidate whose style has not been seen of in presidential races of the past. One discussion on television centered on the phenomenon of the “Duterte phenomenon.” Some call it, “Duterte magic.” I may not have been born yet during the Magsaysay era but I think perhaps Digong embodies what the well-loved President Ramon Magsaysay had been to the Filipinos then, a president of the masses. But his popularity has cut across the A, B, C and D classes as what the pre-election surveys have shown. So he may as well be a president not just for the masses for all classes.
I do not know what will happen in the days to come but I have taken note of an irony this democratic exercise has brought to my mind.
Thirty years ago, the country experienced the first-ever bloodless people power revolution at EDSA. It catapulted into power a slain senator’s housewife, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. It was during the transition government that time that Digong, a former prosecutor, had been appointed mayor of Davao City in lieu of his mother, Soledad, who declined the appointment. He has never left public office after that and has not also lost a single time during the 10 elections that he was in as mayor, congressman and vice mayor of Davao City.
Today, he won his 11th election as the successor of President Simeon Benigno Aquino III, son of the late President Cory, the one who started his political career. And irony of ironies, he won the hearts of many Filipinos who have grown tired of the seemingly lackluster, lame and empathy-less leadership of the incumbent president, PNoy. Cory who came from a wealthy landed family, rose into office after her husband died. PNoy rose into the same office after Cory died. I would like to believe that Digong who does not claim to be rich, is now rising into that same office because confidence in the yellow presidency has died.
This is an emotional time for a lot of the people of Mindanao and even the Visayas and all those other places where supporters of Digong abound. This is mostly a touching time for those who went out of their way to make their own posters out of cardboards, print their own t-shirts not to sell but to give away, lined up and waited along the road for the “Byaheng DU30” bus to pass by to take a glimpse not of Digong himself but just his representatives: his daughter, Inday Sara, his ex-wife, Beth and other volunteers. This is a time of victory for many ordinary Filipinos who volunteered to campaign for and support the good mayor with whatever they can do and give in the real and virtual world. This is a time when everyone feels nationalistic because a nationalistic flag-kissing president has been elected into office.
So, what now?
Just like the ordinary Pinoy ways, when someone people have supported is already in power, they feel entitled to whatever benefits he can give them. I’m sure astronomical expectations run high. Some may even want change to happen like magic. I’m afraid that just like what happened to PNoy, people will be disenchanted and disillusioned when the magic will wear off and just like what a lot of those disappointed with PNoy have done, they will also hurl muck, throw dirt and plunge the country into darkness again when they feel Digong will not be able to deliver.
But, a leader will only be as good as the pack it leads. Much as we all would like to see positive change in our country, we all should be the change we want to happen. We should be willing to change our ways, embrace discipline in our personal lives and at work whether in the public or private sector, and promote honesty and integrity in our dealings with one another, among other gazillion things we can do as responsible Filipinos.
I believe there is great hope for us all. There is hope for our country to be great again. A lot of this depends on us because I believe that despite the toughness of a lot of Pinoys, there is still the need for everyone to be guided and directed and sometimes even to be told what to do. Perhaps we do not really need an iron hand, just a leader with a firm hand to guide and direct us.
I am optimistic that we can do it especially now that…the Davao Eagle has landed.
Congratulations, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte! May the true Force be with you!