Franco Mabanta’s post has been getting a lot of love on social media lately and we can understand why.
He starts off by saying that the picture of President Rodrigo Duterte with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, eating a meal at Duterte’s house, was one of his favorite political photos of the last ten months.
He had this to say:
And today we have this photo. Oh, does this photo ever so poetically tug at the strings of the heart.
Here’s the most powerful man in Japan pledging US$8.77 billion (that’s one trillion yen) at the humble home of the most powerful man in the Philippines. That’s an unprecedented number. That’s roughly the entire net worth of Steve Jobs at the moment of his death. And no red carpet, no expensive silverware, no press, no security, no bullshit. They’re eating bean soup and rice cakes.
We go through life and we all do our best. We take in pieces of the world one lesson at a time. We’re all extremely knowledgeable about certian things, and then desperately naive about others, but at this moment, what I do know is that there is indisputable beauty in this image. It’s powerful and elegant and lyrical.
Mabanta also had a number of things to say about the strong influence of Westernization in the Philippines and how things have changed for the better with Duterte at the helm of our nation.
The pervasive American narrative (in large part due to Hollywood) had always dictated that China and Russia were the bad guys; America, the hero.
But was that really the case? Was that really the accurate portrayal of the situation? When one thinks objectively, is it not almost impossibly problematic to label any nation as exclusively good or exclusively evil?
The simple truth is that every nation merely wants something. More accurately, they want what’s best for themselves.
The United States — with the understandable intention of using our geographic and economic assets — had previously been giving us weapons, as well as roughly around $180 million a year in aid. Now, new Republican president in tow, their country is more divided than ever. (Also rather fun to note that Duterte kicked America to the curb way before Trump got elected. Hashtag foresight.)
Today China is giving us billions. Today we’re not fighting over islands with the strongest country in Asia.
Today Russia is giving us better weapons at a cheaper price.
Just like in those American movies where the (usually) white hero does something brave and incredible and then gets to look out the window, basking in the moment of his own great victory, brown-and-proud Duterte has smashed decades-old economic convention and completely changed how the foreign policy game is played today. He flipped the script on EVERYONE, dishing out a masterclass in international affairs, and today we Filipinos benefit from it unlike any other time in our history.
And you know what else is clear? Other powerful leaders feel it. They admire him for it because they sense the movement (the shift) that he’s willed into fruition via shrewd strategy and testicles made of dragonskin.
All this in half a year. It’s the stuff of legends.
To prove his point Mabanta cites the following international publications which portrayed Duterte in a very positive light.
ASIA WEEKLY, Hong Kong’s top magazine and widely considered the Time of Asia, named Duterte the 2016 Person Of The Year for having “changed the balance of power in the largest and most diverse continent on earth”.
CNN International (a predominantly anti-Duterte network) named the Philippine leader Asia’s Big Winner In 2016.
JAPAN TIMES, its nation’s leading publication, gave its Asia’s Best Year accolade to Duterte for his “unconventional moves that seem to be a harbinger of things to come. Rodrigo Duterte ended 2016 seeking to rebalance his nation’s ties, improve the life of the average Filipino and make the Philippines — a one-time economic and trade powerhouse — great again.”