Dear Dutertard Basher


I am pro-Duterte, but I did not bash that UP student, Stephen Villena, on social media. Like you, I did not enjoy it when other Duterte supporters began to bully him online, to the point of calling him an idiot and putting his name on a tombstone. There was no call to do that to that poor kid who was only being forthright in his questioning (as is well within his rights). Our constitution, after all, guarantees FREE speech, not only polite speech.

I was impressed when he wrote an open letter explaining and defending his side. It was an intelligent, calm and level-headed reply at the many rabid people calling for his head.

So no, I have no problem with him. Even the mayor has no problem with him as he called for his supporters to stop bullying the student. “I was not treated with disrespect. He was just acting according to his age. I was also once a student,” he said.

My problem is with you who would like to lump all Duterte supporters in that #Dutertard tag, implying that one must be a retard or moron to support Duterte. Some of you even expressed dissatisfaction with the official statement of campaign spokesperson, Peter Laviña, when he asked supporters to “take the moral high ground when engaging in any kind of discourse concerning our candidate.”

You implied that he should be clearer in declaring the wrongness of the act because idiots like us (and yes, that is my own interpretation based on how I read several statements to this effect) would not understand what “moral high ground” means.

Now, I take offense at that, and I find it ironic that you would call out bullying by being a bully as well. Sure, you may be all highbrow and intellectual but it is bullying nonetheless to imply that those who do not agree with you must be #Dutertards.

I would readily admit that there are idiots and twits among us, but you would do well to remember that there are idiots and twits in your camp as well — with some even running for office. (Dare I say the highest office?)

But surely, an intelligent person such as yourself is aware of the Pareto Principle which states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from only 20% of the cause. In some businesses, for example, 80% of the sales will come from only 20% of the customers. In a group activity, 80% of the results will be achieved by 20% of the participants. In the same way, it is most probably true that 80% of the noise and nonsense coming from pro-Duterte people is generated by probably only 20% of the crowd.

Oh, but there are a lot of them, you might say, showing screenshot after screenshot of facebook comments and twitter feeds. Well, what do you know? If that’s only 20% of us, then maybe there ARE a lot of us after all, contrary to what those surveys are saying. Oh and yes, we weren’t born yesterday. We know who owns the top two survey firms that are always mentioned in the media.

In truth, I count many in my circle who are pro-Duterte, and not just fellow Davaoeños but Filipinos from other parts of the country as well. They are not the rabid, insane variety that you like to make our poster boys and your punching bags. They are businessmen, teachers, doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, artists, and other professionals, and oh yes, UP graduates (even from UPLB). They are the anti-thesis of your underlying assumption that Duterte supporters are mindless, bloodthirsty goons who will bring the beginning of a Nazi-like regime in the Philippines.

Really now? Do you actually think we’re that stupid?

I cannot speak for others, only for myself, but maybe others will find their reasoning similar to mine. Why do I choose Duterte? Simple. Because of the results. Because of Davao City. You may call the man uncouth, foul-mouthed, contradictory, a cold-blooded killer, and whatnot, but you cannot deny what he has done for the city to be what it is today. You cannot deny his sincerity in helping Tacloban and Bohol even without photo-ops or his name stamped on donated goods. You cannot silence the many voices of common Davaoeños willing to share their Duterte stories, of how the mayor helped them by personally rescuing them or their kin from hostage situations, or by offering financial aid to Bantay Bata victims (where he refused to publicize his help).

And if you say our city isn’t so great, well, good. Stay away. We like our peace and quiet.

The difference between you and I is that I am able to see past the macho, tough-guy facade and into the heart of the man who has tirelessly served Davao for decades, and I know that heart is sincere. I know that he has not been secretly amassing wealth and I personally know people he has rescued in hostage or kidnap situations. Duterte was really there in the thick of battle. How many politicians or leaders do you know who would literally put their lives on the line for their constituents?

Come May 9, I know who I will probably vote for.

“Probably?” You may ask.

Why, of course, I am a thinking person and capable of making intelligent decisions and changing my mind. You can still persuade me why I should vote for a candidate mired in graft and corruption issues too obvious to explain away; or for an inexperienced neophyte senator, who wants to lead a country she once renounced, and whose husband and son cannot even vote for her; or a bumbling credit-grabber shown to be incompetent and unable to handle crisis in several situations; or an intelligent senator whose health is in serious question.

I am a businessman. I look at the bottom line. They may talk well. They may be able to articulate fancy economic jargon. They may promise the moon. But what are their results? What have they actually done?

It is by this measure, that I and others like me, choose Duterte. While I do not, for one second, believe in his fly-me-to-the-moon claim to eradicate crime and drugs in 3 to 6 months, I have no doubt that among all the candidates, he is the only one who will put every fiber in his being in trying to make it happen, without any ulterior motive but to make life better for his fellow Filipinos.

How do I know that? Simple. I live in Davao, and there is no other place in our country where I would rather be.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

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Writing About Writing

Photo Credit: gregor.zukowski via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: gregor.zukowski via Compfight cc

I got a request from one of my readers to share a few tips about writing.

One of the most overused lines that writers say in response to this is: just write and write and write.

That it is overused is no reason to dismiss it though, because it is true. Writing is a skill honed by constant practice. However, one who constantly practices wrongly will soon become an expert at doing the wrong thing no-smoking(and thinking it’s right). For example, I was at this restroom and I saw a sign that said, “No Smoking On Premises.”

Some poor deluded soul thought that was wrong and changed “On” to “In.” He thought he was making a correction but what he did was mess up a sign that was grammatically correct to begin with.

Anyway, the point is not just to write and write, but also to find some way of getting meaningful feedback. You may ask friends to read your writing and give their comments, but most friends will usually be too polite to point out your errors, or they may not have the proper skills to evaluate your work (i.e. you may already be a better writer than they are).

The better thing to do is to look for mentors who can evaluate your work and give you good advice on how to improve. They may be former teachers or other writers whose work you admire (and who will consent to reading some of your work).

If you like a certain writer’s style, you can try to emulate or imitate that style. Over the years, I’ve had numerous writers who have been great influences on how I write. At the beginning, I blatantly copied their style until I found my own rhythm and voice. Note that I am talking about style, not about copy-pasting what they wrote, like a certain senator we all know and love (to trash).

Write in white heat. Edit in cold blood. I learned that from my English teacher, mentor and fellow columnist, Rene Lizada. Writing is a two-step process, but do not mix the two processes. Do not edit in the heat of writing. You may miss out on some great ideas because you were too busy polishing this or that sentence. The first draft is called exactly that because your work doesn’t have to be immaculate the first time around — that is, unless you are trying to beat a deadline (like I’m doing right now).

But seriously, when you’re beginning to write, just write and let the ideas flow. Don’t worry too much about correctness or sentence structure and so on. You can come back later and give your work a more critical eye later. I wrote about this in a previous article called Free Writing.

Read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It’s a thin book published in 1959 that is still very relevant today. It is probably the best guide to writing well. A number of famous and bestselling authors swear by it. If you’re unconvinced, read Stephen King’s On Writing, which is another excellent piece of work. He will tell you exactly why you should go and read Strunk and White.

Two important lessons I got from that book are:

  1. Omit needless words.
  2. Write in the active voice.

If you do nothing else except apply those two to the next few pieces you write, your writing will improve by leaps and bounds (Of course, I am assuming that you don’t already do those consciously).

Lastly, seek to communicate, not to impress. Do not use three-syllable words when there is a one-syllable word that means the same thing. Do not use kilometric sentences when a couple of words will do. Being a good writer doesn’t mean that you can use words nobody else comprehends. Being a good writer means that people understand what you say, nothing more and nothing less.

Don’t leave a mess. Leave a message.” — Michael Aun & Jeff Slutsky, The Toastmasters International Guide to Successful Speaking


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Even More Duterte Stories

Image from  LionessOfDavao
Image from LionessOfDavao

“What’s the use of these Duterte Stories?” asked a critic when I published my original work and its sequel, More Duterte Stories. “They are just like Bong Revilla stories from Cavite, or Lito Lapid stories from Pampanga, or Binay stories from Makati,” he said. His point was, “How can I believe that these stories of him are true and not merely legendary or biased accounts?”

To a certain extent, I agree that one must read these stories critically, but that holds true for any other story about any other candidate. That does not, however, diminish the value of stories, especially when told through the lens and voice of the general populace. Stories about a person reveal little nuggets about his character and his values — traits I consider important in leadership.

The first two articles contained stories from people I personally know, and so I can vouch for them, but since then, other people have started writing to me and sharing their stories, and so I will put them here and let you be the judge of them (as usual, I have edited the text for grammatical correctness and brevity):


My name is Bert Albano. I am a Consultant for SteelAsia Manufacturing Corporation.

Some three years ago, SteelAsia put up the biggest steel bar factory in Mindanao in Davao City. The company’s VP Technical, Engr. Roberto Cola, told me how positively supportive and protective Mayor Duterte was when they were setting up the factory.

Engr. Cola recalls how the mayor told him to report directly to him if anybody from City Hall down to the barangay level make unreasonable demands from them.  Having been involved in setting up facilities nationwide in my former job as an officer of another manufacturing conglomerate, this impressed me deeply. In all other places, we had to put up with all sorts of demands from all levels including the ascendant barangay officials. Graft is everywhere except in Davao.

— Alberto Albano


This is not a personal story which involved us dealing with the Mayor himself but a testament to his programs in Davao City, one of which is the Lingap Para Sa Mahirap.

Back in 2010 after the death of my late mother I decided to bring my family to our house in Davao City. As residents of Davao we were entitled to the programs of our City and one of that was the Lingap program. My cousin, Rolando Dangaran, had a severe kidney problem and had to undergo dialysis every week. We enrolled him in the program, and instead of spending thousands, we only had to pay Php400+ every week for his dialysis.

We are also happy about local programs in our barangay where dogs are given rabies vaccines so they don’t turn rabid. We also have curtain treatments to prevent dengue.

These are just few examples of the little things in our city that make Davao a pleasant place to live.

Davao is not perfect. It is not paradise. But it is a Land of Promise. And Mayor Duterte is a promise. A promise of Hope and Change.

— Maria Marnisa Almonte


I’m so proud of this guy who sent me to Davao Doctors College. I am who I am now because of Davao Mayor Rody Duterte, who supported me all throughout my college years. He was the friend of my late father, former Police Chief Inspector Alberto Paras Belimac.

My mother died when I was young and I suspected it was due to politics in our town. I was too young to bear all that pain and I wanted to take revenge, but Mayor Rody and Police Senior Superintendent Sangkula Hussain advised me to focus on my studies and to work hard to reach my life’s ambitions.

I listened to them and my life has been a string of great experiences. I was able to become the youngest Narcotics Agent, assigned to help and advise minor victims of drugs in the Davao region. I gave drug symposiums to different universities and high school campuses from 2002 to 2004.

I was able to work in Singapore and Malaysia. After that, I worked as a Congressional Liaison Officer based in Malapatan under Mayor Alfonso Singcoy. Then I worked as Financial Advisor and translator at the biggest bank in the Middle East – the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

If not for Mayor Duterte, I may already be on the other side of the law. I may not be a successful businessman and banker here in Dubai. Thank you so much, Mayor Duterte, for your trust and confidence in this little boy from Saranggani province. You helped me even if I had no political advantage whatsoever, but you did it out of the goodness of your heart.

— King Belimac


Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

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