Dear Mr. President

Photo Credit: jjpacres Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: jjpacres Flickr via Compfight cc

Many years ago, when my father was still alive (and perhaps the same age as you are now), we had a long talk — just me and him. I had decided to be open and honest to him about certain behaviors he was exhibiting that I found disturbing. So for perhaps the first time in my life, I decided to be quite candid about it. The conversation went better than I expected. He did not react in anger and in fact opened up to me about his struggles with the same problem I noticed. So I understood him better after that, and my respect for him was not diminished in any way.

So I write to you today, not as a critic nor a detractor, but as one of your supporters and as one of the people who voted for you. I write openly with no intention of pulling you down or of lambasting you in public, but with the intention of giving voice to my fellow supporters who feel the same way as me but cannot express what they feel in their hearts nor have a venue for doing so. I write to you as a son of Davao of which you have been a father for many years. I was born here in the 70’s and grew up here in the 80’s. I know what Davao was back then and I know what it is now.

I write to implore you of one thing and one thing only, and it is not even unique: Please choose your words carefully. Please learn to control yourself.

I understand that in the election season, your street language was what endeared you to your voters and also attracted media to you to provide the necessary exposure and mileage to win. However, it is no longer election time. You have already won and have just marked your first 100 days as president. You no longer need the media splash and attention yet you are still getting it, for all the wrong reasons.

I understand that you do not really care what other people say about you. I used to be that way until I learned that some things I said hurt people I deeply cared about, even if I had no intentions of doing so. Like you, I had to apologize and explain myself several times, and I knew I had to work on improving my behavior, because apologies and explanations can get old pretty fast and people will tire of it if they see no true intent to change.

Speaking of which, your whole campaign was built on this one word: change. You promised to bring change and indeed we have seen many changes for the better in this short time, yet they have been overshadowed by the same careless language that you used prior to assuming office. It is ironic that in this regard, you have been showing a seeming unwillingness to change — you give reasons like you are really just fit to be a mayor and that people should not mind your mouth or your words too much.

May I respectfully remind you, sir, that words have power — as I’m sure you understand when you use those words to instill fear in criminals. Words can heal and words can kill — they can inspire a person to dizzying heights, yet also bring him down to the depths of despair. However, the sword cuts both ways and the careless use of words can come back to bite you as well when they cause people to be unsure of what you are saying and to lose their respect for you.

Also, change starts with yourself. In fact, may I remind you of your promise to be more “presidentiable” once you are elected? We cheered your efforts to change that one time you caught yourself before uttering a curse in a televised interview, but you soon slipped back into your old ways. Change is most effective when it comes from within, when people start doing things because they are right, not just because they fear the consequences of doing wrong. As our leader, showing to us your sincerity and willingness to change for the better will go a long way in inspiring others to do so.

When asked to describe your first 100 days in one word, one of my acquaintances answered, “polarizing” and as much as it pains me to hear it, I have to admit it is also true. Your detractors from before the elections have not been won over and have in fact, entrenched themselves further from you. The moderates have swung to either unapologetically defending you or outright hating you.

Mr. President, Mr. Mayor, Tatay, whether you like it or not, you are now president of the country, not just your 16 million voters, but of 100 million Filipinos. We are watching your every move and taking cues from every little thing you say and do. It is your unenviable task to bring us all together – red, white, blue and even yellow – not to let us drift further apart.

And it all begins with your words, for words shape our beliefs and beliefs inspire our actions. Imagine 100 million Filipinos with one mind, one vision and one goal. That would be a force that can change the world.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

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22 thoughts on “Dear Mr. President”

  1. This is so far the best i ever read. Truly a leader should set a good example cursing for me, in public is not acceptable . While others encourage us to understand PD of his cursing I think its high time that the president should understand the impact of his words.

  2. It is time to lay low.. Filipinos are feeling the same way when you are over reacted or submit words that are unnecessary. They are feeling sad right now of what is happening. The Filipinos already enjoyed of accomplishments in 100 days.. please do not make a move that will destroy you or being self-destructive of which people of the Republic of the Philippines will surely have the consequences. Think more than twice before doing something.. Think about the goals for a better Philippines and the children..

  3. I thougth tha PD can manage to put philippines to be friends to all our allies concerning west philippine sea that he will sacrifice himself to go by jetski in near fake island that chinese is building and to say that area is ours but maybe this is only joke to him and what his doing is contrary to safeguard our 200N.mile EEZ which he currs our allies. I don’t want to happen that after his term that we lose our 200N.mile west philippine sea and our fisherman is begging to chinese tonlet yhem fushbin our EEZ which is now being experience even though we have award that chinese is no valid claims in our territory.
    I’m happy to what he’s doing regarding drug war, war in corruption and improving the life of Filipinos but he can do that with a tough hand not tough foul mouth.
    My 5 year old son in election time he is idol for him because he always seen him in the news and always listening to what he said that even in town when he see a lean dirty man like addict he oftenly said to his mom with a loud voice mama why this guy doesn’t surrender to PD. Is good that my son remember what he want to eradicate the drug problem but i thinks he better to use a language that to be like president and not a Mayor. Because some people and minors are following his example to get rude to other people and to the whole international community with such unproffessional way of delivering speech which contrary to the teaching in the school.
    I hope tha PD will start the change within him as he promise the change to Filipino people as the teacher in school always say the change will come but it will start to yourself.

  4. very well said and this is a good read! all the points were clearly explained and i truly agree. yes, mr. president, i too, voted for you with no doubts at all. as a true dabawenya, i am so proud to say that i had high hopes that change is truly here. sir, you have already made your platform clear, no need to bang the bell loud…everyone looks up to you and we have the highest respect in you as our leader, our commander in chief and our tatay, all rolled into one. please give yourself the CHANGE that we long want to see and feel in you…for all of us, not only in davao but for the whole nation, shun, the political colours of various shades. we have high hopes for a better philippines with you at the helm. mabuhay ka, sir. mabuhay ang pilipinas. God bless us all!

  5. exactly my sentiments CHANGE begins in oneself like what former Senator Shalani’s advise learn the art of diplomacy not everything is solve by violence please be a better President Duterte or better yet the best President Duterte that the Philippines will ever have More power and God bless you and the Philippines

  6. Dear Andy,

    You were fortunate to have your father last that long. I envy you having that heart-to-heart/son-to-father talk.

    My father died when I was 10 years old ( in June 1972). He was mayor of our town (up north), 2 bullets hit his heart and lungs as a result of an ambuscade, later owned by leftist NPA.

    My father talked in similar manner as President Duterte do. He too has same mannerisms. But the one thing that I can remember vividly was his word: “I’m doing all those (cursing, slapping and kicking apprehended carabao rustlers) because criminals do not know respect! They better be wary or afraid when I’m not around”.
    My ancestral town never had a carabao rustler since then.

    He also said: ” Things happen the way they did because they are destined that way”. He believed in destiny too! He was born October 15, 1935, so he’s supposed to be 81 now.

    I think Filipino discipline reigned in 1930s through maybe 70s? Duterte is 7th President since Marcos. I’ve seen and experienced them all, and I think Marcos and Duterte are the best presidents, ever! They have contrasting personalities, take note of that. So I say it doesn’t matter if the other curse a lot:)

  7. Andy, thank you for expounding the words that many of us have been longing to express. We are in unison with you. This is not an essay that was intelligently written. It is our voice, our sentiment. We hope it softens the heart and opens the mind of a president who is once dearly loved and admired.

  8. I don’t care what they say. President Duarte is still the best in accomplishments in 100 days. The problem of the Philippines is so great, CRIME, DRUGS and CORRUPTION. These need
    major surgery, or major repair.
    As far as his lingo, it is his expression to drive a point ever since in the beginning and every body is aware of that. .After all he is not a perfect person like you. Blame the media for exagerations.
    Look at his rating of performance nationally and internationally as president not as a person.
    It is nice to make comments but please make complements too
    This is my view, I welcome yours.

  9. Very well said and I am more than appreciative of how Andy put into writing the tact and diplomatic way of how our dear president should uphold CHANGE in our country. Let us continue to remind our dear president that as a father of the 100 million people of this country it does not make him a letter person if change should start with him.

  10. All who voted for this man are like those who want Trump to be president of the US. Just by looking at this guy, you get the impression that he is a buffoon, a hoodlum, a fool! I did not vote for him and am glad to have done so.

  11. Not all elected presidents are statesmen or even leaders, that is a reality we should all accept by now. Leaders motivate, encourage, guide and offer support when it is most needed, so how could someone be a leader if he curses and take umbrage on others for actions and decisions based on and dictated by their respective nation’s national policy and government decision? The promotion and protection of human rights have been lifetime advocacies of the United States, European Union and the United Nations and it is their duty and responsibility when these rights are not honored, disregarded and trampled upon mercilessly by any one and anywhere in this world. It would still be in the best interest of the Filipino nation and people that we align ourselves with these nation, regional grouping and institution instead of aligning ourselves with China and Russia where human rights are conveniently violated. We should learn from history and study well the so-called Soviet bloc nations when they were still under the USSR, Cuba and lately Venezuela which both gravitated towards the USSR/Russia and what happened to Tibet after it was invaded or taken over by China. Remember that those who disregard history are condemned to repeat it. So we should analyze closely China’s military build-up on non-existent islands in the West Philippine Sea and realize in the process China’s real intentions in doing so. May God bless and protect the Philippines!

  12. May I point out that his words has emboldened vigilantes and summary executions and have resulted in the loss of Filipino lives. This is proof that words can kill.

  13. Mr. Duterte you’re not a Mayor anymore you are the President of the Philippines. You now deal with the world

  14. dear Mr Prsident, I so voted for you with the immense feeling of HOPE not for me but for the whole Philippines, still supporting you till the end, but let me tell you po, di po kayo isang KANTO BOY, isa na kayung PRESIDENTE ng pilipinas, the following generations will be talking about you in the FUTURE, your name will be in books all over the world, WHY? because you did something that no other president in the world had done. You gave us the CHANGE that we dream (impossible dreams actually) can we ask for one more CHANGE, to be the true pilipino President with out bad mouthing, then we can really understand that CHANGE has arrived. Mahal namin po kayo. Mabuhay ka Mr. President D30.

  15. “I am pretty sure you are not a true Duterte supporter but a Yellowtard claiming to be for the president”. Nowadays, in the world of widespread social media usage, you will be labeled as such if you say something negative even if you are just trying to help. Try to post that thought in the pages of Mocha Uson blog for instance and feel the hate flow through you from the rabid zealots.

  16. my dad is 83 yrs old.. i have long realized that you cannot really teach a 70 yr old man… so dont expect a change of duterte in himself… as the old adadge says, you cannot teach old dogs new tricks.. you will just get frustrated if you continue to expect personality change.

  17. Regardless he is cursing or not, I like him because… and no past presidents in 30 years did it.
    >He is dead serious in the war againts drugs. Where can you find a National Penitentiary where illegal things becomes legal?
    >He negotiated with China for mutual benefit. Can we really go into real war againts China (by size, capability, strength)?
    >He is blatant to say he is not an underdog of America. Do we really have real freedom from foreign intervention or control?

    We have let other presidents for their false hope and democracy for 30 years, why can’t we just let him prove himself for the next six years. Then we’ll see the difference and you can vote again whom you want to be your president. (I didn’t vote for PDu30 either)
    I don’t want you to think like me, I just want you to think.

  18. Your words are full of wisdom sir. But unfortunately i believe that PRRD is intentionally acting out against the US, the EU, UN and any possible critic as a weapon for the communist agenda. Look hiw he pivots towards the “ideological flow” of China and Russia. Remember how he admited to be from the “left” and how he “conceded” government departments to the communists. “Just pay revolutionary tax”, “mabuhay ang npa”, these are just a few of his pronouncements he made even before the elections. I hope your words will awaken those other supporters who have become crass and uncivil in their words as well. But for PRRD, Pinaka Lisud pukawon ang tao nga gapa tulog2 ra.

  19. Regardless, there will always be that time when you just have to accept that person the way they are… “Be yourself!” The President is human and is just being himself… No one’s perfect! You can’t teach old dogs new tricks… Having said that, the President is fine – in my opinion!

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