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Good and Bad Lessons I Learned from President Duterte

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Good and Bad Lessons I Learned from President Duterte

by Arch Ian Jay Bantilan

I have a confession to make. I was not a Duterte supporter. But the news kept getting interesting. In fact, it was amusing. On one crazy campaign trail, we heard about the pope, to being deprived of rape, to the violence of passionate rallies, I couldn’t help but think. This guy probably has something right going his way.

I have never seen Rodrigo Duterte smirk. His face always looked serious but the sly smug smile is undoubtedly fixed on his forehead in a “sincerely innocent” kind of way. Here’s my take on what I learned from the man.

Lessons from the Controversial President

Lessons from the Controversial President

Lesson 1: If you hear anything impossible, come up with something equally preposterous.

Once he was asked by media about something that was clearly going to mislead the public with his answer. His response?

Tall tales. He bragged on about the time he caught a few drug pushers and cooked them in oil, he also went out and killed a thousand criminals. Then he tried to skin them and eat them alive.


Lesson 2: Come in late but Fresh.

You have probably done it in school. You went in while your professor was midway into the lesson. Now, my friend the spotlight is on you!

The presidentiable started out late by choice. It was supposedly heard that “everyone” is urging him to run for president.

I would say that was one of the most craftily and creative campaign to start with.

In 1917, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his thrown in favor of his brother Duke Michael Alexandrovich. This decision came after a lot of pressure from different warring factions in Russia asking him to step down. He indeed stepped down to a very surprised brother and Moscow. The citizens of Moscow saw this Emperor packing his bags and leaving one of the most powerful cities in Europe unprotected with a reluctant leader for a city on the brink of chaos. Fearing the worse, the prime ministers and the members of the ruling class begged him to return. And this he did.

“I will never run for President.” said Duterte.

Do not try this at school as this can result to disciplinary action if not executed with wisdom: teachers hate, un-creative excuses for tardiness.

Supporters of Davao Mayor Duterte

Supporters of Davao Mayor Duterte

Lesson 3: Don’t be half baked. Either curse a lot or be totally proper.

Being mediocre will never win you top leadership position. If you curse and are prim about it or you are proper and sometimes curse – it will never look the same. For my Christian readers, what I am trying to say is that, people are more afraid of cursing or getting angry than getting the dirty job done. On the other hand, if you are cursing just to sound cool or tough enough, we see through you. You are doing yourself a disservice.

Lesson 4: Appeal to Emotions and Naivety of People.

People these days will not have the time to listen to you talk about all national issues and compare your answer to each of 4 other candidates. It is easier to simply stir up emotion and talk vaguely but decisively about what you want to do.

To Duterte Supporters, my apologies but that is just what happened.

President Rodrigo Duterte at his most confident

President Rodrigo Duterte at his most confident

Lesson 5: Never apologies for being you. Don’t try to please everyone.

In an age of propriety, you get to be civil with everybody, sometimes having to apologies for wrongs you haven’t done. While everyone was conscious about winning everyone by giving out favors and try to charm them, Mr Duterte went out with a blunt proposition: you will like me or you will not.

Even going a step farther, he threw out reverse psychology: If you don’t vote for Cayetano, don’t vote for me.

President Rodrigo Duterte - hand on cheek

President Rodrigo Duterte – hand on cheek

Lesson 6: Never cover your face on National Interviews.

As part of a Communications Organization Training, I was taught to have my hands beside me and away from my face, unless I deliberately chose to make a point with it.

During all interviews, Rodrigo Duterte kept on holding his cheeks like he had a pimple on his right cheek. Probably because he didn’t use the right facial cleanser. People, always wash your face before your sleep. And pick your pimples at home, even better let the national pimple exterminator or the facial image consultant do it for you.

Lesson 7: Be absent on your first public appearance.

I don’t know if I were to praise this but this is the only president that missed his oathtaking. If there was a dream on all of the typical Filipino who dreamed on becoming president, being officially declared as president by the people in authority. It could be the counter culture urge in him, priority perhaps, or a simple disdain for authority.

Lesson 8: Any Publicity is Good Publicity.

Disclaimer: Not everyone can make this work.

Day after day if you turn on the news, there will be 2 things you will see. The bad and the controversial. Someone who was killed is not something new. It is the circumstances that he died that make the item newsworthy.

We zoom in on what bad is happening, the rest we assume to happen as expected. For centuries people wanted to be associated with good news. But that is going to be expensive. People thought that bad publicity repulse people. But in a time of 300 ads flashing our minds from products and at this time of year, politicians, any publicity is good publicity. Just don’t tell me I warned you. 🙂

Biggest Crowds of Duterte Supporters

Biggest Crowds of Duterte SupportersDCIM100MEDIADJI_0033.JPG

Lesson 9: Be the new guy in town. (See lesson 2)

Johnny come lately, the new kid in town
Everybody loves you, so don’t let them down

Everybody wants something new. No matter how good the new song is, a new less better tune will be preferred to the now “old” song. In a world full of old politicians, where people are tired of hearing promises and betrayal, they want to hear something new. Six elections ago, a plain housewife was the newer option. Four elections ago, they found it in a general named Fidel V. Ramos. Three elections ago, getting an actor president might be better than a politician.

There will be many things we can learn from current leadership good or bad. The lessons are there for us if we take time to gather fruit and eat from their wisdom.


Author: Archian

An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

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