“The new president has stated that it will be a solemn and symbolic inauguration, done in the historic traditions of the nation”
At high noon today, the nation rings out the old administration, and rings in the new that an overwhelming majority of our people voted into office last May 9.
As we submit this article a day before it is printed, we have yet to witness the inaugural rites where the peaceful transfer of power in our formal democracy are to take place at the historic building, now the National Museum of Fine Arts, then the Legislative Building.
The new president has stated that it will be a solemn and symbolic inauguration, done in the historic traditions of the nation.
Last Sunday, the outgoing president was feted to a touching farewell concert at the Quirino Grandstand, where several artists, accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra sang some of Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s favorite songs.
You Raise Me Up, Bridge over Troubled Water, Fill the World with Love, Send in the Clowns, among others, are songs he used to sing in his favorite after dinner watering hole in his native Davao City, accompanied by a versatile pianist.
And everyone is quite familiar with his favorite song “Ikaw” which he sang in many occasions, during the campaign of 2016, and on several events, big or small, during his presidency.
A group of government officials who call themselves the “ex-es” – most of whom were part of the historic campaign of 2015-16 that elected successfully the first Mindanawan to the presidency – gathered over lunch at the nearby Vin 55, a small restaurant fronting the Rizal Park Hotel, formerly the American Army and Navy Club, while waiting for the concert to start, and for the honoree to arrive.
Headed by now Ex-Executive Secretary Bingbong Medialdea, Ex-Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, Ex-Secretary for the Visayas as presidential assistant Michael Dino, and Pagcor President Fred Lim, GSIS President Rolly Macasaet, Sec. Nick Acosta of the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, Navotas Mayor John Rey Tiangco, Clark Development’s Chito Clavano, and this Ex-Chairman and Resident Representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch of Malabon delicacies by Postmaster General Norman Fulgencio.
Vin 55 was our favorite hang-out during the 2015 pre-campaign, when we were all kept in tenterhooks by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who kept hemming and hawing on whether or not to run for the presidency, even as the public clamor was ever-growing.
I had to leave at around 4:30 in the afternoon as I had a pre-arranged dinner last Sunday, and skipped the concert as well as the arrival of the honoree, for whom the event was organized, billed as “Salamat, PRRD.”
I just watched part of the “hail and farewell” concert the following day on the television monitor.
The president, accompanied by his partner, Ms. Honeylet Avancena and the ubiquitous Sen. Bong Go, was visibly touched by the profuse admiration shown by both crowd and the performers, some of whom were themselves carried by their emotions, as they bade goodbye to six years of a presidency that exits with the highest trust and approval ratings of any leader elected after the EDSA people power revolution.
So visibly overwhelmed was President Duterte that after treating the crowd with a rendition of his signature “Ikaw,” he could only utter as parting message, “maraming, maraming salamat po” to the “sambayanang Pilipino.”
And thus we marked an accomplished end, and transition to a new beginning, amid a troubled world, and a country that has yet to recover from a long pandemic that crippled its economy.
The topic over our Vin 55 lunch was mostly centered on who the incoming president has announced as his new team, amid speculation on those who are yet to be appointed.
It was observed that unlike previous presidencies, the appointments have been rather slow in coming.
In fact, as we write on the eve of the inauguration, Cabinet-level departments like foreign affairs, natural resources, science and technology, energy, science and technology, housing, the MMDA, and critical sub-cabinet level agencies as Customs, Pagcor, PCSO, and GFI’s still await the new president’s nominees.
Someone noted that it is perhaps because the new administration is not adversarial to the outgoing leadership, with PRRD’s daughter Inday Sara as Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s vice-president.
And given the enormity of our problems, engendered by the economic situation and international developments, it is understandable that the incoming president is being very cautious about forming his new team.
But today we will be witnessing a smooth transfer of power, from a well-loved president to one with an overwhelming mandate who in his own pronouncements, seeks to “unify” the nation, the better to face the temper of our times.
Whatever our political inclinations in the recently concluded electoral contest were, we should all wish him well.